In last few decades, the word “Yoga” has been used to refer to practise of performing physical postures or Asanas, with the goal of physical fitness. However in actuality, Yoga is a complete system, of which the postures are a small, though quite useful part.
“The Father of Yoga”, Maharishi Patanjali compiled and refined various aspects of Yoga systematically in his “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:
- Signifies restriants
- Signifies Observations
- Asana is a yoga pose that is steady and comfortable.
- Asana is the third step in the eight rungs of yoga.
- Yoga Asanas or Yoga Poses can be meditative poses or they can be postures aimed towards attaining strength, balance and steadiness.
- Consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind.
- Pratyāhāra indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness (withdrawal) from the sense organs which connect with the external objects.
- Dharana indicates broad based field of attention (inside the body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration.
- Stands for meditation
- Signifies integration
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. The practice of Yoga prevents psychosomatic disorders and improves an individual’s resistance and ability to endure stressful situations.
Some Important terms in Yoga
Bandhas and Mūdras are practices associated with Prāṇāyāma. They are viewed as the higher yogic practices that mainly adopt certain physical gestures along with control over respiration. This further facilitates control over mind and paves the way for a higher Yogic attainment. However, practice of dhyāna, which moves one towards self-realisation and leads one to transcendence, is considered the essence of Yoga Sādhana.
Ṣaṭkarmas are detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature and help to remove the toxins accumulated in the body.
Yuktāhāra advocates appropriate food and food habits for healthy living.
Mantra Japa: Japa is the meditative repetitions of a mantra or a divine consciousness. Mantra Japa produce positive mental tracts, helping us to gradually overcome stress.
Yukta-karma advocates right karmas or actions for a healthy living.