…Beep…Beep…Beep…There goes the alarm!
It’s already 6.30am! I am up on time, yet late! Gotta rush through my bath, breakfast and drive to office to punch on time!Ah! My back hurts! Hate this body ache!
What? Some Yoga exercises and I’ll be through? In my dreams! Who has the time?
Gone are those days, when Mom made me do Yoga and proudly called me a little Yogi! Wish I could be Mom’s Yogi once again!
Oops! 6.45am! Rrruuussshhhhh!
Do you too have a similar conversation with yourself, every morning?
All of us are simply running all the time, if not physically, then surely mentally. Job, relationships, money, house, future, marriage, kids, health, education and what not? All of it is on our minds, all the time.
Tired of being tired? Have no time to set aside a time for Yoga?
Still want to practice Yoga and be a true Yogi?
You already are A Yogi. What!?!
You would be surprised to know that most of us follow certain ways of living in our day-to-day life that are a part of being a true Yogi. They are practices that are as simple and as usual as taking a bath!!
Then what remains?
The extra mile that we need to travel is to have its complete knowledge and put the remaining practices into practise.
The ones that I am talking about were suggested by Sage Patanjali, thousands of years ago and are collectively referred to as ‘The 8 Limbs of Yoga’. I prefer to call it a Modern Day Ashtanga Yoga (Ashta= Eight, Anga=Limbs).
What follows now is not an explanation, but words of realization, which will tell you why you are a Yogi without Yoga.
Level 1 – Yama (or Right Living)
Life is full of Do’s and Don’ts and so is Yoga. The first limb, Yama, is all about the Don’ts of life. To make it easy to understand and follow, it has been divided into 5 aspects:
Nonviolence: This limb teaches us to not hurt any living creature out of love or hatred; be it physically or emotionally.
So, if you didn’t throw a stone at that dog, the last time he barked at you, refrained from saying ‘I hate you Dad’, when he didn’t allow you to play the PS4, and consider it inhuman to use harsh words for beggars or servants, then Kudos to you! You just qualified yourself as a First level Yogi.
Truthfulness: And it means:
Don’t lie to others and, most importantly, to yourself.
Other aspects like no stealing, celibacy & fidelity, and non-possessiveness also can easily be incorporated in daily life too.
Get rid of thoughts like His-house-is-my-house, or non-yogi actions like credit theft at office, taking office stationery home, etc. Do you realize even eating too much is stealing? You are stealing pleasure!
Similarly, do not indulge in relationships outside your marital boundaries. Stay loyal to your partner. If something is bothering you, discuss, don’t just take the easy path. Remember, its an emotional violence you are putting your partner under!
And ladies, the last aspect of greedless-ness or non-possessiveness is especially for you. Stop right there! No need to buy those slip-ons. You already have five at home. Also, stop accepting undue gifts from your admirers.
Level 2 – Niyama (or Duties and obligations)
Niyama lays down mental exercises to help one take charge of their emotions. It is a list of Do’s of life. It is a perfect blend of five tenets:
Cleansing: Most of us translate this to bathing everyday, but it is much more than that.
Do you let yourself melt in tears to let go of the past mistakes and guilt? Crying occasionally, saying sorry, making attempts to redeem your self are also, my friend, a part of yogic lifestyle. You are a yogi if, apart from physical cleaning, you believe in leaving the mental and emotional dirt behind, and moving forward feeling light and happy.
Next, tell me when was the last time you looked at things around you and thought to yourself: I am happy with the money, love, status, riches, and comfort that I have in life…? Last weekend? Congratulations on your yogic moment! You practiced contentment!
If you haven’t said that to yourself ever, do it now, feel it now, and give yourself a pat on your back, because you just stepped up your yogic practice.
Many a times, it’s just not our day and things simply don’t go our way. Yet we maintain our cool, bearing all insult and injury, taking life with a pinch of salt. This, friends, is exactly what Tapas or austerity (prudence) means.
Abstaining yourself from over reacting and taking reins back from your emotions.
Okay, now tell me do you recite mantras daily after bath, study religious books and scriptures every morning before leaving the house? What am I asking? Of course you don’t.
But do you devote some bath time to letting your hidden American Idol take stage? Do you tell yourself looking into the mirror, “You look amazing. Go conquer the world!”?? Or do you breathe in and out and ask yourself to have patience as you sense a crisis approaching?
Then dear mine, you are totally into Svadhyaya: the study of oneself.
Shakespeare revealed his Yogic side when in As you Like it, he says, “The world’s a stage. And men and women merely players…”
Often we leave things to fate or God and remove all our attachments and strings from the event, place or person. Sometimes, when I feel things are not turning up as my plan A or B, I don’t give up entirely but begin to feel like its time for Plan G, the God’s Plan.
This surrender to God and love for the divine is Ishwarapranidhana.
Already feeling like a Second level Yogi? Well then, it’s time to level up your score. We move to Asanas.
Level 3 – Asana (or Bodily postures)
I know you’re busy and don’t have time at all for this one, but just to remind you, this is exactly how people think of Yoga as – A set of pretzel postures to derive maximum benefit.
Though I’m sure, by now, you have learnt that Yoga is much more than some seating arrangement. Even if you practice a straight back while in office for 15 minutes a day, stretch out your arms and legs once in a while, walk your dog in the morning, or engage with your body while focusing on its movement, you are doing yoga. I mean, asana!
Level 4 – Pranayama (or Extension of Life Force)
Prana means life force. Pranayama is basically a process of gaining control over that force. Out of all the essential elements, it is the air that we need the most for our survival, and hence, considered synonymous to life force.
So, when you take a deep breath before lifting up a heavy box or engage in shallow breathing after a exhausting day at work, you are practicing one or other form of Pranayama. Whatever you are doing to breathe in a conscious manner is either conservation or an extension of your life force.
Level 5 – Pratyahara (or Withdrawal from Senses)
The role of our senses is to provide “food for thought”. Depriving them of this food, helps one train his mind. A person who gives in to his senses is like a grown up child with no discipline. If we do not learn to control our senses, they begin to dominate and dance over us. However, we do know how to withdraw our senses.
Aren’t there instances when it does not matter what the people outside are saying or doing, you just continue with your work? Instances where you choose to ignore the world. (Mind the stress laid on choose. This means you make a conscious decision.)
Take driving for example. Imagine yourself to be on the driver’s seat, driving to office. On your way, even if people on the street, ask you to stop and listen to what they are saying; will you?
You will simply withdraw your attention from there and put it to your driving, trying to reach office on time! That’s exactly what’s meant by Pratyahara or withdrawal from the senses!
Ashtanga ‘Busy Life’ Yoga
So you see, even if you do not practice yoga (commonly understood as just another sequence of poses), you are a Yogi. This is the modern day yoga. This is how its values have percolated and trickled down through the ages and generations.
What more, the very idea of a yogic lifestyle was to bring harmony and balance through certain rules and time-tested way to approach an issue.
I agree, there are three other limbs of Ashtanga Yoga as well – Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (deep meditation), and Samadhi (surrendering your complete self to the almighty), which are not so commonly visible as beyond a certain point, you need help of a master.
However, one needs to understand that Yoga, or Ashtanga yoga precisely, is not a just about poses. It is a way of living. A lifestyle everyone follows someway or the other. And until and unless we appreciate that, we will continue to run away from yoga calling it either too demanding or too slow and even only-for-flexible ones!
Yoga is for everyone. And before even joining the classes, you are almost half a Yogi!!
It is as simple as that! So, why not register for a class and get into some practice, meet some amazing people, and ripen into a full fledged Yogi?!
P.S.: Dear Reader,
I’m so grateful to you for reading this massive post and keeping your patience. I’d love to hear your thoughts – whether you agree or disagree – on my interpretation of “Yoga in Modern times”. Also, I’d like to know things you do, that make you a Modern day Yogi.
P.P.S.: Notice the Italics in the above ‘Post script’ section. They are another few simplest of things that make you and I a modern day Yogi.
Cheers to us! 🙂