Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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A variation of Salabhasana (the locust pose): beneficial for the abdomen, lower back and thorax. Photo: James Burke/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Mayurasana (the peacock pose): beneficial for the abdominal area and the digestive organs. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Poorna Salabhasana (the full locust pose): increases strength and flexibility of the middle spine. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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A variation of Kakasana (the crow pose): strengthens forearms, wrists, shoulders and abdomen. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Eka Pada Sirsasana (Foot behind the Head pose): increases flexibility of the hip and leg. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Ardha Matsyendrasana (the half spine twist pose): increases flexibility of the hip and spine, strengthens the abdominal area. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Utthan Eka Pada Sirshasana (Standing foot behind the head pose): increases flexibility of the hip and strengthens the leg. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Poorna Dhanurasana (the bow pose): strengthens the abdominal area and stretches the high and arm muscles. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Urdhva Padmasana (the lotus headstand): strengthens the arm, shoulder, neck and trunk muscles. Beneficial for all abdominal organs. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Poorna Chakrasana (the full wheel pose): strengthens back muscles and abdominal organs. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Poorna Bhujangasana (the full cobra pose): spine flexibility, strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Garbhasana (the foetus pose): helps in balance, benefits the abdominal organs. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Nauli Kriya (turning of abdominal muscles): stimulates digestive organs. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Kapotasana (the pigeon pose): strengthens the spine, arms, thighs, shoulders, calf muscles, throat muscles, chest muscle and hands. Photo:Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Eka Pada Chakrasana (One legged wheel pose): strengthens back muscles, abdominal organs and legs. Photo: Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Padahastasana (the standing forward bend): stretches the legs, lengthens the spine. Photo: Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Uthitha Kurmasana: strengthens the arms and chest muscles. Photo: Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

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Dandasana (the staff pose): improves posture, strengthens back muscles and increases stamina. Photo: Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

YOGA DAY

Beautiful mind: the intent of yoga, in stunning images

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

When the first yogi sat on the riverside hundreds of years ago, breathed deeply and did his stretches, did he realise what it would become one day?

Yoga is union. Ancient yogis believed that in order for man to be in harmony with himself and his environment, he has to integrate the body, mind, and spirit. In older times, yoga wasn't done to achieve a great body or look a certain way. Instead, yogis trained the mind to bring a balance of spirituality, discipline and devotion to their lives. The body was an instrument, not the goal of yoga.

The goal was enlightenment, to connect with a higher spiritual being. The training is of the mind, not of the body; if you train the mind the body can do spectacular things, they said.

In yoga, the training is of the mind, not the body. If you train the mind, the body can do spectacular things

Decades ago, yoga was a science complete in itself. It was never just a form of exercise but the practice of life and living.

It was never a bunch of poses to be done one after the other. Each asana flowed seamlessly into another; with the mind focused, the body moved elegantly into an asana.

It was also never done in the confines of a room. Yoga was done in nature, in the open, bringing the body in sync with the environment, the universe.

Today, yoga is commercial. It's vain. It's physical.

Hindu American Foundation (HAF's) senior director Sheetal Shah in an interview to Forbes said, "The practice today is too obsessed with the physical (asana), and has largely lost its more cerebral or philosophical side, which, one could argue, is what it's all about in the first place. If it's just physical, it's not yoga."

Special thanks to ​PC Kapoor​, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Nataraja Centre, New Delhi.
Priyata Brajabasi

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB