Revathi Raj Iyer
My Friendship with Yoga
New Delhi: Winspire (An imprint of Lifi). 2017
Pp. 183 | Rs 240
A gripping book based on real experiences
The word ‘Yoga’ is so electrifying that as one hears it one is taken to a different world of experience. Also it is much elusive as water that one who gets into it with so much zeal at the beginning slips out of it with so much lethargy and indifference. Thanks to the honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for popularising it and persuading the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution and declaring June 21 to be observed as International Day every year and to the West for corrupting this great holistic science and wisdom that this land has given to humanity as a mere mockery of acrobatics, a mere therapeutic drug and a mere fakirism. It has been estimated that there are as many as forty schools in the world imparting Yoga, each with its own brand different from the others. Unfortunately, the sad part of it is that amidst all these, the real science of Yoga as given by Patanjali said to be the reincarnation of Lord Siva has been totally lost. It is difficult to come across a real Yogi treading Patanjali’s tradition or following and practising in its pure spiritual tradition. In other words, what is being in practice throughout the world is called ‘Fitness Yoga’. The effect of Yoga especially the two limbs in Astanga Yoga, as expounded by Patanjali Maharshi, Asana and Pranayama, will become ineffective if the first two limbs, Yama and Niyama comprising ten cardinal principles (ahimsa, satya, asteya, aparigraha, brahmacharya; tapas, saucha, santosha, svadhyaya and isvarapranidana) are not strictly adhered to and followed in true spirit in daily living. It is for this reason, we do not find the real Yoga. It is a tragedy that people in the world have become highly health conscious and to that extent Yoga has been reduced both in the west and India. Beyond health, Yoga is not looked at as a pure spiritual science.
On the other side, the world is increasingly flooded with numerous books on Yoga emphasising only health aspect, especially written by European and American practitioners with all colourful postures printed on glossy paper. Many of these books have been found to be stereotype and repetitive. Nothing new has been said in these books.
It is in this context, Revathi Raj Iyer’s book, My Friendship with Yoga provides relief as it is found to be different. The author is a freelance writer, book reviewer, company director, service volunteer and yoga/fitness enthusiast. After her stint in the corporate field over a decade she has now settled and lives in Ahmedabad with her passion for Yoga. As she confesses, she has written this book out of her real experiences, honestly stating how she has entered this beautiful science, how she has sustained it with her relentless practice despite hurdles she has faced and how she has overcome them. Written in the first person, the narrative is gripping and one feels and experiences as if the author is conversing with us and speaking her own experiences with so much intimacy and felicity. These experiences are common as one encounters as one takes up Yoga and the way the author seems to have overcome such obstacles are aptly relevant, instructive and educative for all the beginners.
The book is divided into three sections. In the first section, the author has talked about the importance of Yoga in daily life, her foray into it, how to tame monkey mind, deconditioning mind, meridians and chakras, bandhas, interpreting asanas from Chines Tantric tradition, Yin and Yang, the divinity of light and meditation and a day at the Sivananda Ashram in a rather simplified way by a way of rendering it through a dialogue. This style seems to be new and it is for this reason that the book is unique and different from the other books. As one starts reading it, one will not let it down until it is finished. The second section is purely practical, here the author has chosen those asanas (Surya Namaskars, supine, prone, seated, and standing) that are greatly relevant to the mundane life and explained the benefits in simple diction. The third section is about daily Yoga practice in capsule wherein the author has presented how Yoga can be followed in a week calling it a seven day regimen.
Revathi has not simply retold Yoga as others did in a rigmarole manner but rendered it in her own friendly way through a simplified dialogue that can be understood by any practitioner. The words printed on the cover page at the top, “The book has been written in such simple and lucid language that everyone can easily understand and apply the principles in their day to day life” written by Swami Vimalananda, President, Sivananda Ashram is in no way exaggeration. It is true. This is one merit of the book and another being that the book has been flawlessly printed. It is creditworthy to note in the backdrop of Indian publishers being notorious for printer’s devils. In addition, Revathi has presented her forage into this science, her entry, travails in the beginning and her sustained interest. It is hoped that she will bring out another book which will surely speak her real journey as she plunges deeply into it and bring out the mysteries. Perhaps for this, she needs to wait long as she waited to bring out the first book to gain her sense of maturity to bring out the real secrets. Ultimately Yoga is a big experience. It cannot be theorised.