Modern lifestyle has lost the harmony in mind-body relationship which has caused several stress-based diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart diseases and cancer. An attempt to prevent and treat these diseases triggered a search for better lifestyles and better strategies that converged on the rediscovery of ancient disciplines such as Yoga, combining lifestyles with potent infallible prescriptions for lasting mental peace as confirmed by clinical studies.
Yoga is the science of modern living, of right living, and should be incorporated into our daily lives. It is not just a two-hour hobby class once a week. Yoga has technical systems to help calm the mind, maintain resilience, harness physical and mental energies and to develop an integrated personality. It’s a way of balancing the emotions and establishing the harmony between the mind and body. A person can choose one or a combination of two or more from the many paths of yoga - hatha, bhakti, raja, jnana and karma yoga – according to their lifestyle. One can practice pranayama, asanas, relaxation, meditative and pratyahara techniques, as well as follow personal and social disciplines where possible. It is up to the individual to find which path best suits his/her needs, lifestyle and personality. Yoga can be practiced while leading a normal lifestyle, but with different aspirations, mentality and attitude towards oneself and the interactions in life.
Niyama is how you treat yourself or your attitude towards yourself. Following are the five Niyamas:
The Asanas are designed to relieve our mind and body from tension and stress. They relax, rejuvenate, and energize the body and aim to bring the body and the mind into a harmonious union. Asanas should be performed with comfort, ease, alertness and steadiness, achieving a balance between ease and effort.
Pranayama is the control of breath. The breath is regulated and controlled through the practice of breathing exercises. The duration of inhalation, retention, and exhalation of breath is regulated with the aim of strengthening and cleansing the nervous system and increasing a person's source of life energy. Pranayama practice also makes the mind calmer and more focused.
This occurs during meditation, pranayama or asana wherein you are so focused and immersed in Yoga, meditation or breathing pose, that you are unaware of all situations outside. Your focus becomes inward and you are no longer distracted by outside events.
Dharana is training the mind to focus without any distraction. To achieve this, you can focus your mind onto an object at a time. This can also serve as preparation for meditation.
Meditation is the practice by which there is constant observation of the mind. It means focusing the mind on one point, calming the mind in order to perceive the Self. It is an uninterrupted flow of concentration aimed to heighten one's awareness and oneness with the universe. It is also an important tool to achieve mental clarity and health.
This is the ultimate goal of the eight limbs of Yoga. It is characterized by the state of ecstasy and the feeling that you and the universe are one. It is a state of peace and completion, awareness and compassion with detachment.
The practice of Yoga does not only deal with developing the body but also covers all the aspects of a person's life as stated in the eight limbs of Yoga. It is about the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of an individual as well as his environment and relationship with other creatures. Real practice of these eight principles leads to deeper self-knowledge, love and respect towards other people and creatures, cleaner environment, healthy diet, and union with the Divine.
A human being is a physical, mental and spiritual being. Yoga helps promote a balanced development of all the three. Other forms of physical exercises, like aerobics, assure only physical well-being. They have little to do with the development of the spiritual or astral body.
The art of practicing yoga helps in controlling an individual’s mind, body and soul. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve a peaceful body and mind, helps manage stress and anxiety and keeps you relaxed. It also helps in increasing flexibility, muscle strength and body tone. It improves respiration, energy and vitality. Practicing yoga might seem like just stretching, but it can do much more for your body from the way you feel, look and move.