In today’s competitive world every person is striving to achieve the best job, high salary package, latest car, newer electronic gadgets etc. and that too very quickly. The world is moving at a fast pace which leads to stress, anxiety, disappointment and depression. People don’t have time for themselves so how can we expect them to remember God.
Even after getting the materialistic pleasures, people suffer from insomnia and have to pop up tranquilizing pills to get a good night sleep. All this leads to physical and mental disharmony as well as lack of self-esteem. In short, we have built a web around us and to get out of it is a difficult task.
To all these problems there is only one solution, i.e. YOGA (yogabhyas). People think yoga is all about physical exercise, but yoga is far beyond that. Let us learn more about yoga-
What is Yoga?
YOGA is an art and science dedicated to creating a union between body, mind and spirit. Yoga establishes the connection between finite and infinite (जीव-परमात्मा). In short, it is about making balance and creating equanimity so as to live in peace, good health and harmony with the greater whole.
Yoga is a process of physical healing along with maintaining our senses stress-free, purifying the mind and connecting the soul with the supreme consciousness. We all are so much engaged in the materialistic world that we have lost control on ourselves. Yoga balances the mind and body and brings inner peace.
History/Origin of Yoga
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root ‘YUJ’. This means ‘union’ or ‘to connect’.
The origin of the word “yoga” goes back to the Vedic era when the Rishis (sages) wrote this sacred text in the form of Vedic hymns with the inspiration of God. The four Vedas were written namely- Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. Out of these four Vedas the world yoga was first mentioned in Rig Veda. Maharishi Patanjali promoted yoga in his book Yoga Sutra, around 5000 years back.
योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥ — Yoga Sutras 1.2
Many saints have spoken about yoga in different books. Lord Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita has elaborately told about the 3 forms of yoga – Gyan yoga, Karm yoga, Bhakti yoga.
Lord Krishna says –
योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय ।
सिद्धि-असिद्ध्योः समः भूत्वा समत्वं योगः उच्यते ||२-४८||
हे धनञ्जय ! तू आसक्ति को त्याग कर तथा सिद्भि और असिद्भि में समान बुद्भि वाला होकर योग में स्थित हुआ कर्तव्य कर्मों को कर, समत्व ही योग कहलाता है ।। ४८ ।।
Types of Yoga According to Rig Veda
1. HATHA YOGA- Hatha yoga, also called Hatha Vidya which focuses on physical and mental strength. Hatha yoga synthesizes elements of Patanjali’s yoga sutras with postures and breathing exercises.
2. MANTRA YOGA- Mantra yoga involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and the superconscious is clearly revealed and experienced.
3. LAYA YOGA- Laya yoga is an ancient form of meditation, with concentration on energy centers or chakras. A form of yoga that entails activation of the primal force of nature (kundalini), balancing of the body’s centers of energy (chakras) and purification practices (kriyas).
4. RAJA YOGA– Raja yoga is also referred to as the mental yoga, or the yoga of the mind, because of its emphasis on awareness of one’s state of mind. You can achieve this by following the eight fold path of raja yoga, which includes observation of the following:
- YAMAS (यम): SOCIAL ETHICS – Ahimsa (Non-Injury), Satya (Truth), Asetya (Non-Stealing), Brahmacharya (Chastity), Apragraha (Non-Greed)
- NIYAMAS (नियम): MORAL OBSERVATIONS – Susha (Purity), Santosha (Contentment), Tapas (Austerity), Svadhyay (Study of the Scriptures), Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrender to God)
- ASANA (आसन): Steady pose, posture or seat
- PRANAYAMA (प्राणायाम): Breathing exercises and control of prana
- PRATYAHARA(प्रत्यहार): Withdrawal of the senses
- DHARANA(धारणा): Concentration of the mind
- DHYANA(ध्यान): Meditation
- SAMADHI (समाधि): Enlightenment, union with the divine
Types of Yoga According to Bhagavad Gita
1. GYAN YOGA– Yoga of Knowledge.
2. BHAKTI YOGA– Yoga of Devotion.
3. KARM YOGA– Yoga of Actions.
Benefits of Yoga
- Inner peace- We all want a happy and peaceful life. Yoga asana, meditation and pranayama give us inner peace, strength and connect us to the supreme consciousness.
- Overall fitness– Yoga gives us a healthy mind and body by relaxing, renewing and rejuvenating the body cells. A healthy body and mind can be only maintained with yoga. It makes us relaxed, our senses come in control. This is what real fitness is and if we are fit, then we can live more happily, joyfully and enthusiastically.
- Fat burns- There are various ways to burn extra calories (fat) like jogging, cycling, swimming etc. But yoga asanas like salabhasana (locust pose), setubandha sarvangasana (bridge pose), utkataasana (chair pose) etc. for weight loss are an effective alternative because jogging, cycling and other ways are not for all age groups, as they are fast and loaded with fatigue. Yoga is slow, it takes time to master Yoga asanas but it is an effective process. It gives a slim body and smart look too.
- Improves immune system- Yoga is a natural immunity booster. Yoga helps in fighting against infections, by boosting our immune system, reducing stress and strengthening our body organs & their function.
- Improves posture and flexibility- I still remember my first day at Yoga when I was not able to touch my toes with my hands and my whole body was paining because of stiffness. Regular yoga stretches and tones the body muscles, body becomes flexible, strong and our body postures also improve.
- Reduces stress and depression- Stress and depression are the root cause of all the health problems. Yoga, Pranayama, meditation is the effective and proven way to reduce stress hormones. At least 30 minutes of yoga session releases happy hormones in the body- serotonin and dopamine, which relaxes & rejuvenates our mind and body.
- Controls blood sugar and cholesterol level- Yoga helps in lowering LDL cholesterol which is bad cholesterol and raises the HDL cholesterol which is good cholesterol. The practice of yoga improves the blood and oxygen flow in the body. Cholesterol rises greatly with stress. Kapalbhati, anulom- vilom, chakrasana, sarvangasana are the best asana and pranayama for this problem.
- Builds up Physical strength- Yoga helps in developing balance and strength in body. A regular practice of yoga can reduce the risk of injuries and fractures of bones. In yoga asana we move and twist the body in many directions. Daily yoga practice builds up power and stability of the body.
- Improves focusing power- Yoga focuses the mind and brings control over the senses and body (5 gyan indriya + 5 karma indriya) success be it spiritual or worldly can be achieved only when the mind is focused , the senses are in control and the physical body is healthy.
- Protects your spine- wrong body postures lead to backaches, and deformity in spinal curvatures. Yoga asana like reedsanchalan asana (spinal twists), bhujangasana (cobra pose), salabhasana (locust pose), are very good for the backbone.
- Increase blood flow- Different kinds of yoga postures and breathing practices improve the circulation of blood in the body. Better blood circulation, transport oxygen and nutrients to each & every cell of the body which keeps the internal organs and healthy.
- Normalize blood pressure (B.P.)- Main two reasons of blood pressure problem are 1. Stress 2. Lack of exercise. Yoga is the perfect solution to manage these two problems. Kapalbhati, anulom-vilom, bhastrika are the best pranayama and balasana (child pose), vajrasana, pawanmuktasana are the best asana for blood pressure problem.
- Relax your system- Yoga relaxes our body, mind and soul. Yoga asana, pranayama, meditation fills the whole body with universal energy. Relaxed mind is the house of positive thoughts. With the relax body we live more happily.
- Helps you to sleep well- sleep is very necessary to refresh ourselves. People don’t get proper sleep because of many reasons like workload, stress, competition, tension. Yoga reduces the stress hormones. It keeps our body and mind relaxed so that we can sleep well.