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.
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.
Yoga benefits people of all age groups. The benefits of yoga 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.
Pancha Prana Vayu or the five energy flows, enables the body and its organs to function. Essentially, the Pancha Prana Vayus are responsible for the entire physiology of the human system.
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 breathing is finding your natural breath.
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.
Asana, 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.
Samadhi in Yoga is the 8th and final stage or step in the system of eight-limbed Ashtanga Yoga. Samadhi is explained in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali as total absorption in the object of meditation, where the mind becomes completely still. There are various stages of Samadhi each leading to a higher super conscious state of mind.
Dhyana or meditation in yoga is the 7th stage or step in the eight-limbed Ashtanga Yoga. Dhyana is explained in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali as constant and effortless flow of awareness a point, object or a centre. Dhyana leads to Samadhi or the superconscious state (the 8th Stage of Ashtanga Yoga).
Dharana or Concentration in yoga is the sixth stage or step in the eight-limbed Ashtanga Yoga. Dharana is explained in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali as focusing the mind at a point or a centre. It has to be practiced after internalizing the mind through the process of Pratyahara (fifth stage in Ashtanga Yoga). Dharana leads to Dhyana or meditation (the 7th Stage of Ashtanga Yoga).