On International Yoga Day, India Today brings you an exclusive interview with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder Art of Living to understand yoga and its unexplored secrets which can benefit you in everyday life.
Lets start the journey of Yoga with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
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When you hear the word ‘yoga’, chances are that an image of people twisting in presumably painful poses might pop up in your head. Yes, postures or asanas are an important part of the teachings of yoga, but they are not all that there is to it. So, how well do you really know yoga? As the world gears up to celebrate the first ever-International Day of Yoga, let us try and unravel the mysteries surrounding this ancient technique.
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Yoga is that which gives you pleasure and comfort.
The definition for ‘asana‘ is a posture that is stable and pleasant. You should feel comfortable when doing yoga asanas. What is the definition of comfort? When you don’t feel the body. If you are sitting in some odd positions then you feel those parts of the body, painfully. Your focus is more on the discomfort there. When you do any asana, what you feel first is discomfort. But if you take your mind through it, you will find that in just a few minutes the discomfort has disappeared and you don’t feel the body. You feel an expansion or infinity in the postures.
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Like any other Friday, a couple of my friends and me whatsapp chatting on what plans to make for the weekend. The suggestions ranged from quite dinner, clubbing, morning walk to movie. One of them suggested we go participate in the world yoga day. Most of us replied “is there a day for yoga!!!! Booooring ” . The friend who made the suggestion said “Go Google it”.
As the discussions resumed about the weekend plans I got curious and actually Google searched “International Day of Yoga“. Wikipedia told that June 21, has recently been declared as the world yoga day by the United Nations and it is going to be celebrated for the first time in the world this Sunday.
The enthusiast in me woke up, I immediately asked my friends and family if they were aware of the world yoga day and what are they doing this Sunday morning. I was surprised about how ignorant I had been and how aware and active my friends and family was. I went around asking what their perspective about yoga was. Following are a few responses I got.
- Grandma and Grandpa – ” Sunday morning we are going to go to the quite lake side and sit by watch the sun rise, the birds chirp and the winds rustle, for us yoga is not so much of a bodily exercise but a state of mind which is calm and alive, like Nature, for us being with nature is Yoga”
- Mummy – ” I have been going to yoga classes , but this Sunday all our yoga class ladies are going to take an off and see how we can apply yoga in daily life, for me if I am able to maintain the house clean and neat, handle the finances , feed and nurture the family , my mind is at peace. Like doing the postures in yoga requires a skill, this skill in action I get to do in my daily life is Yoga”.
- Daddy – “I am going to run for a marathon to raise awareness amongst the people about yoga, helping and serving others in whichever way I can is yoga “.
- House maid – “Ha-ha, there is a day for yoga too… I do yoga daily, sweeping the floor, washing clothes, doing the dishes, all this is similar to yoga”.
- Kids in the colony – “We are learning to dance yoga, going to perform it in our school, for us, yoga is fun”.
- Friends – “If I am able to look as hot as the model who comes on TV and shows the yoga postures and gracefully moved her hands and feet around, then I definitely will celebrate world yoga day daily, for me physical fitness is yoga”.
After Listening to all these I thought this weekend I should go and check out what is happening on the International yoga day. Hence I arrived at my own definition of yoga, for me “A spirit of enquiry is yoga”. So I am going to go on a date with yoga.
Go find your own definition and join the celebration of first ever International Day of Yoga on this June 21, 2015.
Renowned Spiritual Leader, Humanitarian & Founder, The Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will lead Yoga celebrations with thousands of New Yorkers at the Lincoln Centre. A prominent voice of Yoga, he has taken this ancient Indian science to 152 countries in the past 34 years. Sri Sri has also been invited by the United Nations to address world representatives at the celebrations of the first-ever International Day of Yoga. In this tete-a-tete, the Spiritual Master highlights the deeper and infinite potential of this science, dispels doubts about it being anti-religion and speaks on the various benefits of yoga.
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Backbends are one of the most difficult asanas for the body to perform, as they require great flexibility and balance. Contrary to popular belief, backbend stretching is neither stressful nor dangerous, but is highly beneficial to the body as well as the mind.
One of the most notable benefits of backbends is relief from anxiety and stress. By opening up the frontal portion of the body, muscles and joints are relieved of the accumulated stress. This in turn helps one in coping with anxiety and other stress related ailments. In case of irritability, lack of sleep or even mental chatter, backbend poses bring immediate relief.
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Effects of Yoga
International Day of Yoga
Q: Gurudev, I have never done yoga in my life? What is yoga? Is it a meditation? Is it different postures of the body? If that is so, what are the scientific linkages between those things and what happens inside which leads to such dynamic effects in the form of resolution of conflict and giving us peace of mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First, I would like to refute your first statement that you have never done yoga in your whole life. You have done it as a baby, but you don’t know it. Not a single child on this planet has grown up without doing yoga.
Babies, when they sleep, they are in the Chin Mudra while sleeping. In any part of the world you see, when babies are lying down they lift their legs first, and then they go on their belly and try to lift their shoulders. To some extent every child has done asanas on this planet.
Then coming to the breathing pattern – the way we breathe is different from the way a baby breathes. A baby has a stress-free mind, a happy mind. All the science of yoga is already there in a baby and as babies, we have all been yogis. We are just going back to our roots.
Yoga has eight limbs; there are eight steps to it and one among them is physical postures. But, the central teaching is maintaining an equanimous state of mind.
‘Samatvam yoga uchayate’ – yoga brings equilibrium in the mind. When you can do any action with mindfulness, you are aware of what you are saying or doing, this makes you a yogi.
See, science is a systematic logical understanding of what is. In that sense, yoga is a science; it is a systematic understanding of the subject. Knowing ‘What this is’ is science. Knowing ‘Who am I’ is spirituality.
Glimpse of “International Yoga Summit”
Leading Yoga Gurus of various lineages came together at The Art of Living International Center for a two day ‘International Yoga Summit’. The two-day conference had eminent speakers exploring ways to use yoga as value-based education and a tool to bring world peace.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was instrumental in bringing all the Yoga schools together on a common stage. The Yoga Gurus deliberated on the following topics:
1. Keeping the purity and authenticity of knowledge yet disseminating Yoga to every nook and corner of the world
2. Physical and emotional health through Yoga
3. Mental health through Yoga
4. Challenges faced by Yoga Masters
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar commenced the session with an introductory speech on Yoga.
Take a part in International Day of Yoga with The Art of Living