The origin of yoga was in India, but it is absolutely universal. It applies to every human being. Unfortunately, and we see this all the time, yoga has become a way to be more flexible, strong and agile, but that’s not at all what yoga is about. It’s about living peacefully, it’s about learning how to be happy. If you want to be happy, getting into lotus pose or being able to stand like this on the head or taking your legs here or there doesn’t help. What that will do is increase your ego and separate you from the others, causing more suffering, and this is the opposite of happiness.

Patanjali is a great sage who wrote down the yoga sutras. According to Patanjali a pose is to be done in a way where one is stable and easy in a pose. Therefore, as long as you are struggling the pose is not working. When your struggle stops the pose starts to work. Everyone has a very strange idea about what yoga is. They think that the more I struggle the better the yoga is working. Many people are used to doing very hard practice and creating all kinds of tension. Nothing comes out of tension. Only tension comes out of tension. If you sow rice you won’t get corn. You put tension in your poses you will get tension. We have to learn how to be relaxed all the time and from that relaxation we make our action. This was the first teaching of Lao Tzu which is more than 2500 years back, which means to go with the flow and not to resist. In our present times we are so fearful that all the time we have resistance and create tension. For this reason we do not want to create more tension, rather we want to learn how to do things well without tension.

If life is a burden to carry, how can I enjoy life? Therefore, avoid making any actions that are unnecessary, that are forced. Make only the actions that are necessary and that will help you bring about harmony. Then you enjoy the pose. Then the yoga pose is working. Most of us struggle in the pose and think we should be doing that. I don’t understand that philosophy at all. It is not logical that I should struggle and sweat and that this is going to lead to me being peaceful and enjoy my life. Wrong mathematics. We are learning to do what is necessary and enjoy the pose. And in that enjoyment, there is freedom. Please reflect on this. We are so attracted to making all kinds of acrobatics that the yoga acrobatics appeal to us. Yoga acrobatics miss the point because they are about showing off to people. Yoga is not about showing off to people, it is for you to become free and to learn to live peacefully.

Master Yoga Teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from Introductory 5 Day Yoga Course in Beijing, June 2016.