By Ratish Murali

What is individuality?
It’s a quality that makes one different from others. If we look closer, we will realise that each one of us, from different walks of life, share an independent opinion about a subject matter. This is hugely influenced by our individual experiences, conditions, upbringings, exposures, natural tendencies, genetics, and most importantly intentions.

The same individuality plays a role in the choices of life we make each day. When one explores the art of yoga, one can easily get overwhelmed by the different paths and styles that have mushroomed in recent times. As for me, I started off in the path of Bakti Yoga, or devotion, which was the closest to my heart. It is one of the most ancient paths of yoga. It developed a great deal of emotional stability in me. I was constantly curious about life as I grew up and naturally was drawn to spiritual books, which eventually led to yoga.

The journey begin

Finally, after much introspection, I started on the journey of yoga. For a newbie, yoga can create excitement, especially if one is exposed to the benefits mentioned in the scriptures. The thrilling prospects of discovering inner powers, mental strength, expansion of energy and awakening of brain capacities may pull people to the path of yoga, while others may be fascinated with the poses a human body could actually move into. But yoga not only works on the physical level, it works deeper in the mental, emotional and energy fields as well.

Just like how we have preference towards the food we like, the clothes we wear and the things we do, in yoga an individual can choose the practice that suits him or her the best. Therefore we realise that each practice is unique in its own way and shouldn’t be compared with other practices.

One will be rewarded abundantly when there’s sincere effort in the path of yoga. I realised this when I explored the world of pranayama (breath control techniques). It was mind-blowing! Every time I held the breath in a specific technique, the world disappeared, my mind disappeared and so did my body! Yet at the same time, I felt this sense of expanded awareness, which I had never experienced before. I realised this was only the tip of the iceberg of what the sages and rishis were exploring — the power that can be attained in shutting out the senses, or in Pratyahara.

As how I see it, if one has a tendency to engage the mind and intellect, then the path of Jnana Yoga would lead them.

If serving mankind brings the greatest joy, then Karma Yoga will be the fastest way to bring one closer to truth.

In conclusion, I feel that the path we choose is unique for each one of us, and that is what individuality is all about. What is important is to continuously direct oneself towards the path of self-realisation, which in itself is the greatest service to mankind.