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Yoga

This ancient philosophy closely related to Ayurveda cleanses and integrates the mind, body and spirit, preparing the body for meditation. Ayurvedic living incorporates the use of yoga for healing ill health and providing balance to the doshas. Yoga has been part of Ayurvedic culture since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization evident from excavations of the Mother Goddess idol and Yogi seated in Padmasana. Patanjali's Yoga sutras are the oldest known writings available to us. These sutras dating back to 2,000 BC, present comprehensive Yoga concepts to release impurities from the mind, speech and body.

Purpose of Yoga

In due course of time, yoga is mainly looked upon as a set of techniques useful for achieving fitness in daily life and prevention and cure of some specific diseases or disorders. But the goal of yoga was different when yoga practices came into existence more than three thousand years ago. Throughout its history, yoga seems to have undergone changes regarding the purpose for which it was practiced. Many different varieties of yoga came to be practived for different purposes.
The main varieties of yoga include :

Bhaktiyoga(Yoga of devotion): is the oldest variety of yoga in which the person practicing it invokes the Creator of the universe to shower grace and compassion. This grace and compassion is meant to help the devotee overcome all the travails and hardships of living . Practice of Bhaktiyoga includes prayer, worships of living. Practice of Bhaktiyoga includes prayer, worship, observing austerities and abstinence, and practice of virtue. In the middle ages in India, Many saints cultivated the way of devotion as mass-movement.

Karamayoga(Yoga of duty or action): is described in great detail in the Bhagavad Gita. The main principles of karamayoga include
(a) never giving up and never failing in one's duty, and
(b) looking equally upon opposites such as success and failure, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc., without being efected or swayed away by them.

Gyanayoga(Yoga of knowledge): is explained thoroughly in the Yogasutra of Patanjali (second century BC.). It consists of eight-fold yoga. Gyanayoga includes outer and inner aspects of disciplining and training the body and mind. It has three important techniques: postures, breath-control, and mediation .

Hathayoga (Yoga of bodily performances): In recent times, Hathayoga has become very popular . It was popularised by the experts if Tantra, called the Natha-yogis in the periods between twelfth and fifteenth centuries AD. Two main experts who popularised hathayoga include Matsyendranatha, Gorakhnatha, etc. Hathayoga is described as the yoga of unity of ha and tha. This means the unity of the sun ad the moon in body or the unity of vitak airs - prana and apana.
The purposes of the four varieties of yoga in daily life are not the same. Bhajtuyiga seeks to propitiate the object of worship, i.e. God. As a result of this worship, the practitioner of bhaktiyoga hopes to overcome difficulties in daily life and/ or to remove the hurdles on the goal of all religions. Karmayoga is based on the ideal that by equanimity (samattva) in relation to the opposites (dvandvas), the practitioner of karmayoga can be freed from the shackles of his/her deeds (karma-bandha), and thereby attain liberation (mukti). Patanjali's jnyanayoga or rajayoga involves techniques for purifying the mind by removing impurities through the eight-fold practice. These include:

Abstinence or Yama
Observances or Niyama
Postures or Asana
Breath control or Pranayama
Retrieving the mind from objects of enjoyment or Pratyahara
Concentration or Dharana
Contemplation or Dhyana and
Absorption or Samadhi of the mind.

The above eight-fold path leads to self-realization (atmadarshana). The purpose of hathayoga is achievement of mental stability by silencing the mind through pranayama. Achievement of mental stability arouses the dormant divine power in human being called kundalini. Arousal of the dormant divine power enables hearing the subtle sounds (nada) and absorption of the mind in the state of samadhi.

Benefits of yoga

Can everyone benefit from yoga ?
Yes. However, this benefit may not be possible if you do not practice the correct technique of yoga or practice it irregularly. As mentioned above, yoga includes a variety of techniques and you need to choose those that are useful to you and most suited for your individual needs. For example, the needs for specific techniques of yoga would differ for a housewife, a child, an athlete, a teacher, a student, or a factory worker. This is because their ways of life are quite different from each other. Because of the wide range of techniques in yoga, it can fulfill needs in almost all people. Basic fitness in daily life is a common need of everyone. Yoga can fulfill this need irrespective of the type of work you do, your role in life or the type of food you eat. Yoga can help everyone play his or her roles more efficiently, more smoothly and more comfortably.

What are the advantages of yoga ?
Yoga has many advantages over other methods of maintaining health, such as gymnastics, athletics, aerobics, games, and various other forms of exercise. It does not need any costly equipment and materials, or playgrounds, swimming pool, gyms, etc. Yoga can be practiced throughout the year. It can also be practiced inside the house or in the open, single or in groups. The only requirement is a thick carpet spread on the floor and covered with a clean sheet of cloth. Yoga should only be practiced on empty stomach. You can do it at any time during the day. It will benefit you irrespective of whether you are young or old, lean or heavily built, highly educated or uneducated, rich or poor, from higher or lower middle class, busy, over busy, or retired or worker in the factory or in the field. Yoga has something very valuable, and useful to offer to everyone. It is often described as the best form of health insurance for all from the age of seven to seventy seven or more. Two main advantages of Yoga are prevention of disorders and ailments and maintenance of health and fitness in daily life. Other advantage include flexible muscles, supple joints, relaxed and tension-free mind and efficiently working vital organs such as the heart, lungs, endocrine glands, liver, pancreas and good balance between various functions, such as neuromuscular coordination, etc.

Can all the yoga techniques be practiced in all age groups ?
Although yoga can be practiced in all age groups, some techniques are more suited and desirable for specific age groups. For example, some asanas that involve forward and backward bending are good for children aged five to ten years. At about ten years of age, the asanas that have an upside down position and deep breathing can be started. Shuddhikriyas should not be practiced everyday. They need to be performed as and when required for removal of impurities from the body. However, Kapalabhati Nauli can be done every day. They are generally most suited for people in age group of twenty to sixty years. Relaxation is necessary for all, irrespective of age. People in all age groups can therefore practice mediation regularly. It is desirable that older people avoid asanas that involve excessive stretching, such as the plough pose or halasana. Strenuous poses such as the scorpion or vrischikasana head-stand or shirshasana should also be avoided older people. When yoga is practiced for therapeutic purpose to overcome or cure ailments, other restrictions are necessary . This is why yoga should not be practiced unless you have learned the correct technique from an expert.

Spiritual and Meditation

Meditation is one of the proven alternative therapies. It can be broadly classified under the mind-body medicine.
More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, improve exercise performance in people with angina, help people with asthma breathe easier, relieve insomnia and generally relax the everyday stresses of life. Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance a person's physical, emotional, and mental states. It is simple; but can benefit everybody.
The use of Meditation for healing is not new. Meditative techniques are the product of diverse cultures and peoples around the world. It has been rooted in the traditions of the world's great religions. In fact, practically all religious groups practice meditation in one form or another. The value of Meditation to alleviate suffering and promote healing has been known and practiced for thousands of years.

Introduction:

The use of Meditation for healing is not new. Meditative techniques are the product of diverse cultures and peoples around the world. It has been rooted in the traditions of the world's great religions. In fact, practically all religious groups practice meditation in one form or another. The value of Meditation to alleviate suffering and promote healing has been known and practiced for thousands of years.
Of the religions that use meditation, perhaps Buddhism, practiced widely in eastern and central Asia, is the best known. To Buddhists, the practice of meditation is essential for the cultivation of wisdom and compassion and for understanding reality. Buddhists believe that our ordinary consciousness is both limited and limiting. Meditation makes it possible to live life to the full spectrum of our conscious and unconscious possibilities.
In spite of its rich history and traditions, it is only during the past three decades that scientific study has focused on the clinical effects of meditation on health. These reports captured the interest of Western researchers studying self-regulation and the possibility of voluntary control over the autonomic nervous system. At the same time, new refinements in scientific instrumentation made it possible to duplicate and substantiate some of these reports at medical research institutes. Health care professionals who were often dissatisfied with the side effects of drug treatments for stress-related disorders embraced meditation as a valuable tool for stress reduction, and today both patients and physicians enjoy the health benefits of regular meditation practice.

 

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