Yoga enables us to direct our own course of life

Practices that are common in many cultures are fast getting eroded with the hectic pace of modern-day life. We acquire all material comforts these days, but are deprived of genuine demonstrations of affection. Hugging creates a sense of unity and belonging. Touch, hug and massage therapy aim to create an awareness of what was part of day-to-day life. Practicing yoga awakens us to the feeling that we belong to God and the universe.

Passive yoga

I’ve had undergone massage a few times, recently. There was a lot of care in the way it was done. The masseuse lamented how the very words “Thai massage” invariably conjure up images of shady practices. But I feel, it is nothing but yoga. While I didn’t have much to do, my body was gently twisted and turned. I breathed deeply to facilitate the release of pent-up stress. It was an energizing, yet relaxing experience.


Yoga is the art of finding a common ground yet not being a stick-in-the-mud. People go through different phases and we must learn to respect that rather than wanting them to do what we want them to — to perform like machines or circus animals.

That’s what sours most relationships. We may have found something in common — an activity, an ideology or a feeling. Yet, when one outgrows it or simply needs a break from it, the other may be unwilling to let go.

The noose that binds

Animals are bound by conditioning. An animal in the wild has a particular way in which it relates to the environment and has certain behavioral patterns ingrained in it. A lion roars and a crow caws. A cow or a trained animal has a noose that binds it. It allows the animal to move only in one particular direction. Most human beings are also bound by conditioning or training. The better the trainer the more efficient the trainee is. However, one aspect that differentiates man from animal is “manas” or consciousness. He has the capacity to direct his own course.

Where do you want to be?

I have heard many say, “I should give up smoking or I should do this or that.” In yoga, there are no `shoulds’, as it is binding. A good premise to start with is to want to give up smoking. As aware human beings, we know the damage smoking can do to us. Being the creators of our own destiny, we choose to put good things into our system. Though the act of giving up smoking may be the same, the premise with which we begin is different if we want to rather than have to. This applies to all decisions in our lives. A series of decisions gives the direction. Once we are clear about the destination, we will take decisions accordingly.

Most of our goals are influenced by our parents. As youngsters, we seek their approval and hence want to accommodate their desire of where we should be. Not that this is a bad thing. It’s just that we tend to absolve ourselves of the responsibility if anything goes wrong. “You wanted me to do it, now look what’s happened” are phrases one often hears. So, whether parents, teachers or peers choose it for us, ultimately we should want to pursue that goal.

Our relationship with our parents can sometimes make us do things that are not healthy for us. We may do them if we are bound by the gratitude that they have given us life. Yet, out of gratitude to life, we need to work towards building harmony within and without. This cannot be done if we succumb to emotional blackmail or other manipulation. This parental pattern can be seen in all relationships. We need to recognize it and consciously work to move away. This does not mean that all ties need to be severed. It simply means we find a common ground for bonding and can recognize when we or the other person become excessively demanding. This is the awareness that yoga aims at cultivating. It helps us bond without being bound.