Yoga is an ancient system of healing that has been practiced for thousands of years. It has gained popularity in recent years as a form of alternative medicine due to its ability to promote physical, mental, and emotional health. In this blog post, we will explore some of the core concepts of yoga as an alternative medicine and highlight the importance of calming the mind towards overall wellbeing.
Yoga a Holistic Healing System
Yoga is a holistic system of healing that works on the mind, body, and spirit. It is based on the concept that the human body is a complex system of interconnected parts, and that when one part is out of balance, it affects the entire system. Yoga postures or asanas are designed to bring balance to the body by stretching, strengthening, and relaxing the muscles, while pranayama or breathing exercises help to regulate the flow of energy in the body.
The Importance of Mindfulness
Yoga emphasizes the importance of mindfulness, which is the practice of being fully present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Mindfulness helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and promotes a sense of calm and wellbeing. In yoga, mindfulness is cultivated through the practice of meditation, which involves focusing the mind on a single point of concentration.
The Role of Chitta
Chitta is a Sanskrit term that refers to the mind or consciousness. In yoga, it is believed that the state of the chitta is closely linked to physical and emotional health. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the chitta can be disturbed by various mental states such as fear, anger, or desire. By practicing yoga, we can calm the chitta and bring it into a state of balance, which leads to greater wellbeing.
Yoga for Specific Health Conditions
Yoga has been found to be effective in managing a variety of health conditions, including back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and depression. Certain yoga poses and breathing techniques can help to alleviate physical symptoms and improve overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, yoga can be practiced as a complementary therapy alongside traditional medical treatments.
The Benefits of Regular Yoga Practice
Regular yoga practice has numerous benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. It can improve flexibility, strength, and balance, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and boost overall mood and wellbeing. By cultivating a regular yoga practice, we can create a strong foundation for long-term health and wellbeing.
In conclusion, yoga is an effective form of alternative medicine that promotes holistic health and wellbeing. By focusing on the mind-body connection and cultivating mindfulness and calmness, we can improve our physical, mental, and emotional health. Whether practiced as a complementary therapy or as a standalone practice, yoga offers a powerful tool for promoting long-term health and wellbeing.
Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and is known for its ability to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. At its core, meditation involves the cultivation of mindfulness and an increased awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. Unlike concentration and focus, which involve directing attention towards a specific object or task, meditation encourages a broader, more open awareness of one’s experiences in the present moment. While meditation can be used as a tool to improve concentration and focus, it is distinct in its emphasis on developing a non-judgmental and compassionate attitude towards one’s thoughts and experiences. Through regular practice, meditation has been shown to have numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits and can be a powerful tool for self-growth and personal development.
Meditation vs. Concentration vs. Focus
Throughout the day we are engaged in some action. When we are not involved in any apparent action, we are lost in thoughts and dreams which is another form of action. There seems to be not a single moment where we are not engaged in some kind of physical or mental action. If we can understand this functional mode of our existence and take a step towards remaining totally unoccupied with action, we are in a state of meditation.
Thus, in meditation, we suspend in the present moment without getting caught up in the habitual patterns of thinking, reacting or acting. During meditation, practitioners try to let go of any thoughts, emotions, or sensations that may arise and instead aim to maintain a state of detached observation. This allows them to gain insight into their own thoughts and emotions, and to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and emotional regulation.
So, while initially meditation does involve some effort on the part of the practitioner, the emphasis is on non-doing or non-action. The goal is not to achieve a particular outcome or state, but to simply be present in the moment and observe what arises, without judgment or reaction.
Meditation is not concentration
We have to understand that meditation is not concentration. Meditation and concentration are related practices, but they are not the same thing.
Concentration is the ability to focus the mind on a single point or object, without being distracted by other thoughts or sensations. It involves the deliberate EFFORT to direct and sustain attention on a specific target, such as the breath, a sound, a visual image, a mantra, or for that matter any activity.
Concentration is also the ability to generate a number of thoughts but all related to each other and arranged in sequential order. Concentration is mandatory to achieve success in any task or target.
Meditation, on the other hand, is a broader and more inclusive practice that involves cultivating awareness, mindfulness, and non-judgmental acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. In meditation, the aim is not to suppress, control, or think thoughts, but to develop a more spacious and open awareness that allows thoughts, emotions, and sensations to come and go without getting caught up in them. Hence, meditation is EFFORTLESS.
Meditation is different from focus
Again meditation and focus are related practices, but they are not the same thing. Focus involves directing one’s attention toward a specific task or object, often in order to achieve a specific goal, or outcome. This may involve narrowing one’s attention to a particular aspect of the present moment and ignoring distractions or competing stimuli.
Focus can be best understood by a story from Mahabharat, where guru Dronacharya was teaching archery to students. Once he asked his students to shoot at the center of the eye of a bird’s specimen placed on a tree. He called them one by one and showing the bird, he asked them what they saw. Everyone except Arjuna, said that they saw the tree, the branches, the bird, etc and so everyone missed the target. When Arjuna’s turn came Dronacharya asked “what do you see?” Arjuna replied: “I see the center of the bird’s eye”. Do you see anything else, asked Dronacharya again? To which Arjuna replied “nothing”. Saying so Arjuna released the arrow and it just hit the target straight. That’s Focus. A single thought, single object, single goal.
While focus involves some level of mental effort or strain, meditation aims to cultivate a state of mental relaxation and non-reactivity. The goal is not to achieve a specific outcome or state, but to simply be present at the moment and observe what arises with an open and non-judgmental attitude. In summary, while both focus and meditation involve directing one’s attention towards a particular object or task, meditation aims to cultivate a broader awareness of the present moment, maintaining a witness attitude to whatever arises in the present moment.
To conclude, meditation, concentration, and focus are three practices that are used for spiritual progression and to improve mental clarity and productivity. While they share some similarities, there are also distinct differences between them. Meditation involves letting go or dropping off a sustained effort of focusing of attention to achieve a state of relaxation and heightened awareness. In other words, the effortless flow of focus is meditation. On the other hand, concentration involves directing one’s attention toward a specific task or object, while filtering out distractions and streamlining thoughts. Lastly, focus is the ability to direct one’s attention towards a single goal or objective, and to stay on track until that goal is achieved. Unlike concentration, which can be directed towards a specific task or object, focus is more goal-oriented and requires a deeper level of mental commitment.
To put all three in order of inner experience, we start from concentration, narrow down into focus and finally dissolve into the expanse of meditation.
Yoga is a practice that has been around for centuries and is still relevant today due to its many benefits. People have always been fascinated with the idea of using yoga to help manage stress, reduce disease, improve health and find greater mental peace. But what exactly makes yoga so fascinating?
Likes and Dislikes
When we are born into this world, we come with both likes and dislikes. We can often become overwhelmed by our own preferences because they can cause us suffering when things don’t go our way. Yoga teaches us how to look beyond these attachments and concentrate on the present moment instead. It encourages acceptance of various points-of-view as well as cultivating an understanding that everything changes in life; nothing stays the same forever. In this manner, yoga helps us deal with our emotions in healthier ways rather than reacting impulsively out of anger or fear – leading to personal growth and transformation over time.
Beauty of Yoga
The beauty of Yoga lies in its ability to be adapted by everyone regardless of age or physical condition – meaning there is something for everyone! While some may prefer physical postures (Asanas) others might enjoy more meditative practices such as breathing techniques (Pranayama), mudras (symbolic hand gestures) or chanting mantras (sacred sounds). No one path needs to be followed; if something resonates you follow it otherwise you try something else until you find what works best for your body type & energy level at any given moment in time.
Finally one key takeaway from practicing yoga regularly is that it leads to maintaining mental balance regardless external circumstances like stress, disease etc., If practiced diligently it brings relaxation & inner calmness which can eventually lead a person towards spiritual enlightenment. This ‘enlightenment’ will eventually make way towards removing sufferings from their life while bringing long lasting happiness within oneself irrespective any external stimuli because they know how to maintain their internal environment without getting affected by things outside their control anymore!
The seven Chakras are also known as the psychic centers of our personality. According to Rishis (sage) they are situated in our subtle body. Although there is not a scientific explanation yet regarding these psychic centers, the Rishis had experienced them while they had been in deep meditative states. There are myriads of chakras in every person, but as mentioned by the Tantrik texts of Hatha Yoga, there are around thirty-two chakras out of which seven are the most important. These seven main psychic centers of our personality will be analyzed in this blog.
Defining the Chakras
The information that we have regarding the psychic centers of our personality are mostly from the Tantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga. Literally the Sanskrit word chakra means wheel or circle, but as explained by the Rishis it means whirlpool.
Chakras are considered as spinning disks of energy in our subtle body. They sent vibrations at specific areas in the subtle body and they control the flow and the direction of prana within it (for prana click here: the-energy-that-gives-material-form-to-everything/ ). Although the psychic centers of our personality are located in our subtle body, yogis had realized that the chakras are very much related to our anatomical regions and our physiological functions as well, especially to our endocrine glands. Hence, they affect our physical and emotional well being.
Chakras had been experienced by the yogis in the form of lotus (padma). Lotus is a beautiful flower with very deep meaning, it is a concept and it has become an archetype. The lotus flower has to pass through three stages until it blooms: mud, water, blooming. These stages are related to a person’s spiritual path. For instance in the spiritual path a person has to pass through three phases: ignorance (darkness, mud), aspiration and endeavor (endeavor of lotus to pass through water to surface), illumination (blooming). Additionaly the lotus flower is regarded as a symbol of detachment because although lotus needs water to survive it is detached by it because its leaves are waterproofed.
The ‘anatomy’ of the psychic centers
The yogis under deep meditative states have experienced that the seven chakras are located along the merudanda, which in the physical level is our spinal column. Each of the psychic centers corresponds to a network of very subtle nadis. Nadi means flow, thus nadis are pranic channels for the flow of prana. In our physical body these nadis can be related to the arteries or nerves. According to Tantra Yoga there are approximately 72,000 nadis in our body out of which three are the most important. That is Ida nadi, Pigala nadi and Sushumna nadi, which circulate the mental, vital and spiritual energies respectively within our subtle body. The principal nadi is the Sushumna Nadi, which is considered to be inside our merudanda. As per the Rishis, in the physical body Sushumna nadi extends from the region of our genitals to the crown of the head. Ida and Pigala nadis – which are also in the merudanda– lie respectively on left and right side of the Sushumna base, that is at our genitals. They ascend together in a coiled manner around the Sushumna nadi by creating ‘meeting’ junctions in certain points of the Sushumna. Each ‘meeting’ junction created on the Sushumna nadi by Ida and Pingala originates one of the seven main Chakras that will be analyzed here.
It is important to understand that the above correlations of nadis in our physical body are not tangible, they are just a projection on it. For instance we cannot feel the nadis by putting our fingers on our spine, neither they can be seen through an X-ray nor through a body operation nor with any other medical approach because they are in our subtle body, which can only be experienced. As you know the subject of modern anatomical science is the physical body rather than the subtle body. Subtle body is still controversial subject in most of the modern medicine fields. Hence, these correlations are meant only to help the modern mind to understand the concept of nadis and the psychic centers.
The theory around the chakras – the psychic centers
According to the Rishis there are many chakras in our subtle body out of which seven are the most important and which in our physical body reflected in our spine. Each one of the seven chakras is pictured in the form of lotus having a certain number of petals and a characteristic color. Each chakra is reflected in a specific part on the spine, it is related with a certain gland, it is associated with one of the five elements of nature, a particular sense – organ, an organ of action, a vayu, a seed-syllable, a male deity and his consort and a representative animal. When one chakra does not function properly, there is imbalance of the flow of energy in our subtle body, which is manifested in the form of disease in the physical body. It is considered that there are certain diseases that are caused by a certain chakra which is not in balance. Equilibrium of chakras functions means health and to maintain this health in the physical level there are specific groups of asanas for chakra balancing. These theories are part of the evolution of chakra theory and not the base. These theories have emerged because the psychic centers have stimulated enormously the interest of many other traditions around the world which have tried to analyze them. Thus, although the source of the chakras are the Kundalini Yoga, Tantra Yoga and Hatha Yoga, the latest information that we have regarding the psychoanalysis, the diseases and the group of asana related to the chakras is a mixture of Indian tradition, western approach and Chinese medicine.
The ‘meeting’ pointof the three main nadis where they merge into one stream of consciousness up to Sahashrara.
Number of Petals
Group of Asana
Trataka, meditation, Shambavi mudra, kaki mudra, jala neti, sutra neti
Higher states of awareness, clairvoyance, strong will power
7. Sahashrara – Crown Chakra
Sahasrara = One Thousand
The union of Shiva & Shakti
Number of Petals
The above information of the chakras’ features come mostly from the Tantric and Hatha Yogic books. In our attempt to study the chakras deeply from different sources we might find some slight differences. This is because there are many interpretations of the chakra analysis by different traditions which give their own point of view.
Once again, it should be remembered that the description of chakras is directly derived from visualizations, and not from imaginative reflection, which means that the concept of chakras is essentially esoteric. Therefore, attempts at discovering the physiological correlates are bound to be misleading.
When we talk about ancient Indian philosophy we mean the Indian systems of thoughts which through scientific study have shown, in their own ways, the path to self-realization. In like manner when we listen about psychoanalysis our mind relates it mostly to the western method of psyche treatment and to its founder Sigmund Freud. But what could be the potential relation between these two apparently different approaches for self-development that East & West suggest? In this article we will explain that the base of the techniques/theories of Indian philosophy and of psychoanalysis, which have helped many people to overcome their mental barriers, has a very important similarity.
The Sanskrit word that is used for philosophy is Darshana which literally means ‘to see’. To see not only what is seen by the organ of sight, but to see-realize-experience the highest truth. Indian philosophy has been intensely spiritual and has always emphasized the realization of truth which is the ultimate reality. The term Darshana mostly refers to the six Indian orthodox philosophical systems (shad darshan): Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta. They are considered orthodox because they accept the “Vedas” as their guiding light. Apart from them there are some other indian philosophical systems which are considered heterodox because they have not accepted the Vedas as the supreme authority. The teachings of Gautama the Buddha is regarded as one of the heterodox systems of Indian philosophy. Among all these philosophical/spiritual streams (orthodox & heterodox) Vedanta, Yoga Darshana and the teachings of Gautama the Buddha are regarded as the most influential paths to self-realization, until nowadays.
The gift of Meditation
Gautama the Buddha had discovered his own unique way of liberating mankind from all the miseries. He initiated an exceptional practice of meditation which he called Vipassana. Vipassana literally means to observe thoroughly, to see clearly. The purpose of this meditation technique is to guide people to reach into their unconscious level of mind so that they find their deep-rooted impressions and to remove them. According to the Buddha the cause of all our sufferings is found in these deeply rooted samskaras (impressions) which lie on the unconscious mind. Once we realize them we come out of all our bondages. Vipassana meditation technique is a deep “surgical operation” of the mind and so are the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (Yoga Darshana). Yoga Darshana is regarded as the path of meditation and the influence of Maharishi Patanjali by Gautama the Buddha is very much visible in the ‘Yoga Sutra’. Maharishi Patanjali is counted to be the traditional founder of Yoga Darshana. He collected, combined and systematized the knowledge of yoga that was already existed and compiled it in his masterpiece manual “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali”, which is divided into 4 chapters. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a manual in which there is deep and detailed analysis of the deepest levels of human mind. From the ‘Yoga Sutra’ we can assume that Maharishi Patanjali considers meditation as the ultimate way to liberation.
Indian Scriptures meet Psychoanalysis
The similarities between these teachings and the theories of Sigmund Freud (founder of psychoanalysis) and Carl Jung (founder of analytical psychology) regarding the importance of conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind in a person’s life are very interesting. The foundation of psychoanalysis is based on these three states of mind (conscious, subconscious, unconscious). Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung hold the same theory that our experiences are stored in our subconscious mind and they are unconsciously redirected or transferred to our conscious state influencing our present life. In simple terms through psychoanalysis the person is guided to look inwards to find the impressions that have been imprinted to the person’s unconscious mind by the experiences of the past. According to the founders of psychoanalysis most of our pains, our fears and mental barriers have their roots in our unconscious mind. This is something that has been highlighted by Gautama the Buddha, Yoga Darshana and Mandukhya upanishad as well. In Mandukhya upanishad these states of mind are called avasthatraya (Jagarat, Swapna, Sushupti) (you can see more details here: what-is-the-meaning-of-mantra-aum-or-om/ ), in Vipassana technique they are defined as chetan, avachetan, achetan and in Patanjali ‘Yoga Sutra’ they are indirectly meant, especially in the first chapter of ‘Samadhi Pada’.
The Importance of Introspection
Many people cannot look within that is why they will always blame others of their sufferings. They have relationship issues, career difficulties, panic attack crises, mental disorders, yet they keep accusing others of their condition. It is difficult to look inwards, because there is darkness, pain and fear from the past impressions that were imprinted in our mind, mostly during our childhood or even more back. Our behavior patterns, acts, hesitations, arguing are controlled by these deep-rooted impressions, which by Gautama the Buddha and Yoga Darshana are called samskaras. Some of them are rooted in the subconscious mind and most of them are in the unconscious mind. Until unless we realize it, we will be PUPPETS in the hands of the states of mind which will have the role of a puppeteer. If you want to liberate yourself from the strings of puppeteer now is the time for change. You know the way; you just have to choose the path.