Category Archives: Yoga Concepts
Yoga and exercise are not the same. Today, most fitness programs teach exercises, Yoga asanas, pranayama, Tai Chi, aerobics, martial arts, etc or a combination of these. Though all of these are aimed at maintaining and improving health, few understand the difference between Yoga asanas and other forms of fitness methods.
Asana or Yoga Postures form the third step in Ashtanga Yoga. Maharishi Patanjali describes asana in Yoga Sutras as “Sthiram Sukham Asanam”, which means that asana is to stay in position or pose with ease. The purpose of yoga asana is to develop strength, balance and steadiness of the body which eventually leads to mastery over the mind.
Yoga benefits people of all age groups. The benefits range from mental peace, fitness, health, improved physiological functioning of the body and spiritual evolution.
The benefits of Yoga Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Shatkarma and Meditation reach all the levels of our being. To understand this, we need to know more about the different levels of our own individual existence.
Yoga as a lifestyle or the ‘yogic way’ has a huge following. It is amazing that a tradition which is more than 5000 years old has today become a popular way of life. The power of yoga lies in its simplicity, flexibility and diversity.
Role of the Guru in spiritual life is indisputable. The spiritual path is an esoteric path. Everything cannot be learned from scriptures and talks. Even if we understand a subject intellectually, it is not easy to put it to practice. One needs to undergo an inner shift to grasp the subtle truths about life and the creation. An external agent is required to help us through this change, which can be painful at times. When a larva wants to become a beautiful butterfly, it has to undergo various stages of transformation. That is a challenge. When we are ready for this challenge, the role of the Guru begins.
The Shatkarma or the six purification techniques in Hatha Yoga are designed to make the body strong and healthy. ‘Shat’ means six and ‘Karma’ here means a method or technique. Shatkarmas are considered preparatory steps towards higher practices of pranayama and meditation.
Prayer to Adi Yogi, Lord Shiva
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
This is the Mrityunjaya mantra of Lord Shiva which translates as:
“OM, We worship the three-eyed Lord Shiva, who is the fragrance of Life and nourishes our health. O Lord, just as a cucumber when ripe is freed from the vine, release us from attachment and death; and grant us the nectar of immortality.”
Yoga is one of the six main systems of Indian philosophy called Shad-Darshanas. Yoga is a philosophy as a well as a practical science. The Yoga system of philosophy has been existing from ancient times, but it was codified by Maharishi Patanjali in his classical treatise, today known as Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
Yoga and breath are deeply connected. When performing asana, pranayama and meditation, the correct breathing is essential to get the full benefits of the practice. Yogic breath is the natural breath.
Mudras are important practices in yoga. Mudra means a “sign” or a “seal” in Sanskrit. Mudras are various yogic gestures or positions using the fingers, hands, eyes or other parts of the body to channelize energy in a certain way. It can indicate a certain inner state of mind.