Table of Contents Hide
Dr Sushil Rudra
INTRODUCTION: WHY DO WE NEED TO PRACTICE YOGA?
View on Amazon
Why do we need to Yoga? Because the modern lifestyle is very hectic and stressful. From Morning to Night we are passing through a pact schedule. Work, work and work. We have no time to get rest, not to look after our body and mind. This stressful life ultimately calls an acute impact on our physical and mental health.
We become fatigued and sometimes we have to face ailments both physically and mentally. So to prevent it, we need to practice some exercises and yogas. Only 30 minutes of practice yoga might repair all our stress and weaknesses.
WHY YOGA? MEANING OF IT :
The word “Yoga” means to unite and it does just that with the mind, body and soul. A union with the universe can be attained as well along with a proper understanding and appreciation of the world one lives in.
As Lord Krishna himself explains to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, “Yoga is our intimate connection with the whole universe, with eternal realms even beyond the manifested universe, and with our own being’s endless capacity to love.”
In a hectic sleep-deprived world, Yoga is not just a practice, it is a lifestyle. Several countries have adopted and lived by it ever since. Apart from bringing about detoxification, Yoga also incorporates several health benefits, something the body of the modern human craves.
In the chaos of establishing a loving family and attaining a well-to-do job, one barely has the time to lead a well-nourished lifestyle. A thirty-minute Yoga session is both enriching and fulfilling. The health benefits are plentiful.
Yoga is also beneficial in fighting several diseases. The Pranayama exercises strive to cure asthma, several Yoga Asanas can help to contain cholesterol levels, induce good posture and elevate the body’s immunity.
Yoga is now a worldwide phenomenon and is widely practised in the modern world for its far-reaching properties. Yoga is an essential part of life for many who adore doing the Asanas and is being continuously adopted by many more.
THE DOWN: ADI GURU
The practise of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization. The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religions or belief systems were born. In the yogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru or Adi Guru.
Several thousand years ago, on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis or “seven sages”.
The sages carried this powerful yogic science to different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe.
INDIA IS THE MOTHER’S WOMB
However, it was in India that the yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.
It’s ancient India where the first yoga was started. Because several seals and fossil remains of the Indus Saraswati valley civilization with Yogic motives and figures performing yoga indicate the presence of Yoga in India.
The Number of seals and fossil remains of the Indus Saraswati valley civilization with Yogic motives and figures performing Yoga Sadhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India.
The phallic symbols and seals of idols of the Mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. The presence of Yoga is available in folk traditions, Indus valley civilization, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharat and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas, and Tantric traditions.
In addition, there was a primordial or pure Yoga which has been manifested in mystical traditions of South Asia. This was the time when Yoga was being practised under the direct guidance of the Guru and its spiritual value was given special importance.
YOGA IS A PART OF WORSHIP
It was a part of Upasana and yoga sadhana was inbuilt into their rituals. Sun was given the highest importance during the Vedic period. The practice of ‘Surya namaskar may have been invented later due to this influence.
Pranayama was a part of daily ritual and offered the oblation. Though Yoga was being practised in the pre-Vedic period, the great Sage Maharshi Patanjali systematized and codified the then-existing practices of Yoga, its meaning and its related knowledge through his Yoga Sutras.
After Patanjali, many Sages and Yoga Masters contributed greatly to the preservation and development of the field through their well-documented practices and literature.
Historical pieces of evidence of the existence of Yoga were seen in the pre-Vedic period (2700 B.C.), and thereafter till Patanjali’s period. The main sources, from which we get the information about Yoga practices and the related literature during this period, are available in Vedas (4), Upanishads(108), Smritis, teachings of Buddhism, Jainism, Panini, Epics (2), Puranas (18) etc.
Tentatively, the period between 500 BC – 800 A.D. is considered the Classical period which is also considered the most fertile and prominent period in the history and development of Yoga.
During this period, commentaries of Vyasa on Yoga Sutras and Bhagavadgita etc. came into existence. This period can be mainly dedicated to two great religious teachers of India –Mahavir and Buddha.
THE CONCEPT OF FIVE VOWS : WHY DO WE NEED TO PRACTICE YOGA?
The concept of Five great vows – Pancha mahavrata- by Mahavir and Ashta Magga or eightfold path by Buddha – can be well considered as early nature of Yoga sadhana. We find its more explicit explanation in Bhagavadgita which has elaborately presented the concept of Gyan yoga, Bhakti yoga and Karma Yoga.
These three types of yoga are still the highest example of human wisdom and even today people find peace by following the methods shown in the Gita.
VARIOUS YOGA GURUS
Patanjali’s yoga sutra besides containing various aspects of yoga is mainly identified with eight fold path of Yoga. The very important commentary on the Yoga sutra by Vyasa was also written.
During this very period, the aspect of the mind was given importance and it was brought out through Yoga sadhana, Mind and body both can be brought under control to experience equanimity.
The period between 800 A.D. – 1700 A.D. has been recognized as the Post Classical period wherein the teachings of great Acharyatrayas-Adi Shankracharya, Ramanujacharya, and Madhavacharya-were prominent during this period.
The teachings of Suradasa, Tulasidasa, Purandardasa, and Mirabai were the great contributors during this period. The Natha Yogis of Hathayoga Tradition like Matsyendaranatha, Gorkshanatha, Cauranginatha, Swatmaram Suri, Gheranda, and Shrinivasa Bhatt are some of the great personalities who popularized the Hatha Yoga practices during this period.
The period between 1700 – 1900 A.D. is considered the Modern period in which the great Yogacharyas- Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Paramhansa Yogananda, Vivekananda etc. have contributed to the development of Raja Yoga.
This was the period when Vedanta, Bhakti yoga, Nathayoga or Hatha-yoga flourished. The Shadanga-yoga of Gorakshashatakam, Chaturanga-yoga of Hathayogapradipika, and Saptanga-yoga of Gheranda Samhita were the main tenents of Hatha-yoga.
Now in contemporary times, everybody has a conviction about yoga practices towards the preservation, maintenance and promotion of health.
Yoga has spread all over the world through the teachings of great personalities like Swami Shivananda, Shri T.Krishnamacharya, Swami Kuvalayananda, Shri Yogendra, and Swami Rama, Sri Aurobindo, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Acharya Rajanish, Pattabhijois, BKS. Iyengar, Swami Satyananda Sarasvati and the like.
B.K.S. Iyengar was the founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga” and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.
CONCEPTION ON YOGA
For many, the practice of yoga is restricted to Hatha Yoga and Asanas (postures). However, among the Yoga Sutras, just three sutras are dedicated to asanas.
fundamentally, hatha yoga is a preparatory process so that the body can sustain higher levels of energy. The process begins with the body, then the breath, the mind, and the inner self.
Yoga is also commonly understood as a therapy or exercise system for health and fitness. While physical and mental health is natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching.
TRUE MEANING OF YOGA
“Yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of perception and harmony.”
Yoga does not adhere to any particular religion, belief system or community; it has always been approached as a technology for inner wellbeing. Anyone who practices yoga with involvement can reap its benefits, irrespective of one’s faith, ethnicity or culture.
Traditional Schools of Yoga :
These different Philosophies, Traditions, lineages and Guru-shishya paramparas of Yoga lead to the emergence of different Traditional Schools of Yoga e.g. Jnana-yoga, Bhakti-yoga, Karma-yoga, Dhyana-yoga, Patanjala-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Hatha-yoga, Mantra-yoga, Laya-yoga, Raja-yoga, Jain-yoga, Bouddha-yoga etc. Each school has its own principles and practices leading to the ultimate aim and objectives of Yoga.
Yogic Practices for Health and Wellness:6 Week’s Yoga Chart to Reduce Obesity
The widely practised Yoga Sadhanas (Practices) are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana (Meditation), Samadhi /Samyama, Bandhas & Mudras, Shat-karmas, Yukta-ahara, Yukta karma, Mantra japa, etc.
Yama’s are restraints and Niyama’s are observances. These are considered to be pre-requisite for the Yoga Sadhanas (Practices). Asanas, capable of bringing about stability of body and mind ‘ kuryat-tad-asanam-sthairyam…’, consists in adopting various body (psycho-physical) patterns, giving the ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length and period as well.
Different postures of Pranayama:
Pranayama consists in 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.
In the initial stages, this is done by developing awareness of the ‘flow of in-breath and out-breath (svasa-prasvasa) through nostrils, mouth and other body openings, its internal and external pathways and destinations.
Later, this phenomenon is modified, through regulated, controlled and monitored inhalation (svasa) leading to the awareness of the body space/s getting filled (puraka), the space/s remaining in a filled state (kumbhaka) and it’s getting emptied (rechaka) during regulated, controlled and monitored exhalation (prasvasa).
Pratyahara indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness (withdrawal) from the sense organs which helps one to remain connected with the external objects. Dharana indicates broadPurushafield of attention (inside the body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration.
Dhyana (Meditation) is contemplation (focussed attention inside the body and mind) and Samadhi – integration.
PATANJALI YOGA SUTRA
The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali is a collection of Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga – 195 sutras (according to Vyāsa and Krishnamacharya) and 196 sutras (according to other scholars including BKS Iyengar).
The Yoga Sutras were compiled in the early centuries CE, by the sage Patanjali in India. He synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from much older traditions.
Some pages from a historic Yogasutra manuscript (Sanskrit, Devanagari). The verses are highlighted and are embedded inside the bhasya (commentary).
The Yoga Sutras are best known for their reference to ashtanga. These are eight elements of practice culminating in samadhi.
The concentration of the mind on an object of meditation, which are namely Yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration of the mind), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption).
However, its main aim is kaivalya, discernment of Purusha, the witness-conscious. It’s separate from Prakriti. The cognitive apparatus, and disentanglement of Purusha from prakriti’s muddled defilements.