There’s More to Yoga Than Stretches
by Nischala Joy Devi.
October 9, 2014.
Occasionally, I see or hear about heart patients who are following a yoga, stress management, and dietary regime but the results are not good. Their cholesterol, blood pressure, or chest pain is still above normal.
Why is this not working for them? It is not just a matter of doing a yoga program or of going through the motions. The poses, breathing, and meditation are practices that draw us inward. They must be balanced with the external. How do we treat or mistreat our own bodies and minds? How do we treat others? How do we live our lives? Are we listening to our hearts or closing out the messages that they are giving us?
Judgment of others can lead us to close our hearts. Even if someone is a convicted criminal we may condemn what he or she did and give a suitable punishment. But, if we also withhold our compassion and close our hearts, we are punishing ourselves as well as them.
As a young prince, Siddhartha was kept within the palace walls, protected from seeing the normal, everyday suffering of humanity. When he ventured out, his heart was torn apart by what had been hidden from him. Leaving his safe refuge, he set out to find the truth. As the Enlightened One, Buddha, he proclaimed that all life is suffering. This was not a statement of fact but rather an observation. He realized and taught others that the only place to take refuge is deep within our own selves.
The path to this refuge is to love and be loved. Serve others and learn to open to being served.
All the great religions and spiritual systems of the world tell us that when we offer service to those less fortunate, we purify our hearts. And when our hearts are pure, we know who we really are. The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall know God.”
Even though in the West yoga is best known for the physical aspect (Hatha Yoga), Karma Yoga (service) and Bhakti Yoga (devotion) are the most commonly practiced forms of yoga in other parts of the world. When all are practiced together, they form the team of hand and heart.
One who honors and practices all aspects of yoga–the physical, mental, emotional–will get the real benefit of yoga. To achieve this, the heart must be fully and consciously involved.
♥ Compassion is Yoga. An article by Nischala Joy Devi
♥ The Healing Path of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
♥ “What’s the Real Reason to Practice Yoga?” Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, the Executive Editor of HuffPost Religion interview Nischala Joy Devi, Elena Brower, and Eddie Stern for his Huffington Post podcast.