'It is a science of living ... a part of self-development'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 September, 2008, 12:00am

Yoga is more than chants and extreme poses - it is a way to excel in life, the director of one of the world's oldest yoga centres says.

'Yoga is a science of living; yoga is a part of self-development,' said Hansaji Yogendra, director of The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India.

'Yoga means concentration. Yoga means excellence in work, a balanced state of mind.'

Mrs Yogendra, 61, has been practising yoga for decades. Her father-in-law, Shri Yogendra, opened the institute in 1918.

In her view, instructors should incorporate the three basics of classical yoga so students are not hurt and gain the full benefits.

Mrs Yogendra said yoga teaching must include psychological and philosophical components, and 'technological aspects' such as breathing, meditation and poses.

'If you are dealing with just body, or just energy, or just emotion, then you feel very fine - but it is a temporary phenomenon,' Mrs Yogendra said. 'Still, your life is not balanced; still, your mind is totally imbalanced when you are not doing it.'

She said people might suffer if they attended these kinds of classes. 'They pull their muscles because they are doing too much physical activity; they go and concentrate on certain areas and they are mentally absolutely imbalanced. They aren't good family members. They become very selfish - my time, my job, my exercise.'

If taught correctly, people could benefit from yoga by 'keeping their body healthy, mind balanced and composed, and doing their duties well in life', Mrs Yogendra said.

'If you are a businessman, you can be a very good businessman, a better businessman. If you are a doctor, you can be a better doctor.

'Sometimes a lawyer may be a good lawyer, but if in the house he behaves like a lawyer, he can't cope with his wife or children. So he has lots of duties to perform, not just as a lawyer but as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a member of society, nation, humanity.'

Mrs Yogendra is in Hong Kong for a two-day free yoga workshop to be held by the Life Management Yoga Centre today and tomorrow. Information on it is available at www.yoga.org.hk.