Yoga: The Indian Way is not just another book on yoga. The simplified, yet effective and safe, methods for practising yoga, as shown in its pages, are meant for almost anyone between the ages of 8 and 80 years. They are based on traditional practices. The strength of this method lies in the judicious use of various items such as chairs, blankets or bed sheets, bolsters, cushions, beds, walls and so on, commonly found in every household. The younger generation, sportspersons and athletes have also been kept in mind, with sections on Surya Namaskar and Dynamic Yoga.
This book provides excellent guidelines to those who want to follow a spiritual path, but are confused as to where and how to start. It is an effort to put the great science and art of yoga in its right perspective by describing its background in simple terms without losing its essence. Chapters on ayurveda, curing ailments, a recommended weekly plan, all help enhance its appeal, making Yoga: The Indian Way an indispensable part of the reader's journey, physical as well as philosophical.
Dharmavir Singh Mahida had worked as an engineer for nine years in the automotive sector in Germany before he decided to quit and return to India to pursue his deep interest in yoga and philosophy. His new job took him to Pune, where he met his mentor, BKS Iyengar, with whom he worked at the Ramamani Yoga Institute for many years.
An active sportsman, he has taught yoga at the Sports Medicine Centre of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This helped him to understand yoga from a different perspective. Dharmavir has years of experience in understanding the pure essence of yoga philosophy, along with Vedanta. In 1990, he set up a yoga institute in Pune where he teaches as well as trains yoga teachers. He has learnt Vedanta for many years under the tutelage of Swami Sat Swaroopananda and is also a student of Sanskrit.
Dharmavir lives in Pune and has been teaching yoga for three decades in India and Europe.
Yoga, they say, is as old as time itself. It was practised in some form or the other by the gods and goddesses, sages and saints, gurus and teachers. Time moved on, and there were new beliefs and systems and, with them, came different poses and postures. From Lord Shiva meditating in Mount Kailas and Lord Krishna imparting the knowledge of yoga to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, yoga has extended its reach much beyond borders and boundaries. We now find new forms and methods, with yoga having become a global phenomenon. The marking of a special day in the calendar, June 21, as International Day of Yoga, further underlines its importance and value.
The word 'yoga' means to join, combine or fuse. That is, to combine body, mind, intellect to the soul (atma). The saints of India say that it is a process of connecting your 'unreal self' (body, mind, intellect) with your 'real self', the soul.
I strongly believe that yoga needs to be demystified. If the reader, who is a potential sadhaka (seeker), is well informed, he may take up and pursue the practice of yoga with conviction for the rest of his life. Otherwise, he may just give it up due to lack of priority, time, interest and so on. The background of philosophical knowledge given here is meant to ignite the fire within and keep it burning. It will encourage the reader to go to the depths of the 'self' and, at the same time, experience and appreciate the great, timeless contributions of this wonderful culture. To be able to achieve anything, you have to be equipped with the requisite knowledge and possess certain qualities before venturing ahead. This is the reason I have included essential topics such as Sankhya, Vedanta and Ayurveda, besides the yoga texts, in this book.
The scriptures say that it is rare to be born a human being and there is a purpose behind it, which is to realise oneself. The holy books reveal that this can be achieved by first fulfilling the four purusharthas (objects of human pursuit), also interpreted as duties—dharma (path of righteousness; artha (material wealth); kama (fulfilling desires); and moksha (liberation). The goal of achieving material wealth and fulfilling desires must be within the path of righteousness, which is mentioned in the scriptures. Following the path of yoga, step by step, helps to achieve this goal with proper understanding and a clear mind.
Man's evolution has been different at various times. With particular reference to the present, the changes he has undergone have been far too rapid, with the result that the balance which, for centuries, was in tune with nature has been lost. Sedentary lifestyles, the demands of the society we live in, especially with regard to materialism, unhealthy eating and drinking habits and, of course, the discipline that our system demands to function properly have undergone a swift change at the cost of our mental and physical health. In other words, we are constantly misusing the safety valves that are provided to this otherwise wonderful 'machine', leave aside the disrespect and thanklessness we display to our Creator.
The simplified, yet effective and safe, methods for practising yoga, as shown in these pages, are meant for almost anyone between the ages of 8 and 80 years. They are based on traditional practices. This book should not, however, be considered an instruction manual; you are expected to exercise your judgment and find out whether the practice brings positive changes in you and make modifications as per your personal requirements.
You may also well question whether there is need for one more book on yoga. It is true that there are several books already available on this subject and many have benefitted considerably from learning and practising yoga. People who are less fit, though keen on learning asanas (postures), give up easily after a few trials due to difficulty in achieving the right posture, lack of enthusiasm, lack of conviction, laziness and so on. Also, the aches and pains that afflict the less flexible body easily discourage them. They quickly forget that inspiration has to be followed by perspiration. This book is especially meant for them since it offers easy means and safe methods to practise asanas and Pranayama, however stiff the body may be initially. It also provides excellent guidelines to those who want to follow a spiritual path, but are confused as to where and how to start.
Teachers of yoga will find it useful to receive these guidelines to be able to offer more variety to their pupils. The Younger generation, sportspersons and athletes have also been kept in mind as Surya Namaskar and a chapter on Dynamic Yoga has been included. These were introduced during my years of working with top athletes of the Armed Forces at their Sports Medicine Centre.
The strength of this method, which is explained along with illustrations in the book, lies in the judicious use of various items such as chairs, blankets or bed sheets, bolsters, cushions, beds, walls and so on, commonly found in every household. This assists the practitioner to bend or stretch his body with proper alignment and hold the poses for a longer period, thus achieving a higher level of anatomical, physiological and psycho-mental benefits.
This book is an effort to put the great science and art of yoga in its right perspective by describing its philosophical background in simplified terms without losing its essence. It also covers the practical part of yoga, which is so important for our spiritual growth. The intent is to motivate and guide the reader to become a seeker, who, in due course, gets a 'taste' of the fascinating experience of ananda (bliss).
The credit for the evolution of yoga goes to Padma Vibhushan Yogacharya BKS lyengar, who, in the course of 80 years of dedication to this subject, developed innumerable methods to teach and inspire people like me to further create possibilities to help others. His emphasis on the importance of knowing the human system thoroughly, supported by his precise knowledge of practising asanas and Pranayama, has helped in the application of yoga for therapeutic purposes as well. Yoga is accepted as conventional medicine as the results speak for themselves. Thousands of people around the world are practising lyengar Yoga and keeping themselves mentally and physically fit.
Earlier, when I was working in a private firm, my job demanded that I travel and stay in hotels. This did not, however, deter me from my daily practice of yoga, as I used all the furniture as props. Of course, I made sure that I did not break anything or dirty the walls! I often show my friends and students different ways to judiciously use the items at home, whenever I visit them. Improvised and easy-to-practice, alternative methods of getting into the required asanas and to be able to stay in them are suggested in this book, thus ensuring that the so-called aches and pains that irritate the beginner are relieved. These asanas not only bring immediate relief to the aching parts of the body but also rejuvenate and activate the entire physical and mental system, thus encouraging the practitioner to go ahead with the confidence and zeal to reap the benefits of yoga at all levels. Correct and uninterrupted breathing is a must. This good habit of continuous rhythmic breathing becomes a part of life, thus affecting the mind in all spheres of life. People are now realizing that the mind and the body cannot be dealt with separately. Their interconnection and interdependence are proved beyond doubt. Thus, health consciousness is increasing these days and health clubs equipped with expensive equipment are proliferating. The purpose of this book is not to stop you from visiting health clubs or indulging in other physical activities, but to help you to understand you body and mind better, avoid injuries and develop an enhanced inner sensitively. After all, among all the systems of physical exercises, yogasanas are unrivalled as they are safe, with long-lasting; they are indeed ‘multipurpose’. All the benefits that accure from the practice of yoga are discussed in detail in the chapters on the different practices and postures. On the other hand, I do hope that this book will also help you to tread further on your spiritual journey.
There are many different types of yoga classes being held all over the world today, but a majority of them are conducted like a military drill with many participants, with varying degrees of stiffness, struggling to achieve a particular pose. Such classes are totally ‘body-oriented’; this kind of practice does not all fall under the category of real yoga. This book helps you to motivate yourself and practices in the confines of your own home with full awareness which, in turn, helps you to ‘turn inwards’, thus fulfilling the real purpose of yoga and also to reap its positive ‘side effects’. Here, attention has been taken to include suitable types of asanas and pranayamas for professionals who spend hours at the table. You may also refer to the chapter on therapeutic yoga. The Dynamic and static types of asanas and pranayamas can be included in the curriculums of schools, colleges, training institutes, sports academies and other institutions. A suitable circuit training programme can be derived from the practice sequences given here.
A sincere effort has been made to keep the yogic exercises and Pranayama simple and practical, based on tradition and my own practice and teaching exercise of 30 years. The purpose, obviously, is not to turn people into yogis, but to help them understand, appreciate and ‘taste this ancient science that we have inherited from our ancestors. My aim is not to take you to climb Mount Everest, but to guide you to the Base Camp, At the very least.
'taste' this ancient science that we have inherited from our ancestors. My aim is not to take you to climb Mount Everest, but to guide you to the Base Camp, at the very least. Yoga has become increasingly popular. There is, therefore, need for proper theoretical and practical guidance, especially for those who are keen to derive the benefits of this wonderful art and science. It is high time that yoga is put in its right perspective as it has been grossly misrepresented and positioned mainly as a set of exercises for health and limited fitness catering to flexibility. This book elaborates the connectivity of yoga to Indian philosophy and the way of life, which, in turn, inspires and guides the reader to practise yoga not only to achieve physical health benefits, but to go beyond to explore the challenges of the body and the mind. To this end, easy-to-practise, but effective, asanas are explained and prescribed.
Almost anybody can learn and practise with the help of items which are available in every household, including walls, as they are used as props. This helps the practitioner to learn and stay in the postures longer to derive more benefits at all physical levels, thus resulting in greater confidence and ease in rhythmic breathing. Moreover, the instructions with illustrations given both for doing the poses correctly and the sequences mentioned in the suggested weekly plans, help to avoid injuries at all levels. The yoga students who have posed for the photographs are of different ages, gender and with varying degrees of flexibility, so that all members of the family are motivated to practise. The weekly plan also suggests a great variety each day so that there is no monotony. A section is dedicated to those who have physical problems such as pain in the knee, lower back pain, neck/shoulder.
For, ultimately, this book is for you—the seeker who makes yoga an intrinsic way of life.
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