Yoga, an ancient Indian system of thought as well as practice, is very pertinent to the treatment and prevention of many physical and psychological disorders. It promotes our overall well being, of the body as well as the mind.
More and more people, not just in the East but also in the West, are adopting this system. There are many ways to go about it. Firstly, you should set up a time. Commit to yourself an hour in the morning or in the evening when you would do yoga. Next, you can find yoga instructors for yourself. They are available in most big cities around the world today. These instructors are people who have pursued courses in yoga and who follow this philosophy in their personal lives after having found some meaning in it. They give structured classes held in groups.
Yoga also involves various levels of meditation; therefore not everyone may be fine with doing it in a class with other people. If you are one such person, you can easily buy CDs and DVDs available online. They guide you through the process, starting with simple exercises and meditation techniques and then taking you on to the higher level ones. Yoga is generally practiced without any background music. However, if it helps you relax you can always listen to some calm instrumentals. You would be amazed at how many such choices of music are available in the market. I would suggest some smooth Indian classical. Be careful with what you choose; if you are listening to Enigma and meditating, then you are not engaging in yoga at all!
Many of you would still be wondering — what is this thing called yoga? After all, anything slightly spiritual, or even slightly Indian, has a tendency to be surrounded by a cloud of mystery! Patanjali, the heroic figure of yoga, laid the eight fold path of yoga. The path involves:
- Yama: the first thing yoga demands of you is restraint in behavior. Things like non-violence, truthfulness, and restraint from stealing come under this head.
- Niyama: it means observances in behavior. It includes things such as personal hygiene, contentment, and conditioning the body to endure difficulties like fasting.
- Asanas: these are special body postures. By practicing various bodily postures, some of the dormant psychophysical systems of the body are activated. Asanas may be meditative, stretching, and relative in nature.
- Pranayam is the regulation of breath. Literally it means pause in breath. The main purpose of this path is to gain control over autonomic nervous system and through it influence the mental functions.
- Pratyahara is a purely psychological technique. It is the withdrawal of the mind from all senses. You withdraw from not just the outer but also inner stimuli.
- Dharana is the steadiness of the mind. You experience it after you have achieved mastery over your senses.
- Dhyana is the unity of the mind with some object. It is a rather difficult thing to achieve for true dhyana is brought about when the awareness of oneness is carried to the extent that you even forget this act of becoming one with the object.
- Samadhi or meditation, is the way to achieve dharana and dhyana.
Yoga is, therefore, a philosophy, art, and science. It touches the human life not just through the spiritual, but also the physical and the practical. To reap the benefits of yoga, you don’t need to denounce the world and live in isolation in the hills. Many incorporate it in their rather busy schedules of modern life!
This article was supplied by Swati Varma.