Plunged into history and destroyed 8 wrong opinions.
Destroy myths today Georgy Gorgiladze is a member of the Yoga Federation of Russia and YogAlliance International, a record holder of Russia, a record holder of Guinness World Records and a participant in the SN PRO EXPO FORUM International Healthy Lifestyle and Sports Festival. At the end of the 19th century, almost a few knew about yoga, and researchers and travelers, returning from India to their homeland, composed myths and legends about the miracles they saw there. 150 years have passed, the XXI century is in the yard, and around the world about 300 million people are already engaged in yoga. The entire Internet and social networks are full of pictures of meditators or performing bizarre poses of "yogis". Yes, practitioners and followers of yoga have become many times over, but the myths about yoga have not disappeared.
I suggest you buckle up, sit down or lie down right away, I assure you that after reading what you have read, you will definitely feel dizzy. Are you ready? Let's go then!
Myth 1. Yoga is difficult asanas
You've probably often seen advertisements for various yoga studios or online yoga courses featuring a man or woman in an incredibly twisted pose. The main purpose of these ads is to get your attention.
Yes, while studying and practicing yoga, you may encounter postures or exercises for which you will not have enough stretching, not enough strength, not enough balance, but this does not mean that you cannot do yoga. One of the main principles of yoga "ahimsa" - nonviolence, not harming yourself or others, means that you can perform those exercises and asanas that allow your body and mind to perform, gradually moving forward to more complex levels. In yoga, the main thing is not the ability to perform the most difficult poses or exercises; gymnasts, acrobats, and athletes can do this. More important is the desire to study yourself, learn to concentrate on your actions, free your mind from unnecessary thoughts and emotions, control your breathing, relax, listen to yourself and be in harmony with yourself and the world around you.
The physical component in yoga is not all yoga. "Yogas cittvritti nirodhah" ("yoga - chitta vritti nirodha") is one of the earliest definitions of the concept of "yoga", indicated in the ancient Sanskrit manuscripts of the Yoga Sutras (between the 4th century BC and the 4th century AD). BC), literally meaning "yoga is the absence of fluctuations of the mind," that is, curbing your thoughts and emotions, harmony, tranquility.
Myth 2. Yoga is safe
Well, let's move on from the history of yoga to the actual practice. And the myth that yoga is safe is a very funny myth.
According to one study by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), thousands of yoga practitioners, including yoga teachers and instructors, suffer injuries to their lower back, neck, knees and wrists each year. And there is nothing surprising here, just one stand on the head of Shirshasan is worth something, or the pose of the Halasan plow, or various falls when performing balance asanas. But despite all this, in general, yoga is less traumatic than any sport. Unlike sports, yoga classes are aimed at accumulating and preserving vital energy, at restoring health, strengthening immunity, improving well-being, releasing negative emotions, etc. The main thing in training is not to rush, do a warm-up, observe safety precautions when performing exercises, concentrate on your actions, on muscle work and on breathing. If there are any health restrictions, you should first examine your sores and be doubly careful about your practice.
Myth 3. Only vegetarians practice yoga
This is probably the most common myth.But in fact, practicing yoga, each person decides for himself how to eat. Nobody forces anyone. Of course, in general, among yoga practitioners most of all vegetarians or close to vegetarianism, but there are those who continue to eat food of animal origin, perhaps not as often as before, but continue, this is a person's choice and this is the need of his body.
Over time, every yoga practitioner comes to the conclusion that progress to a higher level of control over his body, thoughts and emotions depends, among other things, on nutrition.
Myth 4. Yoga is a religion
Another of the most common myths. After studying the history of yoga and its philosophy, you can clearly answer that yoga is not a religion. At its core, yoga is a system of knowledge about a person and his relationship with the world around him. At the same time, yoga is practiced by both people of all faiths and atheists. Yoga is both work on yourself, and self-study, and this does not prevent you from believing in anything.
Myth 5. Yoga should be practiced from childhood in order to have a result.
Yoga can be practiced at any conscious age. What do you mean by the result? It won't be there if you want to get it quickly. Yoga practice involves slowly working with your body, breath, thoughts and emotions. The result in yoga, as in life, largely depends on the degree of concentration when performing actions, and on the ability to relax at the right time. Whatever result you set, whether it be to lose weight, tighten your figure, improve stretching, relieve stress and tension, strengthen your immunity and health - you can achieve this by practicing yoga, if you gradually move forward, getting satisfaction from the process, then there will be result, no matter what age you are. There are examples when people start doing yoga at 60 and 70 years old.
Myth 6. Yoga is not for men, or is it not a man's business
Surely when attending yoga classes, you noticed that almost all participants are women. This is the trend all over the world over the past 50 years - the number of women practicing yoga is increasing exponentially every year, which cannot be said about men. However, initially, for hundreds of years, it was men who practiced yoga.
Changes began to take place at the beginning of the 20th century, when in 1936 one of the most famous yoga masters Iyengar (student of yoga guru Krishnamacharya) began teaching in the first female group for female students of Mysore College in India, and a little later, Iyengar's wife, Ramamani, also began to teach yoga. for women. In 1937, Evgenia Peterson-Labunskaya came to study with Sri Krishnamacharya, from Russia to India, who would later become the most famous yogini named Indra Devi. It is noteworthy that at first Krishnamacharya completely refused to teach her, saying: "Yoga is only for men and only for Hindus, a woman, especially a foreigner, I will not take it, it is impossible." But, thanks to her perseverance, writing down every word for the guru and practicing yoga no matter what, Indra Devi eventually became the first foreign woman to be initiated into yoga. And after years of teaching, she moved to the United States and opened her yoga studio in Hollywood.
Indra Devi's students were Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Gloria Svenson, and many celebrities, but she also gave master classes for everyone. In 1960, she visits the USSR and introduces yoga to the country's leadership, First Deputy Chairmen of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Alexei Kosygin and Anastas Mikoyan, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and others. And 30 years later, in 1990, at the age of 91, Indra Devi again will visit the USSR, influencing the legalization and distribution of yoga both in the USSR and in Russia.
However, despite the spread of yoga all over the world, thanks to the disciples of Sri Krishnamacharya, yoga masters Iyengar, Indra Devi, Patabhi Jois, Desikachar, the greatest peak of the spread of yoga fell not so much in the XX century, but in the XXI.
I remember how in 1999, when I was just starting to study yoga, I had to literally get at least some information about yoga, buy books in the markets, look in libraries. And now, in the 21st century, thanks to the development of information technology and the Internet, information about yoga is very easy to find.Advertising, articles, posts on social networks, educational videos, schools, studios, fitness clubs, healthy lifestyles - the word "yoga" and the practice of yoga have firmly entered the life of a modern person, now not only men, but also women.
Myth 7. Yoga asanas are more than 5 thousand years old
A very interesting myth. Millions of people around the world who practice yoga in the 21st century are accustomed to believe that asanas (postures, body positions) were invented thousands of years ago, and by performing them, we seem to be participating in maintaining some ancient tradition. However, it is not. 99% of the asanas that are practiced in the 21st century were created in the period from the 15th to the 20th century. Let's take a quick look at history. Seal of Pashupati (circa 2350-2000 BC), found in Mohenjo-Daro during archaeological excavations of the Indus Valley civilization. The seal depicts the character "king of animals" in a sitting position reminiscent of a yogic pose. Often it is this find that is cited as evidence that asanas and yoga itself are more than 5 thousand years old. But in fact, scientists and Indologists still cannot confidently say that this find is associated with yoga, since a sitting position with crossed legs can mean ordinary rest, and the habit of sitting in this position was widespread not only in India, and not necessarily associated with the practice of yoga.
Vedas (XVI-V centuries BC) - absolutely nothing is said about asanas in this ancient collection of sacred tests found on the territory of India. Even the word "yoga" (translated from Sanskrit "connection", "connection") is used only once as a description of a harness for a horse.
In the IV century BC. during a trip to India, Alexander the Great meets a group of men sitting motionless with their legs crossed under the scorching sun, some stood with their hands up, others just stood on one leg, some on their hands, and some on their heads. According to the descriptions, the Greeks encountered a group of Indian ascetics. They believed that being motionless for a long time helps to free oneself from earthly suffering and karmic consequences. And most likely King Bhagiratha, according to one of the legends described in the ancient epic "Ramayana", practiced standing on one leg for a long time as a kind of austerity, and not an exercise to improve balance and strengthen the muscles of the legs. And most likely Buddha Siddhartha Gautama practiced meditation in the lotus position, not in order to improve the flexibility of the legs or the mobility of the joints, but again as a kind of austerity. It was asceticism and physical immobility, subjecting one's body and mind to various trials, hermitage from the bustle of the world that helped to direct their gaze inward, to find peace and peace of mind.
The Bhagavad Gita (IV century BC) is part of the ancient Indian epic "Mahabharata", which also does not contain a single word about asanas that now exist and are practiced in yoga. But the term "yoga" itself has already been mentioned - when talking with the warrior Arjuna, Krishna recommends the practice of karma yoga (yoga of selfless actions), dhyana yoga (yoga of knowledge and wisdom) and bhakti yoga (yoga of contemplating one's unity with God). Also in the Bhagavad Gita the practice of meditation is described for the first time as part of dhyana yoga.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (IV century BC and IV century AD) are the main collection of texts on yoga, on which every practitioner relies. It is in this source of knowledge that we first learn about 12 asanas - stable and comfortable sitting positions of the body, taken through relaxation. It is also important to note that these asanas are not physical practice, their main task is to prepare a person for breathing practice (prana yama) and meditation. In simple terms, the asanas mentioned in the yoga sutras are the practice of sitting comfortably. In addition to describing asanas, Patanjali defines the very concept of "yoga" as "the absence of fluctuations of the mind", and also divides yoga into 8 steps: the first 2 steps are Yama and Niyama (principles that regulate relations with the outside world, people and oneself),3rd stage - Asana (stable and comfortable body positions), 4th stage - Pranayama (breathing practices, controlling your internal energy), 5th stage - Pratyahara (control of your emotions and feelings), 6th stage - Dharana (concentration, concentration, focus of attention), 7th stage - Dhyana (meditation, prolonged concentration), 8th stage - Samadhi (state of awareness of oneself, contemplation). As you can see, studying history, we still do not find anywhere a hint of asanas in any way connected with physical practice, with everything that is practiced in modern yoga.
Hatha yoga pradipika (15th century) - a strong leap forward in time, we find ourselves in the Middle Ages and finally meet the description of 15 asanas, which are associated not only with physical practice, but also with standing and lying body positions. Also, in addition to describing difficult poses to perform (Mayurasana, Kukkutasana, etc.), for the first time we meet a description of the positive impact of these asanas on health. Over the centuries, physical practices and dynamics are added to breathing practices and meditations, the attitude towards one's own body changes. Previously, the body was treated as a simple combination of the skeleton, muscles, organs and blood, as the abode of many sins and diseases, and that is why asceticism and hermitism were practiced in order to alienate and protect themselves from their own sinfulness and surrounding ignorance. Now everything is the other way around - one's own body begins to be perceived as a temple of the soul, as a vessel in which there is a particle of higher matter, a particle of the divine. Can you imagine how much the attitude towards him has changed? This is a huge shift. From that moment on, the body ceases to be a source of suffering, and asanas become an instrument of transformation, strengthening health, gaining strength and abilities. Now yoga could be practiced not only by ascetics and hermits, but also by everyone.
Over time, the number of asanas in yoga is constantly increasing, while they become more complex and more dynamic. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (November 18, 1888 - November 3, 1989) is a yoga guru, thanks to whom millions of people around the world practice the yoga that we are used to seeing. It is he who is the quintessence of a real yogi, who has combined all the philosophy and physical practice of yoga together at the highest possible level. He can rightfully be called the 1 yogi in the world in the entire history of mankind and the first yoga therapist. Educated at various universities and colleges in India (in Sanskrit, philosophy, Vedanta and Ayurveda), having lived for several years in a cave with his teacher Ramamohan Brahmachari, having mastered hundreds of variations of asanas, having studied all possible literature about yoga and its therapeutic effects on the human body, he opens his yoga school at the palace of the Maharaja (Indian prince) Mysore. In the 1920s, he became the first popularizer of yoga, demonstrating to society the various abilities of his body, such as: controlling electricity from a distance, stopping the pulse, a high level of flexibility and strength. Subsequently, his students, including the first woman yogini Indra Devi, Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Desikachar and others, spread the teaching and practice of yoga throughout the world, bringing new knowledge and approaches to mastering. Thus, taking a brief look at the history of yoga, we see that asanam - the very physical component of yoga, in fact, is not more than 500 years old, that until the 15th century yoga was practiced as austerity and meditation, as a way of studying the world around, self-knowledge and liberation from earthly suffering. It is also worth noting that the evolution of yoga took place due to the development of science, medicine, technological progress, industrialization, globalization and informatization all over the world, and now, in the 21st century, millions of people have a large selection of directions and branches of yoga, allowing them to gain not only longevity, but in general, learn to listen to yourself, be in harmony and enjoy the moment “here and now”.
Myth 8.Yoga and the modern rhythm of life are incompatible
On the one hand, our life in the modern world is filled with events and relationships with people as much as possible, stress or haste awaits us everywhere, and there is no time left for yoga. On the other hand, to practice yoga, you do not have to be in complete silence, in nature or alone with yourself. Yoga can be practiced at home with your family, and at work, and in the process of communication, and while eating, and while cleaning, and before going to bed. Yoga practice can be in your every action at any given time. The ability to remain calm in conflict or stressful situations, the ability to control breathing, do small warm-ups during the day, think positively, love yourself - this is also part of yoga practice, and not just doing physical exercises and asanas. Yoga is simply necessary in the modern rhythm of life, in order to improve the quality of life and the effectiveness of decisions made, it remains only in all this fuss to find at least 30 seconds to stop, take a deep breath, exhale slowly and smile.
Well, I tried to debunk the most topical and controversial myths about yoga as much as possible, and I hope you were very interested.