Yoga is the most preferred form of workout today. Celebrities follow it religiously. Centenarians vouch for Yoga as the secret of their long life. Given its versatility, Yoga is being redefined and re-adapted worldwide in innumerable forms with as many names.
Yoga is no alien to India. It is where Yoga takes its roots. It is a foolproof, fail proof practice that has evolved over thousands of years. No wonder then that the UN has accepted and recognised 21st June as International Day of Yoga.
There has been no clear timeline as to when Yoga originated. The ancient Hindu texts such as the Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita, suggest that Yoga has been around for at least 7000 years. The Father of Modern Yoga Sage Patanjali assimilated Yoga principles and practices and compiled them into a book called ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutra’ about 2500 years ago.
Today, Yoga is not practised in its original form. What was once a thorough practice with spiritual value has now been reduced to physical exercises with some ‘complimentary’ breathing techniques. And yet, even in its remixed version, Yoga holds the solution to many modern day problems. To reap the benefits of Yoga in its totality, let us first understand it.
Meaning of Yoga
Yoga is a Sanskrit word. Yoga means ‘to join’, making one of many. This union, ‘Kaivalya’, is the ultimate goal of Yoga. It is the union of the body and mind, mind and soul and on the ultimate plane, it is the union of the Atma (soul or the human consciousness) with the Paramatma (universal consciousness). While Atma is the human self in energy form with a definite identity and confines of a body-mind complex, Paramatma is the awareness of the infinite, indefinite universal energy. When the Atma breaks beyond the confines of its identity and merges with the Paramatma, a union is attained; this is what the aim of Yoga is. In simple words, when a person is at peace with himself or when he is meditating, he can transcend into a different world, larger than his own and be one with it.
Originally, there was only one kind of Yoga-Patanjali Yoga, which encompasses all the spiritual, physical, and mental aspects of a human being, his well being and his ideal behaviour in a society. That part of Yoga which deals with mostly the body-mind aspect is Hatha Yoga (Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga- the power yoga and Iyengar Yoga or the props yoga are a fairly recent variants). Bhakti Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and others follow slightly varied philosophies and techniques.
Yoga – Myths vs Facts
Yoga is a process of evolution. Your state of mind evolves slowly and gradually from negative to normal to positive and eventually to a state of bliss, leading to an overall sense of well-being. You may be surprised to see a much healthier, peaceful and leaner version of yourself only after a few months, when you enroll for a weight reduction Yoga programme. Since it takes plenty of time to show results, the results themselves stay longer and do not reverse themselves immediately with a break in practice.
Contrary to popular belief that Yoga requires a great deal of physical exertion, it is the path to complete relaxation. In fact, the physical aspect of Yoga, the Asanas, are only a way of achieving stability of mind. As sage Patanjali rightly says, “Yogaha Chitta Vritti Nirodhana”, Yoga is to control the modifications and volatilities of the mind. During Yoga practice, the mind at a particular Asana turns its concentration inward, on various body parts involved. With regular conscious breathing, it enhances the effectiveness of the Asanas with dual benefits of physical well-being and mental calm.
In the modern age, Asanas are equated with brisk, unattainable movements. In reality, they are not movements themselves but postures attained through movements. Asanas are steady and comfortable postures aimed to achieve a healthy body and a peaceful, stable mind. When performed the right way, Asanas increase bodily awareness, channelise energies, bring about mental peace and connect the body with an unwavering mind. To sum it all up, sage Patanjali says “Sthir Sukham Asanam”, meaning Asanas are but steady and comfortable postures.
Benefits of Yoga
- Balances emotions and develops the intellect.
- Increases blood flow to the cerebral cortex of the brain, which is the centre of all learning, memories and emotions.
- With proper practice of Yoga, there is an optimal secretion of Endorphins.
- Reduces heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and Basal Metabolic Rate and brings about a comfortable consistency.
- Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (slow down and relaxation – rest and digest).
- Causes isometric movement of muscles, thereby consuming less oxygen and decreasing respiratory rate. This keeps the muscles supple and flexible.
Considering all of this, choose your Yoga classes cautiously and follow a Yoga routine with utmost care and knowledge. As for the rest, breathe and relax!!
Yoga while you are at your daily hustle!
Until recently, Yoga was a practice confined mostly to personal spaces. But as people spend more and more hours away from home, it is being embraced at workplaces. Simple yet effective postures do wonders when it comes to reducing stress. It also reduces the strain on spine, neck, shoulder and other organs in the body.
Try these postures at your desk for a better day at work.