Yogasana is not Yoga



World over, there is a misnomer brewing since the last 50-60 years. That yogasana is a Yogic practice, that spending hours everyday twisting and bending your body is all kinds of convoluted positions will somehow lead the practitioner to moksha.


This fallacy has reached epic proportions with the advent of social media. Now we have hordes of Yoga Gurus armed with a 200 Hour Yoga instructor Certificate copy pasting gyan from any ancient spiritual text along with a contorted pose on Facebook. Every day a new quote and a new pose. The idea that an asana, which literally just means, sitting pose, can lead you to samadhi is most bewildering, especially in India. I can imagine body-conscious Westerners being fooled by the spiel. But even in India, the birthplace of Yoga, how such falsehoods can gain mainstream prominence beats me.


Any real Yogic text has absolutely nothing to do with asanas. For instance the Bhagavad Gita, a Yoga Shastra, has eighteen chapters with titles like Karma Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Vibhuti Yoga, Sankhya Yoga etc never every deals with asanas. It's laughable to visualise Sri Krishna sitting in middle of the battlefield instructing Arjuna how perform Pashchimuttanasana!


Even Sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras dedicates just 3 words to asanas - sukham sthiram asanam. He indicates that to perform Yoga, your body has to be comfortable and still. And that all there is to it.


To repeat the oft repeated line, Yoga is union of the atman with the paramatman, or simply put, Union with God. So obviously Yoga is a religious practice. You cannot shear God from Yoga.


In the 14th and 15th verses of the 6th Chapter (Dhyana Yoga) of Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan says, "Thus, with a serene, fearless, and unwavering mind, and staunch in the vow of celibacy, the vigilant yogi should meditate on me, having me alone as the supreme goal."

And

"Thus, constantly keeping the mind absorbed in me, the yogi of disciplined mind attains nirvāṇ, and abides in me in supreme peace."


So it should be pretty obvious to everyone that Yoga involves meditation, constant meditation. And meditation on nothing mundane like the breath or the heart beat, but on Ishwara himself. Now the method you choose could be visualising his form or chanting his name (japa), but the focus is on connecting with God.


Only this qualifies as yoga. Everything else is a circus.


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