The word 'Yoga' immediately reminds one about the rich ancient culture of India. The word yoga in Sanskrit means "to unite", the amalgamation of body, mind and soul. Meaning yoga is an exercise in moral and mental nurturing that generates good health (arogya), contributes to longevity (chirayu), and the total process results into positive and persistent happiness and peace. It not only affects the conscious self but the subconscious as well.
Many people have lot of misconceptions about yoga, lot of people perceive it to be a dangerous practice, a kind of mental and physical acrobatics that is compatible only to a Hindu mind. But yoga is an all-embracing way of life. It is applicable to all people irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, and religion. A person may start practicing at any age and can go on reaping its benefits.
Yoga can improve posture, strengthen and tone muscles, and soothes pain, which is very much needed for the stress filled life of today. Researchers have learned that, besides relieving problem backs, yoga can provide help for people suffering from serious medical conditions like asthma, multiple sclerosis etc.
Yoga also helps reduce one's odds of heart disease and reduces inflammations. In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers in Timarpur, India, had 15 Army soldiers adopt a twice-daily yoga routine. The control group did other exercises which included stretches and slow running. After 3 months, the yoga group showed a significant drop in blood pressure; the control group didn't.
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It has been quite a challenge to route the youngster to this practice as they are constantly running. They perceive yoga to be something which is passive and meant to be practiced only by the older generation. This bubble has to be broken as there are different types of yoga, which is blooming, like the power yoga, artistic yoga etc.
Yoga - The Origin
Yoga was started by wandering ascetics who sought the solitude of the forests to practice this ancient science and then imparted their knowledge to the other disciples in their ashrams. The reason why this art did not popularize was that the ancient yogins were possessive. The yogic postures and the subsequent stages of yoga were passed down only to some selected students. Hence, this science remained very limited to the forests or remote caves. This lasted till the 1918 until India's oldest technical institute on Yoga, the Institute of Santa Cruz, Mumbai was founded.
Yoga is not only a physical discipline of keeping fit but has a lot to do with the philosophy and the spirituality. In recent times there are 'n' numbers of institutions which have made their name. Each institution follows its own methodology, but following are the most common terms used: Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Astanga Yoga. These give the disciples strength, relaxation and flexibility - the combined benefits one looks for.
Yama and Niyama
The first principle of yoga is daily practice till the ethics become an important part of life. One has to follow the discipline and cleanliness and go through course of training from anuvrata to mahavrata and subject oneself to a series of lessons in positive and negative principles, the observances (niyama) and the restraints (yama).
Asana and Pranayama
Physical exercises form a part of Hathayoga, which is vital to enable one to keep fit and also t reduce weight, enhance one's beauty internal as well as external. The next part of Hathayoga is again equally important. Pranayama- meaning controlling one's body through breathing. The regular practice of this helps build immunity and also gets rid of various diseases in a natural way without side effects.
PIt is a technique of controlling the senses both external (bahiranga) and internal (antaranga) thereby bridging the space between the body and the mind. The process involves relaxation, centralization, visualization and wariness.
Dharana and Dhyana
This method starts with concentration and progresses to a constant flow of meditation. It takes you to a transcending world of mesmerization.
This is the final stage of yoga when a person completely gains control over all his senses. He attains a divine position, which is above the worldly desire.