In the broader sense, ‘yoga’ itself can be defined as ‘a controlled mind’, ‘a harmonious bond between individual soul and the universe soul. It’s an effective method to calm and ease the troubled, anxious mind, which in turns can channel the energy in the right, constructive manner.
The highest purpose of yoga is to reach unity with the Divine in order to create a inner peace of mind and soul. Both physical and mental aspect are equally honed while doing yoga. This will eventually enable us to gain a fuller, more well-rounded perspective of life. The unity here may also be interpreted as how mind, body and soul complete with each other.
On “the Pursuit of HappYness”
Human beings are destined to continuously pursue happiness. We, unhappily, tend to seek bliss from the outside (read: material, earthly) world, some of which are the greed for financial satisfaction (money we spend extravagantly during Ramadan), the urge to impress others (that BlackBerry), social status, and so forth. We’re inclined to forget that happiness lies within ourselves by getting to know ‘inner conflicts’ . As told earlier, yoga is a synthesis of body, mind, and soul.
When it comes to the needs of body, yoga provides what the body exactly needs. Performing yoga poses (asanas) gives health benefits as each of the poses may give different body therapeutic effects. Bhujangasana, for instance, is good for digestive system health in general when done properly.
As for the needs of mind, yoga can train us to control or ‘tame’ our unmanagable mind as well so that our ability to focus upon the present improves. More often than not, most of us are usually distracted by what happened or what we experienced in the past or what will occur in the future. Both types of attachments (to the bygone past and the uncertain future) prevent us from enjoying what matters to us most, that is living to the fullest in the present.
So what should we do to dismantle these attachments? By meditation, concentration, and proper rhythmic breathing exercise (pranayama), we’ll find it much more easily to focus on what is happening in our inner ‘self’. Listen to how our lungs work, observe the way the fresh air comes in and out of our respiratory system.
The most important thing for yogis and yoginis, which is related to fasting and the spirit of abstinence in Ramadan, is to get to know ourselves by doing good deeds that we think we don’t have to do or we can otherwise ignore. For example, while performing a yogic pose, one is supposed to hold it for some time although it feels a bit painful or uncomfortable. We may release the pose and give up to the pain at once but that way we fail to know who we really are, what fear we have to conquer, which affliction we have to overcome.
This is analogous to fasting in Ramadan. We try to hold ourselves in torturing hunger and agonizing thirst while consciously learning about how we feel about an external or internal stimulus and thus how we react to it. It’s part of the undertake of knowing who we are, which at last enables us to know the Almighty.