Yoga: A Form of Exercise or A Way of Life?

Yoga has come a long way from being known as unscientific and ancient, to being the most preferred form of physical discipline for a sound body, mind and soul. Yoga is an heirloom passed on to us by sages like Patanjali and physicians like Sushrut, who believed that the body has the power to heal by itself, if only one knows how to channel their energy into healing it.

But what is Yoga in the real sense?

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul to create the symphony of life.”
– B K S Iyengar

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (BKS) , the legendary Yogacharya, left behind a legacy which breathed new life into yoga and made it popular all over the world. His pupil, Dr. Nidmarti Rajlaxmi has been a practitioner and a teacher of this discipline over the last two decades.

To understand more about what is Yoga and how does preventive yoga work, in the real sense, we had a chat with her that not only revealed the true lineage behind Yoga, but she also busted some popular myths around it.

“Yoga is not something you embrace or leave because the doctor says so. It is not something with a superficial purpose of losing weight or building your muscles. Yoga is a way of life. One can’t go about following a wrong lifestyle and eating habits while practicing the asanas and call themselves a yogi. Yoga demands the practitioner to follow a way of life that helps the body to heal, remain healthy and grow.”

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Today, Yoga has evolved into myriad forms, popular amongst them are Haatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga and Preventive Yoga where the focus of this piece lies here – Preventive Yoga.

Preventive Yoga, as Dr. Rajlakshmi says, is not a magic wand which one flicks, to be free from all diseases or defects that he or she is prone to. Preventive Yoga, in the real sense, reduces the likeliness of a particular disorder to attack the immune system.

To give a scientific proof to the benefits of Yoga, some researchers conducted an experiment to understand the full effects of Yoga on the human body. The scientists concluded that, Yoga boosts long-term cell health and higher-level biological health, far more than any other form of exercise.

This school of yoga, conditions the body to boost blood circulation, increases absorption and assimilation of nutrients and above all, concentrates all the energy of the body towards a specific goal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a yoga practitioner cannot fall ill. But the likeliness of it is vastly reduced as compared to someone who doesn’t practice it.

Yoga to Prevent Orthopaedic Disorders

It has been found that many people suffer rheumatic changes to the bones, joints and muscles due to lifestyle factors, such as overeating, high consumption of animal protein and fat, lack of physical exercise and poor posture. All these factors lead to degenerative and inflammatory changes of the muscles and joints, resulting in joint stiffness and the experience of strong pain

Yoga exercises not only serve as a helpful therapy in relieving existing pain, but also act in the prevention of stiffness of the spine and rheumatic changes of the joints. The physical exercises stretch and relax shortened muscles and strengthen weak muscles. This provides a corresponding stability and support for the joints. Yoga exercises use the full range of movement of the joints, as far as possible without pain. This greatly improves joint mobility and enhances blood circulation to the joint capsule. The body thereby gradually regains a healthy flexibility, in a natural way.

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Yoga is something that has come down through the ages from sage Patanjali. While many believe that Yoga is entirely spiritual in nature and takes the road to Nirvana, that is far from the truth. As Dr. Rajlakshmi says, “Yoga is not as fashionable and glamorous as gymming or pilates, but its effects are far more long term in nature. You have to practice it to believe it.”

About Dr. Rajlakshmi

Dr. Rajlakshmi holds a doctorate in Ayurvedic medicine, with a practice in gynecology. She was a full time doctor when she began taking classes at the RIMYI Institute and has trained directly under the Iyengars. She has been teaching Iyengar yoga full time at the Institute for 20 years now. Practice during her pregnancies led her to working with therapeutic applications—assisting in Medical Classes for 17 years. Dr. Rajlaxmi has also been part of Geetaji’s entourage to Manchester, England in 2009, and the Portland Conference on Therapeutic Yoga in 2010. She has given workshops in the United States, Japan, Germany, France, and England.
Drawing from many years of study with BKS Iyengar, Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar and Prashant Iyengar, she imparts a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise.