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Yoga in India
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The tradition of Yoga was born in India several thousand years ago. Its founders were great Saints and Sages. The great Yogis gave rational interpretation of their experiences about Yoga and brought a practically sound and scientifically prepared method within every one’s reach. Yoga philosophy is an Art and Science of living in tune with Brahmand- The Universe. Yoga has its origins in the Vedas, the oldest record of Indian culture. It was systematized by the great Indian sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra as a special Darshana. Although, this work was followed by many other important texts on Yoga, but Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is certainly the most significant wherein no change is possible. It is the only book which has touched almost all the aspects of human life.

Unlike earlier, Yoga today is no longer restricted to a privileged minority of hermits; it has taken its place in our every day lives and have undergone a world wide awakening and acceptance in the last few decades. The Science of Yoga and its techniques have now been re-oriented to suit modern sociological needs and lifestyle. Experts of various branches of medicine including modern medical science are realizing the role of these techniques in the prevention of disease and promotion of health.

Swami Vivekananda defines Yoga as "It’s a means of compressing one’s evolution into a single life or a few months or even a few hours of one’s bodily existence". By Yoga, Sri Aurobindo, meant a methodological effort towards self perfection by the development of potentialities latent in the individual.

Yoga is a science as well an art of healthy living physically, mentally, morally and spiritually. It’s systematic growth from his animal level to the normalcy, from there to the divinity, ultimately. It’s no way limited by race, age, sex, religion, cast or creed and can be practiced by those who seek an education on better living and those who wants to have a more meaningful life.

Yoga is not a religion; It’s a philosophy of life based on certain psychological facts and it aims at the development of a perfect balance between the body and the mind that permits union with the divine i.e. perfect harmony between the individual and the cosmos.

Many different interpretations of the word Yoga have been handed down over the centuries. One of the classic definition of Yoga is "to be one with divine." It does not matter what name we use for the divine-God, Allah, Ishvara, or whatever- anything that brings us closer to understanding that there is a power higher and greater than ourselves is Yoga. When we feel in harmony with that higher power, that too is Yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga :

Yoga is one among the six systems of Indian orthodox philosophy. Maharishi Patanjali, rightly called as the "Father of Yoga" compiled and refined various aspects of Yoga systematically in his "Yoga Sutras" (aphorisms). He advocated the eight fold path of Yoga, popularly known as "Ashtanga Yoga" for all-round development of human personality. They are – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi. These eight limbs are so perfectly designed that there is absolutely no scope for any addition or alteration since these are formulated on the basis of multifarious psychological understanding of human personality.

The practice of Yamas – Niyamas i.e. harmlessness towards all living beings, truthfulness, honesty, celibacy, non-hoarding of worldly objects, cleanliness, contentment, austerity, control of lust, anger and infatuation, study of holy books and practice of Japa and selfless action – all these pave way for increasing the power of concentration, mental purity and steadiness.

Hatha Yoga :

Svatmarama, who wrote a treatise on this subject after experiencing the nectar of samadhi (absorption of the soul) as Hatha Yoga Vidya or Hatha Yoga Pradeepika. It gives guidelines from the practical point of view for a beginner to begin Yoga, which leads the students gradually from the culture of the body towards the sight of the soul and God-realisation. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika is divided into four chapters or Prakaranas. The first chapter expounds Asanas, the second is on pranayama, the third is on Mudras and Bandhas and the fourth is on Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and samadhi. In between these, the author introduces satkriyaas or the six cleansing processes. As the text begins with asanas, Satmarama’s Yoga is called Sadanga Yoga or the six aspects of Yoga beginning with asanas and ending in Samadhi.

A set of Asanas, Mudras and Pranayamas practiced with faith, perseverance and insight rejuvenates the brain, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, bowels, nerves, muscles, tissues & glands of the body by ensuring oxygenated and balanced blood supply, kindles up the appetite, bestows control over seminal fluid, senses & mind and imparts increased vitality, vigor & longevity to the practitioner.

Various streams of Yoga :

There are a large numbers of methods of Yoga catering to the needs of different persons in society. They are broadly classified into four streams. Swami Vivekananda puts them as Work, Worship, Philosophy and Psychic control.

Karma Yoga, the path of work, involves doing action in a skilful way. In other words, it can be said as a way of enjoying work, doing it effortlessly. The success or failure should not be allowed to cause ripples in the mind.

‘Bhakti Yoga’ the path of worship is a systematic method of engaging the mind in the practice of divine love. This attitude of love softens our emotions and tranquillizes our mind.

Jnana Yoga, the path of philosophy, is a systematic way of tutoring the mind about the realities of life by contemplation. This will strip off the garb of Avidya (ignorance) from our mind and the mind goes to its natural state of rest.

Raja Yoga, the path of psychic control, is a systematic process of culturing the mind. It is based on the 8-limbed Yoga of Patanjali.

Yoga is a science as well as an art of healthy living. It is no way limited by race, age, sex, religion, caste, creed and any other boundaries and can be practiced by those who seek an education on better living and those who want to have a more meaningful life.

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Principles of Yoga

Yoga means a holistic approach towards the cause and treatment of disease.

According to Yoga, most of the diseases Mental, Psychosomatic and Physical originate in mind through wrong way of thinking, living and eating which is caused by attachment.

The basic approach of Yoga is to correct the life style by cultivating a rational positive and spiritual attitude towards all life situation.

Yoga does not treat gross body alone, it takes into consideration all the five Kosa’s (Sheaths) i.e. Manomaya Kosa, Annamaya Kosa, (grass Sheath) Pranamaya Kosa (Extral Body) (Psychic Body), Vijyanmaya Kosa (intellect Sheath) and Anandamaya Kosa (Bliss sheath).

Like Ayurveda and Naturopathy Yoga also takes up the cleansing of the body as the first measure to fight disease. While Ayurveda performs its pancha karma through the help of emetics purgative Yoga performs them without the help of any drug i.e. by developing full efficiency and control of eliminative systems of the body. Which no other system of health care can do.

All the systems of medicine at their best aim at curing the disease whereas Yoga aims at preventing the disease and promoting health by reconditioning the psycho-physiological mechanism of the individual.

Yoga emphasizes the development of brotherhood, hormony, fraternity and equality not only towards all human beings irrespective of colour, caste, nationality, age and sex but towards all living beings also. This attitude renders the thinking so positive that man is liberated from all mental malice and also all the mental, psychosomatic and physiological diseases arising thereof.

The approach of Yoga is not confirmed to various disorders, it aims at bringing under perfect control of the mind, senses and pranic energy and direct them towards healthier channels with a view to acquire mental purity, intellectual stability and spiritual bliss.

Yoga is very wide and comprehensive system embracing all walks of human life. It is unlike Ayurvedic, Unani and Homoeopathy. It is not merely a system of treatment but has potential to develop all-round health i.e. physical, social, mental and spiritual. For social health, it prescribes the practice of Yama & Niyama and Karma Yoga. A man devoted to karma Yoga looks all the living beings as his brethrens and helps them getting rid of painful situations. This concept of "Vasudhaiv Kutmba Kama" is the basic Philosophy of Yoga.

Yoga emphasizes the practitioners to withstand the environmental influences both external & internal as well as physical & mental processes. This practice cultivates strong immunity in them and make them capable of offering a effective resistance to various environmental pressures and thus, maintains behavioral equanimity and intellectual stability.

The practice of Yama – Niyamas purifies the heart of practitioner from vices like attachment, aversion, avarice and infatuation etc. and generates higher ethical qualities like sincerity, honesty, straightforwardness, cheerfulness, courage, detachment, patience, perseverance, tranquility, self control, truth, harmony and uprightness.

Our ancient seers have very sagaciously designed the Yogic practices to invigorate the entire psychosomatic constitution of man. A set of Asanas, Mudras and Pranayamas practiced with faith, perseverance and insight rejuvenates the brain, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, bowels, all nerves, muscles, tissues, glands of the body by ensuring oxygenated and balanced blood supply, kindles up the appetite, bestows control over seminal fluid, senses and mind and imparts increased vitality, vigor and longevity to the practitioners.

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