Guiding Light - Yoga: Some myths dispelled

It is true that most practitioners practice some asanas and pranayama only for health purposes. But yoga as a discipline is far more important than that. It is a system to master your body, your prana or energy system, your emotions, your thinking so that your whole personality is ready to pursue moksha.

Swami Brahmavidananda SaraswatiUpdated: Friday, June 24, 2022, 02:01 AM IST
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One of the biggest myths is ‘yoga is secular’. There is no God. Nothing can be further from the truth. In the practice of yoga, the base is ethical values called yama and niyama, of which one of them is Ishvara pranidhaanam or worship of Ishvara coming from a sense of surrender. The Yoga Sutras also give an understanding of Ishvara. So, it's not correct to say that the understanding of God is not involved in traditional yoga.

The other myth is that ‘yoga is not of Hindu or Vedic origin’. Again, this is false propaganda made to hijack yoga by Western practitioners or people with vested interests. There are about 30 Yoga Upanishads that form a part of the Vedas, dealing with the subject matter of yoga. It is the Hindu Sage Patanjali who collated and wrote the first work on yoga called the ‘Yoga Sutras’. Similarly other books on yoga like Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita have been written by Vedic sages. Therefore, the Vedic or Hindu origin of yoga is beyond doubt or argumentation.

The third myth is ‘yoga is only a form of exercise’. Again, nothing can be further from the truth. It is true that most practitioners practice some asanas and pranayama only for health purposes. But yoga as a discipline is far more important than that. It is a system to master your body, your prana or energy system, your emotions, your thinking so that your whole personality is ready to pursue moksha. Yoga, when practised in its fullness and entirety, is actually a spiritual discipline, not just for health. Whether you are spiritual or materialist or anything else, you need good health. Therefore, the practice of yoga takes care of that. But that doesn't reduce yoga to just physical exercise.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at aarshavidyaf@gmail.com)

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