Yoga: Offering a New Lease on Life

When Indian Prime  Minister Narendra Modhi  addressed the United Nations at the  7th International Day of Yoga on June 21, 2021 he was ushering in a brand new role for the science of Yoga as a powerful healing force in this usually most unsettled world.

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature”, Modhi told the UN.

By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

On Dec 11, India’s Permanent Representative introduced the draft resolution in UNGA. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States, including USA, and the draft text was adopted without a vote. Hence, June 21, 2015 is the first International Day of Yoga. 

What is the magic, the mystery of this weird set of gymnastics practiced by people making curious contortions with their bodies and making drone-like sounds which seem to cut through the air and actually help them arrive at a most enviable new sense of calm that shows openly in their large smiles and glowing bodies? 

No one saw them secretly taking a magic pill or clandestinely playing with some electronic device. Instead, in simple moves such as a hand gesture with thumb and forefinger specifically touching slightly at the tips; rolling back the tongue as if to block the entrance to the throat or – very ridiculous-sounding when suggested – squeezing your anus throughout the session, the adept can attest to “miraculous” change over time.

Now being in charge of their world and feeling comfortably in tune with cosmic consciousness, these newly-evolved adepts are able to intervene like waves of love serving as  reassuring influences of mind-change promoting a harmonious way of thinking and being for a society confidently straddling New Zealand’s  Imre Vallon’s Heavens and Hells of the Mind”

While the objective outcomes are not usually easily measurable, we can engage in some constructive default-thinking by imagining what life would could have looked like with manic-depressives such as Korea’s King Jung Un and the  USA’s Donald Trump being left to their own devices without the intervention of soothing hands and cool, persuasive whispers over their faces and ears.

In this regard, for instance, Kundalini Yoga readily presents itself for rigid scrutiny.

Yoga practitioner Aletheia Luna says that “Sooner or later on the spiritual awakening journey, we all taste the mysterious and intense kundalini energy …

It might be smooth and subtle, or intense and explosive, but whatever the case, kundalini is a primal force of awakening.

“In fact, sometimes people can experience full-blown kundalini awakenings spontaneously without any prior experience (or interest) in spiritual growth or transformation” Luna adds.

“Put simply, a kundalini awakening is a form of energetic awakening that causes us to transform on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Kundalini itself is a Sanskrit word that means “she who is coiled” – it refers to primordial life force energy contained at the base of the spine that is often depicted as a snake.

“This serpentine energy, once awakened, travels up the various energy centers (or chakras) of the body and into your crown chakra where higher consciousness is triggered. 

“The result of this higher awareness is a greater understanding of one’s soul (or True Nature), life purpose, and the nature of reality itself”.

And this new discovery of what is possible, is what the yogi brings to his brothers and sisters in a world desperately searching for a light at the end of the tunnel.

As regards Tantric Yoga, LeLa Becke proffers that “contrary to what you might assume, tantric yoga has nothing to do with tantric sex—at least in the contemporary, Western sense of it”

While Traditional tantra yoga isn’t sexual, she argues,  it is deeply tied to the concept of pleasure and learning to become truly in tune with your body.

Tantric yoga is a form of yoga practice that’s aligned with tantra, an ancient spiritual practice originating in India, Tibet, and other parts of Asia. Tantra is often associated with tantric sex, which is  a sensual, spiritual form of sex. 

But these sexual practices are actually just one part of tantra and are actually more accurately described as neotantra

Tantra means “to weave” in Sanskrit, and classical tantra is all about reaching spiritual enlightenment through connecting with your energy. This traditional understanding of tantra is the heart of tantric yoga.

“I’d trained as a yoga teacher in the Western tradition, but it wasn’t until I lived in an Indian ashram and practiced traditional tantra yoga that I truly came to my deepest understanding and expression of what yoga is”, Becke testified in her blog in June 2020.

In the shala (a Sanskrit word meaning “home”) in India, tantra yoga classes started with students lying on the floor, eyes closed. We would wait until the teacher came into the room, only knowing to start by listening to their words from the back of the room. They did not introduce themselves, nor did they explain anything about what was going to happen, or how to execute the asanas. They simply spoke the words—many of them unfamiliar to me.

At first I was confused and a little angry because I didn’t know what was going on. I had to look at the other students to see what some of the asanas were. Over time I began to find peace in the voice resonating from the back of the room. I found freedom in being able to close my eyes and focus fully on my practice without the distraction of a teacher’s cues.

What I learned over time was that this form of yoga is more a moving meditation than a physical workout. Traditional tantra yoga focuses on internal connection and reflection, with physical flexibility, strength, and prior knowledge of the postures taking a backseat to the primary intention of self-knowledge and empowerment.

“Eventually I was able to find in each asana exactly what my body needed, because no one was telling me how to do it or how long to do it. I found strength in this freedom and came to consider this form of yoga far more powerful than what I’d personally experienced in the West.

Becke stayed at that ashram “for quite a while”, eventually becoming certified to teach this style of traditional tantra yoga. Now back in her Western home – “where practicing yoga usually means racing through traffic, running into a studio at the last minute, and performing whatever sequence at whatever pace our teacher has chosen”- she functions as a person now in charge of her  life, her community and a source of constructive influence in her world.

For those sceptics who still think this mumbo jumbo being touted by Indian Prime Minister Mohdi at the UN is just another set of Fake News, as the cynical former US President Donald Trump would have easily called it, we aspiring yogis have one simple suggestion :

Join a Yoga Class.

 Sat Nam!

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