Yoga is a classical form of exercise, philosophy, a set of strategies and approaches for strengthening and co-ordinating body, mind and soul. Yoga had been used since the olden times for mind healing purpose along with physiological exercise and training. Its roots can be found in the ancient Indian texts and transcripts. Yoga is not some random postures or body positions; rather it refers to the organized breathing techniques, body postures, meditational strategies, and co-ordinated movements for correct alignment of body, mind and soul.
In the past decades, Yoga and its principles used to be looked upon as a form of spiritual healing approach exercised by the monks and spiritual healers. Now, everyone who wants to improve his physical and mental wellbeing is pursuing and practising Yoga. Yoga is very popular in the India, where it is being taught in schools and other institutions. According to Yoga Alliance report, around 36 million Americans practice Yoga regularly and the majority of the practitioners include young students.
The philosophy of Yoga:
The essence of Yoga philosophy is in the co-ordination and harmony among the body, mind and the soul. Six approaches reflect upon the philosophy of Yoga and each contains its own characteristics and functions that delineate a distinct set of principles. Yoga is regarded as a tree and supported by the six key branches, which are detailed below.
It comprises of physical and mental exercises in the form of certain breathing patterns, body postures and movements aimed at achieving enlightenment. The practitioners of this kind of yoga need to focus on balancing the energies of the body for attaining a state of body equilibrium. This strategy aims at releasing the stress and tension from the body in order to achieve a relaxed state of mind. The main poses include Asana poses, Pranayama mindful breathing, mudras etc.
It involves the directing different kinds of energies inside the body in order to create a connection between the body and the universe for understanding and actualization of life’s purpose. The objective of Tantra Yoga is to attain physical, spiritual wellbeing. The Gurus or experts only practise this kind of Yoga in order to prevent the exclusion of essential steps and misinterpretation of its principles. Tantra Yoga include mantra, Yantra, Kriyas, mental visualization practices etc.
Raja Yoga encompasses the strategies such as observance, cleanliness (inner/outer), contentment, reading of scriptures and the surrender to the ultimate authority. This kind of Yoga contains eight limbs including breathing exercise, physical poses, concentration, sensory withdrawal, meditation, ethical standard, supreme state of bliss and self-discipline. The practitioners are taught to control their thinking during the exercises through meditation and uniting with the spiritual authority.
Jnana Yoga is more concerned with the theory such as reading of scriptures and ancient texts for attaining a sense of wisdom and intellect. Therefore, it demands deep inquiry, contemplation and concentration. The main objective of this kind of Yoga is to liberate a person from the limited scope of his thoughts and let him feel at peace with himself and his life through meditation, illumination and conscious investigation.
The essence of this branch is in the unconditional devotion towards the omnipresent authority in the form of god or deity. There are various activities and practices including ritual worship, singing of devotional songs, prostration and divine meditation.
It is often dubbed as the Yoga of actions as it includes the actions for letting go of one’s ego and displaying selfless devotion through certain skilful actions and behaviours. The requirements for Karma Yoga are selflessness, devotion, kindness and mindfulness.
Chakras and mind healing:
Yoga includes several Chakras, which represent the central points of energy, thoughts, feelings and emotions. According to Yoga experts, the energies trapped in chakras lead to physical, mental and emotional imbalances in the form of anxiety, depression, and stress. There are seven major chakras pertaining to seven different focal points in the body
- Sahasrara chakra is the symbol of spiritual connection and found at the crown of head
- Ajna is related to intuition and located between eyebrows
- Vishudda is throat chakra, which is related to verbal communication and immunity
- Anahata is the heart chakra that affects personal and professional interactions
- Manipura is the symbol of wisdom and self-confidence, which is located in the stomach
- Svadhishthana is the symbol of well-being and happiness, which is located just below the belly button
- Muladhara is the root chakra, located at the base of spine in order to connect body and mind of a person.
Advantages of Yoga to health:
There are many benefits of practising Yoga and its exercises. Scientific researchers and mind data analysts have been keeping an eye on the practitioners of Yoga to configure the effects of Yoga on mental health issues as well as physical wellbeing. NIH and FDA have found different studies to be validating that Yoga enhances mental health, cures psychological issues (mild ones) and promotes a sense of self assurance in the individuals particularly women. Following are some of the major benefits of practicing Yoga.
- Improves and enhances the strength, balance and flexibility of body/mind (e.g. tree pose)
- It cures back pain (Cat-Cow pose)
- It helps in reducing Arthritis symptoms
- It improves cardiac health (downward dog pose)
- It assists in relaxation of mind and manages sleep patterns (legs-up-the-wall-pose)
- It brightens our moods and uplifts our energies
- It assists in management of stress in our daily lives (corpse pose)
- It cures us of loneliness and enhances companionship
- It forces us to focus on self care
Yoga is gaining is gaining traction among the youth and adolescent people of all nations particularly Americans and Indians due to its positive and productive impact on mental wellbeing and inner peace through coordinated physical activities. There are different styles of Yoga catering to the needs of people from all ages and genders with the primary objective of supporting balanced and healthy lifestyles.