Many, if not most unaware people at our latitudes consider Yoga as a series of strange looking exercises combined with a lot of Indian style sitting and chanting. Everyone wears fancy Yoga pants and brings his own Yoga mat and cushion. All this happens to esoteric music and the smell of fragrance sticks. After the class everybody seems to float away in silence and inner peace as if they wouldn’t belong to our world.
What is Yoga?
So one might think that he belongs to the real world then, right? The modern or sophisticated society where business rules apply and deals need to be cut. Where money feeds the global engine that makes the earth go round. Where man’s destiny is to go on always improving, always struggling, to eventually reach his materialistic goals. Where nothing but economics are valid rather than the laws of nature.
If you ask me this whole business approach that we have been living for many decades (or even centuries) looks pretty unnatural. And this is the right word. Naturalness. Did you ever really ask yourself what natural means? Have you ever really tried to develop an instinct for natural purity? The truth is that over the years we have lost our sense for natural processes and flows. Materialism, artificial working environments, shopping malls, entertainment parks, and the TV program have become our reality. We don’t use our locomotor system sufficiently anymore, since it is much easier to take the car or any kind of transportation. We develop dress codes and struggle to keep up with the fashion industry. We stress ourselves so much that we long for our two weeks vacation every once in a while to fly to some artificially planted all-inclusive resort or some fancy city where we hurry from one attraction to the next to get as much out of those holidays as possible. And this is what is supposed to regenerate or even heal us? Well, presumably not.
And we don’t just harm ourselves with that lifestyle but everything else as well. Every species and piece of nature on this planet is endangered by our incessantly accelerating life and business cycles. Too many things are produced to be replaced again quickly to keep the cash flow running. Consumption is our biggest endeavour. We were taught to immodesty and greed. This doesn’t just create a lot of non-biodegradable waste but pollutes our air, waters, and soil what basically is all we have – and all we need.
We are so focused on new and exciting stimuli that the mind most of the time is controlled by our senses. We are sensation-seeking and love great attractions. And the marketing departments of all those companies know how to feed our receptors. As long as we are not able to control the senses with our mind, it will be very difficult for us to resist all these stimuli and to eventually reach self-determination. Yoga teaches us urgently needed values and helps the mind to get control over the senses. It represents a way to free the mind and emotions, leads to self-awareness, and allows every human being to live a balanced and happy life.
Yoga unifies body, mind, and soul with everything else – the universe and beyond.
Carry on with the Ashtanga Yoga Guide: