Don’t call it yoga!

I was a bit shocked when I read in a health and wellness magazine that someone in New York had created a ‘new’ yoga, quoting that yoga is not sitting around omming’.

Quite right of course. Yogis don’t ‘sit around omming’. They may well be sitting, and they may well be chanting Om, but not in a ‘sitting around’ way that was intimated in that comment.

Let’s break it down. Sitting around is what one would imagine you do on the sofa watching a movie. However, sitting doing yoga practice with a straight spine is very different to ‘sitting around’. Sitting with a long spine allows energy to move, so you are ‘actively’ sitting. This type of ‘sitting around’ strengthens your spine, makes space for your internal organs. It also makes space for the breath by giving the diaphragm room to move downwards and allow for the expansion of the thoracic cavity enabling the breath to become deeper and more profound. Improving the quality of your breathing will reduce stress and improve your general wellbeing. Not a bad result for ‘just being seated with awareness’.

Now let’s come to the ‘omming’ part. Chanting changes the vibration of the brain. If you are prone to negativity or feeling down, your brain will be producing negative vibrations and if that continues, it will affect the quality of your cells, and ultimately your health. Chanting involves creating positive vibrations which will change your mood and improve your health. Chanting is very much part of yoga and ayurvedic science and considered medicine for the mind…much healthier than Prozac!

Whilst I agree with the fact that yoga asana can tone, strengthen and sculpt the body, one can’t call something so far removed from yoga, yoga. Non-om yoga is a contradiction. How can you remove the word OM from Yoga, Om means union, complete, pure, bliss, divine and much more. There is simply no ‘yoga’ without Om.

The other comment was that people need yoga ‘not a religious leader!’ Umm, well, yoga is not a religion, it is a philosophy based on compassion, morality, and inner freedom. It’s about connecting to the spirit, internal peace and tranquillity, and certainly not dogmatic in any way. It’s an experiential process, you feel what you feel in your own way and certainly not ‘told how to feel’ or told that you should devote yourself to ‘God’. Not at all! The only things that are likely to happen is that as your mind becomes quieter, you will be less reactive, your health will improve, you may find yourself becoming more compassionate and less selfish and more interested in non-harming as a way of life. All this is certainly not achieved by ‘sitting around omming’, it involves sitting with awareness of the peace that follows chanting Om. It also involves asana done with awareness of the breath and being kind to the body, allowing, opening, stretching and strengthening, not pushing, suffering and forcing. The goal is to open energy channels and strengthen the body for the spiritual process. Of course the benefits of authentic yoga practice is having more strength and vitality in your daily life.

There are certain yogic paths that involve more spiritual aspects than others, but all yoga has some spiritual content as yoga is a spiritual practice not a fitness practice.

A peaceful mind creates a healthy, vital body. A body forced into asana as part of a workout can damage and strain the body, and inflate the ego; both of which can cause a chaotic mind.

So that’s it, yoga is a far cry from ‘sitting around omming’ and focusing on the body beautiful. By all means do yoga postures and exercise your ego, but don’t call it yoga!

I felt compelled to comment! Enjoy your yoga.