Published On: Tue, Nov 28th, 2017

Yoga cannot be related to any religion – Preeti Rege

Preeti Rege, a certified yoga instructor based in Lagos, has practiced the spiritual exercise right from when she was eight years old. She had basic certificate from Yoga Institute (Santacruz West), Mumbai and Yoga Instructor (Advance Course) from Kaivalyadham Institute.

She conducts yoga classes every day of the week and has taught several people, including Nigerians,the practice of Yoga. In this interview with Business Hallmark’s Rume Oyitso, she unveils the purpose of yoga among other benefits. Excerpt:

 What is yoga all about?

Yoga means union. Union means oneness with all. Having compassion and love for everything around. Yoga mainly consists of a set of rules for living a life full of love; towards all being, having compassion towards all. Yoga helps a person understand one’s own nature and paves the path towards the union.In yoga, there are different paths (six to be precise) which help a person to know his own nature and reach towards the goal of union. These are Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, karma Yoga and so on.

Different paths can be related to someone saying they are scientific, but we wouldn’t know what scientist they are, they could be working in a chemical lab or studying the stars, or some kind of plants or some animal behavior. But as a scientist what we know is they are most probably following some structured, logical path. Same is with the different paths of Yoga.

Yoga helps one identify their own nature, which is always that of bliss, happiness and peace.

Can we say that yoga is a part of an Asian religion or just an exercise?

Before we dwell into the religion or exercise aspect we need to be clear of the differences between Yoga and Yogasana. Yogasana is a subset of Yoga. Yoga cannot be related to any particular religion. Yoga is a way of life which started from India. Saying Yoga belongs only to India or the people in India would be similar to saying Moon only belongs to the Americans because they were the first to reach there.

Yogasana involves different asanas or postures which when seen from the outside could look like contoured bodies or shapes. However, every asana in Yogasana has a purpose and has a specific effect, if done under proper guidance. Nowadays, yoga is only seen as Yogasana which is a big misconception. Asana or postures are only 2% of the whole Yoga journey.

What is the main purpose of Yoga?

As mentioned earlier the purpose of yoga is to discover one’s own nature. The goal is to be in union with nature around us. Which will automatically lead to bliss, peace and happiness.

As a Yoga teacher, would you recommend yoga as an exercise for pregnant women?

There are asanas, which are not to be done by all. Asanas have to be done under an expert’s supervision. For example, a physically fit person but having a high blood pressure should not be doing some breathing exercise as his BP could shoot up. There are different set of exercises for him. Similarly, for a pregnant woman there are few asanas and breathing techniques which she can safely do once she is taught how they are to be done.

What are the scientific or medical effects of Yoga on our bodies?

Continuous and disciplined practice of Yoga makes the inner energy within your body balanced.

Yoga gives you a deeper understanding of your own system or body. And to have a deeper understanding, twisting your body is not a must. Today, if we study the kind of ailments we have majority of them are internal i.e. depression, unhealthy life style, poor diet resulting in chronic diseases. A healthy looking person could be worried, frustrated or depressed from inside. Yoga will help you get rid of this. As long as all your organs are in working condition one should be absolutely blissful.

Yes if you have an infection, which means it is an attack from a foreign body then you should go to a doctor.Yoga will make one person complete from within, happy from inside. There are examples of people who by regular practice of yoga have brought their BP, diabetes, vertigo problems in control. Gradually yoga also boosts your immune system.

At what age can we begin to get our children to start practicing yoga and do you think it should be included in school’s curriculum?

Yoga can be taught to children from the age of around four. Why not before four years? If you observe till children reach an age of four they are quite restless. From around four years you can atleast make them sit at one place and make them listen to you. However, the basic asanas (postures) or Yogasanas should not be started till the age of seven. Also from seven years there are only a few which can be taught to the children since their bones are still getting developed.

Yoga should be included in school curriculum. It will not only make our generation physically fit but mentally sound too. A well brought up generation will not only make a good nation but a better world to live in.

There are yoga practitioners who take extremely physically challenging postures. Is this healthy? 

There is a big misconception, as Yoga and Yogasanas are used interchangeably. Yogasanas make only 2% of the whole Yoga process. There is a path in Yoga called Hatha Yoga which stresses on Asanas or postures, but these need to be done under an expert’s supervision.

This path of Yoga which makes Asanas its backbone to reach your goal also has certain pre-requisites.

Before you start asanas you need to have a disciplined life and a stable mind. While doing asanas it is not the postures which are difficult, it is the time upto which you can hold them. Today, the postures shown are more of an athletic show of flexibility and flamboyance than relating them to Yoga.

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