What is Yoga?

What is Yoga

Many different ideas are related to the practice of Yoga. Also, there are many different ideas about the origins of Yoga, what it is about in addition to how to practise a range of techniques that are inherent in each type of Yoga.

Usually, Yoga is recognised as an ancient system of philosophies as well as principles and practices derived from the Indian and Himalayan Vedic tradition. It is estimated that Yoga was developed more than 2 500 years ago. 

Yoga is a system of fluid movements that recognises the multi-dimensional nature of the human person. It primarily relates to the nature and workings of the mind. These are based on experiential training and enquiry.

The mind-body connection

The body, breath and mind are viewed as the melting pot of these multi-dimensional aspects of every person. The method and various Yoga techniques cultivate the experience of that connection. This leads to a higher union of being, internal peacefulness as well as clearness of the mind.

It is a practice that is designed to cultivate health and happiness, including a greater sense of consciousness and higher awareness.

Health and well-being

Yoga promotes health well-being and fitness, in other words physical, emotional, mental and social. It accomplishes this through the regular practice of a range of many different techniques.

These include postures (asanas) and movement, breath awareness and breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation and concentration in addition to self-inquiry and – most importantly – meditation.

What is ‘asana’?

An ‘asana’ is a posture in Yoga. Initially, it was a sitting pose for meditation but later – in Hatha Yoga and modern Yoga – ‘asana’ came to be referred to as an exercise. Reclining, standing, inverted, twisting, and balancing poses were added to the meditation seats. 

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define the term “asana” as the following: “[a position that] is steady and comfortable”.  Patanjali includes the ability to sit for long periods as one of the limbs of his system.

It was claimed – in medieval Hatha texts – that asanas provide both spiritual and physical benefits. More recent studies have provided evidence that Yoga poses improve flexibility, strength, and balance. In addition, they reduce stress and conditions related to this modern pandemic. Yoga has been noted to alleviate some diseases such as asthma and diabetes.

What is ‘pranayama’?

The word ‘pranayama’ is a compound noun that is made up of two separate Sanskrit terms: ‘prana’ and ‘yama’. The Atharvaveda, which is one of the earliest Vedic texts on Indian medicine, puts forward that ‘prana’ is the underlying basis of whatever is, was, and will be. Other books on the subject often translate ‘prana’ as the following: “life force” or “vital energy”. The term ‘yama’ is frequently interpreted as “restraint” or “control”.

Thus, to combine the two, ‘pranayama’ is typically defined as a set of practices designed to regulate prana within the human body. This regulation is done with various breathing techniques, meditative visualisations and physical locks (which is terms as ‘kumbhaka’ in Sanskrit).

What are the benefits of ‘pranayama’?

Prana is the driving power behind all the functions of the body. These various functions – for example, swallowing, digestion, and physical movement – are all reliant of the effective working of the prana in the body.

The origins of all disease and mental imbalance can be traced back to irregularities and insufficiencies in the body’s energy flow. The practice of pranayama serves as a particularly compelling manner to heal illness and correct mental imbalances. This is because the controlling of breathing is the most direct method of affecting life force.

Yoga is about an approach to life that values the appropriate effort. This is based on balance and harmony, within each person and with each other.

Editorial Team
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