Yoga is a Sanskrit term which means ‘Union’ or ‘Harmony’. The practice of Yoga results in the union of body and mind. Yoga and stress relief are not a newly related phenomenon. Yoga is an ancient technique and a forgotten therapy which is being revived in this modern era. Practicing Yoga for stress management is part of all stress management programs. Though Yoga has its origin in the East, it is practiced world wide. Yoga doesn’t pertain to any religion. Any one in the world can perform yoga and still follow their religion.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice of controlling body and mind which originated in India a few thousand years ago. It is a practice by which there occurs a physical and mental harmony. The Yoga that is practiced all over the world is actually called ‘Hath Yoga’ a component of the wholesome Yogic practices. There are many sections in yogic practices which have got different implications.
The different sections of Yoga are
Bhakthi Yoga – It is way of devoting love and faith to God
Karma Yoga – It is related to selfless services
Kriya Yoga – It is concerned with rituals and related religious activities.
Kundalini Yoga – It is related to releasing the piled up energy by chanting sacred words.
Hatha Yoga – It is related to exercise induced health and vitality.
Gnana Yoga – It is related to knowledge
Raja Yoga – It is the highest form of Yoga
Acu Yoga – It is a new addition and it is a hybrid variety of modern yoga.
The Classical Yoga or the Ashtanga Yoga
This is the type of yoga as described by the scholar Patanjali during the 1st century B.C. This consists of 8 parts or limbs. They are
Yama – meaning restraining from evil acts like stealing, violence etc
Niyama – means Observance of purity , contentment, tolerance
Asana – means posturing and physical exercises
Pranayama – means breathing control. Prana is the life force which enters the body with the breath and which is metabolized from the foods we eat.
Pratyahara – means withdrawal of senses from external objects
Dharana – means concentrating on a particular object for a specific time
Dhyana – means meditation
Samadhi – means self realization
The outcome of Samadhi is called Kaivalya which is the final thing achieved in Yoga. The first five limbs are called the external limbs and the next three limbs are called the internal limbs.
The whole concept of modern yogic practices revolves around three components or limbs of the total of the above mentioned eight limbs.
* Yogic postures or Asanas
* Yogic breathing or Pranayama
* Yogic meditation or Dhyana
The postures are designed to exert maximum pressure on different glandular structures so as to keep the body healthy. Prayanayama is done to get the maximum oxygen. By proper posturing and breathing the body gets ready for meditation which is done for harmony of mind and body so that the ultimate goal of peace is attained.
Yogic Postures or the Asanas
Asanas can be considered science of body physics. Wrong and bad postures causes stress in the body by inhibiting the flow of energy and by accumulating toxic products inside. All kinds of body aches are said to be due to bad posturing and the subsequent accumulation of toxic products in the body. By performing yogic postures there is a free flow of energy in and out of the body which helps in the proper functioning of the body and the subsequent relief of muscle tension. Among the different asanas the following are very popular.
Goal of yoga:
The goals of yoga are varied and range from improving health to achieving Moksha. The goal of yoga is to be “consciously conscious” so that your actions are wholehearted and balanced. You begin to sense a largeness, a vastness to the dimension of your consciousness. The goal of yoga is to unite your sense of a limited and finite personal self with your capacity as part of the unlimited spirit and consciousness.
The goal of yoga is to have a “union” between our various parts into a whole which has integrity, power, and effectiveness. If your legs go one direction, your torso a different direction and your mind another direction, you will waste a tremendous amount of energy fighting yourself. This inner fight is the normal condition we find ourselves in. You want to give a lecture but an inner voice warns you of failure. The two emotions of fear and determination battle each other to control your action.