Yoga is a lifestyle that embraces mind, body and spirit through meditation, control of breathing and correct posture. Yoga is also commonly understood as a therapy for health & fitness.
In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve inner harmony. Yoga is one way to begin to rectify the harmful effects of modern life. It offers unique approach towards life and harmonizing oneself with the universe.
The word ‘yoga’ was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. It is believed that yoga dates back upwards of 5000 years back, some believe it goes back more than 10,000 years.
Yoga is organized practice of stretching exercise, breath control, relaxation, Positive thinking & meditation aimed at developing harmony in body, mind & external world.
Yoga teaches that life is the action and reaction of pulsation, the intricate interplay of vast number of energy fields.
These energy fields should function in complex harmony, and illness is the result of a breakdown of this harmony. Upon analyzing this breakdown, modern medicine will often conclude that some body ingredient is missing, in short supply or is overabundant.
Medicines will often be the remedy chosen in an interventionist attempt to correct the balance.
Yoga works in a more holistic way, attempting to understand why the imbalance has occurred, then using the body’s internal system to restore the balance.
The body is an energy system with close interplay between breathing, heartbeat and brain function. Yoga provides a maintenance system for that.
Rightly described as ‘the heart of healing’, yoga also provides a harmonizing process that leaves no part of the body untouched.
Benefits Of Yoga
The benefits of regular & dedicated practice of yoga are enormous and include:
- Yoga helps to develop flexibility, stability, strength & balance of our body. It is a way to detox our body & mind naturally.
- Yoga involves meditation which brings down the stress level of the body, increase productivity, creativity & overall wellbeing.
- Improved oxygen supply to the blood and the rhythmic flow of electromagnetic energy along the nerves, resulting in better concentration and clarity of thoughts.
- The tendency of back pain is reduced since the spine becomes more flexible due to frequent stretching and mobility exercises.
- As the emphasis is on balanced stretching & exercise, it can be used to prevent & ease many painful conditions caused by overuse of joints & limbs, sport injuries, frozen shoulder.But of course, it has to be performed under keen eye of yoga instructors or physiotherapist strictly.
- A large part of learning yoga involves to understand correct breathing pattern. Breathing correctly strengthens not just the muscles but all body’s internal system.
Good breathing neutralizes the daily effects of stress and improves health by reducing blood pressure, improving the circulation and strengthening the neuro-electrical system.
It boosts the immune system, preventing illness.Controlled breathing is the fastest & most effective way of breaking down anxiety, anger & lifting depression.
- Yoga is of benefit to everyone throughout their life. Children, pregnant women, elder people & disabled people too can benefit from yoga. It aims at helping people to realize the full potential of their mind & body.
- If the body is gently stretched & exercised during pregnancy, the body will recover its former shape & elasticity more quickly.Yoga prepares for labour and is ideal for postnatal exercise.During first three months of pregnancy there is always danger of miscarriage. This is not a good time for anyone to start who has never done before or regularly doing yoga, but simple breathing & relaxation can only do well for mother-to-be. By the fourth month, however, it is safe to begin practicing yoga.
- The heart benefits from regular exercise & effective breathing, which stimulates blood circulation & reduce blood pressure.
- Clearer sinuses results from regular breathing practice.
Precautions to be taken
Despite the benefits, yoga can be risky if you push yourself too hard or practice difficult poses unsupervised. You have to take some precautions to avoid any accident. Let’s look at them:
- Yoga has to be performed in right way & in moderation. If a student has low muscle strength or any other form of physical weakness, then he may put himself at a greater risk of serious injuries by doing ‘Asnas’.
- An inexperienced instructor can be dangerous for you. Well experienced teacher knows how to help student to make yoga poses & not to overdo them.
- Just seeing the video tutorials is not enough because while practicing ‘asnas’, you will need teacher or instructor to help you out to correct your alignment & poses. Each step of yoga is to be performed rightly in order to get the benefits of yoga.
- It is not at all a good choice to practice yoga after recent surgeries or medical treatment to recover fast. It might trouble you & high lighting more on pain in your body.
- If you are a beginner, never try to play with advance level at the beginning. Go step by step from basic to advance. Eagerness to learn and practice is what can be painful sometimes.
Types of Yoga
This is the principal form of Yoga that focus on posture. It helps beginners to learn, by practicing a number of brilliantly conceptualized techniques to exert control over body & mind so that they may progress to a deeper stage.
The Sanskrit word ‘hatha’ is formed from the sound ‘ha’ and ‘tha’, which symbolize both positive and negative electrical forces of the sun and moon.
Meditation is the key point of this type of yoga. It is yoga of controlling mind. In other words of scientific meditation, following the steps laid down by ‘Patanjali’.
They lead the students through series of stages, right from Yama ( Ethical standards), Niyama ( self- discipline), Asana (Postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal) ,Dharna (concentration) ,Dhyana (meditation) ,Samadhi (Final liberation). This type of yoga attracts individual who are introspective & drawn to meditation.
Karma Yoga is the yoga of selfless action or service. Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning action or work. The doctrine of karma is that everyone’s present circumstances are the result action in the past & ofcourse that future action will affect what happen to them in the future.
We practice Karma yoga whenever we perform our work and live our lives in selfless manner & as a way to serve others. Doing good works, helping with chores, giving money to charity, volunteering to serve meals, habitat for humanity are examples of gaining spiritual credits.
This is also known as the yoga of devotion or love to god & will appeal to people who are naturally spiritual.
Bhakti yoga is a direct method, the shortest way to experience the divine. It is very much a personal yoga through which one can achieve higher state of consciousness.
The word jnana (pronounced Gyana) means wisdom, and jnana yoga is likely to appeal to people who naturally take an analytical approach to life.
It takes an intuitive route to seeking answers to the great questions of life, such as how to discriminate between the real & unreal.
In Jnana yoga, the mind is used to inquire into its own nature and to transcend the mind’s identification with its thoughts and ego. It is often practiced in groups, who read & discuss the classical text of yoga.
This is the Yoga that uses mantras that involves raising the consciousness by chanting, aloud or to oneself, sounds, words or sentences.
Mantra yoga is exact science that meant to engage the mind through focusing on sound, duration & number of repetition.
Repetition of mantras creates positive vibration that benefit to both who chants & the one who listens. The idea behind chanting a mantras is that it assist concentration, which may elevate the mind.
The holistic practice of yoga will bring inner peace and a deep sense of fulfilment.