International Yoga Day: When Nothing Works, Yoga Has Got Your Back
In this International Yoga Day, let’s reflect on why yoga helps you to develop a perspective shift in your mind and body.
Following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, we have been celebrating International Yoga Day on 21st June every year. While it has only been a few years of celebrating this day, the history, essence, and the impact of this beautiful practice goes beyond what we see, know, and celebrate.
I have been practicing yoga since the age of 12. My personal experience and that of knowing and meeting with over 100 yoga practitioners and teachers have taught me many things. While I would like to share all my experiences with my yoga teachers, classmates, yoga retreats and more, it is worthwhile to condense those experiences into words that best explain what I ended up gaining out of all this over the years, and why I continue to practice.
If you have googled yoga ever or tried to explore a class, you will know that it comprises varied ‘asanas’ (physical exercises) and ‘pranayama’ (breathing exercises). Some people might even call it stretching exercises. While there are various benefits of different yoga ‘asanas’ from weight loss to healthy skin, improved digestion to improved memory, we all tend to have different health goals at different stages of our life.
For me, it is ‘sadhana’ and centering practice. Sadhana refers to any spiritual exercise that is aimed at progressing the person towards the very ultimate expression of his or her life.
If I want to put this in very simple words, it is like going to therapy except that you do it in a very personalized, physical, and solitary way. Over the years, I have realized that every time I get on the mat, the world ceases to be chaotic and not as bad. Every practice seems like an accomplishment. I try to do a long yoga class on days when I do not feel like I have not done anything worthwhile—it boosts the morale like anything.
Do not get me wrong, your Sadhana can be any activity of choice where your mind, personality and expression can be as free as it can be—it can be reading, dancing, writing, etc. But yoga is an easier, one to adopt and work with—you engage your mind, entire body, and the breath in the practice and gain good health apart from all other benefits.
Sadhana refers to any spiritual exercise that is aimed at progressing the person towards the very ultimate expression of his or her life.
The 30–60-minute break tends to develop a perspective shift in my mind and body. It does not depend on what size or what shape you are, you can reap the benefits of this practice one day at a time. By the time you have spent a few days, weeks, or months doing this, you would realize the perspective shift you have seen in your life with every yoga practice. Besides, there is yoga for every goal—practice Yog Nidra (yogic sleep relaxation) if you are not able to sleep, bedtime yoga and yin yoga for relaxation, ashtanga yoga for stamina, and many more.
It is not a one-day thing, it is not a body transformation. It is the mental growth that you see. Bad analogy but a true one: much like the hair on our scalp, they are growing daily, but we feel the growth after a few weeks when we need a haircut! Your mind grows slowly with each yoga practice, it just shows in different ways.
In this International Yoga Day, try to embrace this practice for a better you. You will know the impact in some days and in unexpected situations—you notice that you will react to a situation with less anger and more empathy or when you are not jealous of another coworker because you know you are doing your bit. You become a more self-aware person; you will say what you mean and do what you can; and you are sure that you can always be better. You will know when you are more focused on your team meetings and greet everyone with high energy, it changes their perspective towards you too.
One of my yoga teachers told me that all yoga ‘asana’ sequences are designed to train you to have a very strong spine. The goal of yoga is to train you to sit in meditation for long hours and you have got to have a very strong back for that.
I have not yet learned or done enough yoga to validate what I had been taught. But I have never had back pain, so maybe it is true and worth trying. Because even when no one has your back; you have got to have yours!
Your mental and physical health are precious. Check out our other blogs on these topics.