While thinking of yoga, we often tend to limit our thoughts to peace and flexibility. However, health, happiness and a sense of fulfillment are the primary objectives of yoga. The chief purpose of yoga is enlightenment and liberation of our minds. The root word ‘yuj’ from Sanskrit means to unite or bond the body-mind with the spirit.
You experience yoga to its fullest when you immerse yourself – heart and soul in its pursuit. In this aspect, you are NOT merely practicing yoga or doing your Surya Namaskar, while worrying about the meeting you will be attending later on during the day.
Yoga is all about being present in the moment. Yoga is about pausing the mind, about excelling in action, harnessing the senses, about balance and equanimity while dealing with problems in life. Yoga is about learning to dance with your daily struggles.
The philosophy of Yoga is an amalgamation of various concepts from Buddhism, Upanishads, Tantra and so on, all dating back to centuries ago.
The relevance of Yoga today
Today, yoga is mostly thought of as a physical practice for its health benefits. While this makes yoga amenable for many, it also limits the range of benefits that the practice can offer. The error that we commit is when we treat a practice session as yoga. This way of clubbing it with calisthenics, pilates, gym, dance or other isometric practice sessions makes it appear the same. The difference albeit, lies in the rhythmic breathing and waking one’s consciousness.
A typical ‘yoga session’ consists of dynamic movements (vinyasa), postures (asana), gestures of face/hands/body (mudras), energy locks (bandhas), channelizing bio-energy through breathes (pranayama) and Yoga Nidra (meditation or deep relaxation).
The practice of vinyasa and asana require flexibility, strength, and coordination. Most of the postures when performed correctly engage the core of the body. You do not only strengthen the various groups of muscles but also help with improving the functioning of tendons and ligaments, connective tissues and fascia of the muscular structure, that essentially results in less wear and tear, lesser pain and better mobility and so on. Asanas also help improve circulation with the stretching, twisting and kneading movements that help in reducing fat, kicking up metabolism and eliminating toxins.
Once we practice and perfect postures with slow breathing, one feels more positivity, that in turn helps release stress. This also gets the various organs and hormones to function better.
Specific bandhas and mudras help channelize our inner bio-energy to flow in specific patterns, giving rise to calmness while promoting the healing of various maladies. A session of meditation and deep relaxation can work to counter the stress we feel throughout the day, turning it into a sanctuary or haven for all who find themselves hassled with the day’s struggles.
It does not matter how, when or what kind of yoga you pursue, as long as you practice it regularly. Think of the practice of yoga akin to a daily bathing session for the mind, body, and spirit. Rest assured that with regular and joyful pursuit, the numerous benefits will come to you.
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