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Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ancient yogis couldn't have imagined that yogacould be practised by someone suspended from a hammock or while the practitioner is gyrating to the tunes of hiphop music. 

With yoga's growing popularity abroad, particularly in the western hemisphere, Patanjali's concept is getting re-invented to combine traditional wisdom with the latest physical fitness techniques of body balancing, weight training and aerobics. The newer forms of yoga include what is being called Anti-gravity Yoga, Hiphop Yoga and Iron Yoga. These are attracting young and old alike. However, in the process, perhaps the real meaning of yoga is getting lost as the desire to look and feel better dominates that of merging with the Supreme Consciousness - the original aim of yoga that Maharishi Patanjali, the initiator of yoga, intended.

New Age Yoga 
Body-balancing, Anti-gravity Yoga is practised and taught by an acrobatic troupe founded by Christopher Harrison in the US. It aims to give you a "cardiovascular workout that tones up muscles and improves flexibility and balance". The hammock, made of special fabric, is connected from two overhead points. It's almost like practising yoga on a swing or soft trapeze - an enticing option for an easily-bored, treadmill runner. This gravity-defying exercise bears an uncanny resemblance to the ancient Indian art form, Malkhamb, in which yogic postures are attempted while hanging from a rope or atop a pillar. Malkhamb is still practised by traditional wrestlers in parts of India.

With Iron Yoga, you can practise weight training and asanas at the same time. In this form of yoga, asanas are attempted with light weights, dumb-bells and stabilising balls. The aim is to strengthen muscles and improve metabolism. For those who like to combine exercise with music, Hiphop Yoga is a viable option. The website, says that: "At Hiphop Yoga (centre) you are free to laugh, sing, dance, and let out huge sighs without judgement. Hiphop Yoga welcomes anyone who can open their mind and practise from their heart."

Patanjali's wisdom 
"Yoga is an internal journey. It's for balancing of energy flow so that we can align our consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. To take us forward in this direction we have asanas and pranayamas," says yogacharya Surakshit Goswami. "But they are just the means and not the end," he cautions. He says, "Asanas are just for the gross body and if you practise yoga only for a healthy body that is not yoga."

Asanas and pranayamas are tools that help us make the body healthy and resolve our mental conflicts so that we are prepared for mukti, the ultimate aim of yoga, according to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. The first chapter of the Yoga Sutra is called the Samadhi Pada and the second sutra in the chapter defines yoga as "Yogashchitta vritti nirodha"- "The practise of yoga is for the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind." The next sutra says, "When this happens then the seer is revealed, resting in its own essential nature, realises the true Self."

Yoga is being in the 'flow' and letting everything else that you do flow from it. Even if you are not a seer meditating in the Himalayas, yoga helps you achieve a peaceful state of mind, helping you stay centred in the moment. And when you are centred in the present and in the flow, you also ignore the mundane happenings that would otherwise make you angry or anxious. According to Patanjali, asanas are "sthir sukham asanam," - or for stability and happiness. 

Reference: The Times of India 


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