Yoga From the Himalayas to a Community Center Near You
Aug 15, 2014
Perhaps you are, or once were, a member of a yoga class? For so many of us, Hatha Yoga is our first introduction to “Eastern Philosophy”. We want to get fit without pounding the flesh on our feet and we don’t fancy voluntarily mounting a treadmill in a gym with buds in our ears. It is all so much effort.
What sets Yoga apart is the fact that it has ease.
Take It Easy
After all, what we are aiming for is more enjoyment in life. For some of us it seems contradictory to pound away until we build up a real sweat while learning to enjoy.
In the India of antiquity there was a very clear understanding of means and ends, cause and effect, an understanding that has been lost in modern times, even in India.
The ancient wisdom advises, if you want more ease in your life then be easy now.
The postures stretch our muscles and then relax them – slowly. Straining to attain is strictly forbidden. The goal is “drop the goal”
When it first became popular in the west, Yoga was seen as a “soft option” because of this very ease. It was taken up by ladies and taught in community halls on a weekly basis.
The jewel of wisdom at its heart was completely overlooked by the racing, chasing achievement oriented section of society.
Women Get Fit
Personal fitness was not a social phenomenon in those days – the late 1950s/early 1960s. Social drinking of alcohol was widespread and every kind of food was plentiful in the West. As a result excess weight became common and nobody thought much about the effects of that on health.
Meantime, the women in the halls continued and continued week after week to slowly stretch and relax, bend and relax into postures developed over thousands of years. The results were becoming noticeable – these women were svelte and graceful, their energy levels were high, their eating habits began to change, they became healthy and unexpectedly more content and at ease with themselves.
They went on television demonstrating the Yoga postures and suddenly women all over the country were interested. They wanted to be like those flexible, balanced women and could see that they wouldn’t have to strain their bodies to breaking point to get there.
Just a little Hatha Yoga each day would bring about the revolution they craved – good health and a good figure.
The era of personal fitness had begun.
The Purpose of Hatha Yoga
In the 21st century the majority of the population seems to believe that the main purpose of Hatha Yoga is to create physical fitness and that certainly is its effect. However, this effect is best described as a side effect.
The main purpose of Hatha Yoga is to help bring about the union of the individual with the Divine.
It is one of the eight limbs of Yoga developed in India thousands of years ago and is designed to be practised as an adjunct to the regular experience of meditation, which is itself the primary route to the source of Being.
The word Yoga means Union.
Hatha Yoga is the physical route to obtaining union with the Divine.
Divine = Perfection. Union with perfection. The perfection within the individual. Union with the perfection that is within the individual.
This is what connects the Women of the West with the Eastern Rishis (Seers) of long ago.
The practice of Hatha Yoga has gained in popularity over the decades. Nowadays, the glossy magazines are brimming over with articles about successful businesspeople who practice Yoga every day in order to stay sharp and smart.
Wholeness is the new Fitness
Not merely fitness is sought these days. Wholeness is aspired to. A healthy body and a healthy mind. The connection between what goes into the body in the form of food and drink and the subsequent performance of that body in activity has been made.
For many, the gyms with their treadmill machines and other mechanical means of creating fitness are their path to a better physiology. The desire to be better, stronger, more alert is spreading across the social strata.
But somehow, one can’t help feeling that the concept of ease will take its place alongside the Western concepts of effort and striving, not simply because it makes us fitter and more beautiful, but mainly because the human psyche has at its depths a longing for union with the Divine. A longing that the ancient Rishis were aware of and addressed for the benefit of all generations to come.
The best way to experience this level of Yoga—the transcendental Level of Being is through an easy effortless technique of meditation—Transcendental Meditation®
Yogasthah Kuru Karmani
“Established in Yoga (Union) perform action”
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Verse 48
Maharishi talks below about how we can live that unity with our inner blissful nature here:
The hands in the Skill in action image were photographed by தகவலுழவன். This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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