Recent times, the world is celebrating the Yoga day to day. While it happened to be a jubilant colourful event in public places throughout the world every year from the day of its inception, this year we confine ourselves indoors with our own kith and kin only. It’s time to roll out your yoga mat and discover the combination of physical and mental exercises that for thousands of years have hooked yoga practitioners around the globe. "The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Don’t be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone", says RG Rajaram.
RG Rajaram, who has a keen affinity towards Siddha Yoga Tradition, brings out the essence of Yoga and the benefits of it through his experice. He also elaborates on the difference between yoga and asana and also how the the modern day yoga has been tailored according to the needs based on Patanjali's yoga sutra.
The objectives of Yoga is to to connect people with nature, to reduce the rate of health-challenging diseases and to create awareness about physical and mental illnesses and providing solutions through yoga.
Yoga also helps us to develop a habit of meditation for peace of mind, self-awareness to survive in a stress-free environment.
The Theme of Yoga Day
The first international Day of Yoga was held on June 2015 with ‘synergy’ as the central theme. It created two Guinness World Records: the first to be the largest yoga class and secondly the largest number of nationalities from 84 countries participated in the event. The theme of International Day of Yoga 2016 was "Connect the Youth”, for 2017 was "Yoga for Health", for 2018 was "Yoga for Peace", for 2019 was “Climate action” and for the year 2020 it is “Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family”.
The Origin and sources
The Indus Valley Civilization(3300–1900 BCE) and other scholars note that the Pashupati seal discovered in an Indus Valley Civilization site depicts a figure in a position resembling an asana used for meditation, Mulabandhasana.
The first use of the root of the word "yoga" is in hymn 5.81.1 of the Rig Veda, a dedication to the rising Sun-god in the morning (Savitri), where it has been interpreted as "yoke" or "yogically control".
There are around 20 upanishads that talk about Yoga. For example, the hymns in Book 2 of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, states a procedure in which the body is held in upright posture, the breath is restrained and mind is meditatively focused, preferably inside a cave or a place that is simple, plain, of silence or gently flowing water, with no noises nor harsh winds.
Yoga and Mahabharata
The term “yoga” and “yogī” occur about 900 times throughout the epic, Mahabharatha. An early form of yoga called nirodhayoga (yoga of cessation) is contained in the Mokshadharma section of the 12th chapter (Shanti Parva). The goals of yoga in the epic are separation of self from matter, perceiving Brahman everywhere, entering into Brahman etc. And its purpose is to unite the individual ātman with the universal Brahman.
The ultimate goal of Yoga
The ultimate goal of Yoga is Moksha (liberation), although the exact form this takes depends on the philosophical or theological system with which it is conjugated.
In the classical Astanga yoga system, the ultimate goal of yoga practice is to achieve the state of Samadhi and abide in that state as pure awareness.
Yoga versus Asanas
Though there are 900- references to Yoga in the Mahābhārata, only two mentions of āsana, posture, the third limb of Patañjali’s system. They are not mentioned in the Upanisads and the Gītā. Patañjali himself only dedicates three brief sūtras from his text to this aspect of Asanas.
In the Modern concept of yoga most of the precepts are adapted from Patanjali yoga Sutras and have been tailored to suit the demand of the audience.Yoga to day has been taken as a tool to distress the stress and create a place of solace. Humanity as a whole in one way or other try to find a nest with comfortable consolation.
In most of the cases seldom we find –YOGA-the unification.There are lot of attachment to the Asanas than unification.There is a two fold use of the Yoga.The first one being the Asanas which keep one fit for physical life.The second one is Pranayama which keeps our soul peaceful.
Swami Sivanandha Paramahamsa, the preacher of Siddhavidya, in His master piece “Siddha Vedam” describes about Pranayama,”Pranayama means to do Ayama of Prana.To do Ayama means to stop or to extend straight or to prolong. That is to stop Prana within us itself,without leaving it out as Apana.Then the Prana gets direct Gati.Now the Prana without going straight,gets out through the five senses and destroys.When it subsides in without getting out as above and comes in one single Gati up and down,it becomes straight.That is why it is said that Prana must be taken up straightly."
"What is to make longer is Prana which is in us and goes out as Apana by curving without length and destroys.When that Apana without being left out but is joined along with the Prana and is taken up, it becomes lengthened. What is said as to prolong is this... Hence Pranayama is regulating and conducting internally itself the Prana which is in us,without leaving it out.Such adepts makes us free from all illness and diseases.That is why it is said in the world that a constant pranayami has no sickness at all.” Let us all overcome the current pandemic and the depression and weight gain that has joined hands due to lock down and isolation, through proper practice of Yoga as taught by our philosophers and Gurus.