In the last few years yoga has seen a momentous growth in its popularity. People are getting more attracted towards yoga practices, it has reached to everybody’s door step from metropolitan cities to small villages; people have turned towards yoga, seeking good health and happiness. People are practicing yoga watching TV channels, reading books and magazines.
Number of Gurus and Babas have come up over the years, who teach yoga in crowds of ten thousand to twenty thousand people, even if they themselves would be knowing that yoga was something which was taught in “Gurukul system” in ancient days to compact groups of those who were competent and worthy enough to be taught. Yoga practices whether, it is asanas, pranayamas, meditation and other subtle practices requires personal care, attention guidance and even correction, if not done properly can even harm the body. If this key aspect is ignored and not applied during yoga teaching, somewhere something is wrong in the intention while teaching.
Yoga teachers are being manufactured in 7 to 9 to 15 days teachers training programs in different factories all through the country. After the completion of these short term courses, anybody can become a yoga teacher and becomes a hot commodity and start selling yoga and charging fees of Rs.500 to Rs.700 per session from the first day itself, no other profession can be so lucrative than the teaching yoga in today’s world. Whoever is not successful in any other profession becomes a hugely successful in short period of time. It is a great competition these days, leaving one’s profession and running towards yoga to become a yoga teacher in seven to nine days. Mind you, beware of these yoga teachers!!
There are teachers who just teach some asanas, there are some who teaches only pranayams, there are teachers who would tell you practice kapalbhati 1-2 hours everyday even knowing you have high blood pressure, heart problems and other ailments where it should not be done. They are not bothered that tomorrow you may have heart attacks and strokes. Even a normal body should not practice Kapalbhati, if the body is full of dirt and toxins. The dirt would come to the surface, oozing out of the body through different channels; person can have diarrhea, dysentery, skin problems etc.
It is shame, every other day, we come across people complaining about back and cervical problems, symptoms of high blood pressure and injuring other body parts and muscles, practicing yoga with these so called yoga trainers. Out of numerous incidents which came to my knowledge over the years I would like to cite some of them here;
A lady who had lower back problem, wanted to do yoga to alleviate the problem, was recommended a yoga trainer by a reputed hotel-resort. She showed her MRI about her back condition to the trainer before commencing the yoga practice, repeatedly she mentioned about her back problem seeing no sign of benefit, to the yoga expert. When, it became worse in a year time she went to consult a doctor, who advised her complete bed rest for two weeks as back had reached to a worst state. Her husband too had to discontinue his yoga practices due to some tear in the knee, practicing yoga with same teacher.
An old lady in her late sixty would do kapalbhati regularly for 2-3 hours, one day she came to know she lost sight in one of her eye and it was affecting other eye too, doctor said some nerves got dried up due to excessive heat in the body, since then she was afraid of even thinking of pranayams.
A gentleman was practicing pranayama while walking in a park, suddenly fainted; fell down, was taken to a nearby hospital and died.
A young girl in her twenties tore her ligaments of the knee during the practice of yoga with a yoga trainer, was in excruciating pain, doctor advised two weeks of no physical exercise and proper rest.
All the above mentioned incidents are from highly educated and elite class people of our society. Imagine, how the people who are illiterate and uneducated, live in remote areas and in villages, would cope with this menace of yoga which is spreading like epidemic and covering the entire globe.
Yoga was understood to be practices which would bring inner peace and calmness; it is hard to digest how assuming yoga postures forcefully, straining and harming the body, would give a person calmness, peace and tranquility, rather would it not make a person restless, angry and hypertensive!
Asanas, can no longer be defined as it was defined by great rishi Patanjali in his yogasutra, “Sthiram Sukham Asanam”, meaning was asana is a posture assuming which you experience ease, comfort, happiness and bliss, rather in today’s context it would be more appropriate if we define asanas as “Sthiram Dukham Asanam”, meaning is, asana is a posture practicing which you experience aches, pains, discomfort, tension and strain nothing else. If suppose someday rishi Patanjali descends on this earth, would be quite ashamed, probably would run away, seeing this horrible state of yoga he propounded.
Do not be in hurry, do not push and pull the body, no over strain, allow the body its own time to get ready and prepared for different asanas. There is enough time left for all of us to live in this life, then why to punish the body.
If asanas not done properly can cause some aches, pains and sprains in the body which can get better in 3-4 days time, but pranayams which affect the brain, mind and entire nervous and energy system, if not learnt and practiced under proper supervision and guidance, can cause huge damage to our body and mind, which may even be irreversible! So, pranayams must be done in moderation, following the contra-indications wherever applied.
Yoga is like a behavioral science, if somebody does it regularly with faith, brings some positive change immediately which can be experienced in short time only. On the other hand, if it doesn’t give you any relief or benefit, there would be some fault in the practice or method of doing it.
Like the four wheels of a car, if any of them gets flat, it would be hard to move it. Same ways yoga has four basic wheels named; asanas, pranayamas, yoganidra and meditation.
If you just do asanas, would lead to imbalance in the body-mind system, person can become hyper and aggressive, If only pranayamas are done, would increase the heat and energy in the body, can adversely affect the nervous system and if only yoganidra and meditation is done person may become lethargic and may not have interest in worldly affairs, and it is required that one practices a proper blend of all four above mentioned component of yoga which happen to complement each other, for the balance and harmony in the functioning of body and mind, and to lead a happy and healthy life.
Everyday you hear a new form and brand of yoga and yoga centers and studios mushrooming to every nook and corner of the city. Are they teaching Yoga?
When it comes to search for a yoga style or form or a teacher, we must look for something which is more pure, authentic and traditional and not going towards eccentric, distorted and fancy brands.
I am afraid, the ancient art and science of yoga, which descended to us from great rishis, sages and seers, which was considered to be a way of life, to live happily and have peace and attain spiritual enlightenment, may get defamed so much that people fear one day hearing the word “Yoga”, if this goes on for some more years. It is high time that there is a clear policy on regularization and standardization of yoga.