Yoga - Why we must not avoid yoga
by Shameem Akthar
Yoga asanas are not truly about the body, but about ensuring that the body is intact
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
As an instructor I am faced with all
sorts of excuses people throw up
to avoid doing yoga. Including those
who are good at it and especially those
who feel they have Ďadvancedí spiritually.
It is amusing, because that is
precisely the sort of trap that life lays
for us and which yoga, in its physical
form, seeks to save us from.
It is simple. We are meant to disintegrate
physically. Nature has no use
for us once we are past our childbearing
years. Medical science has noted
that this disintegration starts as early
as in our 20s, from brain cells, to skin
cells, to our digestive tract and our circulatory
system as well as the master
glands that govern our hormonal system.
Everything in the body is meant
to disintegrate, to make way for the
next generation. Physical yoga seeks
to halt this disintegration, so that we
can utilise our lucky birth as human
beings, to grow closer to our goals
of liberation and self-realisation. As
Adi Shankaracharya said, we have
to pass through 84 lakh births
before we attain a human birth that
opens up our mental eyes to the
concept of moksha.
Perhaps it is not at all a coincidence
that many of our spiritual inspirations,
be it Lord Shiva, Krishna, Buddha,
or Adi Shankaracharya, are depicted
as youthful. Perhaps there is
implied a physical strength that met
up with their mental and spiritual
strengths? Perhaps, that need not
be sniffed at.
If this is remembered, then the discipline
of yoga, including its cleansing
pranayama practices (very difficult to
practice this on your own!) becomes
easier. However, those who forget this,
will create all those excuses that I hear
endlessly. Boredom, and greater spiritual
advancement, that insists they do
more meditation instead of asanas. Illhealth,
often a created one, by many
regular students, who simply are
not used to the idea of complete
health through yoga, or who seek
ill-health as an escape route from
something immediately disturbing
in their lives.
Sirsha angustha yogasana
Stand with feet a metre apart. Flare
right foot out, keeping left lightly
turned in. Interlock hands behind.
Inhale. While exhaling, bend torso in
front, reaching head to the floor, as
low as possible, almost to the ground,
touching it in front of the right foot.
You will be bending at the right knee
to accommodate this forward tilt.
Hold the pose, extending the arms
behind throughout. Breathe normally.
Release, by gently standing upright.
Then repeat for the other side.
Benefits and caution:
This is an advanced pose, and may
be attempted only by someone with
an intermediate level of yoga practice.
It works the legs powerfully.
Removes digestive complaints. Trims
fat, especially along the waist. It tones
the entire spine.
See more articles on Yoga at: www.lifepositive.com/articles/yoga