Yoga is a traditional and cultural science of India. It is nearly 5,000-10,000 years old. It is considered both as an art as well as science from the past till now. It is an ancient practice evolved by the sages of India. It consists of eight stages of development in a step by step manner. It effects all the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of our life. Yoga is a physical system with a spiritual basis.
“Yoga” or “Yog” is a Sanskrit word which derives its origin from the root word “Yuj”. It has two main meanings—union (yujyati) and concentration (samadhau). In the sense of union, it means to combine, connect or join together the individual soul with the universal soul. The second sense of concentration means complete control over one’s senses and reach the state of pure awareness(Samadhi). It is one of the six great philosophies (shad darshans) of India. It is an ancient system of philosophy, lifestyle and techniques that helps in evolving the whole personality of a person.
DEFINATIONS OF YOGA
The word ‘’Yoga is defined by various people in different ways. It refers to different things in present times.
Ahirbudhyana samhita is an ancient scripture which defines yoga for the first time. It defines yoga as samyoga yoga itiyukto jivàtma paramãtmanah—Yoga is the union of the individual self (jivàtma) with the universal self (paramãtma).
A great sage Patanjali defines yoga as’’ yogaha chitta vritti nirodhah’’ which means the stoppage of all mental modifications. These modifications of the mind or chitta are called vrittis. In other words yoga is a mental discipline for keeping the fluctuations of thoughts under control, so that the consciousness (citta)is kept in a constant and stable state(stambha vritti).
In bhagwada geeta yoga is defined as samatvam yoga uchyate which means that yoga is a state of perfect balance or equanimity. A person practicing yoga remains at peace under all circumstances.
Yoga is also defined as yoga karmasu kaushalam which means yoga is skill in action. Yoga means union or integration of human personality.
BENEFITS OF YOGA ON OUR BODY
Regular practice of yoga brings about a complete transformation in our body .it helps in maintaining weight, makes our bones strong and lowers many ailments like heart disease, blood sugar level in diabetes, blood pressure and stress levels. It also improves our sense of balance , brain function, lung capacity and sexual functions. It provides relief in anxiety, reduces chronic neck and back pain. It also increases flexibility and changes gene expression.
YOGA FOR HEALTH, WELLNESS AND STRESS MANAGEMENT
Health and wellness are two factors that are closely linked with the lifestyle of an individual. Yoga provides the main basis of perfect health and wellness due to its comprehensive and holistic nature. Principles of yoga help its practitioners to develop and improve their health and deal with all kinds of stress in an effective way. A new concept called yogic “health insurance” can also be achieved by changing our perception about stress, improving our reaction towards stress and dealing with repressed stress in an effective way. The practice of yoga helps in reducing stress by various relaxation techniques. The three main elements of an individual i.e., body, mind and breathe of an individual are improved by practicing yoga, as they are likely affected by stress. Prayer and meditation are two powerful techniques used for stress management and as an alternative medicine.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF YOGA
Yoga is the physical, mental, social and spiritual disciplined way of life. It is a way and view of life. Its philosophy and its practices aim at a balancing the different dimensions of human personality like mind, body and spirit. The main aim of yoga is to attain self-realization (moksha, kaivalya or nirvana) it is a state in which one is completely free from all miseries and sufferings of life. Yoga has many benefits in improving the overall quality of our life. The basic goal of yoga is gain balance and control in one’s life, to free oneself from all kinds of anxieties and stress and to provide a state of calmness. It comes from the regular practice of yogic asanas and pranayama or the breathing practices. The practice of yogic asanas help to overcome the limitations of the body. Yoga helps in reorienting and renewing the body both from inside and outside. It also relaxes the mind from all the ill effects of our modern life.
The different paths of yoga are based on different concepts and are reached by various methods. All of the different types of yoga lead to the same goal, that of self-realization. Our gross body which is the seat of the soul realizes its true identity by the practice of yoga.
Practice of yoga brings about a change in our life style and a complete transformation in our overall personality. It increases the longevity of our life.
The science of yoga is about training and transformation of mind and all other aspects of man. It helps the human being to go beyond the qualities of nature and experience perfect bliss.
The basic principle of yoga in our life is religious freedom and constant peace. Yoga is a universal dharma.
Yoga is not related to any particular religion. It is the cause of spirituality and timeless wisdom, the basis of all religions. Yoga is beyond all religions and shows the way to unity.
For more details on yoga kindly refer the following texts:-
- Patanjali Yoga Sutras
- Bhagwad Gita
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika