Ashtanga Yoga – A simple guide to healthy life during crisis

The Ashtanga Yoga is a practice of the ancient wisdom of Patanjali’s yoga sutra. It leads to the overall development of mind, body, and spirit. These are very simple concepts whose thorough practices could eliminate the problems and sufferings of life. The Ashtanga yoga starts with the activities that we should avoid in life, and then it progresses towards the activities that one should regularly follow in life. The practice of Ashtanga yoga is to avoid certain bad practices and then to replace it with good practices. This philosophy gives us a very deep idea that humans have both positive and negative qualities. The negative quality should not make us lowly and the positive qualities should not make us filled with pride. There should be an approach towards the reduction of negative qualities and the increment of the positive ones. Such an understanding is mentioned appropriately in the theory of Ashtanga yoga.

Before we jump directly into the theory, we should know that the Ashtanga yoga practices are completely practical, and just knowing may not do any good. And hence, one should implement the concepts practically for the progress of humanity. The Ashtanga Yoga is classified as the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga sutra i.e., Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. It is an active combination leading to the purification of mind, body, and soul. Ashtanga yoga practices have a direct impact on the present-day crisis. These impacts have to be studied properly for the well being of all.  

Yama– It consists of the practice of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha. It shows us the qualities that one should avoid doing in one’s life.
1. Ahimsa(non-violence) tells about practicing the qualities of non-killing, non-aggressive, and non-revenge nature. The ongoing crisis mostly results in a war-like situation. And if we focus on the Yoga philosophy, then it clearly speaks of not being violent. The non-indulgent in war may safeguard us from losing life and resources.
2. Satya (non-lying) is a concept of practicing truth for general political and economic conduct. A person acquiring the legal and government positions should never speak lies because their lies could harm and disturb others. The present crisis demands the people in media to represent reality so that people may feel courageous and prepared to face the crisis.
3. Asteya(non-stealing) is a practice of not taking what is not yours. With the decline in the economic growth of a country, people are losing the way of livelihood, and therefore, some has started the activities of stealing money for maintaining their life. The stealing could bring a bad reputation and provide long-lasting harm to others.
4. Brahmacharya (abstinence of sexual conduct) tells that one should try to be Brahmachari in life. It is very meaningful in today’s time of crisis. The over-population is still an active issue of society. People are not getting basic supplies in their life, and if the population isn’t balanced then the demands of many would-be left uncompleted.
5. Aparigraha(non-possessive)  wonderfully speaks about the practice of sustainability. The idea of sustainability is to utilize and acquire resources not more than our needs. These days people have no food, and money to cope up with the effect of pandemic disease. If a certain population stops unnecessarily acquisition of the excessive resources, then everyone would be able to tackle the problems of survival.

Niyama is the habit or pattern of one’s lifestyles. Nature and the cosmos always follow a certain order and that’s the only reason other beings could thrive on this planet. In case, humans follow the necessary orders of life, then we could be productive and successful. The Niyamas described in Patanjali Yoga sutras is – Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana. Sauch or cleanliness is the practice of hygiene culture. It is the top need to conquer the pandemic spread. Cleanliness is not just for the body, but also for our minds and thoughts. The regular cleansing of mind and body may prepare us fully to fight the pandemic effects. In the corona period, the stress is put upon sanitizing and cleansing hands more often. Santosha or contentment in one’s activity is much needed in today’s time. People are completely shattered by all the regression in the economic conditions of society. There is continuous barrier in one’s growth. In such scenarios, to be satisfied in one’s work and result is very much important. The present conditions may not support us in our career and economic needs, but we should be satisfied with the doings and the results we are achieving. Tapas or austerity is the best practice for today’s time. By following Tapas, one should have control over the personal desires in this situation. One should observe strict resilience for luxurious living, toxifying substances, and negative addictions. We should understand the hardships that people are facing around, and compromise our life not to trouble others.  Svadhyaya or self-study is an activity everyone could attain by the continuous self-effort. This lockdown is a time to look deeper within self and inquire about one’s limitations. The study of scriptures, mantras, and subjects of interest should be continued during this harsh time. The words of wisdom could heal the loss one has faced during pandemic times. Ishvara Pranidhana is the unfaltering devotions towards the ultimate consciousness. It’s obvious that the situation has taken away the peace, and so only a deep faith, and understanding in God may bring back the lost peace.  

Asana– It is the third limb of Patanjali yoga sutra. It talks about body posture and seat in which we should be seated comfortably. The comfortability of our seats shouldn’t impact the postures of the body. The complete stay within the four walls of our house is producing a negative impact on our health status. The lack of movements and exercises could bring illness. To avoid growing illness, one must focus on the pose and body structure. The active poses will definitely support the thoughts of our minds. As a result, we could be successful in following the productive styles of living.

Pranayama– It is the best practice for immunity and regulating the supply of oxygen in our body. The coronavirus is mostly affecting the normal breathing capacity of humans. The critical patients of Coronavirus are given ventilator supports so they could breathe normally. Pranayam increases lung capacity and could help us to remain prepared for any disease. The best kind of pranayama one could practice during pandemic times are Bhastrika(forced exhalation), Kapalbhati(exhalation), and Anulom-Vilom(active inhalation and exhalation).

Pratyahara means withdrawing the attention from the outside world and turning inwards. This practice could fully be attained during this critical time of the pandemic. During this time, we may not able to achieve our every physical desire and therefore, we must control such desires and look inwards for understanding our inner conscious world. Proper understanding of the inner world could control the unnecessary rising up of desires.

Dharana – Simply, Dharana is holding the mind’s attention at any point in space. It is useful because we are losing our focus due to regular news and updates of the crisis. We aren’t able to concentrate upon the regular activities and futile thoughts are taking control of our minds. This is the time to pay the utmost attention to the patterns of thoughts. The thoughts could determine the action we are conducting so that it may act in the welfare of all others. Whenever we are losing focus, the simple practice of mindfulness can help us to retain the lost attention and procure the interest in work.

Dhyana–  Dhyana is holding one’s attention without any interruptions. Dhyana is possible by the regular practice of meditation. Meditation could calm our mind and could bring back the lost peace. Daily meditation practice could release us from all underlying stress and take us more towards the inner happiness. Meditation is the best practice to stay tuned to the present world and stop hanging over the past happenings or future predictions.

Samadhi –  It is not easy to attain the stage of samadhi. It is the attainment of enlightenment and cessation of self. The existence of the ego, pride, and I are totally controlled by reaching this final stage of ashtanga yoga practice. It is believed that no disease could affect a person who has reached this final stage of realization. In this stage, the mortality rate of human lowers down. A person is healthy, both internally and externally.

The Pandemic is very stressful period of this year. But, the practice of yoga definitely eliminates the disease, illness, and negativity which disturbs the state of our mind. The active practices of the preliminary limbs (the first five) could prepare us completely to practice the final limbs(the last three). This could help to attain a complete stage of spiritual development, knowledge, and happiness. This article reflects on the present issues which could be controlled by the regular and active practice of Ashtanga yoga. It’s time now to re-initiate the ancient techniques for achieving peace and wellness.     

Reference 

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