Yoga is an ancient practice that helps create a sense of union in body, mind, and spirit. It brings us balance. Yoga is a complete science of life that originated in India many thousands of years ago.
Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the classical language of India. The Word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root Yuj (To Join, to concentrate one's attention on) meaning to bind, join, attach and Yoke to direct and concentrate one's attention on, to use and apply. Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy. It was compiled and systematically co-coordinated by mahashi Patanjali in his classical work, the Yoga Sutras, which consists of 185 terse aphorisms. So Mahashi Patanjali is regarded as the pro-founder of Yoga Philosophy. The System of Yoga is so called because it teaches the means by which the individual soul can be united to or be in communion with the God, and so secures liberation. According to yoga, true happiness, liberation and enlightenment comes from union with the divine consciousness. One who follows the path of Yoga is a Yogi.
Branches of Yoga
Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Tantra Yoga are considered the main yogas, but there are many other types. The various yoga practices are a methodology for reaching the same destination.
Hatha Yoga is the path of Physical Yoga is the most popular branch of Yoga. Hatha Yoga considered the body as the vehicle for the soul. Hatha represents opposing energies: hot and cold, male and female, positive and negative, similar but not completely analogous to yin and yang.
Bhakti Yoga is the Yoga of devotion. Bhaki Yoga teaches a person to have a devotion to God and all things through devotion to life and love.
Raja Yoga is the path of Yoga that focuses on meditation and contemplation. It is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga which was discussed in the Yoga Sutra. The Yoga Sutras are built on a foundation of Samkhya philosophy and the Bhagavad Gita.
Jnana in Sanskrit means "knowledge", Jnana Yoga deals with wisdom and knowledge "knowledge of the true self". Jnana Yogis use an open, rational and curious mind in studying the spirit. Jnana Yoga is the Quest for the Self. In Jnana Yoga the intellect is used as a tool to know about our true Self. To realize about our true self , Jnana Yoga probes the nature of the Self through the question "Who am I?"
“karma yoga” means “Path to Mergence with God through performing selfless service”. Karma Yoga is the science of action.
Tantra Yoga is the path of ritual and perhaps the most misunderstood path. Tantra is the knowledge concerning Tattva (Truth) and Mantra (mystic syllables). It utilizes rituals to respectfully experience the sacred in everything we do, not just sex though sex is a part of it.
Asana is such a dynamic position which helps the practitioner to balance the mind and body. It brings a superior balance and awakens the subtle energies of the body. It is not just a physical practice but a spiritual practice based on the fundamental vibrating energy of every human being.
The exercises (action) of Yoga are designed to put pressure on the Glandular Systems of the body, thereby increasing its efficiency and total health. It strengthens the spinal cord, energizes the inner cells and activates the whole nervous system. It allows us to use the body as an instrument of higher awareness, so that we can receive wisdom and knowledge.
Benefits of Yoga
At physical level
Improves muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina. Lowers fat, Improves circulation, Stimulates the immune system
Meditation keeps one young. Younger biological age i.e. one is younger than one’s chronological age.
Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
Lowers levels of chemicals associated with stress eg. cortisol and lactate.
It reduces the chances of tissue damage though, the free radicals are controlled.
Decreased high blood pressure.
Drop in cholesterol levels.
Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing. This has been very helpful to asthma patients.
And that's just the surface stuff. In fact, most of the benefits mentioned above are secondary to yoga's original purpose.
At mental level
Helps you relax and handle stressful situations more easily.
Encourages positive thoughts and self-acceptance.
Reduces stress and tension, anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness.
Boosts self esteem,
Improves concentration and creativity
Heals old traumas
Increases brain wave coherence. Harmony of brain wave activity in different parts of the brain is associated with greater creativity, improved moral reasoning, and higher IQ. Improves comprehensive ability and memory.
Enhances emotional stability.
Brings happiness and leads to vitality and rejuvenation.
At spiritual level
Builds comprehensive awareness.
Promotes an interdependence between mind, body, and spirit.
Helps you live the concept of “oneness.”
Creates sense of well being and calm.
Makes one to discover one’s true nature i.e. realizing one's self, in finding what one seeks - consciously or unconsciously.
Controls the mind.
Sets one free from one’s illusions and preconceptions that prevents from fulfilling oneself.
Attains the union between a person's own consciousness and the cosmic consciousness.
The Ancient Yoga seers perceived the physical body as a vehicle, with the mind as driver, the soul as one’s trueself, with action, emotion and intelligence as the three forces which pull the body-vehicle. The ancient yoga seers assemble an exclusive technique to bring the body, mind and soul together into one harmonious experience by balancing action, emotion and intelligence.
Yoga Exercise Ball When Exercise balls are used in yoga it is called as yoga ball exercise.
References and abstract of research papers published in international Journals on Therapeutic yoga. more...