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Sahajata in Yoga

By : Anant Ashtekar. (Yoga Vidya Niketan, Mumbai)

1. Present Trend:

At many places in abroad and India too Yoga Practices are performed as Exercises. The Yoga is a spiritual science. The aim should be to the Moksha, Liberation or "Kaivalya" as rightly described by sage Patanjali. It is felt that yoga is presented in many attractive trade names to market it. We should take cognizance of such undesired ways and try to restrain ourselves and others.

1.1: Mallakhamba Yoga: If you look towards this picture you will see a youth doing very dynamic and skill full presentation on Mallakhamb. No doubt it is wonderful and worth of appreciating it.

"Mallakhamb is also a very nice Yoga Sport. Mallakhamb Yoga is Korunta Yoga. In fact Mallakhamb is a traditional Indian sport in which a gymnast performs poses and feats while hanging from a vertical wooden pole or rope. The word "Mallakhamb" is composed of Malla, which denotes a gymnast or a man of strength, and khamb, which is a pole. Mallakhamb, therefore, can be translated in English as pole gymnastics.

Originally The Mallakhamb was introduced as a supporting Exerciser for Wrestling. It was invented by Balambhattdada Deodhar in somewhere between 1800 to 1810. There are three main variations of Mallakhamb.Pole Fixed, Hanging made up of teak or sheesham or Rope. The participant performs various acrobatic poses and feats while hanging on the pole.

1.2: Power yoga: It is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based. The term "power yoga" came into common usage in the mid 1990s, when several yoga teachers were looking for a way to make yoga more accessible to western students. Unlike Ashtanga, power yoga does not follow a set series of poses. Therefore, any power yoga class can vary widely from the next. What they have in common is an emphasis on strength and flexibility. The people began to see yoga as a way to work out. Power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America.
Two American yoga teachers are most often credited with the near simultaneous invention of power yoga
However, power yoga will most likely appeal to people who are already quite fit, enjoy exercising, and want a minimal amount of chanting and meditation with their yoga. (Whereas HathaYOGA says: Yuva Vriddhoti Vriddho va Vyadhito Durbalo pi Va...)

1.3: Bikram or hot yoga: It is a series of yoga poses done in a heated room, which is usually maintained at a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 40 degrees Celsius). Yoga at this temperature promotes profuse sweating, which is believed to help rid the body of toxins, keeps the body very warm, and more flexible.

Bikram yoga works toward wellness, restoration and rejuvenation. The heated studio facilitates deeper stretching, prevents injury, and relieves stress and tension. Participants are guided through a series of 26 postures during which the heart, lungs, circulation, muscles, brain activity and mental capacity are all affected. There are two descriptions of the 26 exercises and they are asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises). It is common for beginners to experience dizziness and nausea. Beginners may feel faint or pass out. It is encouraged to take breaks as needed if a participant is feeling lightheaded. (Advisement brochure at Bikram Yoga, Glen Allen, Virginia)

Controversy has surrounded copyright and franchising of Bikram yoga. Bikram has enforced claims of copy right and trademark protection, most notably his sequence of 26 Asanas. His lawsuit has drawn protest from some North American yoga practitioners. In addition, his claims have incited numerous Indian historians and scientists to catalogue various yoga poses documented in ancient texts. Some yoga practitioners protest the application of copyright, franchising, trade marking and personal profit to the yoga tradition.

Bikram and Bikram yoga practitioners have been criticized for their endorsement of competitiveness in yoga, on the grounds that it deviates from yoga's true nature and purpose.

Possible Risks
There are a number of possible risks associated with performing Bikram and other forms of 'Hot' Yoga. Risks specific to Bikram and other forms of 'hot' yoga include an excess strain exerted on muscles due to the heat and relaxed muscles which may result in muscles or ligaments being stretched beyond their biological limits and getting damaged. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and injuries resulting from fainting are also among the possible risks from performing Bikram and other forms of 'Hot' Yoga. Practitioners may experience one or none of these, but it is worth knowing the risks.

1.4 Vinyasa Yoga: Literally translated, 'vinyasa' means 'to arrange' or 'to place in a special way'. But often, it is simply translated as 'flow'. It refers to Movement from one asana to the next follows the breath. The result is a smooth, flowing class that becomes almost dance-like.

Although it has evolved from Ashtanga yoga over time and is based on the 'surya namaskar' and teachers develop their own sequences using different asanas and creative transitions.

There are now many different styles of vinyasa that depend not only different yoga styles, but also dance and martial arts.

2. REASON:

Western countries are not so familiar with old texts on Vedas, Yoga, Adhyatma etc. But still yoga teachers and propagators are keen and interested to present Yoga, as they think. Competition spirit tend to make own brands, styles, methods popular in their region as if 'Indian Yoga". In our country also we dont lag behind but leave aside the footprints of stalwarts like Patanjali, Swatmaram, and Gherand. We are following western styles. Simple example is considering "Surya Namaskar" as a set of ten / fourteen types of Aasanas. Surya namaskar are in existence as salutations and exercises from the time of Vedas and Upa-Nishadas.

Competitions are also held in yoga. A reference from Bhagavad Geeta is quoted as, "Yogha Karmasu Kaushalam" BG 2:52. It doesn't mean showing or displaying acrobatics, gymnastics on the platform. The word 'Kaushalam' has come from "Kusha" a kind of holy grass that is used in rituals. The ashramites were asked to pick up the 'kusha means Darbha'. This type of grass has pointed ends which can penetrate in the fingers while picking it. So the work requires a skill. The ashramites who were easily picking were called "Kushal". It leads to real meaning. The person who is doing his work with skill is Yogi or Yogi can attend every work with skill. But we are tempted to present circus in yoga.

3. CORE CONCEPT OF YOGA :

The definition of Yoga by Bhagawan Patajali is "Yogha Chitta Vritti NirodhaI "PYD 1:2. The concept of yoga is more related towards the mind. Controlling the thoughts, and taking it towards the aim of yoga should carry more weightage than presenting gymnastics under the banner of Yoga. The chitta Vrittis, thoughts, afflictions germinate and sprout in mind and not in body. It is necessary to give more importance to the state of mind, and the body will follow it. I do agree there is a mind-body relation. But all of us agree mind often supersedes the body. And so Yoga is way to control the mind and so body.

4. Sahajata while Practising:

I am more concerned with two sutras by Patanjali. 1. "Sthir Sukham Aasanam" and "Prayatna Shaithilya Anant Samapattibhyam. The asana will be steady and comfortable only if the process of going in, maintaining it and releasing it, is with ease. Are we "sthir" while walking, running? And so no dynamic actions can be considered as asanas. Mahamuni Patanjali further desires the posture should be sthir so that the mind can be taken to "Anant", infinity or to his concept as "Purush Vishesh".

Patanjali on his Yoga Darshan has given the philosophical aspect of Yoga and not detailed any particular asanas, type of pranayams etc. The concept of various asanas, type of pranayamas, bandhas, mudras, kriyas are developed between 600 AD to 1800 AD and thereafter. The early period we can call as period of Hatha-Yoga developed by Swatmaram, Gherand, Machhindra nath and so on. Yoga experts like Swami Kuvalayananda and his disciples in 19th century has spent his life in research in yoga and have added certain concept from practical aspect. But they have side tracked the principles of Patanjali.

5. RELAXATION WHILE PRACTICING YOGA:

In case we are following PYD principles then while practising we must adhere to four cardinal points "Sthairya, Sukha, Shaithilya and the last VIP taking Mind on ANANT ".

I firmly believe that we should not deviate these points while practicing Mudras, Panayams, Bandhas and Shodhan kriyas too. One will not hesitate for asanas and mudras since these practices look like sitting postures. But in case of other practices one may sense the involvement of activities. But If you analyze pranayams, bundhas and kriyas do consist adharasanas and sadhaka has to pay the attention to the breathing, actions in kriyas and one can can not expect success without co-operation of mind. It also needs relaxing all the other parts and the systemes that are not in use. The kriyas need more relaxations for the specific organs in use.

6. DR, CDR, UDR in Aasanas:

Yoga Vidya Niketan has developed a concept of (DR) Differential Relaxation, (CDR), Conscious Differential Relaxation and (UDR) Unconscious Differential Relaxation.
  • DR: In any posture, some parts of the body and certain muscles are actively involved in achieving and maintaining the posture, while other parts and muscles are involved to lesser extent or completely relaxed. This condition is called "Differential Relaxation".

  • CDR: Maximising relaxation of the parts of the body including Nerves and Muscles, not involved in an asana while attaining and maintaining the posture. Such a state gives stability and pleasure to mind and body. Patanjali has recommended simple and easy method "Prayatna Shaithilya" i.e. consciously minimizing efforts in action. CDR is achieved utilizing optimum physical and mental energy. It derives maximum relaxation and so benefits.

  • UDR: When we practice CDR for a long time one gets conditioned to get automatic relaxation as a conditioned reflex. It enhances the skill, minimizes the energy expenditure, increases the pleasure, not only in Yoga Practices but in all other day-to-day activities as said by Lord shrikrishna "Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam". The word "Kaushalya" has come from "Kushal" (Skill). "Kusha" is kind of grass used in rituals. It has pin-pointed ends which pierce while plucking them and so it requires a skill!

7. PRANADHARANA & SAKSHIBHAVANA:

It's another gem of concept. With all the simple process of DR when one attends final state of asana one should go Pranadharana (PD). PD is just awareness of our own normal breath. Take the mind and aware the breath. There are three stages of PD. PD1: Count the breath, PD2: Aware the breath at the walls of nostrils. PD3: Feel the thermal sensation at the soft palate. PD gives benefit of "Sthir Sukha Aasanam I ". Our experience of last 50 years of this concept has done miracle changes in human attitude. Type of PD is of ones choice. PD and DR are possible in any type of posture for desired time. However if one is practicing a sitting posture like Vajrasana, Padmasana etc we have better option of "SAKSHIBAVANA" Its "Observing Mental Activity Passively with Conscious Mind." One can say its kind of Dhyana. PD/SB with DR satisfies the of Patanjali's principle," PRAYATNA SHAITHILYA ANANT SAMAPATTIBHYAM I ".
Practical Demonstration: Utthitha Ek Padasana:

One leg 15%, One hand 10%, Chest - Abdomen and Back 20% each and head 10%. One leg is in action means 15% activity and 85% relaxation. So relaxation is more than action.

8. CONCEPT OF "KARMA, AKARMA, VIKARMA, and NAISHKARMYA" BHAGAVAD GEETA:

When we practice yoga with theses simple principle we automatically follow the concept of Geeta. Practsing yoga becomes 'Akarma" .The creation of this Brahmanda is Karma. It has birth on its own. While creation "HE" the Ishwara is "AKARMI". All Balutedars (Artisians like carpenter, Kumbhar etc) are borned karmi. They do their nominated duties. And so these are "VIHIT" karmas. Taking breath, taking food for life are also of same type. And when while performing Karma one remains un-attached with it, it is "NAISHKARMA". And if really we could do such Yoga Sadhana the Moksha is not far away.

I will conclude with my Guru Shri Nimbalkarji with his famous and apt comment

 "Sahaj Bhaye wo Dhoodasam ISayas kare wo Pani I
Kahat kabir WO Rakta Sama I Janke Khinchatani II

 


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