When you are lethargic, it is hard enough to pick yourself up from the bed. Practicing Yoga, then, becomes a distant dream. You keep pushing the ‘Promise of the Yoga Mat’ to the next week, and then the following week and so on. The result is a guilt trip and eventual giving up until the Next New Year’s Eve when you renew your resolutions (Topping the list is Yoga). But can there be something enticing in Yoga for you to get on the Yoga mat? Can Yoga be custom made for the lethargic kind? The answer is a resounding Yes! In fact, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has founded The International Association For Human Values says, “the purpose of yoga is to stop misery before it comes.Yoga is wealth in the sense that it brings absolute comfort.”
1) Yoga IS for the lethargic
Yoga brings perfect coordination between all the parts of the body and coordination on the level of body, mind and soul. So when all your body parts are well-coordinated, you will require less energy to perform the same task than what (energy) you required before. Yoga helps conserve your energy. Global humanitarian and spiritual master, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has founded The International Association For Human Values says about yoga, “Yoga provides us tools and techniques to lead a stress-free and tension-free life. Yoga is also the greatest wealth of humankind. What is wealth? The purpose of wealth is to bring happiness and comfort. Yoga is wealth in the sense that it brings absolute comfort.”
2) The myth about Yoga
There is a myth that Yoga is just asanas or postures, whereas Yoga in its essence is the state of union of the mind, body and breath and that state is something that gives you deep relaxation on the physical, mental and the subtle level of your being. When you are well rested, you are highly energized. When there is right amount of energy in the system, you find the required interest to do the task. Gurudev defines Yoga as “uniting; uniting the small mind with the big mind, bringing harmony between body, breath and mind. If the body and the mind are not aligned then it is not Yoga.
Gurudev thus simply defines a Yogi-“A yogi is one who is connected with the infinity; connected with everybody. He doesn’t feel isolated with anyone, at anytime. Yogi is one who is skilful, one who is flexible. Some people have a very flexible body, but their minds are very rigid. Thats not a Yogi. A yoig has strength, yet is soft. He/she has innocence, yet depth in wisdom. A yogi is sensible and sensitive. Often people who think they are very sensible are not very sensitive, and people who are very sensitive are not sensible at all! A yogi is a perfect combination of sensibility and sensitivity. Yogi is one who is loving, yet very centered.”
3) Watch your food
Yoga is a way of life and not just body contortions. It includes inculcating a healthy lifestyle in one’s system. If you have lethargic tendencies, you must look at what you put in your system. So in the context of eating, Ayurveda is also an important aspect of Yoga. There are basic rules, of Ayurveda, that if one follows, they can get rid of lethargy. For example, if you are eating right quality and quantity of food, it can make a big difference. There are three kinds of food- Tamasic (negative), Rajasic (neutral) and Satvic (positive). Meat, fast food and heavy to digest food are considered Tamasic food. Milk and milk-based products have Rajasic qualities and foods like fruits and fresh vegetables are rich in Sattvic qualities.
Your state of mind depends on what you eat. It has been heard and experienced. If you eat a sattvic meal, you attain a restful and alert state of mind. Generally restfulness, and alertness appear opposite but Yoga is something which can help you to experience this EFFORTLESSLY!
4) Meditation requires you to sit and do nothing
Meditation gives you a beautiful blend of high awareness and deep rest. Lethargy is a demand of rest in your body and mind. Yoga (including breathing and meditation) is something that can suffice. Apart from asanas that can help you get rid of physical restlessness in your body, meditation helps you to keep your mind peaceful and helps you to get rid of restlessness and agitation on the mental level. Gurudev spells out the simplest meaning of meditation for everyone- “Meditation is the art of doing nothing. It is total effortlessness.” There are various guided meditations available on CDs or YouTube for those who find it difficult to sit by themselves and meditate.
5) Power of Pranayama
Pranayamas are a set of breathing practices which increase the flow of Prana, a subtle life force energy in our system in a big way. Pranayamas like Bhastrika (bellow’s breath) and Kapalbhati (skull shining) breathing techniques are instant energy boosters for the body. These may be learned under the guidance of a professional Sri Sri Yoga instructor.
6) The bliss of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a beautiful practice which can be done even by those, who do not know the Y of Yoga. Yoga Nidra is a resting technique where the attention is taken through different parts of the body, giving them rest and taking away the fatigue stored in each cell of the body. It gives a deep relaxation. The result is very similar to ironing a garment. As ironing takes out the wrinkles from the garments, Yoga Nidra takes away the tiredness and rejuvenates the mind in only 20 minutes or less.
7) Slowing it down
You can get into the physical aspect of yoga gradually and at one’s own pace like when one starts the ignition of a car, it starts off at a slower speed and then the driver steps on the paddle. You can gradually get into simpler Asanas first and then over time can reach to the perfection of asanas. One can start with rotations and stretches and then can gradually get into the perfection of postures. In this way, the body adapts much easier and faster. Being in complete oneness with whatever posture you practice, is more important than complexity of the posture.
An important benefit of Yoga is it has the potential to change an individual’s behavior.
Gurudev says, “It (yoga) changes the behavior of a person because behavior depends on the stress level in a person. It creates a friendly disposition and a very pleasant atmosphere in people. Yoga helps to improve our vibes. We convey a lot through our presence, even more than our words. Speaking in terms of quantum mechanics, we are all emitting vibes or wavelengths. When communication breaks down, we often say ‘Our wavelengths don’t match’ because our ability to communicate depends on our ability to receive communication from others. Here, yoga helps us to have that clear mind.”