A yogi friend claims yoga classes and retreats as a way to escape from unwanted facts, flee bitter reality. Yoga escapism, as I may call it, is the current trend. Most ancient yogis did yoga for the sake of religious and spiritual devotion. They shunned temporary worldly pleasure and traded that with internal peace, equinanimity of soul, mind and lastly body. Yet, urban yogis and most of the practitioners these days do not practice yoga for such unwavering devotion we might see in the past in India.
Is yoga escapism wrong? I am afraid I cannot tell you for sure if it is or is not wrong. Who am I to judge other people’s practice? As for me, I like yoga as a pastime, that diverts my mind and body from the mundane, monotonous corporate world full of workloads to a private kingdom of mine. It is much like my Narnia, a vast unknown world hidden in the closet, where I am on my own, undisturbed, unagitated.
Yoga though really helps some people deal with their own internal ordeals. I said internal because yoga mostly aids us to fix the intermingled thoughts, emotions and short and long-term memory. External issues cannot be fixed by yoga, but by strengthening and empowering your souls with yoga, overcoming external challenges and tasks feel a lot more smoother. No more crankiness, overwhelming anxiety, unpredecented fear or paranoia. Yoga may improve your quality of vision towards the world, inside out. And this is a lifelong practice, which involves not only asanas practices but also coming to deeper and better understanding of our Self, these souls. This is what sets yoga apart from other types of workout.
Today, a friend taught her class with this sort of spirit, to feel more what is happening inside rather than outside. I saw her change after losing her elder brother. She may not be as chatty or cheerful as before but certainly there is some better perspective towards her surroundings she is showing to us now. And I saw in her how yoga has helped her so much deal with the ordeals, the loss and the depression following the sudden loss.
Whatever I think yoga is to me – whether it be a confidential sanctuary to escape or a practice to fortify myself to cope with the cruel reality or a workout to help me restore my physical health and well being – one thing I believe is that yoga helps me feel more, think more only now with better clarity of mind, make sense how the universe works.
So while you are at that, switch off the gadgets, get on your mat, sit for a while and close your eyes. Breathe and feel the pain or joy or any feelings and thoughts appearing and vanishing inside your head.
Open your eyes and now get back to reality!