Updated: Sep 22, 2021
‘Yoga happens beyond the mat. Anything that you do with attention to how you feel is doing yoga.’
Can you imagine seeing sages, gurus, or saints, who witnessed the birth of Yoga as a way of life 5000 years ago, living in present scenario, wearing yoga pants, sport shoes, carrying mat in one hand, constantly checking themselves out in the mirror and taking hot-shot selfies for social media?
This could be visualised the other way around with you hanging out with them in times of Indus-valley civilisation. Upon painting this scene in front of you, you’d see that Yoga has transitioned into something different from what it was years back. Yoga was not born with the sole purpose of focusing on Physical fitness, like it is mostly highlighted now, but it was always supposed to be ‘Yoga of Mind’, the purpose of which was to look within. Allow us to take you back in time when Yoga wasn’t just a cool, trendy activity but was used as a way to balance wellness in our lives.
But before doing so, we want you to think about ‘What Yoga means to you?’
PRE-CLASSICAL VEDIC YOGA (10,000 BC - 500 BC) - TIME SELFIES DIDN’T EXIST AND NEITHER DID YOU.
Isn’t being part of the world where the Internet has made it possible to bridge the gap of past and present, the best? The time unknown to you is easily accessible now especially when it comes to learning some facts about your culture. Did you know that the practice of Yoga originated thousands of years back in India and has been adapted in other countries in various ways?
The term comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, first mentioned in the sacred texts such as Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda and Bhagavadgita. We know there’s a chance that these terms sound confusing to you which is why we suggest you take some time off your work, or Netflix and explore the rich history.
It was found that Vedic Yoga involved ceremonies and rituals to broaden the limitation of the conscious mind and usually ‘rishis’ acted as a moderator between people and higher power to make that happen. If Vedic Yoga existed in today’s time, we’d have focused on one and only one thought:
Yet, one of the main benefits of Yoga that still remains, is that it has no side effects, it helps maintain peace of mind, boosts our immunity and has a positive effect on our body & mind, much needed during this pandemic.
Classical Yoga - Takes 8 steps to Make it work
We all know that the crux of yoga lies in the essence of having self-control and being aware of external and internal environment. Sage Patanjali enumerated 8 ways one can attain higher consciousness such as through inner- and outer-discipline (Yama and Niyama), physical postures (Asana), Breathing and sense control (Pranayama and Pratyahara) and concentration and meditation (Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi).
These sutras are best described as short and direct statements of truth and cover everything from ethics, meditation, physical postures and directions for dealing with everyday situations in life. According to research by the Department of Ayush, these steps are believed to have a potential for improvement of physical health by enhancing circulation of oxygenated blood in the body, retraining the sense organs thereby inducing tranquility and serenity of mind.
Modern Yoga: Do you ever see yoga going back to what it was originally meant for, or do you see it evolving into something quite different altogether?
Post classical yoga was the era of the beginning of more physical aspects in combination with spiritual aspects such as Pranayama, Hatha Yoga and was initially introduced in the yoga sutras. But what came to be known as the ancient yogic practices in numerous texts has transitioned into all sorts of things such as Hot Yoga, Beer yoga, Dog yoga, Boxing yoga. Though, it’s great to find new combinations and keep adding transitions, but the aspect which nurtured spiritual awareness has been slightly lost.
How did we come to make yoga a gymnastics, not so different from the others?
Yoga-lebrities: Halo Effect
“The rise of Instagram has led to the emphasis on yoga as a physical practice and less a spiritual one,” says Genny Wilkinson Priest, yoga manager at triyoga. “Yoga becomes misunderstood and is reduced to a show where Instagram ‘yoga-lebrities’ are little more than entertainment for the viewing public.”
Social media has always created a halo effect for it’s audience which can be seen as a step towards building confidence yet at a price of self-esteem and self-worth. It show-case the perfect image of someone, who may have been practicing for years and sometimes harbouring injuries in the process, in front of the audience who may feel the urge to be little ‘Yoga-lebrities’ and a need to reach that level without actually working hard for it, leading to dangerous consequences. When the purpose of Yoga goes down to seeking social validation, we go that extra mile to bend our image according to what we are liked for rather than what we like about ourselves, thus, losing touch with our reality.
There will be a growing hunger for a return to a yoga that is more profound, more spiritual than mere Instagram flexibility.