Yoga is not just physical calisthenics. It is in fact a way of life. In the West, many people practice yoga only for physical benefits. But, when practiced correctly, yoga can help one remain equanimous even in the most trying situations. Yoga schools emphasize on a calm and still mind, because as the saying goes, Still waters run deep. The origins of yoga are rooted in Indian philosophy. Yoga sheds light on spirituality, ethics, psychology and physiology, and has been practiced since time immemorial.
Aim of Yoga
Yoga means union of body, mind and soul. Yoga aims to unite the individual soul with the universal soul. This can be done by cleansing the mind and controlling thoughts to reach samadhi. A true yogi can look at the real world as it is and can accept the truth entirely.
The ancient sage Patanjali’s epic tome Yoga Sutras explains how to use the various branches of yoga to attain self-realization. Patanjali yoga consists of eight steps, which are:
- Yamas – eternal vows
- Niyamas – virtuous observances
- Yogasanas – yoga postures
- Pranayama – breathing exercises
- Pratyahara – withdrawing the senses from external distractions
- Dharana – fixed concentration
- Dhyana – meditation
- Samadhi – superconscious mind state
Health Benefits about Yoga
Yoga has various health benefits. Some of them are outlined below:
Yoga postures make the joints stronger and more flexible. The tendons, ligaments and joints of the body are lubricated and exercised thoroughly. Even a rigid body can become flexible with regular yoga practice. Yoga postures exercise the body harmoniously resulting in increased flexibility.
Yoga postures internally massage the body’s organs and glands thoroughly. Such massage and stimulation stave off disease and infections. An experienced yoga practitioner becomes more aware of his body and any impending infection or disorder. This enables them to take pre-emptive treatment.
Yoga practice increases blood supply to the various body parts. As a result, toxins are flushed out and the body becomes nourished. The yoga practitioner gains more energy and vigor, and their aging process is also delayed.
Yoga practice also tones the muscles. People with weak or flaccid muscles find that they are able to lose excess flab with yoga postures, which stimulate the body muscles.