Yoga is a body of wisdom which was born in ancient India, popularized in the West in mid 1800s by Swami Vivekananda through Raja Yoga which was based on the ancient sage Patanjali’s eightfold path. According to Cybele Tomlinson, a researcher and writer on Yoga, there are many kinds of Yoga and they can vary widely in their approach and practice, but all yoga concern itself with questions that have challenged human beings for a long time, such as how can we be truly happy or how can we free ourselves fully from suffering. Nowadays, Yoga is practiced in Manipur widely, but the knowledge of Yoga is more or less assumed by most people and not really known. Some people do it to lose weight or for strength or for mental peace. Therefore, in order to gain some knowledge about Yoga for our readers, Lakshmi Nameirakpam of the IRAP interviewed Dr. Galacy Khomdram, of Kwakeithel Thounaojam Leikai who has done her Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Science from Alva’s College, Moodbidri, Mangalore, India. She is now working as a Yoga Instructor/Teacher at Gold’s Gym, Imphal, Manipur. She has also been conducting free online classes for her students during the lockdown and sharing invaluable knowledge about Yoga to those who seek knowledge from her.
Excerpt from the interview:
IRAP: Many people assume that Yoga is just “stretching”. Please help us bust the most common myths about Yoga.
Dr. Galacy Khomdram: “Yoga asanas may only look like stretching but Yoga as a whole is more than that. When we adopt a certain posture, it might only look like a simple stretching but in fact, it involves breath control, balance and most importantly awareness of the whole body. Simple stretching does not require the same level of attention, focus and breath awareness that a Yoga pose requires. When we practice a Yogic posture, it is done in a smooth, rhythmic, free-flowing movement with synchronization of breathing and relaxation of the body as we maintain the posture. They are not simple exercises or stretching but techniques which place the physical body in positions that cultivate awareness, concentration, relaxation and meditation.
Another myth is that Yoga is only for the flexible and young people. This misconception has prevented several people from stepping onto the Yoga mat. Flexibility comes with the practice of Yoga Asanas but Yoga is not about contorting or becoming a human pretzel. It is about mindful movement, self-acceptance and building up confidence and endurance. Yoga can be practiced by everyone irrespective of age, gender, religion etc. under the proper guidance of a teacher. There are various techniques and ways of doing Yoga for all age groups.”
IRAP: How long have you been into Yoga? What inspired you?
Dr. Galacy Khomdram: “I have been into Yoga since 2010. I was inspired by the story of a diabetic person who was very weak but had remarkable improvements in just about three months with proper Yoga practice and Naturopathy treatments. That is when I realized that Yoga is such a wonderful way of living a healthy life and also for people to embrace a healthy-living lifestyle.”
IRAP: What are the benefits of practicing Yoga on a daily basis?
Dr. Galacy Khomdram: “When Yoga is practiced on a regular basis, the benefits are manifold. Regular practice of Yoga maintains the physical body in an optimum condition and promotes good health, even within an unhealthy body. It improves strength, balance, flexibility and tones the body. On the mental level, it provides a sense of tranquility, awareness and calmness. Yoga helps in reducing stress and gives a positive outlook to life. Therapeutic Yoga has succeeded in overcoming diseases such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive disorders and many other chronic ailments. A well- chosen set of asanas combined with shatkarmas, breathing techniques, pranayama, meditation and relaxation techniques are applied for particular diseased conditions which is very effective for mental and physical wellbeing.”
IRAP: Please talk to us about Yoga in detail.
Dr. Galacy Khomdram: “Yoga is a science of right living. The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means “to join” or “to unite”. On a more practical level, Yoga is a means of uniting, balancing and harmonizing the body, the mind and the emotions. Yoga is a holistic system, which means it works on all levels of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes. Yogic practices give direct and tangible benefits to everyone regardless of their spiritual aims. What makes it so powerful and effective is the fact that it works on the holistic principle of harmony and unification.
Yoga provides a means for people to find their own ways of connecting with their true selves. It is an aid to establishing a new way of life which embraces both inner and outer realities of life. The beauty of Yoga can only be understood and felt by people who are already in practice. Yoga is not always about perfection; it is about progress. It is about becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is about overcoming difficulties in life with confidence. Personally, I feel that Yoga is a journey of transforming oneself into the best version of oneself.”
IRAP: You are currently giving free online classes to your students, please give us some tips on what kind of yoga asanas to do during this lockdown?
Dr. Galacy Khomdram: “Being confined to our homes during this pandemic and consistent lockdown can make us restless and is also mentally challenging. At times like these, practicing Yoga can be helpful. For those who have been practicing Yoga, they can continue to do so at the convenience of their homes for about 45 minutes-1 hour, at least 5 days a week.
Surya Namashkar and simple asanas like Tadasana, Vrikshasana, Ardhakati-Chakrasana, Setubandasana,Suptamatsyendrasana, Vakrasana, Bhunamasana etc. along with breathing exercises such as pranayama, meditation like AUM meditation and relaxation techniques can be practiced. But for beginners, it is best to start Yoga classes under the proper guidance of a certified teacher through online classes for now.”
Writer at IRAP