Yoga a Revolution in the West
Yoga is a very old form of meditation. It does not just stop at meditation, however, it encompasses visioning and some other aspects which could be termed as paranormal. So, why would anyone want to meditate, and why are so many people doing yoga meditation
In the west, we have seen many changes happen in society. These changes have gone from manual labor to what we have today, the service industry. This information age that we find ourselves in, is an age which puts in front of computers. Computers operate at fast speeds. Computers, of course, are technology creations. These are technologies, and by our use of time-saving, we have done the opposite, and that is to go ever faster.
Reason of popularity
Life is fast-paced today. In France several hundred years ago, if a king passed away, it could have taken a century before everyone heard the news! Today, this kind of information can get anywhere in the world. Think of this article, it is worldwide. You could read it, speak to your friends, and before long, everyone has read this article!
So, what does this have to do with the popularity of Yoga meditation in the west? It is simply, this fast-paced society we find ourselves in. People can’t seem to have time to think. Ask someone to take a time out and breath deeply for a few seconds, and it seems like if they do, the world would run ahead, leaving them behind. But, this doesn’t provide answers.
The monarchic, monotheistic religions have not answered many questions. How do you get peace of mind in a fast-paced world? The key is meditation, and yoga meditation is helping more and more people find that peace of mind. The world is not going to run off, and you will actually have much more energy and the ability to make smart choices in life.
Yoga meditations’ main benefit is the spiritual aspect. In fact in the east that is the whole point of yoga meditation, to seek connection with the spiritual. Though this view of doing yoga meditation is more foreign in the west, more and more people understand that for them it may be the best way to get that spiritual connection that is essential in life.
The spiritual connection is not the main reason why people practice yoga in the west. For many, the health benefits are the main reason for doing yoga mediation. The benefits are numerous, however, to touch on some, we have peace of mind, lower heartbeat rate, and more flexibility in joints.
As we continue into the future, people need answers. Long gone is the view that we have to rush ahead. Technology is here to make life easier. Think of a room with Ikea furniture, and computers, even perhaps a setting such as Earth on Star Track, and you will find that the spiritual dimension is an important part of life. Yoga meditation will continue to be popular for the future in the west, as it has been for the ancients of India and Tibet.
As explained earlier, Yoga is a philosophical, ethical, spiritual, and physical practice. It is based on ancient texts written thousands of years ago. In Western countries, we mainly know about the physical part: the practice of “Asanas” (postures and movements) and breath control (”Pranayama”). Some instructors sometimes refer to the spiritual texts, although one might question the purpose of it all, in a Western world that has so massively rejected religions, or on the contrary, where religious beliefs are so far away from those of Indian philosophies. In the United States, we account for thirty-three million yoga practitioners (that’s a lot!). In Europe, we do not have exact figures, but the number of people rolling out their yoga mat on a regular basis also amounts in millions. Why is it so popular? What do we get out of it all?
At first, yoga was just used as a means of meditating. That is, “meditating” as in “concentrating oneself”. Patanjali’s founding texts clearly state that an individual can only fully develop his or her potential if he or she is in good health and has a balanced lifestyle (i.e. lives “in moderation”). Appropriate exercise, appropriate breathing, appropriate relaxation, an appropriate diet, and positive thinking are essential for meditation. An individual going through emotional or physical difficulties is in no fit state to meditate.
Patanjali defines what “appropriate exercise” is. Asanas are used to stretch the muscles, not develop them. This has the effect of toning the body, releasing tensions, contributes to a healthy blood flow, digestive comfort, as well as proper assimilation and elimination. A then relaxed body will allow for concentration and serenity.
The breathing techniques referred to as Pranayama (meaning “life force control”) have proved to have a direct effect on the brain. Some breathing exercises can enhance energy, clean the lungs, reduce one’s sleeping needs, calm the nervous system, soothe one’s state of mind, warm-up or cool down the body, and even change the spiritual energy of the body (referred to as “Kundalini”).
The combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayamas (breathing exercises) can also help in attaining a true state of relaxation, which in turn will help manage one’s energy. True relaxation consists of eliminating any external stimulants to truly get in touch with your inner Self.
In addition to these two vectors, which are well-known and practiced in any Western yoga center, Indian yoga includes several other practices, such as “abstention” (Yama), concentration (Dharana), and meditation (Dhyana). Ancient texts referring to this notion of “abstention” include the following rules: never “harm” other living beings. Never lie (be it through thoughts, speech, or actions). Never covet or steal. And finally, sublimate your sexual energy. Another chapter (Nyiama) deals with the cleanliness of the body and the environment (we’ll get back to that!), as well as contentment, austerity, and control over the senses, and a rigorous study of the spiritual texts.
It all comes down to that. These values fostered by yoga are without a doubt universal. These are moral concepts shared by humanity. These are the same concepts that allow us to live together in peace. We may go as far as saying yoga offers an ethical, moral framework. And it’s probably this framework, compatible with any other one, which precisely makes yoga so appealing to so many of those practicing it. Because, in the end, it all boils down to this promise of physical and mental well-being. And happiness. And it works! It has for thousands of years.