Yoga and Simplicity

I mentioned in my previous post that ‘Relationships’ and ‘Simplicity’ sum up my experience of studying yoga therapy in India with T.K.V. Desikachar.  I discussed the relevance of relationships.  Now I will write a little about simplicity.

Firstly, let me please remind you that I am a lifelong fan of simplicity.  I love to live simply.  I love simple words and simple foods.

Simple décor is what I found when I opened the door to my little apartment in Chennai.  Due to limited time, I could not afford to be fussy in my search for accommodation.  So I ended up with a very basic home, shared with 108 mozzies and a couple of mice.  The most talkative Indian girls in the land resided next door and they never seemed to run out of topics after midnight.  Often there was a cow standing in the middle of our leafy street.  Yes, it was a colourful environment.

But back to the yoga course.  Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM) is not only an educational institute but also a medical clinic.  Doctors work alongside yoga therapists.  Thus we were able to witness and learn about real-life case studies.  In the West we tend to intellectualise everything to death.  At KYM, the training emphasis is on experiential understanding.  That’s right up my alley.  Just my cup of chai.

Yoga can be used therapeutically to assist with a wide range of conditions affecting the body and the mind.  At the KYM clinic, following a medical diagnosis, a yoga programme is prepared as part of the treatment plan for each client.  These programmes tend to include simple breathing exercises, simple yoga postures, simple movements and possibly some simple chanting.  Note the emphasis on simple.  On no occasion did I hear of a prescription for advanced asanas and fancy yoga selfies.

Within our study group, a few Western brains became restless from time to time.  Some people were anticipating that, having travelled far from home, they would be privy to some intellectually advanced, secret yoga methods.

There were no secret methods.

The methods for following a yogic path in order to achieve health and happiness are relatively simple.  The overall aim is to soothe the mind.  We need to subdue the mental fluctuations to cultivate a more restful state of mind.  This will also help in the management of physical complaints.  When the mind is relaxed, the body stands a better chance of healing.

In India, it was emotionally touching to see the outcomes of simple, prescribed daily yoga practices.  Naturally, all practices are monitored and adjusted over time to suit each individual’s progress.  Here are a couple of success stories:

  • A working family man who had experienced severe migraines and depression for 25 years was now able to tell us that he had not suffered any headaches for the past 3 months.  A smile lit up his face.
  • A mother of four, once barely able to walk due to chronic knee pain, now walked up two flights of stairs to share her story with our class.

Simple methods can produce astonishing results.

Please remember that if your yoga practice helps you to become more self-aware, kinder to others and able to manage stress more skilfully, then you are on track for a more fulfilling life.  You can push your way through advanced postures and take yoga selfies until the sacred cows come home…. but these alone won’t bring lasting contentment to yourself or others.

So there you have it.  This is the second installment of my Indian yoga tale.

Simplicity.

‘And now’, said Pooh, ‘it’s time for a little snack’.