Kalpana Maniar, who has been practising yoga for over 12 years, tells you why yoga rules over going to the gym.
Fitness isn’t just about having a healthy body. It’s about having a healthy mind, body and a spirit of wellbeing that maximises your potential and your ability to help others maximise theirs. And this is exactly what yoga does. Here are four reasons why you should start yoga now.
Yoga creates a balance
The word yoga means ‘union’ in Sanskrit. The practice of yoga creates an atmosphere where our body, mind, emotions and life energies are all in harmony. Most people believe that yoga is just bending and stretching. And while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating a balance in your body through the right postures (called asanas), each having their own specific physical benefits. When I look back I think I am more fit now than I was in my youth!
Bending forward, backward, twisting to the sides and squatting are done so as to stretch your spinal column. When done regularly this keeps your entire system healthy—particularly your neurological system, which otherwise becomes an issue as you age. Asanas and physical activity, done with awareness, level your body to its natural state.
You live in the moment
However, yoga is much more than the asanas. There are techniques such as Pranayam and meditation that bring about heightened levels of awareness. Pranayam is a Sanskrit word that means ‘extension of the prāṇa or breath’ or ‘extension of the life force’. When your awareness increases you start paying attention to the details in life; how you stand, how you eat or how you breathe. So yoga brings about the ability to live in the moment. Meditation clears the lens through which you experience and see the world.
It fosters connectedness
Yoga has brought about a very positive influence in every sphere of my life. I feel a good sense of connectedness within myself and therefore a better connection and relationship with the external world, be it family, friends or colleagues. It is easy to look into the eyes of people, smile and collaborate. Rather than raging against a situation I cannot change, I’ve become more appreciative of the differences in people and myself. The context in which I hold my life has changed and therefore I find that the content of life that is getting created is magical. I am doing the same things as earlier but my awareness has changed and so my experience has changed; it has become deeper, better. Even a simple thing like closing my eyes, turning inward and being with myself is exhilarating.
It’s a spiritual journey
The beauty of the human system is that the more you practice yoga the better it gets and the better the rewards. A deeper practice of yoga becomes a gateway towards spiritual exploration. My guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev believes that to live in this world you have to assume an identity, but it should not change the fundamentals of who you are. Yoga provides a way to reach your inner nature and so reach out to the fundamentals of who you are.
The key is to find just a few minutes every day in the morning for yoga so as to experience full health and wellbeing. So be selfish, put aside that time for yourself!
Kalpana Maniar is Head Business Solutions & IT at Edelweiss Capital Ltd.