Feb 27, 2015

Yoga and world record: do they gel well?

Hong Kong based Indian yoga teacher Yogaraj C.P. created a new Guinness World Record last fortnight by performing yoga for 40 hours non-stop. During this period, he performed 1500 asanas!

Yogaraj is also reported to  have done 23 asanas on a moving motorcycle and shirshasana (head stand) for nearly three hours on earlier occasions.

He really deserves congratulations. He has succeeded in doing what ascetic yogis doing hathayoga all their lives will dare not. If this feat of his has helped in drawing attention of people towards yoga, that helps. Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, an ardent yoga supporter, congratulated the 29 year yoga teacher of Indian origin; how many yoga teachers get such messages from a PM? In fact, Yogaraj had announced before undertaking the feat that he would dedicate the Guinness record to Modi for his support to yoga. That too is a great gesture.

But yoga is for union of body, mind and soul, isn't it? Doesn't yoga pre-suppose that the yogi would aim at cleansing himself of emotions that lead to bodily ailments? Isn't public display of one's unusual feats self-defeating on the path to higher attainments? Does this type of display attract people towards this great art of complete healing or does it make a spectacle of it?  Should a yoga teacher lead by such ego-satisfying examples, however big they might be? I leave you with these questions.

These are not thoughts of a puritan, but one who feels that the immense benefits of yoga are undone and lost once we digress from its spirit. If yoga is taken as just twisting one's body, then more you twist it - and for more time - the bigger yogi you become. And, in this sense, 'yogi' would mean neither 'a practitioner of body healing' nor 'a seeker' but 'a gymnast'. But then, why not learn gymnastics and perfect it?