As cliche as it is … add a touch of authenticity and sincerity

During our regular anatomy theory session one day, we touched on the endocrine system, which largely covered hormones and their functions. We were asked a question at the end. “What is the difference between yoga and other fitness or sports-related activities?” Heard that many times before? If yes, how did you respond each time or what responses did you hear each time?
Yoga helps us balance our hormone system. Inversion is the highlight of yoga because it allows energy to flow to the higher chakras. Without inversions, energy tends to accumulate at the lower chakras. People who presently view inversions as something far from attainable may find this statement discouraging. However, other than full inversions, there are several kinds of inversions to suit various people, namely, half inversions, mini inversions, supported inversions, and modified inversions.
It isn’t uncommon to hear people say that they ‘feel good’ after a yoga session. I’m sure you won’t deny hearing such an expression again and again. As cliche as it may sound, I believe people say it because they mean it, and they mean it because they’ve experienced it firsthand.
This is my story.
I’ve been dancing for the past decade, not professionally, though I’ve had some pretty active and intense years. Being a dance enthusiast since I was a little girl, I consider the opportunity came to me very late in life. Hence, once I had the opportunity, it immediately became my everything. Dancing made me feel electrifying. It empowered me with a kind of rare freedom I didn’t usually get from day to day life. Many a time, I would go to a class carrying a mental burden so heavy I was suffocating. But once my body started moving, the dancing broke the chains and the knots within me. Electrifying! And during performances, I was elated.
Gradually, it dawned on me that the ‘feel good’ energy could only be sustained in the ‘during’, what about the ‘before’ and ‘after’? I caught myself constantly asking myself, “Do I have to keep dancing just to make myself feel good?”
Much later, came yoga, forming bridges in between my ‘before’, ‘during’, and ‘after’, linking them into a wheel that has neither an end nor a starting point. The cycle just goes on and on. The energy flows instead of getting stuck at one point. Undeniably, there are times that my wheel spins faster and there are times it just moves slower. I’m thankful as long as it keeps spinning.
I read somewhere about the imprints of energy. An experiment on the energising effect of yoga postures or asanas was done using Kirlian photography. A palm imprint was taken before a 15-minute session of asanas. When the same subject’s hand was rephotographed after the session, a fuller and more complete aura was forrmed, clearly revealing the difference of energy level before and after an asana session. Interestingly, a 15-minute session of gymnastics with the same subject failed to produce any change in aura.
Mind, body, and spirit in union is known as yoga. Because of this, yoga has the capability to sustain a person’s well being throughout, when it is practised correctly. To summarise, yoga creates absolute bliss because it works from the inside out, as opposed to relative bliss created by some other physical activities that work the reverse way – outside in. This, to me, is the great distinction between yoga and other physical activities.
Sarah Yong
200hr Weekday YTTC (Jul/Aug 2013)