Yoga is largely thought to be a religious practice from Hinduism. It is true that the concept and the system of yoga were devised by the Hindus and it is widely practiced among the Hindus, however, yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism, or religion for that matter. Yoga is mental and physical exercise, there is nothing religious. Having said that the Hindus have always used yoga for spiritual gains and enlightenment.
Components of Yoga
Asanas (body postures) Pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation (referred to as dhyana) are the three components of yoga that are practiced combined to achieve mental freedom, fitness, health, spiritual awakening, and enlightenment. Asanas are physical exercises that include warm-up, physical training, and cardio. While asana focus on physical exercise, pranayama is a mental exercise done through various breathing techniques. Meditation is a physical and mental relaxation for maximum happiness.
Various Branches of Yoga
When someone mentions yoga, it is generally referred to as a system of various body postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. However, there is more to yoga. Some of the popular branches of yoga are:
- Raja yoga: Raj yoga is basically a branch of yoga that emphasizes spiritual awakening through the practice of meditation. Raj Yoga is also aimed at calming the mind for happiness and peace.
- Hatha Yoga: Hatha Yoga is primarily performed by the Shaivites. It includes forcing the body and mind to perform certain mental and physical positions.
- Karma yoga: Karma yoga was propounded by Lord Krishna. This branch of yoga is related to doing karma without expecting any rewards.
- Bhakti yoga: This branch of yoga is related to devotion. People sing and dance as an act of God worship.
- Jnana yoga: Jnana means wisdom, thus this branch of yoga is related to gaining wisdom through the study of scriptures.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about yoga, a lot of people think yoga is 60-90 minutes session on a mat. However, the fact is yoga is a system that transforms your life completely. Yoga will help you gain health and fitness, cure various physical and mental disorders, relax your mind and body, gain spiritual awakening, etc. You can learn yoga by reading books, watching DVDs, youtube videos, or attending yoga classes under the guidance of a yoga teacher.
- Complete fitness: The asanas in yoga are warmups, workout regimes and cardio combined into one. Various asanas target various parts of the body to burn fats, release toxins, and strengthen muscles and organs.
- Treat and cure diseases: Yoga is also a medicinal system that cures and treats the body without taking medicines.
- Stress relief: You can tackle stress, anxiety, and depression by performing breathing exercise as recommended in pranayama. Pranayama makes you happy.
- Inner peace: The pranayama techniques in yoga helps you to relax your mind and body for inner peace.
- Better immunity: Yoga is a natural way to improve your physiology, psychology, and emotions. It makes your mind, body and soul strong in a natural way.
- Better relationship: Hard to believe but the true fact is that yoga helps in improving the relationship with your spouse, loved ones, and parents.
It is not exactly known when Yoga began in India, some people suggest that Yoga is as old as the Vedas as it has been mentioned in the Vedas. It is believed that the Hindus began composing Vedas about 5000 BC. The ancient Hindu savants were more interested in exploring the inner world rather than the outer world. Therefore, unlike in the West, India did not progress much in science and technology, however, India did pretty well in the field of human conscience. The ancient sages were able to dig deep into the human psyche. They not only discovered how the mind and body actually work but also what a person can do if he is able to use the body in full potential.
Yoga as we know today was devised by Patanjali about 15-16 hundred years ago, however, Lord Shiva is said to be the first Yogi. Lord Shiva is usually referred to as Adi Yogi, or the First Yogi. The asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), dhayana (meditation) that yoga prescribes were believed to be founded by Adi Yogi.
According to yoga, the mind is the most volatile thing in the world, this fact is also ascertained by science. The primary aim of yoga is to tame this mind for absolute peace and happiness. The secondary purpose of yoga is the make your body healthy and fit and use the body to be enlightened. The Asanas are the major components of yoga. Asanas are physical exercises, however, asanas are performed according to the synchronization with the mind. Body postures are performed with the guidance of breathing. Asanas target different parts of the body, different organs of the body to make them healthy and cure various ailments. Even though asanas are physical postures, they are done through mental guidance.
Diet and lifestyle also play major roles in yoga. Yoga has dos and don’ts about eating and lifestyle. Yoga suggests things you should eat and things you should not eat. Yoga even suggest when you should wake up, when you should go to bet etc.
Wondering about how Yoga works for your mind, body and soul?
- Yoga strengthens your mind, empty your mind from wandering thoughts
Since yoga tames the mind, by doing yoga regularly you will be more relaxed and poised, thus being able to make better decisions. You will be relieved from mental issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, or any kind of psychological disorder.
- Yoga strengthens your body for better health and fitness
The yoga Asanas are warm-ups, workout regimes, and cardio exercises. Thus, yoga helps you to gain health by making your body fit.
- Yoga improves your physiology
Yoga improves the circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, and all kinds of bodily systems.
- Yoga connects the mind with the body, or vice versa, to create a perfect balance between the mind and the body
Yoga strengthens your mind and strengthens your body to create harmony between the body and the mind.