Yoga is an experiencing science.
What does that mean?
The goal of yoga is the unification of the body, mind and soul. And the practice of yoga is complete by following the eight fold path.
However, in today’s fast paced life it is difficult for most people to contribute so much time for practicing yoga in its totality. Thus, asana (the 3rd limb of yoga) is accepted and practiced widely.
Yoga Health Benefits
The question often arises if Yoga is indeed an alternative medicine.
And the answer is YES!
For a wide range of health problems daily practice of Yoga may be the answer, with an emphasis its ability to help the body’s natural capacity for healing.
In part 1 of a three part series we will explore the eight limbs of yoga as well as specific health benefits of Yoga.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
As mentioned earlier Yoga is a practicing science. Therefore you cannot again any benefits by reading about Yoga — instead one has to move his or her limbs and actually practice Yoga.
1. YAMA: (Abstentions)
The five universal laws include:
- sexual restraint
- freedom from desire
2. NIYAMA: (Individual discipline)
The Yama are universal moral ethics, niyama are the individual moral rules which help to bring out an ideal individual. These include personal conduct of cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study of one’s own self and devotion to God.
3. ASANA: (Postures)
Asana is a Sanskrit word meaning “Steady Pose.”
Asanas are specifically designed to promote a state of mental and physical well-being.
4. PRANAYAMA: (Yogic Breathing)
The yogic breathing involves deep breathing which helps to supply vital energy to the whole body. In exhalation you expel waste and toxins out of your body.
5. PRATYAHARA: (Withdrawal of control of senses)
This involves withdrawal from all desires which is believed to be the root cause of misery and pain.
This path plays the role of connecting one from the first four paths to the last three paths, from the worldly pleasures to the eternal bliss.
6. DHARANA: (Concentration)
This practice aims in bringing focus to the mind.
The longer the mind remains in this state the more focus it gets. A controlled minds brings about proper thinking.
7. DHYANA: (Meditation)
Uninterrupted focus of attention in Dharana leads to Dhyana.
The whole body, mind and breath becomes one — bringing about the unification of the whole self.
8. SAMADHI: (Superconscious state )
It is the state of total oneness with the eternal one, and freedom from all sense of existence.
Following the eight fold path indeed brings about a well balanced lifestyle, but in this modern life which is fast paced it is understandable that we often have very little time and space to practice Yoga in its entirety.
So what can you do?
You should practice yoga at least once in a day, with a duration of at least 30 minutes. The reason is that consistent practice of Yoga will stimulate your whole body system for smooth and balanced functioning.
General effects of Yoga and Pranayam are:
- Relief from tension
- Improvement of complexion
- Normalized weight
- A trim and firm figure
- Cleanliness and strengthening of lungs
- Improved circulation
- Recovery from chronic fatigue
- Makes the person slim flexible and elastic
- Cures and helps in prevention diseases
- Helps in regulating the breathing mechanism and increases vital capacity
- Develops fitness by improving strength, endurance, and flexibility
- It is most cost effective
Yogasanas are superior to physical exercises, because:
- muscles remain relaxed to a greater extent whereas in physical exercises they are constantly contracted
- movement is more economical that other forms of exercises
- you gain a sense of self development which enhances moral qualities where as other exercises give a feeling of competition
In the next article we will explore more health benefits of Yoga, including three key steps to follow for better health.
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