Wisdom//

Yoga Is Awareness

Every action, if done with awareness, can become yoga, Amma says on the fourth annual International Day of Yoga.

Amma and an Amrita Yoga teacher lead people through yoga stretches in Santa Fe, as part of the fourth annual International Day of Yoga celebrations (copyright MA Center, 2018)

The Sanskrit word yoga means to bring two things together — to merge. Some may say it is the merging of the individual soul into the Supreme Soul or of the devotee into God. But, in truth, yoga is not a coming together but a moving apart. It is moving away from the misconception that we were ever apart from God. In truth, there is, always has been and always will be nothing but Oneness. This is because there is but one True Self expressing itself in all of creation. All people, mountains, rivers, animals, plants and trees are this one True Self alone. Unfortunately, in our current state, we are overpowered by our sense of “I” and “mine.” Our likes and dislikes are so strong, that we are unable to grasp this truth of oneness. Hence, we think we are apart from each other and God.

“The Sanskrit word yoga means to bring two things together — to merge. Some may say it is the merging of the individual soul into the Supreme Soul or of the devotee into God. But, in truth, yoga is not a coming together, but a moving apart. It is moving away from the misconception that we were ever apart from God.” — Amma

Here is a story to explain: Once there was a child at a fair who became lost from his mother. He didn’t know what to do. He looked everywhere, but all the people he saw were strangers. In his panic, he started running here and there. But no matter where he went, he didn’t see his mom. Then he fell down and started to cry. He was crying as hard as he could. It was then that he felt his mothers kiss on his forehead. In fact, the little boy had not been lost. He had not even been at a fair. He had always been in his mother’s arms. He had fallen asleep and was just having a nightmare that he could not find his mother. Our so-called “separation” from God is just like this. To understand our situation, all we have to do is to wake up. Then we will see that we never been apart from God — the mother of all.

“All the various spiritual practices — whether they be selfless service to society, meditation, chanting mantras, or studying the scriptures — are to help stir us from our slumber. Thus, because they seem to bring us closer to God, we call them yoga.” — Amma

These days what most people think of as “yoga” is hatha yoga — which includes specific stretches, postures, breathing exercises and meditation. When done with proper awareness, such yoga can be a very beneficial spiritual practice. While doing yoga, as you move and hold positions, you try to remain aware of every single movement. As your arms go up, you try to be totally aware of that movement. Similarly when the arms come back down. Through this external awareness, you are also gaining internal awareness. When performed like this, yoga becomes a powerful spiritual practice, refining us mentally and spiritually, making our mind more subtle and aware.

A yoga practice also serves to enhance our health, efficiency, mental poise and our ability to stand firm in universal values. Owing to this, yoga is gaining fast universal popularity and acceptance in these days of lifestyle and psychosomatic diseases.

“Yoga should not be limited to time-bound sessions. In fact, every action can become yoga if done with awareness. In this manner, we can become focused in our True Self and become established in the infinite peace and oneness.”

— Amma

Yoga practices are distinct from ordinary physical exercises. While the latter rely mostly on fast bodily movements, the emphasis in yoga is on bringing proper relaxation to every organ and in channelizing the vital force in the optimum way that is possible. It has a great impact on our endocrine system and accelerates cure from diseases. The mental wellbeing derived from yoga lasts much longer than that from ordinary physical exercises.

Our yoga practices should not be limited to time-bound sessions. In fact, every action can become yoga if done with awareness. In this manner, we can become focused in our True Self and become established in the infinite peace and oneness.

Yoga disseminates the message of healthy living, and inner and outer purity. It rises above all divisiveness and extols nonviolence and compassion. Thus, the spread of yoga shall contribute to universal peace and amity. May humanity attain greater heights physically, mentally and spiritually through yoga.

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