Yogic Healing Of Mind, Body And Spirit

The practice of Yoga was intuited, channeled, perfected and codified by our rishis and sages for the attainment of total health in body, mind, and spirit, so that the material human body may be a vehicle for spiritual awakening and enlightenment.  The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’.  Yoga is that which we become, that which unfolds and awakens when the body, mind, thoughts, motions and intentions are joined together.

Today, joyfully, the practice of yoga is burgeoning throughout the world. Yet, there is rampant competition amongst styles, lineages and “brands” of yoga. “Which is the best?” is a common question.  If there can be a “best” and therefore a “worst,” it is not yoga. If there is competition, criticism, back-stabbing and cheating, it is not yoga. Yoga is co-operation. Yoga is togetherness. Yoga is a practice through which we connect to our own breath, bodies, minds and ultimately to our spirits. Then, in that divine, eighth limb of yoga as elucidated by Patanjali, we experience samadhi, the ultimate union of our spirit with the Supreme Spirit, our Soul with the Supreme Soul. It is a union, verily, of us to each other and to the Universe.

Today the world needs yoga more than ever. However, we need it not only because we are more out-of-shape, obese, and at risk for diabetes and heart disease than ever.  All of that is true and yoga can be a fabulous panacea for nearly all that ails our physical body. Yet yoga has much more to offer.  Today that which ails us, as individuals, communities, societies, religious groups and nations, is separation. The borders and boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘you’ and ‘us’ and ‘them’ are thicker and more intractable than ever.  Our personal frame of reference is narrowing each day.

Our culture expounds ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ that the world is one family. However, today, most of us do not identify as members of the world family. Rather, we identify as members of a political party or a religious group, or a country club, or followers of a particular guru. The lines between us get thicker and thicker.  That separation, that sense of ‘self’ versus ‘other’ is what permits us to dehumanise each other so drastically that we can be complicit, directly or indirectly, in each other’s suffering and death.  That separation is also what leads to the increase of depression worldwide.  Depression is marked by feeling alone, disconnected, isolated from the world, feelings which, when taken to an extreme, permit us to even take our own lives without realising the pain our death will cause others.

Yoga is a solution. It is a solution to our abysmal physical health and skyrocketing medical bills.  The postures and breathing exercises are unparalleled in their ability to restore wellness. Yoga is a solution to personal angst, depression and lack of meaning in our lives. As we connect with divine prana, we realise that we are being nourished by the Universe, and inextricably linked to the web of Life.  Yoga is also a solution to that which ails our planet. When we realise our interconnectedness, then we stand up and change our attitude and our actions into ones that protect  global family as ardently as we’d protect our own nuclear family.

The challenge is ours: to co-opt yoga into yet another way to compete with each other and separate ourselves from each other, or to use it in its fullest meaning, bringing health to ourselves, our communities, and our world.

This divine message was originally published on The Speaking Tree, here.

The International Yoga Festival is being held at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, March 1-7. For details, visit www.internationalyogafestival.com.

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