The Truth About Yoga

Disclaimer: The author is a certified yoga instructor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is International Yoga Day?
Every year since the year 2014, June 21st is celebrated as the 'International Yoga Day'.

Why June 21st?
This is the longest day in the year in the northern hemisphere. And, this is the day, where we can gather to practice India's gift to the world, 'Yoga'.

What is the theme of this year's yoga day?
The theme of this year's yoga day is "Yoga for Health- Yoga at Home". Many of us already practise Yoga at home, but this pandemic has made many more join practice yoga from their homes instead of studios. Let us follow the government guidelines surrounding social restrictions and use a clean and quiet space in our homes to practice yoga.

I don't feel like waking up to practice Yoga early morning, what should I do?
It is easy to understand if waking up is an issue. It is great to get connected with people at large and participate in an activity, something larger than ourselves as if it seems to be at play. There is excitement and hope in the air. But, if this timing isn't suitable for you then worry not. Yoga is not just about asana (posture practice).

There are various ways in which you can be in union with yourself. And, you can start educating yourself on these practices. According to Bhagwat Geeta, three paths of yoga are given prominence. They are Gyaan Yoga (path of knowledge), Karma Yoga (path of action) and Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion).

I don't want to follow Hinduism, can I still practice yoga?
This is a common question. Most people confuse Yoga with religion. No matter what religion you follow, you can still do Yoga. Because Yoga is a lifestyle choice. Several people who practice Yoga aren't Hindus.

Is it difficult to follow a yogic lifestyle?
Any change can be unsettling. And so, changing a lifestyle or even slightly altering it may tickle your body and mind in the beginning. But, having said that, under the guidance of a good teacher, even your first Yoga class can challenge you in just the right way.

I can't practice Yoga for more than 30 minutes a day, what should I do?
Well, as said earlier, Yoga is a lifestyle choice. It is a philosophy, and one can practice Yoga 24 hours a day, for 365 days in a year. Most people think that posture work is the only important part of Yoga. But, this couldn't be further away from what the ancient yogis may profess. If you want to know more about what Yoga is, I recommend you to read some excellent texts on it.

Can I learn yoga on my own?
It is highly recommended to learn yoga from a certified and dignified yoga instructor. The next time you follow someone on Instagram or any other social media platform, please take a moment to check their credentials. This is important because choosing the right 'guru' is essential for this practice.

What does a yogi need?
According to Bhagwat Geeta, chapter 6, the yogi needs to sit peacefully to carefully keep his mind and spirit under control. The yogi should concentrate on paramatama (universal consciousness) without any desire.

What does a yogi need to do?
According to Bhagwat Geeta, chapter 6, the yogi should place his asana (yoga matt) on a nice and clean spot that isn't too high or too low. The yogi needs to concentrate his 'chitta' (consciousness) and 'indriya'; the yogi must practice yoga for the purification of his spirit.
The yogi who has been able to capture his mind, control his mind, can find peace and ultimate peace.

Do I have to be flexible to do yoga?
If you practice hath yoga, where there is focus on postures, you may become flexible in the body, and mind. But, remember, flexibility is only a by-product of yoga; it is not really the aim. 

Can old people do yoga?
Absolutely. Yoga can be modified according to the practitioner's biological age and state of mind. With the help of a good teacher, you can enjoy the benefits, and journey of being in 'yoga' as a mature person as well. It isn't too late to start the practice.

Can yoga treat homosexuality?
Contrary to some people's statement, homosexuality is not something that needs to be treated, and secondly, even if it could be treated, yoga cannot treat homosexuality which begs the first point (it isn't something that needs to be treated).

Can I do yoga during my period?

Absolutely. There are several asanas that you can do to ease your menstrual cramps. It is always a good idea to avoid inversions when you are on your period because we don't want the blood flow to disrupt the natural flow of energy in your body.

Can women do yoga during pregnancy?
Absolutely. There is more to yoga than just posture work (asana practice). But, there are specific asanas that you can do even while you are pregnant. It is, however, of utmost importance to practice under the guidance of a certified yoga teacher.

Can yoga prevent illnesses?
When your mind and body is at peace through the practice of yoga, the chances of ailments to find a home in you are not very high. However, if you have a predisposition towards a certain condition then it is best to consult a healthcare professional to appropriately manage your lifestyle.

What is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is often confused with hypnosis. But, these two aren't the same according to Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
Ultimately, yoga is a lifestyle. To be in yoga, to do yoga and to embody yoga all merge into one another when we taste the presence of स्थिरता 'stability' . 

Happy International Yoga Day!

Feel free to ask more questions in the comments section.

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