Yoga is a light which once lit will never dim, the better your practice the brighter your flame.B.K.S. Iyengar
There is a big confusion around ‘What is Yoga’. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit root yuj which means ‘join’ or ‘unite’. This may be taken as the union of body, mind and soul, and is used in the literature both as an end as well as means. As an end, yoga signifies ‘integration of personality’ at the highest level. To answer what is yoga, yoga includes various practices and techniques which are employed to achieve the development of such integration. These practices and techniques are means in the yogic literature and are also referred collectively as ‘Yoga’.
Yoga is that state of Absolute Peace wherein there is neither imagination nor thought. Yoga is control of mind and its modifications. Yoga teaches us how to control the modifications of the mind and attain liberation. It teaches us how to transmute the unregenerate nature and attain the state of Divinity. It is the complete suppression of the tendency of the mind to transform itself into objects, thoughts, etc. Yoga kills all sorts of pain, misery and tribulation.
Yoga is a healthy way of life
Originated in India, now it is believed to be a form of science accepted all over the world. The western culture also is accepting it as a healthy form of scientific exercise. Although the origin of yoga is obscure, it has a long tradition. In course of time, various schools of yoga developed.
The major schools of yoga are Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga and Raja yoga. These schools of yoga advocate particular type of methodology which includes a variety of systematized practices of yoga depending on their particular approach. However, all these are leading to the common goal of self-realization and integration of body and mind.
Details of Yoga
Yoga for a common person contains the practices of yama (ethics), niyama (values), asana(postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), kriya (action / exercise for detoxifying), mudra (generally hand postures),bandha(body locks) and meditation (concentration) which are helpful to keep oneself physically fit, mentally alert and emotionally balanced. This ultimately prepares ground for the spiritual development of an individual.
Started thousands of years ago in India. Yoga originated from a universal desire towards attaining happiness and getting rid of sufferings. According to yogiclore, Shiva is considered as the founder of Yoga. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to 2700 BC indicates that yoga was prevalent in ancient India. However, systematic reference of yoga is found in Patanjali’s Yogadarshna.
Maharishi Patanjali systematized the yogic practices. After Patanjali, many sages and yogis contributed to its development and as a result, yoga has now spread all over the World. In this sequence, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with 193 members approved the proposal to celebrate ‘June 21’ as the ‘International Yoga Day’.
Good Health is the right of every human being. But this right depends on individual, social and environmental factors. Along with social or environmental factors to a large extent, we can develop a better immune system and a better perception of oneself so that other conditions do not affect us adversely and we can achieve good health. Health is a positive concept.
Positive health does not mean merely freedom from disease, but, it also includes a jubilant and energetic feeling of well-being with an amount of general resistance and capacity to easily cultivate immunity against specific offending agents. There are many modern and indigenous methods and disciplines that can help us to successfully fight with diseases. Yoga is one of the most powerful drug less system of treatment.
What to Achieve from Yoga
Yoga is having its own concept of wellness which has been scientifically understood and presented by many. It can be adopted as lifestyle for promoting our physical and mental health. Yoga, if understood well & practiced would help to inculcate healthy habits and healthy lifestyle to achieve good health.
The aim of yoga thus is to encourage a positive and healthy lifestyle for physical, mental and emotional health for all. Practice of Yoga helps in the development of strength, stamina, endurance and high energy at physical level. It also empowers oneself with increased concentration, calm, peace and contentment at mental level leading to inner and outer harmony.
The objective of Yoga is to weaken what are called the five afflictions. The five afflictions are: Ignorance, Egoism, Likes, Dislikes and the instinct of self-preservation (or clinging to bodily life). Ignorance is the fertile soil which bears an abundant crop of the rest. On account of ignorance only egoism has manifested. Wherever there is egoism, there invariably exist likes, dislikes and the rest side by side. Cling into bodily life or fear of death is born of likes only. It is nothing but attachment.
Benefits of Yoga
Stress relief: The practice of yoga is well-demonstrated to reduce the physical effects of stress on the body. The body responds to stress through a fight-or-flight response, which is a combination of the sympathetic nervous system and hormonal pathways activating, releasing cortisol – the stress hormone – from the adrenal glands.
Cortisol is often used to measure the stress response. Yoga practice has been demonstrated to reduce the levels of cortisol.Most yoga classes end with savasana, a relaxation pose, which further reduces the experience of stress.
Pain relief: Yoga can ease pain. Studies have shown that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation or a combination of the two,reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis,auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.
Better breathing: Yoga includes breathing practices known aspranayama, which can be effective for reducing our stress response, improving lung function and encouraging relaxation. Many pranayamas emphasize slowing down and deepening the breath, which activates the body’s parasympathetic system, or relaxation response.
By changing our pattern of breathing, we can significantly affect our body’s experience of and response to stress. This maybe one of the most profound lessons we can learn from our yoga practice.
Flexibility: Yoga can improve flexibility and mobility and increase range of motion. Over time, the ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen,increasing elasticity.
Increased strength: Yoga asanas use every muscle in the body, increasing strength literally from head to toe. A regular yoga practice can also relieve muscular tension throughout the whole body.
Weight management: While most of the evidence for the effects of yoga on weight loss is anecdotal or experiential, yoga teachers, students and practitioners across the world find that yoga helps to support weight loss.Many teachers specialize in yoga programs to promote weight management and find that even gentle yoga practices help support weight loss. People do not have to practice the most vigorous forms of yoga to lose weight.
Yoga encourages development of a positive self-image, as more attention is paid to nutrition and the body as a whole. A study from the Journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that regular yoga practice was associated with less age-related weight gain. The lifestyle study of 15,500 adults in their 50’s covered 10 years of participants’ weight history, physical activity, medical history and diet.
Improved circulation: Yoga helps to improve circulation by efficiently moving oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
Cardiovascular conditioning: Even a gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
Presence: Yoga connects us with the present moment. The more we practice, the more aware we become of our surroundings and the world around us. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory.
Inner peace: The meditative effects of a consistent yoga practice help many cultivate inner peace and calm.