“When your body, mind and soul are healthy and harmonious, you will bring health and harmony to those around you and health and harmony into the world- not by withdrawing from the world but by being a healthy living organ of the body of humanity.”
– B.K.S. Iyengar, from The Tree of Yoga
The practice of yoga is centuries old, (some research dates its origins back to the Bronze Age), but yoga only appeared in the Western world’s consciousness in the 1980’s.
Despite it’s late appearance, its popularity has spread like wildfire. Suddenly, anybody who is anybody – from Jennifer Aniston to Jon Bon Jovi – is a yoga practitioner. It has become the ultimate prescription for the body beautiful, with celebrities like Gisele Bündchen, being quoted in Vogue magazine as saying that after giving birth, she regained her figure with nothing more than a yoga mat.
But what really does the practice of Yoga entail? What are its benefits? And is it really for everybody?
One of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, Yoga is a defined as a generic term for the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace, or uniting our consciousness with universal consciousness.
On a more practical level, it is a way of balancing the body, breath, emotions and mind through the practise of asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), mudra (gestures), bandha (locks), shatkarma (cleansing and detoxification practices) and/or dhyana (meditation). It’s like transforming a lazy body into a vibrant body and a dull mind into an active, observant and aware one.
While it is commonly assumed that Yoga is about being “bendy”, there is a lot more to it than just that.
“It’s about showing up to your mat consistently not knowing what’s going to happen and being ok with that. It’s about rehabilitating yourself and not believing the ‘experts’ when they say you are too injured or too old. It’s about believing that you can do anything even if it’s the most scariest impossible thing you could ever dream of,” says Carrin Lee, who is a long-time yoga practitioner and trainer. “It’s about uncovering who you really are. Yoga is about discovering that most of the crazy thoughts in your head are not true. It’s about being healthy without pushing yourself to your limit. It’s about slowing down to get strong. It’s about breathing and moving and smiling on the inside,” she adds.
An article in osteopathic.com, the website for the American Osteopathic association states that regular yoga practice has “physical, mental and spiritual benefits”. Not only can it help reduce chronic pain, it can also help to lessen stress and its associated risks such as raised blood pressure and insomnia.
So whom is yoga for?
According to Lee, yoga is suitable for most adults of any age or physical condition. “As it is relatively not very strenuous, even those with physical limitations can enjoy and benefit from Yoga,” she says, “Still if you have any chronic or acute illnesses, or if you have any doubts please check it with your doctor first”.
Yoga group classes commence at Fitology on July 1, and will be taught by Ms Carrin Lee. Kindly check our website www.fitology.my for pricing details and our weekly schedule.