In this introduction to yoga basics I shall explore why yoga practice is needed, and what are its benefits. I have also included illustrations of some basic poses for beginners.
With continuous advances in technology, people tend to find themselves these days trapped behind digitally automated machines, trading human interactions for video conferences, emails and sms messages. In this digital age, it seems that we are being thrown out of sync with our natural rhythm. The daily routine of so many people seem to be running on data, battery life and circuits… This leaves little space for the soul. It is now time that we draw the digital age to a conclusion, and evolve into what I propose a ‘hyper-escalatial’ age, where people’s energies escalate in union with the earth’s energies.
A few steps and understandings must first take place. We must understand how we observe ourselves, and how we can heal.
Current medical treatments are capable of curing our corporal forms, our bodies, as they observe symptoms and amending them. However, in that way symptoms are regarded as ‘isolated islands’ in the whole composition of the person, and the root problem is often not dealt with. While this results in advanced system of surgeries, it often does not prevent the onset of recurring illness. To prevent dis-eases we must consider the source of the issue, the reason behind the observed symptoms. To do so we need to look at the person as a collective manifestation of mind, body and spirit, and trace the link between the issue and the resulting illness it produces. This kind of observation can help us learn the art of preventative healing.
As medicine does not seem to fully embrace the preventive approach, more and more people are turning to knowledge from old traditions that see the body as part of nature and the universe. The ancient tradition of Yoga has become a popular practice for balancing oneself, and restoring a spiritual alignment, and thus, restoring and maintaining one’s health.
The word yoga means in Sanskrit ‘unity’ or ‘to join’. It can be said to be the ‘science of living’, focusing on the complex system wherein each element affects the other. Through a daily practice of yoga’s postures and meditations, we can harmonize the self with the source of life that exists within the universe – the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and psychic spheres. The goal is to transform into a purer being by separating oneself from the mind-ego. Hence, the practice of yoga is not merely exercising for relaxation, but a journey to redefine the inner self.
When practicing yoga meditation and poses, it is vital to recognize the importance of breathing correctly – breathing allows the flow of energy, reducing the body’s stress and tensions. Since birth we have been using our lungs and stomach to breathe in energy. In yoga practice, this process is done through an ‘additional’ energy centre – the Dantien point (the tan t’ien or hara), 3 cm below the navel.
To help prepare yourself for yoga practice, it is prudent to first relax the body. You can follow guided visualisations or play soothing music. While relaxing, sit up straight and allow the energy to flow. Yoga connects people to a heightened level of awareness by weaving beautiful ‘melodies’ of subtle energies which are activated through good postures and breathing.
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Last updated 25 July 2018. First published 2 December 2010.
© Natalie Dekel. Illustrations by © Gil Dekel.
Thanks to Garsett Larosse and Gil Dekel for their help in preparing this article.