Ma's India Blog: The True Purpose of Yoga Mas India

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Monday, September 21, 2009

I just read an article about yoga boosting “endorphin levels.” That’s new. I have heard about yoga being for relaxation, energy, promoting calmness and serenity, and of course for those who seek spiritual purposes, moving an aspirant much closer to enlightenment. I have also heard of yoga as being an alternative to smoking and overeating. Best to practice an asana rather than picking up a cigarette or bagel. Not bad advice.What is the true purpose of yoga? Or is there a true purpose of yoga? I’m sure in times past, perhaps as recently as ten years ago, that yoga was thought of as an adjunct to other spiritual practices such as meditation, pranayama, etc. and maybe good deeds. Hatha yoga, perhaps the most well known and one type of yoga with particular asanas (positions), was thought to stretch and perfect your body so that you would be more receptive to the divine influence. It was not a well-known and widely done practice. I remember when growing up that to find yoga class w as as rare as finding a health foods store that served yogurt and wheat germ as a lunch item. Nowadays it seems everybody is doing yoga. Yoga practitioners, schools and studios are cropping up everywhere. They are even teaching yoga in elementary schools and there are now yoga alternatives to “tumbling” and “band practice,” such as I was forced to attend in high school. Yoga is “out of the closet” and has tumbled into everyday life.As a result of a book falling out of shelf, I took up the practice of yoga at 14. My mother was shocked to see me in some amazing what she called “pretzel-like” poses. I didn’t think I was trying to prepare my body for any special purpose. I was mostly interested in using yoga to help me deal with the amphetamines my doctor prescribed for me to help me lose weight. A 14 year old such as myself just wanted to soothe those terrible spikes of adrenalin along with the normal surges of adolescence that were erupting inside of my body. At night I did special yoga poses that were supposed to enhance sleep and relaxation, taking care to place my body in bed so that it faced south where supposedly all harmonious influences resided. Now some would say that perhaps I hearken back to those days when there were only vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors in ice cream, way back before Howard Johnson and 39 or 40 flavors. Now there are many flavors of yoga also: bhakti yoga, karma yoga, ashtanga yoga, bikram yoga, kundalini yoga and many others too numerous to mention. For example, at Kashi Ashram where Ma’s India is located, we practice a yoga created called Kali Natha Yoga. This unique yoga has been developed over the course of more than 30 years by Kashi Ashram founder, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. Kali Natha Yoga is comprised of many unique flow series that include classical asanas, pranayama, mudras, mantras and meditations. Just as one feels a necessity to sample all those ice cream flavors, one can just as easily sample these forms of yoga. It is best, however, to choose one and practice it for a while to see whether you can accommodate it in your life. Just as one seeks a true resonance in friendships and relationships, so too there is the hope and desire that one will choose a form of yoga that best serves the purpose of union within our spirit and ourselves.

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by: Mas India icon18_email-9610327icon18_edit_allbkg-1326626

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