This yoga journey began with a quest.
My Baba, a man of healthy habits who went for regular morning and evening walks and practiced yoga asanas and pranayama daily was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. He was 75 years old and the cancer was at stage 4. In spite of being able to afford and avail the best treatment, we could not go for any. It was a race against time because of the advanced stage. We lost him within three weeks of the diagnosis.
I was shattered. I could not cope with this huge loss and kept on wondering how something like cancer could creep into a body of such a healthy person. We always think that physical fitness is the key to long life. Since he was so regular with his asanas and pranayams, I wanted to experience and in the process seek some answers to my questions. I joined the Yoga Institute in Mumbai to do a course.
My journey taught me a few very important things. It helped me to come out of the conventional myths that surround Yoga and face the real facts.
Myth 1: Yoga is all about asanas and pranayams
My first learning was that Yoga is not just about asanas and pranayams but it is much more than that. It is a philosophy to lead a better life by balancing and uniting the body, mind and soul. Yoga is all about concentration. Yoga is all about focus. Maharshi Patanjali’s yog sutra defines Yoga as ‘chitta vritti nirodh”,cessation of all the alterations and modifications of the mind. Asanas and pranayams are only the techniques to follow this philosophy.
I also learnt about the eight fold path or ashtang yoga prescribed for all on the journey of yoga. We had classes for three hours daily wherein only an hour was dedicated to asanas, pranayama and kriyas. Yoga taught me to sit quietly with my eyes closed in sukhasan (sitting cross legged on a mat), just observing my breath, enjoying the peace and tranquillity that crept in slowly once my mind was at peace. I learnt to ignore the physical discomfort that comes with the sitting posture.
Myth 2: Yoga can be learnt in a month
Most people think that just by following a course, one can learn Yoga. I realized that since yoga is not about the asanas and the postures, it cannot be learnt in a month. One can only ‘learn’ yoga by embedding in in one’s daily lifestyle.
The four pillars of yoga are aahra(diet), vihar(exercise), achar(routines), and vichar(thoughts). This shows that it is all about our daily life and cannot be compressed into a few days of learning some postures only.
Through yoga, I learnt to ‘shut down’ properly just like our electronic devices. I learnt to let go –surrender to the higher reality that I call God –one who watches over all of us. I am still learning so many things everyday,it is a never ending process.
Myth 3: It is impossible to control the mind
I used to believe that mind is something which we cannot control.
Yoga taught me that we are made of two entities, matter (prakriti)and soul (purusha). While most of the time we are trying to identify ourselves and others with the matter we are actually moving away from the absolute truth, the soul. The absolute truth is that we are like energy that can never be created nor destroyed. Yoga taught me that body and mind are so closely related with each other that one cannot function properly without being fully aware of the other.
The philosophy taught me to control my mind, my thoughts, and my actions.
I learnt to accept that nothing other than change is permanent. This brought peace in me and helped me to accept the loss of my Baba. I know and believe now that his soul will live on. Forever.
I have not stopped seeking the answers.
The whole concept of Yoga has become my way of life now.
Having experienced the power and beauty of Yoga, I am on a mission now to spread this message to many more and hope to guide them to a better way of life.
Written bySucharita Shome
Sucharita Shome is a Physics major student who did a professional PG degree in HRM, worked in manufacturing, consulting, airlines and education before turning into a yoga trainer. She lived in 7 cities in India, UK and UAE, now residing in Mumbai with her caring husband and two lovely teenage girls. She strongly believes in,“Do to others what you would like them to do to you”