Yoga,the ancient Indian system of exercises
is renowned worldwide.Yoga is an applied science of
the mind and body. It comes from the Hindu Vedas.Practice
and study of it help to bring about a natural balance
of body and mind in which the state of health can manifest
itself.Yoga awakens the latent powers of mind and body
of the individual and helps him develop a focused, healthy
and powerful personality.The yogis consider that we
are all searching for happiness and that this is everybody's
main goal. It's just that most people settle for the
brief, watered-down version of temporary pleasures.
The yogis state that at some stage in our spiritual
evolution over many lives we will become dissatisfied
with brief, temporary pleasures and start our quest
for eternal bliss. Methods to achieve this were developed
and perfected by the yogis 1000 of years ago
Yoga itself does
not create health; rather, it creates an internal environment
that allows the individual to come to his own state
of dynamic balance, or health. Basically, yoga
teaches that a healthy person is a harmoniously integrated
unit of body, mind and spirit. Therefore, good health
requires a simple, natural diet, exercise in fresh air,
a serene and untroubled mind and the awareness that
main's deepest and highest self is identical with the
spirit of God. As a result, to many devotees, yoga becomes
a philosophy that offers instruction and insight into
every aspect of life: the spiritual, the mental and
the physical. Of course, because it is all-encompassing,
people who want to pick and choose from its smorgasbord
can do so without being disappointed. Yoga is equally
satisfying as a physical therapy alone.You can study
the yoga techincs from efficient teachersThey consider
that nature's laws are so designed that we must evolve.
The main mechanism nature uses in the early stages is
pain. When we find that relationships, money or alcohol,
for example, do not produce happiness or a sense of
purpose, we will start looking more deeply into life.
||Mind and Body Relation in Yoga
One basic assumption
of the Yoga Sutras is that the body and the mind are part
of one continuum of existence, the mind being more subtle
than the body. This is the foundation of the yogic view of
health. The interaction of body and mind is the central concern
of the entire science. It is believed that as the body and
mind are brought into balance and health, the individual will
be able to perceive his true nature; this will allow life
to be lived through him more freely and spontaneously
Yoga first attempts to reach the mind, where health begins,
for mental choices strongly affect the health of the body.
Choices of food, types of exercise, which thoughts to think,
etc. all affect the body. As practiced traditionally in India,
yoga includes a set of ethical imperatives and moral precepts,
including diet, exercise, and meditative aspects. In the West,
yoga focuses primarily on postures (gentle stretching exercises),
breathing exercises, and meditation. Yoga is frequently used
in Western medicine to enhance health and treat chronic disease
as well as stress.
Yoga therapy begins with relaxation. Living in an age
of anxiety, we are often unconscious of our tensions. We are
often depressed, tired, and an easy victim of diseases. There
are a number of reasons for our stressful life. Often it is
lack of rest, anxiety, tension and fatigue. These are constantly
draining our health energies continuously. Thus, the first
priority is to get us into a relaxed state. Yoga employs asanas,
pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation and/or visualization.
||Types Of Yoga
One of the features of yoga, which
can be confusing at first, is that a variety of forms of yoga
are practiced. Together, they are called yoga. While these
share common elements, some focus more on postures and breathing
exercises, whereas others have a greater focus on spirituality.
Each emphasizes a particular path that comprises a certain
set of beliefs, practices, and rituals. Yoga forms constitute
a ladder of sorts, from the "lowest" form of Hatha yoga, with
its focus on physical postures and breathing techniques, to
the "highest" form known as Raja, or "union by mental mastery."
Newer forms of hybrids of yoga are also proposed such
as Power yoga or Acu-yoga. There are also variations of yoga
depending on "the teacher that is being followed."
There are four paths of Yoga: 1) Jnana,
the path of knowledge or wisdom; 2) Bhakti, the path of devotion;
3) Karma, the
path of action; and 4) Raja,
the path of self control. Laya, Tantra or Kundalini yoga Integral
Yoga (Purna Yoga) Mantra yoga.
Hatha Yoga, which includes postures and breathing, and is
the form most popular in the West, is actually part of Raja
Yoga, the path of self control. The path most followed in
India is thought to be Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion.
Within Hatha Yoga there are many styles, such as Iyengar,
Astanga, Integral, Kripalu and Jiva Mukti, to name a few.
These Yogas all share a common lineage back to Patanjali's
Yoga Sutras, a text outlining the basic philosophy and practices
of Classical Yoga. It was written sometime between the second
century B.C. and the first century A.D
Postures are gentle stretching movements designed to
help balance the mind and body. The yoga postures are designed
to rejuvenate the brain, spine, glands and internal organs.
They work by increasing the blood and prana supply to these
areas and by stimulating them with a gentle squeezing action
The asana’s were designed with economy of time and effort
in mind. Most of them work on more than one aspect of the
body at the same time. For example, the twist asana benefits
the spine, adrenal glands, liver, pancreas and kidneys.
The yoga asanas produce their beneficial effect on the organs
and glands in three ways:
1. The position of the asana causes an increase in blood circulation
to the specific target organ or gland.
2. The position of the asana often produces a slight squeezing
of the organ or gland. This has the effect of massaging the
organ or gland and stimulating it.
3. Deep breathing and visualizing the target area sends an
extra supply of prana to the area.
||Healing Effects of Yoga:
Studies show that people who practice yoga have allow
people to control a wide range of body functions, including
Blood pressure, Body temperature, Brain waves (as measured
by EEG), Heart rate, Metabolic rate ,Respiratory function
,skin resistance, Reduced anxiety, And provide more resistant
to stress, have lower blood pressure, More efficient heart
function, Better respiratory function, and Improved physical
Yoga has been used for disorders such as:
Acid Stomach Addictions, Asthma: Backache Bronchitis
Cancer, Cold Constipation Depression Diabetes (not a cure!)
Emphysema Eyestrain Flatulence Headache Heart Disorders, Hypertension
(High Blood Pressure), Indigestion Insomnia Menstrual disorders
Migraines, Neurasthenia Obesity Premenstrual Tension, Prostate
troubles, Rheumatism ,Sciatica, Sexual debility, Sinus Skin
diseases, Sore throat Stress And Tension , Wrinkles
Properties of Yoga: Remain Young Forever!
According to yoga philosophy,
it's the flexibility of the spine, not the number of years,
that determines a person's age. Yoga slows down the aging
process by giving elasticity to the spine, firming up the
skin, removing tension from the body, strengthening the abdominal
muscles, eliminating the possibility of a double chin, improving
the tone of flabby arm muscles, correcting poor posture, preventing
dowager's hump and so on. Yoga lets you trade in characteristics
of old age for characteristics of youth.
Yoga is dynamite to make you
feel younger with heightened mental prow ness. Longer life
often results from following yogic ways of health maintenance.
When both external dangers and internal diseases and habits
leading to degeneration have been removed, one naturally lives
The result of hatha yoga is
simply to make men live long. Health is the chief idea, the
one goal of hatha yoga. He is determined not to fall sick,
and he never does. He lives long. A hundred years is nothing
for him; but he is quite young and fresh when he is one hundred
and fifty, without one hair turned gray."
The following are some of
the anti-ageing effects of yoga,Live
longer. Yoga affects all the important determinants of a long
life: the brain, glands, spine and internal organs. Increased
resistance to disease. Yoga produces a healthy strong body
with increased immunity against disease. This increased resistance
extends from the common cold to serious diseases like cancer.
Increased vitality due to yoga's effect on the brain and glands.
Rejuvenation of the
Yoga has a marked effect on
the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and sex glands. This produces
a feeling of well-being, prevents premature ageing and extends
sexual virility well into old age. Look and feelyounger. Yoga
reduces facial wrinkles and produces a natural 'face-lift'.
This is mainly due to the inverted ostures. By doing the inverted
postures for a few minutes each day, we reverse the effect
of gravity and use it to our advantage. The result is firmer
facial muscles, which cause a reduction in wrinkles, and a
natural face-lift. The
inverted yoga postures often convert gray hair back to its
natural color and they will certainly delay the onset of gray
hair. This is due to the inverted postures causing an increase
in blood supply to the hair follicles in the scalp. Also,
the increased flexibility of the neck produced by the asanas
removes pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the neck,
causing an even greater blood supply to the scalp. The release
of pressure on the nerves in the neck also causes the scalp
muscles to relax, since the nerves in the neck supply the
scalp muscles. This means that the hair follicles are better
nourished and thicker healthier hair is the result.Yoga
will take years from your face and add years to your life.
As you get older, you will take on an ageless appearance.
For Weight Reduction:
Does yoga help in weight management?
Most definitely. There are a number of factors involved. Firstly,
some of the asanas stimulate sluggish glands to increase their
hormonal secretions. The thyroid gland, especially, has a
big effect on our weight because it affects body metabolism.
There are several asanas, such as the shoulder stand and the
fish posture, which are specific for the thyroid gland. Fat
metabolism is also increased, so fat is converted to muscle
and energy. This means that, as well as losing fat, you will
have better muscle tone and a higher vitality level.
Secondly, yoga deep breathing
increases the oxygen intake to the body cells, including the
fat cells. This causes increased oxidation or burning up of
fat cells. ). Yogic exercises induce more continuous and deeper
breathing which gradually burns, sometimes forcefully, many
of the calories already ingested.
Thirdly, yogic practices that
reduce anxiety tend to reduce anxious eating. When under nervous
strain we tend to gulp our food without attaining much genuine
satisfaction. We end up in eating more. If, on the other hand,
we approach our meals with greater calmness of mood, whether
produced by habits which have calmed our life or by yoga (like
a pause for prayer before a meal), we tend to be less likely
to overeat in a frantic effort to quiet our midday anxieties.
Lastly, yogic aids may be
employed between meals whenever one becomes tempted to search
for a snack. One may deliberately turn to yoga, rather than
to the icebox or snack bar, when he feels the need for a lift
or relief from restless nervousness. Practicing yoga may make
you aware of your weight problem that may also act as a deterrent
If you are not overweight,
your weight will remain about the same. If you are underweight,
you will gain weight. The weight you gain will be healthy
firm tissue, not fat. That is, yoga will tend to produce the
ideal weight for you. This is due to yoga's effect of 'normalizing'
An article that appeared in
the San Francisco Examiner of October 13, 1959 shows that
the weight reduction potential of yoga was recognized in the
USA more than quarter of a century ago.
"Would you like to lose weight
without resorting to the miseries of dieting? Well, try the
miseries of Yoga exercises instead. One staunch advocate is
Metropolitan Opera star Robert Merrill, who has been practicing
these exercises for two years, and keeps trying to win converts.
In those two years he has lost twenty pounds and now he's
down to a trim, rhythmic-breathing one hundred and sixty,
even though he continues to eat like a lumber jack. 'At one
time I went on a lot of diets but just couldn't lose any weight,'
he said. 'Then along came Yoga and look at me now.' He punched
his hard flat stomach and started breathing through one nostril.
And to further demonstrate what it's all about, he did a little
flip and stood on his head. After that he showed the lotus
position, legs scissored under the body. Was he still breathing
through one nostril? Yes, the other one. 'If people weren't
so lazy they wouldn't have to worry about diets,' he said."
For those whose eating habits,
whether at meals or between meals, are believed to be due
to feelings of weakness rather than anxieties, most yogic
postures and breathing exercises are designed to increase
one's strength. Hence, they may relieve feelings of weakness
more effectively than additional eating. The exercises themselves,
although consuming some energy, also store up energy which,
when combined with oxidizing breathing, provide energy that
is ready for use rather than for storage.
Yoga and Mental Health
Those practicing yoga experiences
a number of factors that results in a profound effect on their
mental health. These can be classified under: reduction
of tension and restoration of pliability. "personal" and
1. Reduction Of Tension
Many people who practice yoga
speak of "freeing the mind from mental disturbances," "calming
the spirit," or "steadying the mind." Reduction of nervousness,
irritability and confusion, depression and mental fatigue
are some of the benefits experienced. One experiences a relief
from the pressure of his "compulsions." His nervousness, especially
any jitteriness, should subside or disappear.
The extent to which these
benefits may be expected will depend in part upon whether
or not one can approach and participate in them willingly
and wholeheartedly; for one who tries to practice postures
with anxiety cripples his chances for very much benefit.
2. Restoration Of Pliability
"The positive side of the
benefits from a full round of yogic exercises may be described
as renewal of mental agility. Both mood and capacity for alertness,
attentiveness and willingness to tackle problems revive. One
may not be able to rekindle boundless enthusiasm late in a
working day; early morning, or even noonday, efforts to recharge
mental energies can revive a full measure of willingness.
Traditional phrases, such as restored "spiritual vitality,"
intend to convey the complex idea of mental spryness, agreeableness,
resiliency, and feelings of confidence and self-sufficiency.
Some even testify to attaining feelings of buoyancy and euphoria;
these then provide a background or mood of well-being and
assurance such that one naturally more fully enjoys both his
ability and the worthiness of being more tolerant and generous."
Archie Bahm, ‘Executive Yoga’ Personal Values
a. Avoidance of fear:
Yoga is said to result in
the reduction of a variety of mental ills. These may range
all the way from vague feelings of frustration, persecution,
insecurity, on the one hand, to acute and specific types of
insanity, on the other.
Yoga is not a cure all for
all conditions. But its attack upon, and diminution of, some
basic mental ills may indeed be just enough to pay dividends
that grow in magnitude.
If, through use of yogic techniques,
we can merely halt and reverse some mental cancer, some compulsive
complex that keeps us chained to unrelenting, omnipresent
and gradually increasing anxiety, we may reset a course which
will bring us around to a healthier adjustment. We are all
at times insane. We are all, in some degree, insane. Overwhelming
waves of tension and stress, which may catch us in periods
of physical and mental exhaustion, can produce a spiritual
explosion which leaves us so helpless that we are at a loss
to know how it all came about.
By recurrent, regular efforts
to reduce tension through yogic exercises, we may stay and
finally reverse our tendencies toward insanity.
Most of us succumbs to fears
and anxieties – some valid and some purely imaginary. For
example, as one gets older, he begins to fear that his life
has not been sufficiently worth while, that he has fallen
short of his goals, that he has failed to attain his proper
ambition, that he has lost out in the race to keep up with
the Joneses or in his attempt to measure up "in the sight
of God"-however he happens to conceive his shortcoming.
Thus, when Ramacharaka, in
his ‘Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath’, says one may, by controlled
breathing, "practically do away with fear and worry and the
baser emotions," he refers to the growing ability of a devoted
practitioner to diminish the power which both momentary and
permanent fears have over us. One seeks to develop habits
of resistance to the disturbing effects of excitement, ambition,
antagonism and frustration.
The long-range goal of yoga
is not just momentary relaxation, but the living of a relaxed
b. Acceptance of Faith in
Life. The goal of yoga
is confident living. Its aim is to replace pessimism and its
varieties such as cynicism with a "Yea-saying" appreciation
of life, not only on any given day, but as a gracious, wonderful
whole. When you achieve the yogic spirit, then you can say
with the Stoics, "I accept the universe."
If you cannot accept all of
it, because some problems remain unavoidably troublesome,
then you will accept the troubles which you have as (1) yours
and (2) enough for you, without wishing you had still more
Poise, serenity, contentedness,
patience, assurance-all of these are positive mental values
attainable by anyone who has achieved a willingness to be
at peace with himself and the world. The confidence desired
is not just enough to do the day's work but enough to live
one's whole life and one can do his day's work more confidently
if he has already predisposed himself to living his life with
a person seeks through yoga not merely momentary mental agility,
but an agile life; not just momentary pliability, but a continuingly
pliable existence; not just momentary relief from disturbance,
but a permanently peaceful perspective.
Although not everyone who
undertakes to experiment with yoga can expect to achieve or
maintain the goal described by Shri Yogendra, Yoga: Personal
Hygiene, as "exuberant and exultant health, he should notice
the sun more often when it shines. Swami Sivananda pictures
the goal as "ecstatic joy" (Yoga Asanas).
Dechanet, a Roman Catholic
monk who was led into yoga by his Catholic predecessors, gives
a vivid account of how he uses yogic techniques as aids to
worship. He describes a "euphoria that pervades the story
of my experiment. I wish to make it clear that this euphoria
is real and lasting and spreads through the various levels
of my daily life, physical, Psychical and spiritual" (Christian
Yoga). Even though few of us will achieve anything like perpetual
exuberance, ecstatic joy or euphoria, attainment of a more
trusting outlook on life provides a spiritual soil from which
spiritual roses have a better chance to grow. The pragmatic
experimentalist will say: "Try it and see."
of sex is the same as of every other issue - moderation. Yoga
considers sex to be a natural function, very beneficial in
a loving relationship and, of course, essential for the continuation
of the human race.
against overindulgence in sex since they consider this will
deplete the life force. They state that the sexual secretions
contain very concentrated life force and nutrients, since
they contain the seeds of life. Depletion of life force results
in a reduced vitality level and reduced resistance to disease.
It also retards progress from the practice of yoga. A whole
field of yoga called Tandric Yoga or Kundalini Yoga is concerned
with harnessing the sexual power. Yoga enables one to get
into meaningful relationships and enjoy the process, at the
same time provides a path to use the powerful energy involved
consider that normal sexual function occurs when the reproductive
system is in a state of optimum health. They have found that
the most effective way of attaining this optimum health state
is by doing yoga asanas and breathing exercises. Those who
are physiologically weak and partially or wholly impotent
may restore potency as they regain their physical health.
Steadier practice of milder yogic exercises may yield results
when more vigorous bodybuilding workouts end in undue exhaustion.
Those who approach sexual matters nervously rather than relaxedly
may profit from previous relaxing yogic exercises.
suggest that a relaxed condition is one of the essentials
for a harmonious sex relationship because when hurried and
strained it leaves the couple (the woman especially) dissatisfied
and irritated, adversely affecting her entire well being.
Indra Devi, author of many books on yoga, remarked that "The
wives of several of my students have often told me that since
their husbands had taken up Yoga exercises, their marital
relationships had undergone remarkable changes."
that advanced yogis practice celibacy. They need every ounce
of their life force for their quest for cosmic consciousness.
They also know that the realization of their goal produces
eternal bliss, besides which the brief pleasure of sex pales
into insignificance. Their minds have progressed so far that
they are not prepared to settle for a watered-down version