Yoga, the science of man, based on ancient Indian knowledge and culture, is an art of living a healthy, balanced and happy life. Yoga is not simply closing one’s eyes or sitting in a posture. It involves development of thoughts and approach to life. It is therefore, not enough to think of Yoga but to do it and to live in our lives. The Word YOGA is now being familiar almost all around the Globe. Now a days, if we go to any part of the world we are going to see that the people are familiar with yoga and even many of them are practising Yoga in their Daily Routine for Staying Healthy and Young without any problem. But It is really sad to say that still almost 80% of the people don’t know the exact meaning of Yoga and also the Ultimate Goal of Yoga. Acharya Patanjali is one of the famous Identity being associated with Yoga. According to his definition on Yoga, he says –
“ Yoga is going to cure all the problems of body and mind and makes person healthy. “
- But the Question here is, Why the person should be Healthy ?
The most common answer will be to enjoy the life thus want to remain healthy. Thus the Ultimate aim is Enjoyment.
- Again the Question arises here, what is real Enjoyment? Is that Physical or materialistic enjoyment is the real Enjoyment?
And the answer is No. Physical or Materialistic enjoyment is not the real enjoyment as Enjoyment don’t have sufferings with them and all this Physical or materialistic enjoyments do have sufferings along with them. So the real enjoyment is that which is free from Sufferings and which is forever and endless and that enjoyment is in Gaining true knowledge , knowledge of Liberation or Moksha in which we are away from all the materialistic things with no attachment towards them and just willing to unite with the Almighty. This is Liberation and this will give us Real enjoyment. And to Get this Liberation or Moksha – One of the path is Yoga.
Thus the Aim of Yoga is-
Union of one’s soul with the almighty or the Supreme Power and that is called as Yoga.
So yoga is practised for ultimate goal of Liberation and very few people know this. Therefore, If a person is doing any work without knowing the thing like why and for what he is doing that particular work then that will be a foolish act ,also said by Famous Acharya Chanakya. So it is very important to know what one is doing ,otherwise that act is of waste.
According to Patanjali’s yoga sutra –
Yoga is done to make the body and mind free form diseases and remain healthy. And only a healthy body and healthy mind can attain concentration and control one’s sense organs and finally can enter the Stage of Samadhi for Liberation.
Types of Yogas –
There are different types of Yogas Like-
- Mantra Yoga
- Laya Yoga
- Hath Yoga
- Raj Yoga
- Ashtanga Yoga
So these are different types of yoga and also there are many more. Here we will be speaking on Ashtanga Yoga i.e. Eight paths of Yoga.
SHAD KRIYA (DETOXIFICATION PROCEDURE)
Before involving in Yoga , it is very important to clean the body and the mind from toxins which we are carrying with us. Thus this detoxification is very important as it will improve ones asana and pranayama (yoga) experience. The Shad Kriyas or purification practices are –
- Neti– This is nasal cleansing procedure. In this process plain water is poured into one nostril through a specially designed Vessel and automatically it comes out through the other This is called as Jal Neti as here Jal ( Water ) is used. Apart from this Sutra-neti,which is an alternative to Jal Neti, is also done where a fine thread is taken inside one nostril and then pulled out of the mouth through the throat. Sutra means Thread.
- Dhauti– This is the digestive system cleansing process in which a fine piece of muslin cloth is soaked in salted water then being swallowed and re-gurgitated. It is very difficult to practice and need to be learnt and done under proper guidance. The alternate way forth digestive system cleansing process is by drinking lukewarm salt water and then Vomit out and clean the digestive system.
- Nauli – This is the process in which deep inhaling and exhaling is done along with pulling of abdominal muscles.
- Basti– This is the process in which the large intestine is cleaned up . It involves drawing water in to the lower intestine via the anus through enema and then expelling the toxins through the anus.
- Kapalbhati – This is respiratory exercise for the abdomen and diaphragm which helps to eliminate toxins also.
- Trataka – This is the process of strengthening weak eye muscles, relieving eye strain and curing of eye disease. In this the person has to gaze at a particular point or looking at an object with awareness. Like looking at the candle light in dark room for a while from a particular distance.
So after these Six Body Cleansing process the Ashtanga Yoga is done.
The Ashtanga Yoga is called as ashtanga as it has eight path or steps. These are :-
1. Yamas —— These are the Moral Codes
2. Niyama —— Self study and purification
3. Asanas —— Body postures
4. Pranayama —— Breathing exercises or can say breath control
5. Prathyahara —— sensory control
6. Dharana —— Are the Intensions
7. Dhayana —— Meditation or enhancement of concentration
8. Samadhi. —— Is Contemplation
Yoga had recognize and accepted the importance of the mind and the subconscious over the total human personality much earlier than the modern psychology did in its present form. Yoga is step wise, stage wise eightfold path to final liberation from pain and suffering. These steps progressively takes us to the highest state of creativity, of discriminative knowledge and towards attaining the desired perfection. So step by step one can move ahead to the ultimate aim of Yoga that is Liberation.Thus, after the body detoxification yama is to be done, followed by Niyamas and so on. Now we will explain one by one each.
Yoga is more than just a physical discipline. It is a way of life—a rich idealistic path. And the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances) are ten good guidelines for leading a healthier, happier life for bringing spiritual awareness into a social context. They are for you to think about and ponder over with a rational mind, because yoga is not about mindlessly accepting externally imposed rules—it is about finding the truth for yourself—and `connecting` with it.
Yamas are the moral Codes which teaches us how to interact with the outer world, the social disciplines and our relationships with others. These five are:
- Ahimsa (non-violence),
- Satya (truthfulness),
- Asteya (non-stealing),
- Brahmacharya (celibacy) and
- Aparigraha (non-covetousness)
– Ahimsa or non-violence means it is the awareness and practice of non-violence in thought, speech and action. It advocates the practices of Sympathy ,love, understanding, endurance ,self-love, and worthiness. Thus we must and should practice the non-voilence and spread love all around.
– Non-stealing or Asteya means not following greediness and jealous . It advocates the development of a sense of completeness and self-sufficiency in order to progress beyond base cravings.
– Celibacy means Following Brahmacharya .It is believed to be a behaviour, which brings man nearer to the Divine. Thus following celibacy means avoiding all sensual pleasures, whether mental, vocal or physical.
– Aparigraha – Apari graham means not having the desire for other’s wealth .It can also be said as non-accumulation of worldly objects, caused by greed and attachment.
The niyamas are the second step of Ashtanga Yoga. The niyamas are about self-regulation—helping us maintain a positive environment in which to grow. Five Niyamas are-
- Shaucha or purity,
- Santosha or contentment,
- Tapa or austerity,
- Swadhyaya or self-education and
- Ishwar-Pranidhan or meditation on the Divine.
– Shaucha – Means Purity. Here it implies both internal as well as External purity. As it is said , water purifies the body; truth purifies the mind; true knowledge the intellect and the soul is purified by knowledge and strictness. It advocates the practices of intellectual purity, purity of speech and of the body.
– Santosh – Santosh means satisfaction which can be described as not desiring more than what one has earned by his honest work. This state of mind is about maintaining calmness . Santosha involves the practice of appreciation and joyfulness— and maintaining calm at all costs. This state of mind does not depend on any external causes.
–Tapa – It means Strictness. Tapa can be described as power to stand the urge of thirst and hunger, cold and heat, discomforts of place and postures, and ritual fasts. It also maintains that the perfect man is he who practices both mental as well as physical strictness.
–Self-education or swadhyaya means studying Spiritual text. These can be studying, the Vedas and Upanishads together with the recitation of the various mantras like Gayatri Mantras.
–Ishwar-Pranidhan – Means spending some time towards God or the Amighty. This can also be described as the dedication of all our actions, performed either by intellect, speech or body, to the Divine. The human mind can simply aspire to realize the Divine through devotion, purification and concentration of the mind.
Benefits – The Yamas and Niyamas helps in respecting the values of this life, in balancing our inner growth with outer command .In short they help us to lead a conscious life.
The Asana are the body postures done in harmony with one’s inner consciousness. The aims of this are to attain a constant and comfortable sitting posture to assist meditation. Asanas also help in balancing and harmonizing the basic structure of the human body, which is why they have a range of therapeutic uses too.
The asanas are so designed as they will help to release pressure, improve flexibility and maximize the flow of vital energy. The purpose of the asanas is to create a flow of positive energy.
The regular practice of Asanas has an immense amount of therapeutic value. Besides various physiological benefits, they positively affect our minds, our life force energies as well as our creative intelligence.
Regular practice helps to keep our body fit, controls cholesterol level, reduces weight, normalizes blood pressure and improves the performance of the heart.
Thus there are various Asanas for different diseases which have a great Therapeutic value.
For the Beginners, simple postures are advised and definitely all these have to be learnt under the guidance of the Yoga Teacher.
Pranayama` means breathing exercise. The word Pranayama is made from two word (`prana` and `yama`). Prana means life and Yama means To maintain. Thus the word Pranayama means the maintenance of prana ( life ) in a healthy way throughout one’s life. More than a breath-control exercise, pranayama is all about controlling the prana or life process.
Ancient yogis, who understood the essence of prana, studied it and devised the methods and practices to master it. These practices are better known as pranayama.
Pranayamas are going to nourish the brain cells thus making the person more relaxed and calm by removing all the stress.
Few Pranayamas are mentioned below –
- Anuloma – Viloma
- Agni saar
- Kapal Bathi
Thus these are the few parnayamas, and the detail explanation of each will be explained in some other section.
There are usually three steps in Pranayamas –
- Inhalation or puraka,
- Holding or Khumbhak
- Exhalation or rechaka,
Benefits of Pranayama
There are so many advantages of practising Pranayamas .The practices of these breathing exercises influence our energies. Most of us don’t know the correct way of breathing breathe as we usually use only half of our lung capacity to breath .Thus Pranayama is a technique, which re-educates our breathing process, helps us to release pressure and develop a relaxed state of mind. It also balances our nervous system and encourages creative thinking. In addition, by increasing the amount of oxygen to our brain it improves mental clarity, alertness and physical well being.
Pratyahara means Sensory control. Pratyahara involves right use of our senses. Here we are trying to learn to concentrate inwards rather then outside world. By following pratyahara we are trying to focus inside our body and trying to converge our sense organs inwards rather then outwards. It involves reining in the senses for increased attention rather than distraction. Pratyahara may be practiced with mantra meditation and visualization techniques.
Dharana is going to improve the concentration level. The last three Steps are three essential stages of meditation. Dharana helps to developed and extend our powers of concentration. This consists of various ways of directing and controlling our attention and mind-fixing skills, such as concentrating on the chakras or turning inwards.
Dhyana means meditation. This is a state where the mind attains the ability to hold its concentration on particular point without getting distracted from it. In this stage the person is not at all awards it goal. This state rightfully precedes the final state of Samadhi.
Samadhi can be called as Transconsciousness. This is the stage where one comes in contact with the True Self and merge into the object of concentration. In this state of mind, the perceiver and the object of perception combines through the very act of perception—a true unity of all thought and action. This is the ultimate aim of `yoga` i.e. union of Soul and the universal Soul ! i.e. almighty.
Thus this was the brief description of the Yoga. There is so much in this branch of science which we will try to bring in front of you slowly and gradually.