Dangers of unsupervised Yoga

A big obstacle on the path of yoga is the feeling that one does not need supervision. I have had firsthand experience of what happens when one does unsupervised yoga and it is not something I would want to repeat. In our culture, yogic knowledge is always transmitted from Guru to shishya in a parampara. Nowadays, the cultural trend of the ‘individual’ at the centre of things has invaded us in India and we feel that we ‘know-it-all’ and no one can tell us otherwise. The access to information through tools like the internet has created a further consolidation of that belief. I am sure we have all at some point googled symptoms and come up diagnoses for our ailments which we then used to argue with our doctors.

This belief does get reinforced if one is successful. I had learnt guitar through youtube and books and had become reasonably good at it. When I got into strength training, I designed my strength training plan, learnt the key lifts like the squat,deadlift and overhead press on my own. I also had success with a diet plan I had come up with basis my research from books and articles. With reasonable success through self-study and application the previous areas, I was convinced Yoga would also prove to be similar.

I had learnt some asanas from a Bihar School of Yoga book. Therein was a section which talked about how the ‘Vipreet Karani‘ asana could help in pushing the energy upward. There were many other books which talked of how without the ascension of kundalini, nothing can happen and how it was the most fantastic experience for a human being. There were also several online blogs (mostly american) who talked about experimenting with your yoga practice to improve it further. I now felt why not experiment with the asanas sequence, do Vipreet Karani for a longer duration and see if I can enhance the feeling of energy and try and push the kundalini up. Now those who have taught yoga know that there is a particular sequence of these asanas which needs to be maintained otherwise there can be untoward effects.

I had heard of that warning but did not heed it. A few days after starting this ‘experiment’, I started feeling feverish during the middle of the day. It was a fever where my insides were burning but the skin was cool. I had no idea what had happened but I could guess it was due to the improper yoga practice. I went through the day in a weak daze and being anxious about having done some permanent nerve damage. Medicines for fever prescribed by the doctor also did not work. It took 3 days for me to get back to normal. I then forswore all books on yoga instruction and decided that without a Guru I will not do anything.

With my current practices, I abide by whatever Guruji says. Each of the practices is very potent energetically and I have been tempted to think “Oh 5 minutes of this makes me feel so good, then 10 minutes will be even better”. However, my previous experience has made me very wary and I no longer want to play with fire . There is only certain amount of energy the system can handle safely and it will take time and practice to get it to a stage where it can take in more. It is best not to be in a hurry and anyway I have found that the journey itself is the reward.

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