We join Yoga classes, for various reasons- to stay fit, to learn to stay calm, to be flexible, to break the monotony of gym or as a way to heal mild chronic conditions. But the real meaning of Yoga has never been revealed to us. Here is a path-breaking revelation by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the International Association for Human Values, that deepens our understanding of this ancient practice, on the occasion of the International Yoga Day 2017 being celebrated world over.
‘Yoga is that which gives you pleasure and comfort. The definition for ‘asana’ is ‘ a posture that is stable and pleasant’. You should feel comfortable when doing yoga asanas. What is the definition of comfort? When you don’t feel the body. If you are sitting in some odd positions then you feel those parts of the body, painfully. Your focus is more on the discomfort there. When you do any asana, what you feel first is discomfort. But if you take your mind through it, you will find that in just a few minutes the discomfort has disappeared and you feel bodilessness. You feel an expansion or infinity in the postures.
How Should A Posture Be Done?
1. Get into a position and let go of the effort. What happens then? Infinity abides in you. So each asana should be done keeping in mind that the goal of this is not just the correctness of the posture but to feel an expansion within. This is the most important thing in yoga asanas. The purpose of yoga is not only to keep a good physical shape but also to experience infinity and timeless expansion. And that starts happening to you with a little practice.
2. The other definition of yoga is to get back to the seer from the scenery. Slowly take your attention from outside to inside. First, from the environment, bring your attention to the physical body. Then go one step further because even the body is the scenery and take your attention to the mind. Now when you witness the thoughts that are coming in the mind, even that becomes the scenery. Go deeper. So movement from the scenery to the seer, to the one who is seeing everything is another definition of yoga. Whenever you experience joy, ecstasy, bliss, and happiness in life, knowingly or unknowingly you are abiding in the nature of the seer.
3. At other times, you are with different activities of the mind, you are lost in them. What are these different activities of the mind? The modulations of the mind are of five forms, some are problematic and some are not problematic.
- Pramana: when the mind is engaged in wanting proof.
- Viparyaya: means wrong understanding.
- Vikalpa: means an imaginary notion, not conforming to reality
- Nidra: which means sleep
- Smruti: living in memory
These five Vrittis drain the potential of a human being. They continue to exist, but having control over them is what yoga is all about. They are like horses. If the reins of the horses are in your hands, then you can give them direction, but if you are at the mercy of the horse then it takes you wherever it goes.
It is said, ‘Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha’, these five vrittis need to be arrested. When you do an asana, the goal of the asana is to feel comfortable in that posture and then feel the expansion; not by wanting to feel but by letting go, by not ‘doing’ something.
So the first step in yoga is to let go, to relax and the last step in yoga is also to let go and relax.’