As you may be aware this Sunday, June 21st is the International Day of Yoga as declared by the United Nations on December 11, 2014.
The declaration of this day came after the call by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014 wherein he stated:
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness within yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
Indeed, Yoga is one of the greatest gifts from Bharat (Sanskrit name of Indian subcontinent). If you consider Yoga as one of the religions, then Yoga must be the most practice religion in the world. In USA alone, the latest study in 2012 claimed the number of yoga practitioners had increased to more than 20.4 million, an increase of 29% from 2008 study. The same fire is spreading across other countries like China, South East Asia and Europe.
Personally, I had been a Yoga practitioner for 16 years and a living teacher for the last 14 years, I can say that Yoga has given me so much in my life, more than what I could even fathom with my intellect. I would like to dedicate this article as my heartfelt gratitude to the entire lineage of Yoga who kept this science alive on planet earth so that humanity can continue to raise ourselves in collective consciousness.
Here are the six experiences which fundamentally shifted my cognition about Yoga:
- Yoga is not just a physical workout or a stress-buster as commonly portrayed by Western media or Western teachers. These are side-effects of Yoga. Yoga may start with the body awareness, but the ultimate purpose is to experience self uniting with the Source, the energy called Ananda (bliss). The Eastern masters developed Yoga as a profound science for human beings to reach their peak possibility in body, mind, emotions and being levels. The peak possibility means experiencing the ultimate happening i.e. feeling oneness with self, world and life, in advaita (the space of non-duality). When we don’t understand the right context of Yoga, it is easy to get caught in the material body-mind instead of transcending body consciousness.
- You can only enter into the realm of Yoga in the NOW, the present moment. A restless and irritable mind cannot experience the space of Yoga. Hence, the first instruction given by the Father of Yoga, Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra is come to this moment, NOW. As a teacher, the initial centering of body-mind through the breath which I do is absolutely critical because the breath holds the key to experience this moment.
- Yoga is a system to transform an ordinary human being to a super human being. That alchemy is possible with the direct guidance of an enlightened master. The process involves awakening of Kundalini Shakti (the inner potential energy), which is the primal divine spiritual power in every human being. In this transformation, one starts expressing extraordinary powers called siddhis like levitation, higher intuition and excellent physical health and well-being.
- Human body itself is made up of memories. For any purpose that you bend or move your body, that purpose and that memory will be completely inserted or recorded in your body and mind. With this insight, you can use Yoga to consciously re-programme your muscle-memory, bio-memory from the past hangovers called incompletions, pain or disease and awaken the bio-energy of Kundalini Shakti. I called this conscious programming. I realised that the time spent in yoga practice is no longer a just a physical workout, the moment I set the right context of the practice for myself or students to experience their higher dimensions of pure consciousness, the yoga practice is transformed into a deep spiritual process. I had witnessed the power of shifting the space of students from that of tiredness, pain or common ailments like cold or fever to a space of rejuvenation in just 1.5-hr practice.
- One thing we must be very clear – Yoga is a continuous process and the process never ends. Yoga is working towards experiencing bliss and expressing bliss continuously. Every moment we experience and express this bliss, we are in total and complete union with this bliss, in Yoga. It is not the goal or destination, it becomes a continuous happening.
- Everyone can practice Yoga since the experience and expression of bliss is our birth right. You don’t need to master many complex Yoga postures or advance pranayama to experience Yoga. Yoga means the spontaneous disappearance of the mind, a withdrawal from all the mental though patterns and being in awareness. If we are to catch the subtle truth that the mind itself is an action, we can simply stop the action of thinking whenever we want. All we need is a little preparation of body-mind with that intention.
In essence, my relationship with Yoga has transcended from a mere physical practice to a deep spiritual adventure of oneness with everything, expressing new possibilities. That transformation happens by the grace of an enlightened master, Paramahamsa Nithyananda. From my experience, if you really want to experience the depth of Yoga, a direct guidance of an enlightened Guru is a must because only a lit lamp can light another lamp as per the sacred text, Guru Gita. Namaste 😀