BASIC APPROACH TO YOGA STUDY by Shri Yogendra
It is known that the study of Yoga is meant for all and therefore anyone can join the preliminary course. But such an effort should not be casual as success depends upon a precise methodology. The requisites for the safe and fruitful study of Yoga is strong motivation, daily practice and integral conditioning of the body-mind-complex. It is also not necessary that one should leave one’s home, neglect one’s family responsibilities, keep away from society, seek seclusion or change one’s nationality or religion to undertake the study of Yoga. There is no initiation or ritual necessary but a formal obeisance to the teacher should help to build up healthy teacher-disciple relationship.
The approach to the subject should be rational, scientific and pragmatic and should be applied with modern educational methodology suited to the subject which follows the classroom programme. Since physical health is a primary concern in the study of Yoga, all students must be made aware of their present condition of health and should have medical check-up. This should be followed by laboratory tests where found necessary. This will help to determine the ailments as either functional or organic. If functional, the teacher should guide him with simple yoga practices and special recommendations as suit his needs. But if the disease is organic the student should be advised to attend the clinic of the authorized yoga therapist. Where the disease is chronic or refractory, he must seek admission to a recognized yoga psychosomatic hospital-cum-asrama. In acute cases, help of medicine or surgery is indicated.
To grade the aspirant to Yoga, it is equally necessary to probe the history of the student and his life pattern, besides psychological tests to group his personality-complex. Such tests are to be taken both before and after the study. They help the modern man to discrimination and built-in faith in yoga. Such records are also useful in evaluation of yoga practices and statistical data. Uniformity in such methods will greatly help the promotion of Yoga not only amongst the sympathetic Indians, but also among the foreigners.
Both physical and mental discipline, cultivation of the sense of responsibility, faith in the teacher, strict adherence to yoga instructions, adjustment to the yoga way of life, regularity, total presence of mind to the yoga practices, hygiene, sanitation, care in diet, etc. are some of the other things which need emphasis as much as the technological study. Personal attention to all students is essential and therefore yoga classes at any one time should not exceed fifteen. Larger groups and masses become a source of dissatisfaction and even failure. Since the interest of the average student is more in himself than in Yoga, the teacher should be tolerant to his personal projections till he reaches the norm.
Neither the teacher nor the student should be overambitious while making a modest beginning. With limitation of modern age much should not be promised. For example, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we take are far from natural, pure or healthy. The modern life is a contrast to what Nature provides. Since ahara and vihara (nutrition and way of life remain unyogic, one need not create hope of making everyone a yogin. It is enough if a modern man can even be made a worthy student of Yoga.
Published in the February 2010 edition of Yoga & Total Health Magazine.