Expert and enthusiast EAMAN MURRAR shows us how Yoga can bring health and vitality everyone’s life.
Expert and enthusiast EAMAN MURRAR shows us how Yoga can bring health and vitality to everyone’s life.
Yoga is a subject which is close to my heart. As a Yoga teacher for children and adults, I have seen that I am not alone in feeling health and inner contentment through Yoga.
Yet sometimes I feel that Yoga is probably one of the most mysterious and therefore misunderstood of health related activities.
It is at times presented as requiring a feat of acrobatics or extreme flexibility. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Contrary to popular belief, Yoga does not (thankfully) have to involve standing on one’s head or sitting for hours in the lotus posture. If it did, I would be in a different profession.
The word Yoga has many translations. My favourite one is union. Yoga is a method of uniting movement with the breath and the consciousness. Thus it could potentially encompass any movement, no matter how basic.
Simply maintaining my focus entirely on slowly lifting my arm as I inhale and lowering it as I exhale can be a form of Yoga and can be the start towards developing a more balanced body and a clearer mind.
On another level, Yoga is the union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. This is a philosophical rather than a religious concept. By creating harmony and flow in the body and the mind, we as individuals can become more in tune with the greater flow of life in general.
By keeping completely connected to what we are doing in the present moment, we are able to pull ourselves out of the memories of the past or worries about the future.
We create a foundation of peacefulness within ourselves which can help us interact with the world in a more positive and relaxed way. We place less responsibility on the outer world for the provision of our happiness.
Instead we realise that happiness lies within ourselves and can remain present throughout the ever changing tides of circumstance. In Sanskrit, the word santosha is used to describe this feeling of contentment and acceptance that we gain, once we have become accustomed to letting go of any expectation for the future or judgement of the past.
A fundamental part of Yogic practice, for me, lies in learning to breathe more deeply, calmly and efficiently. How we breathe has an influence on how relaxed (or stressed) we feel.
A yoga posture done without consideration for the breath is no longer Yoga – no matter how good it looks.
On the other hand, sitting quietly and breathing consciously can be a far more effective Yoga practice than any contortion of arm or leg.
At this point it might be worth mentioning that the Sanskrit term for a Yoga posture is asana which is often translated as comfortable seat.
There is no reason why one cannot sit in a chair to practice the breathing exercises – known as pranayama – if it is more comfortable to do so.
Similarly, there are thousands of asanas to choose from. It is quite possible to select very gentle and accessible postures to practice and still gain the same beneficial results as we might have hoped to gain from more physically challenging postures.
In fact, Yoga does not have to centre on the practice of physical postures at all. In addition to the asanas, the meditation and breathing exercises that most people equate with Yoga, there are other equally important practices that aim towards generating balance and peacefulness within us.
One such practice is karma Yoga which involves helping others, whenever we can, in a selfless way with no thought for personal gain.
Another aspect of Yoga involves the cultivation of wisdom from the study of philosophical or spiritual texts from any background.
There is also the well known practice of ahimsa (non-violence) which some people incorporate into their lives by becoming vegetarians, for example.
Ultimately it is probably a combination of all the Yogic practices together that brings about the most positive and lasting results. However, the beauty of Yoga and its many branches is that there is the freedom to choose whichever practise suits the individual best.
In this way Yoga can become the doorway to a more comfortable body, tranquil mind and peaceful heart for more of us than we might imagine.