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Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India and is now practiced in various forms around the world. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. It means to connect aatma with parmaatma. Yoga is a spiritual science for the integrated and holistic development of physical, mental and spiritual aspects of being. The philosophy of Yoga is practical and applicable in our day-to-day living.

Yoga is universal in character for practice and application irrespective of culture, nationality, race, caste, creed, sex, age and physical condition. Without practice, no one can experience the utility of Yogic techniques nor can realize its inherent potential. Only regular practice (sadhana) creates a pattern in body and mind to uplift them. It requires keen desire on the part of the practitioner to experience the higher states of consciousness through training the mind and refining the gross consciousness.

Yogi Swatmarama in the Hathayoga Pradipika, one of the classical Yoga texts gives us the assurance, “One who tirelessly practices Yoga attains success irrespective of whether they are young, old decrepit, diseased or weak”. He gives us the guarantee that Yoga improves health of all alike and wards off disease, provided we properly abide by the rules and regulations (Hathayoga Pradipika I:64)

The concepts and practices of Yoga originated in India about several thousand years ago. Its founders were great Saints and Sages. Maharishi Patanjali, known as “The Father of Yoga” compiled and refined various aspects of Yoga systematically in his “Patanjali Yoga Sutras” (aphorisms). He advocated the eight folds path of Yoga, popularly known as “Ashtanga Yoga” for all-round development of human beings. They are as following:

 

Yama (Personal Moral Principles)

These five principles help train and protect senses from bad thoughts and internalize them.

  • Ahimsa – A principle of non-violence. Non-violence means not hurting another living being by thoughts, words or actions.
  • Satya – A principle of Truthfulness. Whatever we saw, heard, and knew, it should be exactly that in our words and actions.
  • Asteya – A principle of non-stealing. Not having right on other’s belonging. If the thought of possessing someone else’s belonging came to your mind, then you have already stolen it in your mind. So don’t wish for things that are not yours.
  • Brahmacharya – Continence / Celibacy. Avoiding anything that feeds senses.
  • Aparigah – A principle of non-possessiveness. Don’t accumulate things. Rather live a simple and minimalist life.

Niyama (Personal Disciplines)

Five niyama are as following:

  • Shouch– Cleanliness/Purity. It means external and internal cleanliness. Cleaning your body and mind are very important. The way we take shower, brush our teeth, we should clean our mind too from bad thoughts.
  • Santosh – Contentment. Being satisfied with whatever we have.
  • Tap – Endurance. To reach our goal, we need to accept hardships and keep moving forward. External world tells us hardships are negative while Yoga says they are very important and we all should practice tap in some form.
  • Swadhyay – Introspection. We should analyze ourselves and think. Be your own critic.
  • Eshwar Pranidhan – Dedication. We should dedicate all our actions to the supreme. We should never have thought of feeling that oh I did this! This helps control our ego.

Asana (Yoga Postures)

A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium.

Pranayama (Yogic Breathing)

Extension and control of breath. It involves rhythmic breathing.

Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses)

 A mental preparation to increase the power of mind

Dharna (Concentration on Object)

Concentration of mind on one object

Dhyaan (Meditation)

Withdrawing mind from all external objects and focusing it on one point and then meditating on it.

Samadhi (Salvation)

State of Super bliss, joy and merging individual consciousness into universal consciousness.

These components advocate certain restraints and observances, physical discipline, breath regulations, restraining the sense organs, contemplation, meditation and samadhi. These steps are believed to have a potential for improvement of physical health by enhancing circulation of oxygenated blood in the body, retraining the sense organs, thereby inducing tranquility and serenity of mind.

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