by Nischala Joy Devi.
January 7, 2014.
It’s that time again”“the beginning of a fresh, new year. It’s a time for reflection on our old habits and to make changes to better our lives. Often, I hear people reflect on and plan to make one change—”I am going to meditate more.” or “I will do some stretches three times a week.” But I would like to encourage you to consider making your changes a little broader.
Over the years I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of people with various degrees of problems and illnesses. Some came because they were suffering from a common modern day catchall—stress. They asked for just one technique that would work to “cure me,” something simple that would take away their back pain, headaches, and even cancer.
We are not simple beings. In fact, we are very complex. A simple back pain is not so simple. It is composed of how we use or abuse the muscles, how we think, feel, sleep, and rest. Are we able to acknowledge and even touch the essence of who we are?
To use the ancient techniques of yoga is to use them as a complete system. As yoga became popular in this country some forty years ago, it was dissected. The physical poses were embraced by those who were more physically oriented and who liked to move and stretch the body. Breathing practices were studied by those needing to increase their oxygen capacity. Meditation techniques were developed as a means for deepening the intellect and inner strength. The vegetarian diet was adapted by the back-to-the-earth folks and pacifists.
It concerns me when I read, see, or hear a “natural and holistic” health practitioner who dissects the ancient practices and prescribes them as if they were drugs: “Take 3 minutes of shoulder stand, two neck movements, three deep breaths, and a glass of pure filtered water and call me in a week. This should make you all better.” When we do this and do not get better, we feel that natural methods do not work.
But, consider this: How long did it take you to get sick? How many years of stress and emotional buildup? All that cannot be changed overnight. Even in the case where complete cure works, if the right lifestyle is not followed the disease is likely to return.
Yoga is not a treatment; it is the consciousness that allows health, balance, and joy to be your companions throughout your entire life’s journey.
Now is the time to recognize the ancient system as a whole—a new, old way to live, a lifestyle change that can allow you to feel that joy for living. It can make a difference in your personal life and in the greater world community.
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