New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Eddie Stern who has been teaching yoga in New York for the last quarter of a century, after being trained by an eminent guru in India, says he is humbled by the publication of his book on the discipline in this country.
“It’s one thing to write a yoga book and it’s another thing for a yoga book written by a Westerner to be published in India, which is the land of yoga, so its humbling and terrifying,” he said at the launch of “One Simple Thing – A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life (Macmillan/pp 308/Rs 499) here on Friday evening.
The book explains from both a yogic and a scientific perspective how the human nervous system is wired. It describes the mechanics taking place beneath the surface of our bodies and shows how we can consciously use yogic practices to direct and change our lives in positive ways.
Drawing on modern neuroscience, ancient wisdom, and decades of practice and teaching, Stern, who gained his expertise in Ashtanga Yoga from noted guru Pattabi Jois (1915-2009) in Mysore, reveals how what we do – from diet to chanting, from postures to meditation, from ethical practices to breathing techniques – affects who we become, and how a steady routine of activities and attitudes can transform our bodies, our brain functions, our emotions, and our experience of life.
“Yoga is indeed one of the true soft powers of India because its basis is being all-inclusive, of recognising that we are all one here together” and might have differences “but the substance we have is our ethos that connects us… our awareness or consciousness, if you call it that, as well as kindness and compassion – and one of the greatest things is friendliness”, said Stern, who began his address with an “Om Shanti Om” invocation in Sanskrit, in which he is fluent.
Noting that the foundation of yoga is ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth), he said: “The first principle of yoga, as also ahimsa, is to do no harm…don’t cause violence, which in a positive view, means to be kind”.
“To be kind, especially when we are challenged (in today’s times) is one of the hardest things to do in the world because we are pushed very quickly. Our boundaries are stretched and we are moved to be pushed and aggressive very very quickly. Just look at social media …this is one place we can see that people get pushed very very quickly from being kind to very aggressive”.