Yoga Mail

By Nemala

“Yoga is simple” – trying saying this out loud and you’d realise you have landed into a zone of great possibilities which many have yet to give much thought. Let us ponder on this for a moment. For some, simple is equated as being too easy while for others simple means it is approachable or uncomplicated. Whereas for a few, it may imply the lack of depth in understanding a subject. However as far as the philosophy of yoga and its fundamentals are concerned, being simple or simplicity is uncomplicated. It is a practice that can be utilised by any regardless of age, creed or cast due to its malleable nature that metamorphoses its way into the required depth of understanding of a practitioner of any level. This is because the relationship between yoga and the practitioner varies from one to the other. For a serious practitioner, yoga may be a spiritual tool that leads to enlightenment, but for a simple-minded dedicated health-conscious person, it is a daily practice to keep both the body and mind fit. It is so simple that even children can engage themselves in the practice.

Effortless state of mind

Be it hatha yoga, pranayama, dhyana or any other rungs in the eight limbs of yoga as stated by the sagacious Patanjali, the practice functions in the same manner. The sole intention of the process is to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual.

Such traits may sound overpowering; however, with some thought, you may realise that all of these boil down to the ability of the mind to create clarity. Clarity is achievable when the mind is able to focus well on a matter at hand. It is the ability to not get distracted by the constant input from the external world or the ability to keep the mind concentrated on one subject at a time. In other words, it is a state of mind that is effortless.

It is simple because it is only merged in one thought; it is not complex or multi layered but completely engaged and collected in the space of time.

In this state of effortlessness, the whole energy of the mind gets concentrated on that one idea. The senses become still as the rays of thoughts no longer undulate. In this state, the consciousness of an individual and their awareness are heightened. Such a state is consequential by the upkeep of the concept of simplicity.

Therefore, simplicity is a model that challenges our ability to refine our awareness, sharpen the thoughts to one point and soften the stormy mind. Such a state would lead to a greater understanding of situations and any subject of exploration.

Simply be in the present moment

The perfect example would be how in the past there have been numerous saints and masters of many faiths who experienced profound spiritual truths (often times with such perfect clarity). They could express the philosophical insights to the public in such vibrant yet clear and simple ways that could be easily grasped.

However, today as we all live in a culture that constantly feeds the societal mind with ample distraction and clutter, one would wonder how to find the space for clarity. This is where the practice of yoga comes into play. The many great benefits of yoga are attained by constant practice. Primarily, yoga encourages the act of living in the moment. Most people spend much of their time not only planning ahead, but also contemplating the past. Nevertheless, with the practice of yoga, one gets to not only focus but also be in the present moment. For example, one will not be able to stand in a one leg pose for a length of time, or keep count of the number of inhalations and/or exhalations in their pranayama (breathing) practice or do any form of deep visualisation if the mind wanders.

Initially, such gains may only be felt during the practice but with time and continuous effort, the benefits will expand and the practitioners would be able to relive such moments although they may have completed their practice hours ago. The concept of simplicity flourishes.

There was an intriguing research conducted on the U.S. Marines using one of the concepts of yoga that is mindfulness. The findings revealed the soldiers were able to overcome stress, depression and insomnia by just practicing mindfulness 15 minutes a day over 8 weeks. In fact, they even performed better on the battlefield.

I’m certain as you are that most of us won’t find ourselves on a battlefield, but be rest assured, the practice will help improve focus when confronted with the day-to-day tasks. Focus is the element that allows the mind to keep matters simple and directed to the point of interest.

The whole concept can be quite easily comprehended as all forms of yoga practice bring the mind to the present and removes clutter. The simplicity that arises by being in the moment gives birth to clarity which leads to a state of higher consciousness. In this state it becomes natural to act upon the will for improvement which in return enhances your life experiences.

Hence, it is apparent that the wisdom of simplicity or effortlessness is deeply rooted in the practices of yoga. The great values and benefits of living modestly are found in all the world’s major traditions. Hence, the benefits are indisputable. Basically, the idea of simplicity in yoga is to create a space within you that is at peace despite the challenges in life. Voila! The essence of the yoga philosophy has come to a culmination.