Yog is really about trying to contemplate the mystery of Creation for one’s own self. It has no religion. That is a major misconception
When I was small, say about ten or twelve years of age, my mother bothered that I would remain short by height. She got father to find a Yoga school under an eminent teacher, where I would be sent daily in the evenings.
Padmasana, of course, was the basic. Then came the other ones, like the back bending, spine elongating Ardhakumbhasana, Varjrasana, Mayurasana, Pawanmuktasana, and so forth.
For a growing child, such rigour could be too much or the restless years. But somehow, within a few months, I got ‘hooked’ to the system, so much so that if I missed it practicing one day – maybe because of school work, maybe because we went out one evening I would feel restless till I got back to the bed where I slept, and I did the asanas. I would feel much better then.
By the time I was in Class 10, though, mother was more or less reassured that my height would be fine and no one would compare me with a pigmy.
But those physical movements of the body were not what Yoga was all about. No one tells you the inner truth, especially when Yoga has been packaged as an international commodity.
The essence of Yoga is about Yog. Sounds childish? No. It is so profound that unless one is given to serious contemplation and a meditative frame of mind, one cannot realise what Yoga – or Yog – is.
The Sanskrit word Yog literally means ‘joining with’. Yoga, or Yog, actually how it should be pronounced means joining with the Inner Reality.
Now, what is an inner reality?
It is the essence of the universe, of Creation, of what we loosely term as God, for the absence of a deeper term to explain the Creator.
While I was learning the physical manoeuvrings that were the Asasnas, I was also doing pretty shabbily in school, especially in math. So a private tutor was duly appointed by my father, and he was a very nice guy. So nice that he would do whatever I would tell him, which was reverse the reason he was appointed.
So one day, my mother returned from the market with some bread and milk, and found me teaching him some of the asanas. He told my mother he could not deal with me, so he gave up his job. It is much later that I realised that I had only taught him motions, not the inner essence.
The inner essence of Yog is breathing….Why so?.... There are many kinds of Yog.
The least, minimalist Yog is Hathyog, ‘Hath’ meaning physical’. Those are the physical exercises that one performs – whether on Rajpath of in our homes – as pure exercises.
Every one of them has an impact on several parts of the body, like on the stomach, brain, liver, kidney, pituitary glands, oesophagus, trachea, blood circulation, and so forth. Hence, for the normal wellbeing of a human being, Hathyog is very crucial. You can easily do away with expensive gymming by doing Yog, but under proper guidance.
But that, as I said, is pure physical exercise.
There will be nothing unless a higher level of existence, yes, existence is sought to be achieved through control over breathing…Why so, as I asked earlier?
Imagine yourself without breath for as long as a minute or so.
Often, when you are exposed to the Delhi ambient air, or have taken the elevator, you feel breathless… chocked, you would say. So what would happen if you lost your breath for more than a minute?
Let me put it on a more positive note: the air that keeps you alive is also what keeps you in touch with your inner reality, or what can be summarized in three letters, GOD.
Yog is the praxis of regulating your breath and focusing on it, through and during the process of undertaking strenuous physical movements of the body, so as to unite with God.
That God is not a religion, neither Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or any other, but an inner quest on three basic questions: Who are you? Where have you come from? And where are you headed?
Following your breath is the real Yog, uniting with the Ultimate.
Breath and Higher
Many have sought to force down the throats of others concepts such as Surya Namaskar and Gayatri Mantra. These are higher stages of Yog, which has nothing to do with any religion, specifically not Hinduism.
Surya Namaskar is a physical exercise aimed at energizing oneself from the sun. The sun has no religion. There is no, or cannot be, any life without the sun.
But the conception is much broader, as said in the Gayatri Mantra.
In terms of Yog, Gayatri Mantra is misconstrued as a worship of the sun…It is not.
Tha Gyatri mantra, again, religion agnostic, says that “we worship that power which has created this entire universe, from the land on which we stand, to the higher levels of the universe.” It is about billions of suns and millions of galaxies, which the world of science is still trying to come to terms with, with the God Particle (Higgs Boson) exploding on the scientific firmament as a proof of Einstein’s theory of a Unified Field, again, which has no religion attached to it.
Two giant telescopes across America and on in Europe, heard the faintest of faint sounds of what they later realised were two Black Holes collapsing into each other, and they wondered what that was…That was a one-off Enid Blyton mystery on the origins of the Universe.
Yog is really about trying to contemplate that mystery for one’s own self.
For the Nth time, must I stress that Yog has no religion. It is a major misconception. Yog had been devised at a time when there was neither Islam nor Christianity. Sanatan Dharm was the only existential praxis, and there was no sense of ‘religion’ in is. Hence, it is wrong to associate Yog with any religion. And it is also wrong to understand Yog as a set of physical manoeuvrings. It is all about getting in touch with yourself, your true essence.
Yog, therefore is the attempt to unite with the causality of creation…Which is why the breath is so basic to it.
Kumbhasana, Sheershasana, or whatever physical posture you take, your focus must be on the breath, the WHY and HOW of living.
It is a fact that this will lead to a higher realm of your realised existence, where you are more at peace.
Peace, after all, is closest you can get to God, in any form, whether the Shiva Lingam or the Qaba.
Yog, thus, is the basic tenet of reaching out to a higher reality.
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