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by Dr Pooja Maddela
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha
Yoga and Quality of Life
Quality of life can be enhanced by the quality of our perception and level of awareness. Our perception capabilities depend upon our state of mind. Purity of thought can create pure states of mind which in turn directs our body to feel stable and comfortable. Living in the present moment is nothing but a celebration of who we are. When we know that we do not have control over our past and future, it is always good to focus on ‘now’. This awareness in the present moment is key to finding happiness in our lives which in turn enhances the quality of life. By changing our perception, we can change our consciousness and this will bring transformation in our lives.
Change of perception = change in consciousness = quality of life.
If we are happy because of something, then it is temporary. We should not identify with things that we have. Yoga teaches us to be content with what we have. This brings satisfaction to our life and leads to a reduction in our cravings or desires. By practicing santosha (contentment) we achieve true happiness which is permanent. When we taste the sweetness of life through happiness and the bitterness of life through acceptance then there is no fear of death and we can accept dying as a natural process.
Role of Detachment
Attachment to material things and family can leads to the manifestation of disease. (P. V. Karambelkar). For example, grief due to the death of a spouse can lead to the development of lung problems. So it is all about how we perceive things that happen in life. It is not wrong to have money and things. It is the attachment towards those things that create problems. Through the practice of contentment we get rid of attachment and develop detachment and are able to be in the present moment of life. This will help us to accept everything in life including death. (Swami Satyananda Saraswati, 2006).
Role of Mind
Our mind has the power to achieve everything. We need to learn how to use it and also to believe in the power of our mind. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras the root cause of unhappiness is ignorance of one’s real nature. It can be solved only by knowing the true self. We need to eliminate raga (the attitude of liking for our choice) and dwesha (dislike for something) in order to achieve a pure state of mind. When there is balance in these, then there can be balance of mind. The Yogic view is that suffering arises because of avidya (ignorance). It is a mistaken idea which leads to the ‘I feeling’ and the consequent attachment, hatred and clinging in life. All these are the root causes of pain. To overcome pain we need to cultivate wisdom.
A caring approach and love can bring transformation in anything. There is nothing that is impossible if we make our mind positive. Quality of life is not just about maintaining one’s health and happiness. It is also about looking after others as we look after ourselves. Not harming anyone through words, thoughts and actions will result in a feeling of evenness or equanimity towards all beings. We need to show and share love with family members and others. Love within the home makes a lot of difference in our lives. Where there is love there is unity and love has the power to change consciousness and bring quality to our lives.
The following asanas (positions) and practices can help enhance our quality of life.
1. Simple joint movements:
Releases energy blockages and supplies prana in the body.
2. Chest openers:
Maintains the energy field of the heart and gets rid of attachment. Cultivates kindness and compassion, keeps our lungs and heart in balance.
3. Camel riding:
Releases prana in the spinal column and soothes the nervous system.
4. A twist:
Keeps our liver happy and releases anger. Twists are cleansing for the body.
5. Co-ordination movements:
Helps one to focus in the present moment.
Deep abdominal breaths, left and right nostril breaths, alternate nostril breathing helps to calm the mind and think more clearly.
Aum Sound has the power to vibrate every cell in the body and brings transformation in the mind.
Five minutes of silence everyday is very good to restore the energy in the body and helps to quieten the mind.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” – William Allen White
originally posted at Ganga Prem Hospice
P. V. Karambelkar. Patanjali Yoga Sutras (pp. 35 – 37)
Swami Satyananda Saraswati. (2006) Four Chapters of Freedom (pp. 65 – 67)
Muktibodananda, S, S., (2004). Swara Yoga.
Muktihodhananda, S., (1993). Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Nagarathna, R., & Nagendra, H. R. (2001). Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy for Positive Health.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati., (2004) Yoga and Kriya
Swami Satyananda Saraswati., (2002) Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha Munger.