Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 34, Tuesday April 04, 2006

 

 

Reader's Chit

Entering the mystical world of Yoga

I was never fascinated by the concept of yoga, till now. Being more of a swimming or aerobics enthusiast- I didn't understand the extent of physical and mental stress relief that can be enjoyed during a yoga session. I usually operate on my own personal “Lose Pounds Plan” (LPP) which makes me burn calories very quickly and regain those pounds almost immediately after, since I can't maintain the high level of rigor that I get myself into! I was thinking I needed to 'go somewhere' on a continuous long-term basis to actually keep exercising, thereby making it a part of my lifestyle.

It was last year in the month of September that I had my first taste of yoga. My mother- in- law and aunt had just finished the first course. They were so happy and positive with the first session that I decided to join them in the second one. The classes were to be instructed by Guruji Satyajit Biswas, who is currently visiting Bangladesh for the third time under the Indian High Commission, in its excellent attempt towards cultural exchange. We have all seen movies in their cultural centres as well as dramas and dances- but introducing yoga sessions as part of this exchange was a brilliant idea. During our last 'end of yoga course' ceremony, it was announced that yoga has been the most popular form of activity at the centre so far. Guruji is an extremely talented and experienced man who has a great sense of humour. He is never tired of taking questions or taking three classes back to back, both in Gulshan and in Dhanmondi- five days a week. He answers questions candidly and is available before classes to talk about personal inquiries and problems.

Practising yoga means entering into a different world altogether. In these last few weeks I have not ceased to be fascinated by the wonderful sight of women and men of all ages and sizes getting together for this brief one hour to meditate and experience this high level of spiritual, mental and physical satisfaction. After the sessions it's as if the weight of the world has just been lifted off your shoulders. You seem to be at peace with yourself and your spirit is revitalised, your body is energised and you are up to taking on any challenge that lies ahead.

We start the sessions sitting down and positioning our hands in 'Gyan Mudra'. Then follows three times 'Om Kar' recitations after taking deep breaths and focusing on inhalations and exhalations. We are then asked to do a self-prayer followed by the 'Yoga song', which is about peace and harmony and spreading the benefits of yoga across cultures. After this we rub our palms together and cover our eyes- in a minute we are asked to open our eyes in our palms and then slowly our hands come down. We are now ready to follow Guruji's instructions and begin the class.

We are then guided through a series of 'ashans', 'mudras' and 'pranayams', which are essentially different postures, exercises and breathing techniques. During each exercise Guruji tells us why we are doing it- what parts of the body are being targeted, who should not do this- like people suffering from neck and back pain, cervical spondilitis, and the benefits associated with each exercise. From cough and colds, to asthma, chronic acidity, back pain, and everyone's favourite stomach fat... everything seems to have a yogic solution. After each and every exercise we have a relaxation time factor between each session- that seems to calm both the mind and the body. Although we moan and groan during most of the intense stretches, in general I am quite pleased to discover how flexible I really am. I had no idea that I could touch my forehead to the floor while kneeling down on my knees with my hands behind my back! I had no idea that I could still do a shoulder stand and then stretch further until I actually touch the ground with my toes! These classes have been about revisiting my physical abilities-very satisfying and invigorating.

From this week we shall learn about the internal cleansing process, which will enable us to clean the insides of our body as well. For all of you who missed out this time- make sure to register next time when Guruji is in town. If you were ever curious about yoga and wanted a hands on experience for yourself-this is the place to do it. Guruji is basically giving us a glimpse of what yoga is all about! I find myself really looking forward to each class- being in an alternate world for an hour- away from it all- at peace with my mind and my body. So thank you Guruji for letting us experience this wonderful feeling.

By Prima Chowdhury


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