Yoga — Not just Fitness
Over the past few decades, a very common disbelief has had root in the minds of men and women. There is a belief that Yoga, is all about fitness and exercise. Another disbelief Hatha Yoga is that Yogasanas (or Asanas) are only body movements and positions that are complex to perform but make the body flexible.
Yes, asana or postures do make the body flexible. Just like extending and other forms of body movements do. But Yoga and yogasanas are much more than simply fitness tricks.
In the Western side, approximately the 19th Century and the twentieth Century, Yoga was introduced by Indians to the people, so that they too may benefit from it. Needlessly to say it was a great success. But there began a commercialization of yoga, in order to make it more inviting to the public. Yoga went from being an art, to a work out.
This is something we need to understand, is extremely dangerous. Yoga isn’t something that needs to be performed with the wrong ideas or motives. It has consequences of its.
Yoga is a way of life. It is not a ritual to be performed, it is a habit that one makes a part of life. The ultimate purpose of Yoga is to achieve liberation or Moksha. But yoga has a huge affect our day-to-day lives.
Five basic principles of Yoga
• Asana (postures)
• Pranayama (Breathing control)
• Shavasana (Relaxation)
• Sattvic (Right Diet)
• Dhyana (Meditation)
It is only when these 5 basic principles are followed that one can call himself a practitioner of Yoga. When a person performs yoga, he surrenders himself to the universe and becomes one with the general energy. It is a very potent source of life and should not be treated lightly.
Let us now look at some more important issues with yoga.
Schools of Yoga
In Hinduism, there are the following types of Yoga, which have to be practiced. Please note, here Yoga doesn’t talk about postures. Yoga is in fact a practice. As i mentioned earlier, it is a way of life. These schools of yoga were thus, part of life.
- Jnana Yoga
Jnana means ‘knowledge’ in Sanskrit. In the ancient times, when there was a system of ‘Gurukul’ (students stayed with teachers and gained knowledge), this became the initiation of the student into education and the realm of knowledge. The teachings included information about everything under the sun. This Jnana yoga became the inspiration for yogic understanding and knowledge.
- Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti or devotion, is an essential aspect of yoga. Through this form of yoga, one expressed love and devotion towards God. Here God is the Better Being. It does not refer to any a symbol God, simply general energy. The idea was to move the yogi, towards spiritual waking up.
- Karma Yoga
Karma means Duty in Sanskrit. In the Hindu faith, benefit of performing ones duty or Karma, was of the highest importance. Self-displined actions and all duties must be performed with great reverence. It is said to be the best way to advance in spiritual life.
- Laya Yoga or Kundalini Yoga
It is the form of yoga performed by way of regular practice of deep breathing, pranayama, chanting rule and yoga asana. It is called the yoga of waking up. One becomes aware of yourself and more conscious of surrounding. It focuses on concern to others and healing of the body, mind and soul.
- Hatha Yoga
It is a system of physical techniques supplementary to a broad pregnancy of yoga. There is a belief that Master Shiva himself was the creator of Hatha Yoga.
This school of yoga is what deals with physical exercise and asana or postures. Hatha yoga is more known as a physical exercise in the world.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has physical benefits, is something which is common knowledge. But the real power of yoga is seen through its benefits on the mental and other facets of human life.
Following are some of the major benefits of yoga.
• Perfects your position
Yoga makes you stand up straighter and walk tall. The whole slumped shoulder problem disappears. Also, it enables you to look far more lovely and toned.
• Control of emotions
Yoga helps the body relax, which experts claim helps you control your emotions. Very often, an excessive amount of frustration or any negative feeling, gets directed towards the wrong person. This happens when we can’t really control our thoughts and emotions. Yoga helps to control our mind and also makes us patient.
• Enables you to happier
Practising yoga, even simple breathing exercises or pranayama, helps to pump more endorphins and dopamine into the system. These are some the body’s hormones that produce you feel happier. The more yoga you practice, the higher your likelihood of feeling happy and uplifted.
• Helps you focus
Whenever you’re incompetent at focusing, try practicing yoga and deep breathing. Deep breathing enables you to concentrate and brings to you an increased remark power.
• Improves Balance
What yogasanas do mainly, is that they direct your own body’s energy in a particular direction. Practicing yoga and doing the correct postures, helps direct more energy into various directions. This helps improve your balance.
• Relaxes muscles
If you are someone prone to muscle tension or pulling of muscles (hamstring, shoulder, etc. ) then yoga can help make your body flexible. Your flexibility naturally improves and you can do more activities with ease.
There are many more medical benefits too. However, there are few tested proofs that can be stated. For example, people suffering from asthma and bronchitis, are told to practice pranayama as it helps to control their breathing, which improves lung capacity. These are tested facts.
But there is no evidence to claim that Yoga can cure critical diseases or act as a pain reliever. So we must get the facts before following any practice.
Another essential point to be aware of is that Yoga, should only be performed, after attaining some initial training from a yoga master or instructor. This is because organic beef try to do some postures and end up causing serious injuries, if they aren’t done appropriately.
Lastly, it is always far better read books and other resources that can clearly define what Yoga in fact is, prior to going and enlisting for a class. If you have some knowledge to begin with, you will feel a lot more linked to the game itself.