Yoga’s Power: Transform Mind and Spirit

Yoga Transformation Insights

by | Feb 27, 2024

A well-rounded personality is an asset as we move towards realising our aspirations and dreams. In a fast-paced city such as Dubai, can the gentle and slow-paced movements of Yoga help us form character? Let’s find out

It’s natural for those new to Yoga, or those whose knowledge of it is minimal, to be sceptical of Yoga’s claim to personality development.

After all, isn’t Yoga all about bending and twisting our limbs to form complicated poses?

If that’s what you just thought, then hear us out.

The truth is this ancient Indian discipline is possibly one of humanity’s oldest character forming programmes and what’s more … it guarantees to transform a practitioner over a lifetime.

Although our modern culture is reducing the practice of Yoga to the merely physical, all in the name of weight loss — in doing so we are losing out on its wealth of wisdom, its rich storehouse of tools and techniques that help us form character, increase self-awareness, discipline and resilience and nourish our very souls.

It is precisely when practised wholistically that Yoga becomes this powerful vehicle that carries us towards a full realisation of our innate potential.

A word of caution here. There’s a subtle difference in character formation and personality development. We build character when we identify principles that we adhere to no matter what, and then live our lives accordingly.

However developing one’s personality could be a more superficial exercise, particularly when it is not backed by solid principles and virtues. Often we try and change ourselves — maybe in the way we speak and act — to fulfill the requirements of a role, most often career-related. We believe that the only way we can step up in our professional lives is by creating the persona of a confident and extroverted go-getter.

Yoga quite naturally favours the first approach. Pratimoksha Enlighten Yoga Center Dubai offers courses that combine all the tools of Yoga to help students transform and transcend their limitations.

First the physical

When one is first introduced to Yoga, the emphasis is quite naturally on acquiring the physical benefits of the practice. These include better posture, improved muscle tone, flexible joints, increased energy and vitality, more lung power … . We could go on and on!

What is less visible is the subtle improvements in focus and concentration, the fact that as we concentrate on holding the pose, we stay present in the moment free from distracting thoughts. As the poses begin challenging us in complexity, the gains we have made in our sense of focus and discipline will help us attempt and gradually master the new poses.

As with learning any new skill, as we improve so does our confidence and self-esteem.

The 8 limbs of Yoga

Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga specifies an 8-fold path towards mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Of the 8, the popular Asana practice is the third branch. The first two branches of Yoga are the Yamas and the Niyamas. And when and where Yoga is taught wholistically, students are introduced to these two branches early on in the course.

The Yamas and Niyamas together form a code of honour that devotees of Yoga are meant to live by.

The Yamas specify principles of conduct that restrain a person from behaviours considered undesirable. These are

  1. Ahimsa: Non-violence
  2. Satya: Truthfulness
  3. Asteya: Non-stealing
  4. Bhramacharya: Restraining or moderating the senses
  5. Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness

The Niyamas are also a set of principles that one must embrace for our wellbeing. These are:

  1. Saucha: Cleanliness
  2. Santosha: Contentment
  3. Tapas: Self-discipline
  4. Svadyaya: Self-study
  5. Ishwara Prani Dhana: Surrendering to the Almighty

Together the first two branches of Ashtanga Yoga establish an ethical framework helping the practitioner in his conduct towards himself/herself, and the outside world.

For a little more information on the Yamas and Niyamas, and the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga please click on:

Yoga’s role in building character

The Asana practice therefore, together with an introduction to the Yamas and Niyamas, help set up a foundation that is then strengthened with consistent practice. The fourth branch of Yoga — Pranayama — provides an understanding of how we can increase our energy and vitality by regulating our breath. Yoga places enormous emphasis, and rightly so, on breathing, with every posture accompanied by precise inhalations and exhalations.

This therefore is yet another dimension towards practising focus, concentration and mindfulness.

The next four branches of Ashtanga Yoga involve meditative practices, where the student is taught to gradually quieten the mind and withdraw from his/her senses so that he or she can observe the habitual thoughts, emotions and ideas that form the bedrock of his/her personality.

This self-awareness is vital if he or she wants to start changing negative thought patterns and move towards ones that help inculcate confidence and willpower to reach one’s aspirations and goals.

The beauty of Yoga is that a learner is led stage by stage to master all aspects of his/her personality. The Asana practice helps in attaining the physical health needed to pursue the higher more subtle breath and meditative practices.

A consistent student will see how the changes he can observe in his physical health are mirrored in inner strength and mental fortitude.

The Warrior Poses

The Veerbhadra series are an excellent series of poses that help in building stamina, strength, balance and stability. This translates to more self-confidence and mental strength off the mat.

As its name suggests, the Warrior poses reflect the courage, discipline and determination of a soldier. However, in Yogic terms the fight is not against another soldier, but rather against our human weaknesses that result from our ignorance and immaturity.

The Warrior poses — Veerbhadrasana I, II and III —  help hone focus, courage and balance respectively. It involves aligning the body precisely to achieve the posture, and then maintaining one’s balance while holding the pose.

The process towards attaining the pose, and the concentration required to hold it, are both challenging. And thus we can use it as an opportunity to really reflect on our character strengths and failings. Do we give up easily? Do we find the process tedious. What is the state of our mind at this point? Are we prepared to give ourselves the time and do we have the patience to repeat the pose until we get it right?

The more we practice the Warrior poses, the calmer we become in high-pressure situations both during our Yoga practice and outside in day to day life. We might also notice how we become emotionally resilient to face all of life’s challenges with equanimity. The inner calm and clarity will no doubt serve us in our lives outside of class, making us more productive, organised and resilient.

To know more about how Yoga can help you in your personal and professional life, drop us a text or call us at 050-395-5613 or WhatsApp up at 050-395-5613.

We are located in 206, Safina Towers, Oud Metha, Dubai. Do pop in for a free self-assessment and consultation.


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