Page 30 - seniors today August issue
P. 30


                                                          Yoga Basics and Pranayam

                                                    What is Yoga essentially and what is all the fuss about?
                                                Yoga trainer Fatema Rajkotwala explains, in the second of
                                                                                            a three-part series

        It seems to me that everyone knows what                Asanas until you have practiced implementing
        Yoga is today and I don’t mean only a select           the initial moral disciplines of personal and
        subset of international travelling, city dwelling,     social conduct or Yamas and Niyamas. In our
        politically active, nationalism-loving or              current slightly morally stray environment, it
        Rishikesh visiting Indians. Yet, every so often,       may seem difficult to decide when one is ready
        once someone learns that I teach Yoga, they’ll         to ever undertake the practice of Asanas. The
        ask me something basic such as, “I want to be          logic of this was simply the understanding
        able to sit for meditation but I don’t like Yoga;      that when one indulges in any immoral act
        I do _____ form of exercise. Or ‘So, can you put       via thoughts, words or action, one cannot be
        your legs behind your head?’ Or ‘I want to learn       in a balanced state of mind enough to focus on
        Yoga but I’m not flexible.”                            disciplined practice.
         Of course, you’re not expected to ‘know how to         And what may surprise some even more is
        do Yoga’, which is like saying you want to learn       that as per the text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika,
        Japanese but you’re nervous about not knowing          the most detailed and credible information
        Japanese. This is why I’m happy to write about         on Hatha Yog, the classical form of physical
        the basics of Yoga. For me it is something like        exercise in ancient India as a culture, regardless
        knowing the answer to a puzzle - the answer is         of your religion, caste or creed, one is not
        clear once you know it. Until then, it could be        advised to practice Pranayam until one has
        pretty confusing as to what exactly is Yoga, the       established oneself in regular, consistent
        various types of Yoga styles taught and why            Asana practice. Why then are most Yoga
        people all over the world seem to be obsessed          teachers teaching Pranayam within the first
        about it.                                              class you attend? This is because you can still
                                                               get the preliminary benefits of training the
        Not just asanas                                        breathing muscles through Kriyas (cleansing
        So, firstly, Yog pronounced as Yog-ah by               rituals such as Kapalbhati, correcting a habit
        westerners, is not restricted to simply asana          of shallow breathing, opening and therefore
        practice, in a hot room or not. In fact, as per the    balancing the flow chain of the breathing
        Yoga Sutras, one is not even eligible to practice      cycle by activating the dormant side of the
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