What is Yoga? A life Transforming Experience

Introduction Of Yoga

Yoga is probably the oldest form of a self-rejuvenation method discovered by humankind. While there is more than one skeptical view about yoga practices. There is a common notion that yogic practice is confined to only a special community of yogis. However, there is ample opportunity to explore the practice of yoga by all age groups. In general, we refer to yoga as the ‘Mind, body, soul’ experience. Like the literal term suggests, the practices also reflect the same in real life.


Origin and Evolution of Yoga

The practice of yoga can be traced back to about 5000 years ago. The roots of yoga were planted in the northern parts of India and were developed in the hands of the Rishis or the sages. It was practiced by Buddhist and Hindu communities. The language in which Yoga flourished is Sanskrit. However, in later times it found expression in all other languages and cultures and gained its form. Now yoga is practiced worldwide and there are separate training centers assigned for such training programs. There is a separate organization called the Yoga Alliance that manages courses, teaching programs, designations, and certificates.

Practices of Yoga:

Yoga is carried out through a sequence of different practices. It can be summed up as the following:

  1. Asana which is synonymous with posture
  2. Yama refers to moral or ethical disciplines
  3. Niyama means observation of oneself
  4. Pranayama or deep-breathing exercise
  5. Dhyana or meditation
  6. Dharana i.e, having control over the concentration
  7. Pratyahara which is having control over your senses
  8. Samadhi or the divine being of supreme consciousness

Various Branches of Yoga

As tradition holds, it is said that there are at least 19 different forms of yoga and 66 postures related to yogic practice. Overall, we can classify the practice into six different branches:

  1. Ashtanga yoga or the Raja yoga: This is the very classical yoga that focuses on discovering self-identity. It involves connecting yourself with the spirit and identifying your true self. Just as the name ‘Raja’ suggests this yoga is definitely royal and requires a lot of dedication and discipline.
  2. Gyana Yoga: The literal meaning of ‘gyana’ is knowledge or wisdom. Likewise, this yoga type deals with studying. The study of the philosophical background of yoga and the various yoga-related texts. As the tradition holds, this knowledge was passed on by the gurus to their disciples. This type of yoga also requires meditation.
  3. Bhakti Yoga: This type of yoga focuses on the submission of oneself to a chosen deity. Though it essentially suggests devotion literally, it can be subdivided into different branches, like shrabana, kirtana, smarana, peda-sevana, Vandana, dasya, sakhya, and atma-nivedana.
  4. Hatha Yoga: This centers around the physical activities of yoga. While ‘ha’ refers to the sun, ‘tha’ refers to the moon. Thus, the idea of this yoga is to balance one’s energies. This is the most modern branch of yoga practice. This branch can also be referred to as ‘Hatha yoga’ or ‘Vinyasa Yoga’. Cultivating your physical strength is what this yoga intends for.
  5. Tantra Yoga: This means ‘expansion’. This particular principle dates back to the origin of yoga. It involves exploration of the sensations. There are general practices of ceremonies and rituals for the interested community. Though an obscure branch of yoga, Tantra yoga is still in practice in some parts of the world.
  6. Karma Yoga: Karma is a definition of work or action. It involves selfless service without any expectation or reciprocation. Instead of focusing on the future or the result and concentrating only on the present deeds. It idealizes a selfless world that is united and enlightened. It depends on mindfulness and ahimsa.

Significance of Yoga

  1. Regular yoga practice helps to improve the flexibility of your body.
  2. Yoga practice helps reduce stress and anxiety.
  3. Regular meditation through yoga enhances the general brainpower.
  4. You will get a good grip on concentration.
  5. Yogic practices are also effective for detoxification of one’s body.
  6. Management of your biological clock through yoga can bring about a solid difference in your lifestyle.
  7. Chronic inflammation resulting in arthritis, heart disorder problems, diabetes, or even cancer can be reduced by regular practice of yoga.
  8. Yoga practices have proved to be effective in reducing blood pressure.
  9. Some specific asanas and postures are so designed that they can give you proper muscle toning.
  10. Daily yoga can treat persistent joint and back pain problems as many postures involve the activities of the spinal cord.
  11. Yoga is considered to be an enhancer of immunity. Deep breathing exercises increase the longevity of the lungs.
  12. Yoga is the best medicine for an emotional breakdown. Whether suffering from post-surgery trauma, prenatal conditions, or even cancer treatment, yoga helps you to gain control of your mind.
  13. Research has shown that yoga improves one’s sleep cycle. It is even a cure for insomnia as it balances the circadian rhythm of life.
  14. Yoga will always allow you to accept yourself uncomplainingly. You can love and admire yourself more and more as you progress. Therefore, it boosts your inner confidence and makes you believe in yourself.
  15. Yoga provides excellent core strength. The core is extremely important to help you balance your weight. Thus, a strong core represents a stronger physique.
  16. Achieving relaxation through yoga practice helps lower the pulse rate, which in turn, ensures proper oxygenation in your body.

The Ultimate Life Transformation:

Yoga will transform your life over a period of practice and progress. While practicing yoga daily will rejuvenate your mind and body, it is extremely necessary to keep up with the regularity of the process. Beginners can start with very easy asanas or postures and slowly move towards harder ones under proper guidance.

However, it has to be kept in mind that yoga practice should be completely based on comfort and not rushing yourself. It is always beneficial to set a goal and aim before starting the practice. You can also become aware of the basics of yoga through online training videos or the yoga training courses at the different retreats or institutes. Thus, yoga can be a life-transforming activity, if executed properly.