Our practice of yoga aims at developing kripa, or grace, in body and mind. The idea of grace was very important to the Ancients and is the foundation of spiritual yoga even today.

The Ancients preferred the natural undulating curves of the belly, gently rounded shoulders, lenghtened muscle fibers. Modern day preoccupations with body fat content and the development of unnaturally shortened muscles (such as the six-pack) go against the vision of the great yogis.

What is it about yoga that makes it so different from western exercise? The yoga asanas, or postures, are designed to lengthen the muscle fibers while at the same time working on the glandular level to create harmony and balance. The major joints,glands, and organs are stimulated and recover their innate abilities to function flawlessly. Western exercise, on the other hand, simply tightens and shortens muscle fibers in an attempt to reduce bulk in some places and add bulk in others. This purely mechanical view of the body can only lead to a machine-like body.

Yoga sees the body as an organic whole and the practice of yoga is the practice of kripa or grace.

 Abhay Ghiara is a teacher, writer, and Gandhian economist. He studied economics and yoga at Bombay University, graduating exactly 100 years after Mahatma Gandhi. He has practiced yoga all his life.

Abhay has lectured on yoga and life in San Francisco, London, Bristol, Chicago, and Mumbai, India. photo: Maritstar

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