The meaning of Yoga is to connect the Soul with God. Moksha (Salvation), freedom from all types of pain by living a balanced life is the ultimate goal of Yoga. Doing away with mundane and trivial desires arising in the mind is Yoga.
Yoga is a technique through which man exercised control over his physical and mental being, to attain hitherto unachieved states of bliss and to be able to conjecture on God or The Supreme Soul, the Parmatma, and to dwell upon the creation and existence of this world. Yoga offers a path to final Salvation as well as a more temporal kind, temporal in terms of relieving unhappiness, the kind that certainly results from poor health.
The practice or process of Yoga are very beneficial for the maintenance of health. It helps to maintain both physical and mental health, which cannot be done by either taking pills or drinking potions. Yoga helps one overcome mental depression as well as attain equilibrium between body and soul. It increases the capacity to work and benefits the brain by increasing retention power and memory.
Yoga is known as Astanga or eight-faceted Yoga and these eight facets are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Yama: It stands for Ahimsa, benevolence to all living beings, respect and tolerance and objectivity in all feeling, doing and observing.
Satya (Truth): One must always speak and think truthfully.
Asteya (Abstaining from Stealing): One who overcomes such act is showered with precious stones.
Brahmacharya (Celibacy): It is when the mind fuses with the Parabrahma or the highest level of consciousness. Brahmacharya would include doing away with: thinking about sexual partners, singing about attractions, about ladies, meeting, interacting with other potential partners, other ladies, coitus and voyeurism, viewing entertainment with titillating content, reading books or discussing or viewing material with pornographic content, and Kriya Nispathi.
Rutu Kala: One must not indulge physically with any other than one’s lawfully wedded wife or husband and that too only during Rutu Kala, the period which starts on the fourth day after menstruation and ends on the sixteenth.
Aparigraha: Although enjoyable, many things we do and are addicted to, such as some of the foods that we eat, are not good for us and must be given up.
Niyama: It encompasses the five concepts of Cleanliness, Contentment, Penance, Swadhyaya and Ishwari Pranidhana.
Santoshadanuttama Sukha Labha; to be truly happy and contented is a state of mind.
Vidhinoktera Margena Kricchra Chandra Yanadibhi:|
Sareera Soshanam Prahu Stapa Sasta Pa Uttanam||
This advocates leading an austere life.
Karyendrisiddhirasuddhi Kshaya Staasa:|
Practice the Vedas and Mantras of which the Gayatri Mantra is the root, strictly in accordance to the procedure prescribed in the Shastras.
Kamatos Kamatospi Yatkaromisubhasubhi|
Tatsarvam Twayivinyasya Twatparata Yuktaha karomyoham||
One should devote one’s soul to God and dedicate one’s work to Him regardless of whether one’s work brings any material gains.
Samadhi Siddhirswareeswara Pranidhanath|
By practicing Yama and Niyama and the Asanas of Yoga, one is able to gain control of one’s body, mind and soul, and thereby gain control over disease.
When the focus of practice is on the Antaratma, the inner spirit of the soul, it is called Hathayoga, and when this focus is on the Atma or one’s own mentality, it is called Rajayoga.
To sum up, the Yoga Asanas help to condition the body, the mind and the soul so that one can overcome impervious to disease, but before Asanas may be practice, a suitable state of mental readiness must be achieved.
The practice of Yoga involves the imposition of considerable self-discipline in one’s diet and in the activities one pursues. A Satvic diet is advocated for those who wish to take up Yoga as a practice. The practitioner’s diet must consist of foods that are healthy and provide strength and well-being, foods of the quality comparable to those that are offered to Gods.
Yoga may be practiced at various levels, and so, it is a beneficial activity. The place for practicing Yogasanas must be clean and airy but not windy. It should not be performed in an unclean or offensive smell area and also never on the roof or in a basement.
Before the conclusion of the session, the practitioner should have work up a light sweat. At this stage, he or she should rub down the perspiration on the body itself before bathing. At the conclusion of a session of Yogasanas, the body should not be exposed to breeze for at least an hour, otherwise it will sap strength. Perspiration should be rubbed down on the body itself, before a bath in tepid or hot water. One should not be on a fast or without nourishment when practicing Yoga. Yoga practitioners should respect and obey God, their elders, the Gurus and parents.
The practice of Yoga is beneficial for all ages and genders, from the time when a child is about eight years old. Practice of Yoga is not advised for pregnant women. Regular practice of Yogasanas rejuvenates the body. It gives relief to ailments of both the body and the mind.
Asanas in Yoga and their Benefits:
The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara):
A proper starting point for the practice of Yoga is the Surya Namaskara or a salutation to the sun. The Sun Salutation provides happiness to the body, the mind and the senses. It is good for the heart. The regular performer will live long, be hale and hearty, with a strong and a sturdy body and keen intellect.
This exercise will reduce the formation of phlegm in the chest and throat. It is also beneficial for the heart, lungs and the cardiovascular system, besides strengthening the chest and the back.
It improves the consciousness and the intellect, and brings about mental stability. On the physical level, it will reduce the fat in the thighs.
This exercise stimulates the thyroid glands and the genitalia of both males and females. It is also useful in conditions of haemorrhoids, hernias and menstrual disorder. But it is not to be practiced by people suffering from cervical spondylitis.
It provides benefits to sufferers of bronchial asthma and Diabetes Mellitus.
This exercise is good for developing the ligaments of the back and beneficial for the sufferers of backache. It also benefits those with cough and respiratory disease, besides ridding the body of fat or adipose tissue around the abdomen.
This exercise is meant for the relief of stomach disorders and to improve digestion.
This exercise, which culminates in a headstand, enhances blood supply to the brain, besides providing a high level of conditioning to the body. It stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands and is good for relieving a condition known as orchitis, as well as dysfunction connected with virility. It enhances blood flow to the brain and so benefits all brain functions. But it is not to be practiced by people suffering from high blood pressure, otitis media and eye diseases.
It is good for relieving alleviated levels of blood pressure, inducing sleep and maintaining a tranquil state of mind, and creating a sense of peace.
It provides the benefits of relieving stiffness in the knees and legs and in relieving oedema.
It improves digestion, relieve constipation and stimulates the pancrease, this exercise helps the wrist joints to relax and strengthens the arms.
This exercise promates abdominal secretions, relieves indigestion and digestive disorders and conditions the muscles of the abdomen.
It relieve constipation and digestive complications.
This exercise brings relief to stiffness and pain in the back and the joints.
This serves to stimulate the nervous system, and also provides benefits for conditions of asthma, constipation and diabetes. But it should not to be practiced by people suffering from stomach ulcers, slipped discs and heart disease.
This helps the lower limbs to shed fat while removing stiffness in them. It is also good for the stimulation of the circulatory system and the mind.
It shapes the thighs and is beneficial for the bladder and the genitor-urinary system.
This is an exercise for the throat, the salivary glands and for sufferers of tonsillitis.
It is a classic pose for meditation adopted by multitudes of sages over the years.
It is helpful for those suffering from constipation and retention of urine.
This exercise is beneficial for the spinal cord, in treatment for abdominal disease and it aids in digestion.
Facets of Yoga (Samadhi):
This is the eighth facet of Yoga, enabling the practitioner to reach a state from which salvation is possible. This is the ultimate objective of the practice of Yoga. Samadhi can take two forms:
Samprajnata Samadhi: Samadhi achieved by spurning attachments to the material world is called Savikalpa or Samprajnata Samadhi.
Asamprajnata Samadhi: It is the point of conclusion, when the mind dissociates from the material world, all the afflictions vanish along with image, sight and senses.
Classification of Yoga:
There are a number of ways of developing consciousness. All are Yoga of one sort or another. They may be classified as:
1. Jnanayoga: Attaining realization through knowledge.
2. Karmayoga: Attaining realization through action.
3. Bhaktiyoga: Attaining realization through devotion.
4. Mantrayoga: Attaining realization through Mantra.
5. Rajayoga: Attaining realization through meditation.
6. Hathayoga: Attaining realization through practice and meditation.
Thus, with Yoga, both mental efficiency and activity improve. Yoga preserves and protects health by producing antibodies in the blood and by regulating the mind.
In the modern world, with pollution in air and water and declining nutrition in foods due to adulteration and synthetic production, health threats abound. Yoga and meditation are proven to have beneficial effects on health and this is gaining worldwide recognition and popularity.