“Practice of keeping a respectful distance from each other is an illustration of yoga tools of ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyama’ “
Yoga embodies unity of mind and body through action, restraint, fulfilment and harmony between man and nature. It is a holistic approach towards health and well-being. Dr. Deepika Kothari explained this while speaking about the first yoga-sutra – ‘Atha Yoga Anushasanam’. Taking part in a webinar organised by Nehru Science Centre (NSC), Mumbai, on Thursday (June 18, 2020), the yoga researcher explained the significance of this ancient discipline which has gained increased importance at a time when the world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Rajvi Mehta, an exponent of the Iyengar Yogashraya, the other speaker in the webinar pointed out the symbolism of yoga as found in India’s ancient temple art and architecture. The discussions were moderated by Shri Shivaprasad Khened, Director, NSC.
Dr. Kothari threw light on the historicity of yoga, starting with Patanjali who had compiled, coded and systematised this science which is known as ‘Yoga Sutra’ today. Under the banner of Vishuddhi Films, her documentary film ‘History of Yoga – The Path of my Ancestors’, has traced the evolution of yoga over a period of 6,000 years. The film ends at the time when Swami Vivekananda takes it to the West and finds a scientific explanation. Yoga Shastra was intertwined in the religious beliefs of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sufism and various other doctrines, says the yoga researcher.
Dr. Kothari explains, “Knowledge is to know who I am and also about the outer world, that is, reality. ‘Samyama’, another important term in Yoga Sutra signifies a combination of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation) – which are tools used for gaining knowledge of things around and within. Hence, it is a tool for the human body to function effectively and acquire knowledge. Patanjali also wrote about two aspects of ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyama’ that help to fortify human cells and therefore train us in self-discipline in day-to-day life.”
around and within. Hence, it is a tool for the human body to function effectively and acquire knowledge. Patanjali also wrote about two aspects of ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyama’ that help to fortify human cells and therefore train us in self-discipline in day-to-day life.”
Explaining further, she said. “In the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we have kept distance from each other. In Indian culture, there was always a practice of keeping a distance from each other vis-à-vis western countries where hugging and embracing each other is very common. In India, this practice of respectfully keeping a distance from each other is an illustration of the ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’ practised since time immemorial. Similarly, ‘Sauch’/’Suchita’(cleanliness) is another vital aspect to be focussed upon during the pandemic.”
Yoga contributes towards maintaining balance and alignment of body and mind, explained Dr. Mehta. In Bhagavad Gita, it is said – ‘Yoga is equanimity’ and Patanjali explained that ‘Yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of the consciousness’.
Dr. Rajvi Mehta of Patanjali Yogashraya mentioned certain postures (asanas) which have been helpful to cope with difficult times of disease outbreak. Tadasana (Keeping the centre of the crown of the head, throat and the perineum in one line to steady mind, eyes and consciousness), Hamsasana and Mayurasana and Vashishthasana are among the asanas which have a major effect on calming the mind and body. So does Marichyasana, which is a unique twisting of the body, rarely found in any form of exercise and which not only exercises the spine, but also has effect on the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and excretory systems. Mulabandhasana, Paripurna Matsyendrasana, Baddha Konasana, Garbha Pindasana, Padmasana similarly heal the mind and body. These were illustrated in an exhibition organized by the Science Centre under the National Council of Science Museums under the Ministry of Culture. The webinar can be watched below.