These days many people talk Yoga. Unfortunately, it has mainly practiced and taught with an emphasis on physical fitness. However, the true benefits of Yoga are its effects on the mind. The purpose of Yoga it to become liberated of the sufferings and afflictions of our material existence. Yoga is not merely a sport, gymnastics routine or a stretching regimen. It is much more than that; it is a path through which can achieve personal understanding and spiritual growth.
This book is an attempt to give a simple outline and basic understanding of the different paths of Yoga, its Philosophy and Practices. The relationship between Yoga and Ayurveda 'The Science of Life' is also described in a summarized way. According to the ancient seers of the Vedic period, complete Health is considered a state of awareness that relates to physical well being, a balanced mental constitution and the taste of true Spiritual happiness.
I was born and raised in The Hague, The Netherlands. My father Anll Kumar Mehta, introduced Ayurveda in Europe and has started a school of Ayurveda in The Netherlands. Thus I has hearing words like Yoga and Ayurveda since my childhood, never quite grasping the importance of these vague-sounding Sanskrit words. Before the ago of 18, I din't have much in Ayurveda as I did truly understand what it was. However whilst attending one of father's lecture's lectures, I realized that the absence of disease does not mean that a person healthy. A person needs to be happy, only then can a person be healthy. This concept sparked my interest in Ayurveda. The time spent studying as well as Yoga in India, has only reinforced my belief that happiness, an well as the absence of disease (through the balancing of the three Doshas) is the only way of attaining complete health.
Yoga & Ayurveda are sister sciences, they are highly compatible. Yoga, just like Ayurveda, is an ancient science that has a deep purpose other than just physical fitness. Yoga has been practiced in the West for over thirty years now, having been recognized in various different countries. However it has been practiced with an emphasis on physical fitness. The true benefits of yoga are its effects on the mind. Yoga is not a sport, gymnastics routine or as stretching regimen. It is so much more than that; it is a path through which is necessary for achieving optimal health as well as happiness. Yoga is beneficial for everyone, thus as a student of both Yoga and Ayurveda, I have realized that both of these ancient Vedic sciences are needed for attaining complete health (physical, mental and spiritual health) as well as true happiness.
The western world is becoming more and more inclined to adopt holistic and alternative medical practices. Due to the alarming rise of the effects of regular / modern treatment; whereby sometimes the side effects of the treatment are more harmful than the disease itself. Moreover, the psychic / mental faculty is poorly understood and is not given due importance in treatment, being left unattended by conventional modern medicine. Yoga affects both the mind and the body considerably, knowing that a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body for attaining complete health and happiness.
The word Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word Yuj means to join. The primary aim of Yoga is to create and maintain a harmony between the body, mind and soul. Yoga is one of the most beneficial sciences to arise from the East, as well as being a sister science to Ayurveda or the science of life.
Yoga is one of the six most popular Indian philosophical school as follows:
4. Yoga Meemansa
There are various kids of Yoga: Raja or Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, etc. There are practiced to achieve relaxation, relieving stress, strength and eventually and subjectively, The Hindu philosophy believes in the cycle of birth and rebirth till the outstanding dues Karma are nullified. This state of Moksha is achieved through Samadhi / Kaiwalya, which is the union of Jivatma to Paramatma.
Practicing Yoga reduces anxiety and depression, calms the mind, elates the mood, enhances focus and bring relaxation to the body. Yoga is especially effective in treating the disorders of the Mind, Nervous system, Alimentary tract, Respiratory tract, Musculoskeletal system and Immunity.
The Vedas are the source of all the knowledge found in ancient India. These ancient texts have knowledge of various aspects of Yoga. The sitting and standing postures for meditation and Yoga / fire rituals mentioned in the Vedas appear to be kinds of Yoga poses. Brahmanas – the ritualistic portions from Atharva Veda – mention, techniques of Pranayama (Breath control).
Patanjali (400 BC) is considered the Father of Yoga philosophy and wrote Yoga Sutra with 4 chapters and 196 verses. It mentions Yoga to be a practice of controlling the senses and mental activities for supreme bliss.
The Upanishads are another important set texts of wisdom and also contain descriptions of Yoga. The first appearance of the word Yoga is seen in the Katha Upanishad, written before Patanjali. Taittiriya Upanishad defines Yoga as a tool to control the body and sense, and Chandogy Upanishad describes the five kinds of Prana.
The epic Bhagavad Gita has given a lot of information on Yoga and meditation principles. The titles of all the 18 chapters carry a suffix Yoga. Many forms of Yoga as Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga are mentioned as separate chapters. Here the word Yoga refers to a compilation as well as indicating psychological stability and non-indulgence.
As we saw in the introduction, Yoga is one of the six schools of Darshan / Indian philosophy. Each has one Master; Patanjali being the one for the school of Yoga. Patanjali's Yoga advocates controlling the mind and is known as Raja Yoga. It closely follows the Samkhya School of philosophy. Patanjali mentioned eight important parts / stages to imbibe to imbibe Yoga as a way of life, thus Raja Yoga also came to be known as Ashtanga Yoga (Ashta means eight, Anga means parts).
The word Yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word Yuj which means to Join.
The word may have different contextual meanings as:
* A sum total in mathematics.
* A comnination of herbs in Ayurveda.
* A specific celestial positioning in Astrology.
The Bhagavad Gita describes Yoga as stability and freedom from suffering. A common derivation, Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam, is also given by bhagavad Gita, which means to be apt and expert in one's duties. In this continuation, Bhagavas Gita advises the philosophy of non-indulgence in the outcome of efforts and responsibilities. Another definition of Yoga by Bhagavad GIta is Samatvam Yogamuchyate, which means to be unfazed and stable during both the ups and downs of life.
Chitta Vritti (Tendencies of Mind)
Yoga Vritti Norodhah... is the definition given by Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, which means: the Yoga is to tame / control the mind. Chitta (mind) has vritti (tendencies) to wander and can get over imaginative, impulsive and restless. Yoga practices help tame (Nirodha) these weaknesses.
According to the 6th verse from the chapter Samadhi Pada of Yoga Sutra, the tendencies and interpretations of Chitta (mind), good or bad, are five:
1. Pramana (Valid Knowledge) is the evidence based correct knowledge
2. Viparyaya (False knowledge) is opposite to pramana
3. Vikalpa (Imagination)
4. Nidra (Sleep)
5. Smriti (Memory)
The human mind can interpret things under the influence of these five factors. These factors are not categorically good or bad but their application makes the difference. At times, there can be an abuse of valid knowledge. Sometimes, a false belief may be justified and relaxing. The same goes for the other three parameters.
Chitta Klesha (The Sufferings of Mind)
According to the 3rd Verse from the chapter Sadhan Pada of Yoga Sutra, the following five factors brings pain and suffering to the mind:
1. Avidya (Ignorace)
2. Asmita (Attachment)
3. Raga (Attachment)
4. Dvesha (Aversion)
5. Abhinivesha ( Indulgence)
These five are the mental obstructions leading to sorrow and suffering. These make one behave in an unjust way which results in the accumulation of bad Karma for life and the afterlives, becoming an obstruction towards Moksha. Avidya (Ignorance) is the source of the five hindrances, as ignorance alone triggers the other four Kleshas. Asmita (Ego) is a false interpretation of oneself, limiting the growth of the mind. This comes from faulty knowledge of oneself, as well as having the illusion of being separate and above the rest of the universe. Raga (Attachment) is an undue fondness of material objects and individuals whereas Dvesha (Aversion) is an undue disliking for what one has. Abhinivesha (Indulgence) makes one short-sighted and the bigger picture / ultimate goal is lost. With this vision of the world, death is seen as the biggest loss.
Hence these five need to be kept at bay. Acquiring true knowledge enables human being to understanding the universe, oneself as well as the freedom from undue attachment or aversion. On remains aloof from evils as a lotus leaf remains dry even in a water pond.
Present Relevance of Yoga
Yoga is a befitting solution to the stressful and chaotic life os the 21st century. The lifestyle of the majority of various populations has become much too hectic, leading to various physical psychological spiritual disorders; many of which regular healthcare does not have a solution for. True relaxation in required to deal with these circumstance, with Yoga being the most effective and beneficial method of attaining this.
The following are a few benefits of practicing Yoga:
* It is the most effective form of Preventive medicine.
* De-stressing is achieved with Yoga.
* Curative aspects against many disorders of the respiratory tract, alimentary tract, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, etc.
* Personality development comes from Yoga as one becomes socially more responsible and goes free of mental vices.
* Breath control through Pranayama has significant benefits and can help against physical problem, anxiety mental disorders as well as increasing the lung meditation.
* Pursuing Moksha is the ultimate goal of Samadhi, the eighth and last limb of Yoga. This is subjective; still the calmness and serenity is objectively visible in such an enlightened individual.
Bhakti Yoga (15)
Hatha Yoga (66)
Karma Yoga (29)
Kriya Yoga (59)
Kundalini Yoga (44)
Yoga For Children (9)
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