The word ‘yoga’ means ‘to add’, ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. Yoga is a practical aid involving controlled breathing, prescribed body postures and meditations. It originated in ancient India. It has been practiced for thousands of years. The development of yoga started almost 5000 years ago.
The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest available text- the Rig Veda.The vedas were ancient texts containing rituals and mantras to be used by Vedic priests. Over the years yoga has evolved into its modern version. It does not belong to practices of any particular religion or sect, but is a way of life.
Traditionally yoga was developed and practiced to clear one’s mind and make body flexible, in order to allow the practitioner to sit and meditate without worrying about the stiff back or clogged thought process.
Yoga is not just about the physical exercises like the postures and asanas. There are many more aspects to it. It also involves breathing techniques and meditation which have tremendous positive effects at the mental and emotional levels. It is a completely natural and holistic way to achieve optimum health.
Some of the aspects of yoga are:
- Balancing of physical body leads to balancing of emotions also.
- Forward bending postures develop understanding and flexibility to situations and people.
- Backward bending poses help in developing strength and courage to face the setbacks in life.
- Twisting exercises help by aiding in releasing all fears and inhibitions that block your progress.
- Pranayama increase the mental stamina.
Yoga has been developed into various forms differing on the benefits they provide and main techniques that are focused in that particular form. Some forms like Iyengar yoga, Hatha yoga, Hot yoga, Bikram yoga, Ashtanga yoga and Power yoga have gained lot of popularity over the years due to the illness controlling and treatment solutions they provide.
Even in its modern avatar yoga helps in achieving all round fitness and total personality development. It is a life style to integrate one’s body, soul and mind.
Some of the benefits of yoga are:
*Holistic package for complete fitness and health: yoga helps with pranayam(breathing techniques), meditation and physical poses, thus covering all aspects of health.
*Stress relief: yoga is a stress buster. It helps to dissolve tensions stored in the body and mind. It focuses on living in the present, without worrying about the future or thinking about the past. Yoga makes the mind calm and peaceful.
*Weight loss: There are several postures like sun salutations( surya namaskar) and breathing technique like kapalbhati pranayam that help in loosing extra weight.
*Improved immunity: yogic exercises help in building core strength and stamina, and reduced tension leads to increased protection against illnesses.
*Increased happiness and awareness levels: increased peace of mind results in higher satisfaction levels leading to more happiness. One hour of yoga a day will make rest of the 23 hours happier. Living in the present moment leads to living with more outside and inside awareness, connecting with your inner self at deeper level.
*Increased energy: In yoga, body is stretched with every posture you perform, leading to muscle increase and higher levels of energy all through the day. Few minutes of regular yoga keep you fresh all day long.
*Better flexibility and posture: Regular practice of yoga tones the muscles and also makes them strong leading to improved flexibility of the whole body .This also leads to a better posture when you stand, sit or walk.
*Better intuition:meditations increase concentration levels and focus. the intuitive abilities of the practitioner are also significantly enhanced.
On the occasion of international yoga day today, Let us embark on this journey of self, to the self through the self with yoga as a positive aid.
Let us include it in our lifestyle, follow it with sincerity and dedication by:
- Fixing a goal to practice it regularly and continuously.
- Choosing a proper time slot and sticking to it.
- Keep yourself constantly motivated. This can also be done by selecting a yoga Companion to do yoga with or doing it in a group.
Yoga transcends culture, age or religion and promotes overall unity.
“The highest form of yoga is called Raja Yoga- The king of yogas. So, to have a very deeply, orderly, moral, ethical life, not just merely performing various postures but to lead a very disciplined life, that was the real meaning of the highest form of yoga.” ~ J. Krishna Murti.