Yoga is a science of self realization that comes from the land of India and goes back to about five thousands of years. The word yoga being derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, means union. It is the union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Yoga is not just exercise and aasanas where people twist, turn, stretch, and breathe in the most complex ways, but it is the “emotional integration and spiritual elevation with a touch of mystic element, which gives you a glimpse of something beyond all imagination”. This profound science unfolds the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul imbibing the complete essence of the way of life.
History of yoga
In the beginning of universe there was just darkness, darkness covered with darkness. Then came light with the sound ‘Ohm’. And ohm gives rise to words or knowledge which was compiled as Vedas. In the hierarchy of vedic knowledge there are 4 vedas- Rig veda, yajur veda, Sama veda and Atharva veda. Then came the 4 upa vedas or Sub vedas of which one is Ayurveda. Then the 6 Upa angas or components followed by 6 Subcomponents of which one of the subcomponents is Yoga.
Rigveda is one of the sacred and oldest books on Human history. It is about 8 – 10 thousand years old and yoga is one of the part of this vedic literature. Maharshi Patanjali is considered to be the authority on yoga. Lord Krishna and many saints of India had also spoken about yoga. In the middle ages the practise of yoga was just confined to royal and scholarly class. In the recent years by the effort of many spiritual and religious teachers, the path of yoga have been opened to the common man and to each and every human being on this planet.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a spiritual art of living which brings harmony in thought and deed. Patanjali’s Yoga sutra defines yoga as the control of the activities of the mind. Yoga methods encompass the entire field of our existence, from the physical, emotional and mental to the spiritual. It is the union of body, mind and spirit, the individual to the universal. Yoga is realizing the connection between the finite and the infinite, the manifest and the unmanifest. Its methods include ethical disciplines, physical postures, breath control, as well as meditation. There are different types of yoga as well like Gyan yoga, Bhakthi yoga, karma yoga, Hatha yoga, Raj yoga, Manthra yoga, Shiva yoga, Naada yoga, Laya yoga and many more. Maharshi Patanjali elluciated the 8 limbs of Yoga called the Ashtangas of Yoga namely: yama- Personal Ethics, Niyama – Social Ethics, Aasana – Postures, Pranayama – Directing of life force, Prathyahara – turning of senses in words, Dharana – One pointed focus, Dhyana – Meditation, Samadhi – Merging with self.
In today’s world yoga has been associated with only physical postures where as the central teaching of yoga is maintaining an equanimous state of mind. Bhagwad Gita says “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam”- meaning Yoga is Skill in Action and Expression. Yoga is not just exercise, it is how skilfully we act and communicate in any given situation. Here yoga is described more as a mind skill you could be watching a sunset or doing your job in the office or cooking at home. if you doing this out of joy and love, you are a yogi – a Karma Yogi. The same action devoid of any love and care is not yoga.
Lord Krishna says in Bhagwad Gita “samatwam yogah uchyathe”– Equanimity in the mind is a sign of yoga. The ability to remain cantered in adverse situation is yoga. Whatever brings us back to our nature which is harmony and joy is yoga. Wonderment is a preface to yoga. “Vismayo yoga bhumikah”. The wow! We experience many a times in life is a preface to yoga. While postures make the body healthy, pranayama and meditation take the mind deep within. Uniting diverse aspects of life of existence is yoga.
Yoga and Ayurveda
Yoga and Ayurveda are two healing disciplines of India that are very much related. Both originate as part of a greater vedic knowledge. It has been inevitable that an inquiry in to Ayurvedic science will inspire to practise yoga and practise of yoga will help understand science of Ayurveda more deep. Though yoga and Ayurveda has its own unique features, many times they overlap each other at various levels. Both share the same principles of Trigunas (Satwa, Raja and Tama) and Panchamahabhuts and they have a common understanding of health of the body being dependent on health and balance of mind. Both advocates regular practise of Pranayama, meditation, using of herbs, body purification procedures, right food and chanting of mantras for physical and mental health.
Benefits of Yoga
The ultimate aim of practicing Yoga is to create a balance between the body and the mind and to attain self-enlightenment. In order to accomplish it, Yoga makes use of different movements, breathing exercises, relaxation technique and meditation. Yoga can create a positive permanent difference to the lifestyle of anybody practicing it on a regular basis. Yoga is the perfect way to ensure overall health and physical fitness. Through meditation, breathing exercises (called pranayams); you can vanish all your stress and lead a healthy life. Pranayams are the best exercises to increase the capacity of lungs capacity. In fact, it is one of the best remedies known to humankind, for curing chronic ailments. The amazing thing about Yoga is that its positive effects on the health and mind are visible over time. Another specialty about Yoga is its wide choice of asanas. Depending upon the stamina and overall health, you can choose from the mild pranayams, asanas to high intensity asanas. It is a medication without the actual use of medicines.Yoga brings stability to the body and the wavering mind. It increases the lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons of the body. Studies in the field of medicine suggest that Yoga is the only form of physical activity that provides complete exercise to the body, because it massages all the internal organs and glands. Moreover, no visible side effects are associated with the practice of Yoga on a regular basis. All you need to know is the most appropriate exercises meant for the structure of your body, while choosing the asanas of the activity. In addition, you need to know the right way of performing the asanas, because any wrong attempt can cause sprains and injuries.
An International Day For Yoga
The first International Day of Yoga was observed world over on 21 June 2015. The Ministry of AYUSH made the necessary arrangements in India. 35,985 people, including Narendra Modi and a large number of dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 yoga aasanas for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi,India. The day devoted to yoga was observed by millions across the worldWhen proposing 21 June as the date, Modi said that the date was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere (shortest in the southern hemisphere), having special significance in many parts of the world. From the perspective of yoga, the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The first full moon after summer solstice is known as Guru Poornima. Shiva, the first yogi (Adi Yogi), is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day, and became the first guru (Adi Guru). Dakshinayana is also considered a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between man and nature, a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day”.
– Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly
Reference : A brief History of Yoga- Art of Living