Yoga has spread so wide, that it is now very shallow. In Hong Kong, for example, between 20,000 and 30,000 people say they practice yoga every day. Crowded into large buildings, what they’re doing is not really yoga, says Aadil Palkhivala. So, what is yoga?
Aadil Palkhivala know what is yoga. For sure. He was “born a yogi, inside his mothers womb.” By age of seven, he was a “full-time yogi” under the guidance of BKS Iyengar. He is considered one of the finest yoga teachers. Aadil has his own institute, but he travels all over the world teaching, and speaking, to share his knowledge. He’s author of three yoga teacher training manuals, and a book called Fire of Love. Additionally, he contributes to Yoga Journal and Prevention magazines.
Interestingly, after 51 years of dedication to yoga, he has found balance to obtain degrees in physics and math, and jurisprudence.
What follows, are some of Aadil's thoughts about what is yoga. His remarks are based on workshops and lectures for Yoga Therapists that I attended in California.
First, consider yoga's astonishing lineage. It has been practiced for approximately 16,000 years. Hence, it has to be respected. The deeper we dive into it, and conduct clinical studies, the more we vindicate its authenticity.
Of course the poses have their benefits. But, Aadil likens them to being a temporary band-aid.
Voltaire said, "The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient in a good mood, while nature does the healing."
Only after realizing the underlying issues can the healing take place. That’s also the foundation for Ayurveda and TCM and how I try to work with my clients.
Yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah. The second sutra teaches us the importance of calming our mind. Yoga is the control of our wandering mind. Calming the consciousness.
We are not just bodies. Actually, we are standing on earth, breathing in air, bathing in water, and connecting with the sun and the moon. We are part of the entire universe and its elements. Likewise, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, both of which are foundations of my yoga therapy, are rooted in the balance of elements.
The masters understood that physical problems don't begin in the physical body. Rather, they manifest there. Again, this is part of Ayurvedic teachings, and Ayurveda is considered the sister to yoga.
Part and parcel of the physical body is your spirit soul, your emotions and your thoughts. Problems start when connections with the spirit and the rest are broken. Yoga, of course, is the connection (yoke) between those. “If it weren't for your soul, you'd be gone. Poof, says Aadil. ”When there’s a disconnection between the spirit and the rest of you, you get a reminder from the universe. Her reminder is pain. The great master, and my teacher, Sri Aurobindo, said ‘pain is the signature of the ignorance. Attesting the secret god denied by life.’”
Real therapy is making that connection with your spirit. Until then it's a band-aid. It's “allopathic yoga.” The spirit is very very direct. If you don't like to be told what to do, forget spirituality.
You have an innate knowledge. Just as people talk about a “gut reaction,” it’s really the heart that is guiding them. But, most don’t honor or recognize that. Aadil asks, “If you have a home, why do you spend your lives in other peoples’ homes? The point is, that we have a home in our heart, not in our head. Healing happens at home. Your inner awareness is far greater than you can fathom.”
Your mind plays a very big role in the effect on your body. Massive.
Aadil explains that according to physics, there are two types of particles. Bosons and fermions. So far, science has always believed they were independent of each other. Yet, they, like so many things, are interconnected and interrelated. Bosons are the glue that holds fermions together. “You can, with your mind, create a boson.” Since photons are related to bosons, that essential means that we are able to create light. “We are amazingly powerful human beings. We waste our potential.”
Continuing from his scientific mind, he notes a DNA Phantom Effect study in Moscow. Researchers found that when a laser was beamed into a tube containing DNA, the DNA absorbed the light. More notably, after removing the laser light, it retained that light for 30 days.
Likewise, he alludes, whenever the body heals, you are activating a strand of the DNA. Strands are only activated when DNA is unwound. Through yoga, we smoothen that inner ladder.
In closing, I’d like to give a translation of the gayatryi mantra. Like the DNA configuration, it is said that the benefits of chanting the gayatri spiral out from the chanter, into the universe. Some consider it a peace prayer. Peace within and peace outside. Others, a calling for divine wisdom. Consequently, some repeat this mantra, nightly, at bedtime. Or, upon rising. Aadil equates the meaning of this mantra to be the foundation of yoga.
There are so many translations for this beautiful heart-opening mantra. The following is from my Chant and Be Happy workshop, tweaked by Aadil’s words.
Om Bhur Bhu-va Sva-ha. Tat Sa-vi-tur Va-re-nyam. Bhar-go De-va-sya Dhi-ma-hi. Dhi-yo Yo Na Pra-cho-da-yat.
On the absolute reality and its planes, On that finest spiritual light, represented by the sun, We meditate, as remover of obstacles. Come fill our consciousness. That it may inspire and enlighten us with effulgence.