“So you just sit in a circle and ‘OM’ huh?”
Yes, that was one of the questions thrown to me by a friend when she found out that I placed my career on hold to pursue my Yoga Teacher Training. And NO, that is not what trainees like myself do for five hours daily for a month.
I find it saddening that an age-old, beautiful practice is subjected to countless of such misconceptions over the years despite that vast number of lives it has changed, or even saved. How many of us have tried to promote the practice of yoga to our peers and got shut down by comments that yoga does not satisfy their appetite for a good workout because “it does not involve weights” or that “it is only suitable for flexible people”?
This is what I have to say (once and for all):
Nobody takes up yoga just to get flexible. Nobody practices yoga just to attain an A-grade physical appearance. Nobody does yoga purely to get pictures for their social media pages. Nobody leaves a yoga class feeling like a failure.
More often than not, what are the reasons for yoga studios multiplying islandwide and seeing a surge in student numbers? People are taking up yoga for rehabilitation purposes or simply because they’re seeking a stress-free sanctuary. Now just based on these two factors, what can one say about the practice of yoga?
One of the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga practice is Pranayama (breath control) which is done at the start of each yoga session. This art of controlled breathing techniques empowers an individual to develop mastery of his/her breath, which is usually a sub-conscious process that occurs without much thought in every day life. Not to be undermined, Pranayama is what brings attention to the intimacy between a person’s mind, body and emotions.
“How?!”, you ask.
With controlled breathing, the oxygen levels in a person’s body increases. Along with this, comes about the lowering of respiration and pulse rates; both directly linked to efficient curbing of anger and other negative emotions which are deeply harboured. A lowered resting heart rate also plays a vital role in one’s lifespan; less stress on the heart = better overall health.
Mind – CHECKED
Emotions – CHECKED
Body – CHECKED
This is but a tiny fraction of what yoga can do for you. Just imagine the multitude of positive changes that could take place in your life if you give yoga a chance to work its wonders on you.
The yogis founded this practice to benefit mankind physically, mentally and spiritually back in the day before the birth of modern medicine. Surely, they deserve the utmost credit for it. More than two millenniums on, the practice still runs strong and continues to spread out wide. People of differently nationalities come together because yoga is universal. A specific type of lifestyle even revolves around yoga.
In a time of never-ending paper chase and political instability, yoga has managed to bring calmness to the masses. It is more than just a way to stay fit and centred – it is a miracle. So as conceited as I sound, I can safely say that none of us remain loyal practitioners of yoga for fame or fortune. We practice today – for a better tomorrow.
Kimberly L. (19 Aug 2017, 200hr YTT).