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Yoga for Mental and Physical Development
Yoga can be best defined as a practice for realizing the ultimate reality in life. It is a workout for acquiring a healthy body free of any illness. On one side, it delights your soul spiritually whereas on the other side it contours the body to attain fitness. ‘Yogis’ live long with a coordinated soul and body.
History of Yoga
Yoga was originated in ancient India, a major discipline followed by the saints who used to meditate in tranquil and sacred places. It comprised of various body postures that would make the body flexible. The environment where they practiced Yoga could empower the soul also. This gave them mental as well as physical pleasure and they led an ideal life which we aspire to get in this speedy, comforting, electronic age.
The Science of Yoga
The four popular Yogas in India are classified as Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakthi Yoga and Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga or Yoga of royals is treated as the king of all Yogas. Concentration, intelligence, firmness, good habits and discipline are required for an individual to attain Raja Yoga. In B.C. 300, the great scholar and proponent of Sanskrit grammar and Ayurveda, saint Patanjali collected and analyzed all the Yoga practices that existed during that period. He revised them and on the basis of science of health and mind, he built the textbook of ‘Yoga Sutra’ or ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ for Raja Yoga. Present day’s Yoga poses are based on those from the text book of Ashtanga Yoga.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Benefits of Yoga
It is said that practicing Yoga is beneficial to everyone irrespective of age. Youth, old-aged, diseased and the weak all can reap the benefits of Yoga if practiced under the supervision of a Yoga expert. Yoga helps
- Destroy all diseases
- Contour body shape
- Digest and eliminate poison
- Digest any strong poison like the fluid of life
- Save life from snake bite
- Improve braveness, health and enhance the beauty of body parts
The eight contents of Ashtanga Yoga
If the first four contents are for physical and mental rejuvenation, the rest are for spiritual awakening. According to the Hindu sage Swatmarama, Hatha Yoga is the ladder for climbing up to reach the acme of Raja Yoga. The Sanskrit term Hatha refers to use of force. Hathayoga is described as doing Yoga by force or abstract meditation such as standing on one leg or holding breath for a few moments. It is based on Asanas or postures and Pranayama or breathing techniques.
The guidelines and instructions for doing Yoga
1. Yoga needs to be practiced in a Yoga mat. All the Yogasanas and Pranayamas should be performed by standing facing towards East or North direction. The best time for practicing Yoga is the morning. Getting up early and taking bath is also preferred before doing Yoga. For those who’ve inconvenience in the morning can do in the evening before sun sets.
2. Yoga should be performed in a place where wind and light can enter. It can be a clean room or the open terrace. Note that the place you choose is calm and quiet.
3. It is stated that fan or air condition should be switched off in order to avail the benefits of Yoga. But you can make changes to this condition if you stay in a place where climatic conditions are not favorable.
4. Prayer is most important to begin Yoga. You can choose the prayer you like. Then meditate for about 2 minutes. Prayer and meditation can remove any tension of minds. Do ‘Savasan (lie down posture)’ for another 2 minutes to remove the tension of the body. Afterwards only you should start practicing the Yoga postures.
5. Sit quiet for sometime after you finish your Yoga programs. Don’t get into some other matters soon.
6. Those who have undergone any operation or that are diseased should consult their physician regarding practicing Yoga.
7. Don’t practice Yoga applying stress or competing. Asanas that are viable for the body and body parts only should be performed. Firm determination and regular training are the walking steps for gaining success in doing Asanas or Yoga postures.
8. Ladies should be careful of their times while practicing Yoga.
9. Yoga poses require high concentration. Distraction of minds results in losing whatever has been achieved so far.
10. Doing Yoga is equally important as taking food. Spare 1 hour each day for it and don’t interrupt it unless due to some unavoidable reasons.
What the science of Yoga aims is “bring out the miracle of strength, power and light hidden inside each human being and nourish them in order to make him perfect”. Yoga is union. It is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Self. Yoga delivers the ultimate pleasure of realizing reality with sound health.
Do you like to do Yoga?
At Pathanjali Yoga International, Rishikesh, Himalaya
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© 2012 Radhika Sreekanth