What is Yoga
Today around the world yoga is practiced as a method of physical fitness with an added feature of mental relaxation. The empirical findings have further elevated yoga as a substitute to various physical cultures like gym or aerobics for its health benefits. Yoga has also been attested as a system of alternative medicine with its ability to manage diseases like hypertension, diabetes, asthma etc. No doubt yoga does it all, but it is much more than that. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ meaning union and connotes to ‘Yujyate Anena Iti Yogaḥ’ i.e. that which unites is yoga. Than what is united to what? It is the union of the narrow, individualistic and egoistic consciousness of an individual with the all pervasive universal Consciousness. This is known as Self-Realization.
In technical terminology, it is the union of ‘jīvātmā’ (individual self) with ‘paramātmā’ (universal self). In common parlance, it simply means that yoga is a process of expansion of an individual personality to cosmic dimensions, making an ordinary man divine. In practice, yoga is about calming of the mind. At the more apparent level it is about harmonizing the body with the mind through the means of various, yoga postures (āsana), breathing practices (prānāyāma) and meditation (dhyāna). In such a state of harmonious integration of personality, a person is said to be in yoga.
Yoga is search for the highest within, i.e. Self Discovery, which is awakening of human potential. This search for the Self has made yoga a holistic art and science of living, encompassing all aspects of human personality i.e. physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual. As an art yoga leads to the harmony – inner (body, mind and emotion) and outer (social, professional). As science yoga leads to the systematic and scientific process of corroborating all the changes occurring at all levels of personality to be experienced by all, at all times and places, irrespective of gender, creed, race or religion. Therefore, Yoga is a conscious process for complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development of human being, towards the realization of his full potential.
Swami Vivekananda captured the grandeur of yoga in a simple definition with profound meaning- “Yoga is a means of compressing one’s evolution into a single life or a few years or even a few months of the bodily existence”. Thus yoga is a system of overcoming one’s limitations and unfolding latent potentialities.
With its base in spirituality, yoga has a comprehensive understanding of human existence in its totality, as an integrated system of mind, body, intellect and emotions. When yoga boldly says that it is a process of knowing our Self, the process goes through the detailed scrutiny of each layer of our existence before reaching the goal of Self Realization. This forms the vast knowledge base for yoga and this is the reason why yoga is a one-stop solution to man’s all present day problems occurring at various levels of body, mind, intellect or emotion.
In practice yoga is essentially a discipline of calming down the mind. The calming effect ranges from reduced number of thoughts in the mind to reduced sympathetic activity in body. It brings about a balance among all the reciprocal activities of the body leading to a state of Samatva or evenness. Studies have shown that yoga works phenomenally well for overall health and well being. Yoga not only brings us health and vigor but also sharpens the inner faculties of judgment and analysis and harnesses the power of mind, intellect, will and emotion. A little practice of yoga infuses deep relaxation into the system and rejuvenates the body and mind.
Yoga is skill to calm down the mind
Live in proximity to an ideal state of inner calm and joy. Yoga skillfully brings this calm state without any force or exertion as it knows the ways of the wavering mind. Learn the trick to gain complete mastery over mind and thereby the external situations towards a life of peace, prosperity, health and happiness.
Bring gentle stimulation from yogic practices at the level of body, mind and emotions and follow a series of relaxation percolating from gross to the subtle levels until you settle down to the deeper and calmer layers of mind. Release all distractions as you gently stimulate the system and hold on to the residual calmness as you relax thereafter.
Yoga is a state of equilibrium
Embrace balance in every moment of life by learning to act from the causal states of our mind. Tune to the silent layers of the causal states of our mind to experience the ‘steadiness’ in all situations. Yoga is a state of equilibrium, which is a combination of detachment at the level of mind, balance at the level of emotions and homeostasis at the level of body.
Integrate your personality into equilibrium from the yogic techniques of bodily relaxation, mastery over mind, emotional purification, intellectual analysis and action in relaxation. Yoga prepares for a lifestyle based on causal states of awareness, which brings our personality in tune with the cosmic order. Whole physiology works in an integrated and balanced fashion. In this equanimity there is psycho-physiological stability which is unaffected by factors like pain and pleasure. This equilibrium is the source of perfect health and wellbeing.