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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Physical exercises and yoga?

Just like everything else, physical exercises are neither good nor bad. If it is being performed with some basic knowledge and understanding of how to perform the exercises with care and attentiveness, as well as without the influence of egoism and attachment, then it will bring maximum benefits to the body and mind. If it is being done under the influence of egoism and attachment, without the basic knowledge and understanding, nor with care and attentiveness, then it might generate unnecessary tension, stress, damages or injuries to the body and mind.

At any stages in life, from young to old, the physical body needs to be performing some forms of regular physical exercises to improve and maintain its overall good health and fitness level. The intensity of the exercises should be within the effort according to the physical condition and ability in that moment. Some forms of gentle exercises for about half an hour to an hour a day will be sufficient to achieve the benefits of physical exercising. Over exercising, or performing strenuous physical exercises that is beyond the effort of the physical condition and ability in that moment can cause short term or long term damages or injuries to the physical body.

The body needs certain degrees of ‘stress’ to maintain its bone density and muscular strength. But excessive ‘stress’ that can cause over-stimulation to the entire body systems, energy depletion or over-exhaustion, and muscular tendons injuries, isn’t necessary. What’s the point when we try to make the body fitter and healthier, but being disappointed, or dissatisfied, or frustrated, or unhappy about oneself due to some egoistic judgment, comparison and expectation coming from oneself towards one’s physical condition and ability, or the physical performance and achievement.

Yoga is not merely a form of physical exercise as some people think what it is. Yoga asana practice is one part of the many types of yoga practice. Yoga asana practice involves certain physical movements and positions will generate the similar effects of performing any form of physical exercises. The effects of physical exercises that we attain from performing regular yoga asana practice is just a side-effect of the practice, it is not the goal of the practice.

Physical exercises don’t guarantee anyone to be peaceful and compassionate. But yoga, which is a form of mental exercises or internal observations, if being practiced with the correct understanding and attitude, can lead oneself towards realizing unconditional peace and compassion, that is undetermined by the physical conditions, abilities and achievements, or the impermanent qualities of names and forms.

Yoga asana practice is like everything else, it is neither good nor bad. It has no quality nor intention to generate pleasantness or unpleasantness, positive effects or negative effects to the practitioner. Yoga asana practice that is being performed regularly without the influence of egoism and attachment will lead oneself towards peace, other than getting the physical and mental effects of physical exercises. If it is being done under the influence of egoism and attachment, it might generate unnecessary tension, stress, damages or injuries to one’s body and mind.

Although the engagement in regular physical exercises doesn’t guarantee us to be free from ignorance and egoism, or be free from unhappiness and suffering, it can help us to develop higher energy level, strengthening the overall body systems, improving physical stamina, strength and flexibility, lowering the risk of contracting diseases and physical injuries, promoting overall good health, alertness, focus, positive thinking, cheerfulness, determination, perseverance and tolerance to deal with any unexpected or undesirable experiences and situations that may arise in everyday life, more efficiently and easily.

The effects of physical exercises are beneficial for both physical and mental health and fitness, to allow us to enjoy a better quality of life, to allow ourselves to have the good physical and mental condition, the clear thinking ability, the strength and mobility, and the higher energy level to perform selfless service for oneself and others. But no matter how much we try to maintain the good condition and efficiency of this physical body, it is still subject to impermanent changes, decay, injury, pain, discomfort, stiffness, weakness, diseases, old age and decomposition.

Appreciate and take good care of this physical body as well as the mind, but without identification with the body and mind as who ‘I’ am, and without attachment towards the impermanent changes of the body and mind. Allowing the impermanent changes to be what they are, without craving for particular condition, nor aversion towards certain condition. Making good use of the good condition of the body and mind that is available now, to be doing something beneficial for ourselves and for others, without identification with the actions and the fruit of actions, without attachment towards the actions or the fruit of actions.

Om shanti.

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

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