“Sit in a comfortable meditative posture and observe your body from head to toe. Observe how it feels, become aware of any discomfort in the body.” These are the opening lines of every yoga class that I take in a small studio in South Delhi. The observation of body and breath either seated or lying down for a couple of minutes, is called body stillness. In an age where mobility is everything, the science of yoga teaches you the art of being still and steady.
In the state of calm, you are able to observe the various feelings in your body, first externally and then internally. Even a slight sensation does not escape you and that is the beauty. When your body is comfortable in the still state, it slowly becomes aware of the life force in the body, the breath. The breath is so powerful, that controlling the flow of breath, can control your thoughts and mind. Breathing is a simple and vital action but very few people understand the value of breathing right. Yoga teaches us to breathe right.
Yoga has always been a global phenomenon but was boosted in 2014, when June 21st of every year was declared International Yoga Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Yoga is now officially on the world map. As June 21st approaches, I notice that my social media feed is full of groups of people performing asanas/ postures and some fancier than others. A trend especially of posts on instagram of beautiful people performing the most challenging postures, giving others some serious yoga goals. And this is fantastic as it really displays flexibility, endurance, strength and determination.
Asanas are a critical part of yoga, but they are performed for a purpose, to be able to ultimately sit in a meditative posture and practice pranayamaa. Pranayama literally means to regulate the flow of breath. As simplified as this sounds, its very challenging for many people. My own experience with the practice of pranayama after a session of asanas is the transformation I experience not just physically but mentally and spiritually. I feel great pride and happiness when I see my students enjoying pranayama and wanting to practice for longer.
International Yoga Day is just around the corner and it falls on the same day as the summer solstice which is significant in many parts of the world. But for yogis around the world, saluting the sun, which is at its highest point is an opportunity to awaken the inner sun. So the 21st of this month is a special day to practice yoga and if you have not yet had your chance on a yoga mat, tomorrow is a perfect day to start.