May 2, 2020 |
Read Time: 6 minutes
COVID-19 has become a ‘game-changer’ event in all our lives and perhaps turned all our lives upside down. The whole world is reeling under its impact and at various levels like economic ramifications, uncertainty of jobs, a sense of unease, health related fears, stress, anxiety and so many more issues. And the lock-down has forced many of us to stay and home and perhaps reflect on our lives and the happenings around us. Yoga can indeed be used as an effective tool and approach of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis because of its practical and doable methods and practices.
People who follow the authentic yoga way of life are perhaps less impacted by all the negative news and instead are reaching out and helping others in their times of need. Yoga brings in mindfulness in each of our thoughts, actions and behaviour and ensures clarity and steadiness at the physical, mental and emotional level, especially during times of turbulence.
Today’s situation has made many of us ask ourselves questions like how do I keep myself and my family safe? How do I manage my work? Is it right to step out? When will all this settle? What impact will it have on me in the longer run?
The proper and regular practice of breathe – based Yoga Asana, Pranayama and Meditation helps us sit down in calmness and reflect on all these questions with clarity which will bring in the stability and lucidity in our thought process. By this, we can focus on what is in our control and take the right actions which would help us and our near and dear ones, understand ourselves better and accept those aspects of my life which are not in my control. And Yoga surely makes us understand and connect with gratitude, with a bigger universal force which is anchoring all of us, even during such times.
In Pathanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Kriya yoga comprising of Tapas, Svadhyaya and Iswarapranidhana is a three pronged approach working at the levels of our body (Kaya), Speech (Vacha), and mind (Manasa) and enables our actions, thoughts and speech to be refined and appropriate for this challenging situation.
Tapas is about reviewing our habits and behaviour patterns such as reflecting on our eating habits and pattern, pondering on our hygiene practices, contemplating on what and how we talk to each-other since all of us are at home, spending time with our families and children very closely throughout the day. This is very important also because many of us are working from our homes and having to communicate very well over video calls or long telephone calls.
Tapas also brings in the clear awareness of which all behaviour patterns and habits of mine are not good for me in the present situation and then we can find solutions to get rid of them. For example, usually I don’t wash my hands when I come back home from outside. But , when I become aware of this habit or lack of it, I am able to bring in the change and wash thoroughly every time I come from outside and thus making it safe for myself and others at home. Therefore the core principles of Yoga Sutras – Yama (Ahimsa, Sathya, Astheya, Aparigraha, Brahmacharya), and Niyama (Sauca, Santhosha, Tapah, Svadhyaya, Isvara Pranidhana) , Asana and Pranayama helps in removing the unwanted patterns in us.
Svadhyaya is introspection. It involves looking inward and understanding our own self better. Svadhyaya is like this mirror which reflects our real self and also throws up our fears and thoughts deep down. Svadhyaya also throws light on what our true potential is. So when tapas throws up all the negative habits which we have so we can change them, svadhyaya brings out those patterns which are positive and beneficial for us and hence we can replace the negative ones with these new positive ones. Dhyana or meditation is a very powerful yoga tool for introspection.
Iswarapranidhana, the third aspect of kriya yoga, is the anchor which keeps us all safe. It is the realisation and acceptance of the ‘bigger picture’. We understand that we are just one small cog in the big wheel of this universe and if each one of us does our part right, then the whole will take care of us! And if we don’t, we will have to face crisis situations like we are facing today.
These three aspects of Kriya Yoga are like the three legs of a tripod and each of these legs is equally required and important for the stability of the tripod. And a kriya yoga practitioner ensures that each of his actions, thoughts and words are right and in-line with what is demanded by the COVID-19 situation.