You are in your favorite yoga class. Your body movements are synchronized with your breath as you glow through sūrya namaskāra and other poses that you handle without any stress. There is no sign of worry, no distracting thoughts. After a most amazing Savaasana, you hear ‘Om shāntih shāntih shāntihi!’ As you roll your mat, you are relaxed, rejuvenated, an embodiment of peace and calm!
You arrive home and suddenly you realize that you have not prepared for an important meeting next morning and your child is still sick and cranky. So much stress! What happened to your peace, calm, shanti from the yoga class?
Now that the class is over, you cannot spread your mat and get into your favorite asana or lie down in Savaasana to find peace and calm when a wailing child is in your arms. How can you retrieve the peace and calmness from the yoga class? How can you deal with the stress of everyday life? Is the yoga tradition that has been passed on to us since ancient times be only about physical postures, outer beauty, fitness and a little peace for the time being? Is yoga just about improving flexibility, relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis, diabetes, depression, a cure for insomnia, and toning our body to look good?
‘The purpose of Yoga is a journey within, exploring and moving through the various levels of our being. The aim of Yoga is NOT physical fitness, stress management, medical treatment, nor a means of manifesting money. Physical fitness, stress management or medical treatment, these are the by-products of the practice of Yoga!’ (B.K.S Iyengar)
There has to be a deeper and more profound purpose behind the physical practice of yoga! As the Upanishads point out, ‘peace cannot be created; peace is your natural state. You create agitation and disturb peace. Where is the agitation created? – In the mind. You keep giving momentum to the thoughts because you do not have mastery over the mind.’
‘You are Peace. Master the mind and stop agitations to find peace, your natural state.’ In order to discover true and lasting peace, one has to take a journey inwards within one’s self. For that, one needs a healthy body and a refined mind. Yoga is essentially about straightening and mastering the mind.
The philosophy of yoga is a sophisticated psychological analysis of the human mind. The mind is the world, and the world is the mind. All problems, all conflicts – individual, domestic, social, national, international, political, religious or economic are the results of a disturbed mind. The mind is our link to the world outside as well as a link to inner peace. By itself, the mind is neither good nor bad. It all depends on how we make use of our mind. There is an immense untapped power of the mind, and therefore the transformation achieved by training and conquering the mind is life’s biggest adventure.
The human mind is a powerful tool, controlling everything. It controls our whole life. Happiness or misery, success or failure depends upon the mind. As you think, so you become. Mastery of mind means success in all fields of life.
To achieve this mastery one must study the mind; understand its nature, habits, tricks and the effective methods of bringing it under restraint. A disciplined, focused and refined mind alone is the solution to discover lasting peace and happiness within one’s self.
The teachings of yoga philosophy address the mind and its relationship to one’s spiritual growth, an issue that is greatly pertinent in this day and age. Shrinking attention spans, cognitive deficits and shallow thinking increasingly rule the day. The teachings on the philosophy of yoga offer practical advice for training the mind to manage emotions, improve focus and concentration and to practice yoga in day to day life situations.
The immediate purpose of yoga is to help gain mastery over one’s mental processes and obtain a relatively calm and contented mind. ‘Calming the mind is Yoga. Not just standing on the head.’ (Swāmi Satchidānanda)
Learn more in Anjani’s book YOGA to Master the Mind. It is a one-of-a- kind book which gives all essential teachings of yoga in a concise and comprehensive format. All profits are donated to AIM for Seva.
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