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Yoga is a form of exercise that connects the mindwith the soul of a body and this connection make people a powerful individual who can control their feelings, fears, and expectations. Yoga is taken from a Sanskrit word ‘Yog’, which means ‘joining together’ or ‘union’. The main objectives of yoga are direct interaction with nature, relaxation, proper breathing and the balance of body with mind, which can be found through its daily basis practices. It increases the flexibility and strength of muscles. Yoga unites our body with the powerful method for meditation and also improve the concentration level.
In the modern world, yoga is the cheapest and very effective method of reducing stress and anxiety. It was originated thousand years back in Indian society, and now approximately 2 billion of people are practising yoga worldwide. Now, let’s put some light on the history and origin of yoga.
History of Yoga
In the ancient hierarchy of knowledge, there were four ‘Vedas’ divided into four sub-Vedas and further subdivided into limbs (Upanyas), out of which one is yoga. The word Yoga is mentioned in the Rig Veda (one of the oldest sacred text of human history) which initially used to mean “yoking of horses. Rishis and Brahmins (mystic seers) gradually quoted yoga as a spiritual activity which promotes the spiritual journey. Lord Krishna also defined yoga as a balanced state of mind, emotions, thoughts, intellect and behaviour in Bhagavad Gita.
The yoga was started during the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5000 years ago. In pre-classical stage, there were various ideas, beliefs, and techniques that often created a situation of conflict and contradiction. Then Maharshi Patanjali, the expounder of yoga, profound the first systematic presentation of yoga. He defined Patanjali’s ‘Yoga-Sutra’ and classified it into ‘eight limbs parts’ containing the steps and stages to get Samadhi or enlightenment, which are:
- Yama (abstinences)
- Niyama (observances)
- Asana (yoga postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation) and
- samadhi (absorption).
In the middle ages, the practice of yoga was confined only to the royals and scholar classes. Later on, Patanjali yoga masters came in light with principle text and taught the practice of yoga to the social groups.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters began to travel to the west and promoted the practice of yoga. In 1893, Swami Vivekananda wowed the attendees with his lecture on yoga at Parliament of Religion in Chicago, and then it came into the acknowledgment of Western civilization. After that, T.Krishnamacharya, Swami Shivanand, and many yoga gurus spread the benefits of yoga, types of yoga asana, and its different ways to practice. So, let’s discuss various types of asanas.
Types of Yoga Asanas
Yoga practices include various types of asanas which brings an exceptional benefit for the yoga practitioner. Besides physical fitness, yoga purifies our spirit too, that why it is suggested to focus on breathing right from the beginning. There is specific yoga for different purposes, and only the required ones can be practised. Here are a few basic yoga asanas that can help you to get started:
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose): The word ‘Tada’ means mountain, and it teaches to stand with majestic steadiness like a mountain. It is the standing position for all the other asanas and improves concentration.
- Adho Mukho Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose): This pose lets you feel energetic as it stretches the chest hang and lengthen the spine. It also regulates the flow of blood from the toe to the head.
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose): ‘Trikona’ stands for a triangle, and this pose involves feet and arms forming the shape of the triangle. It stretches the legs and torso, mobilizes the hips, and promotes the breathing.
- Vrikshasana (Tree Pose): ‘Vriksha’ means tree and this pose teaches to maintain the balance of body just like a tree. It gives a sense of grounding by improving the balance of the leg and back.
- Kursiasana (Chair Pose): It is an intensely powerful pose that strengthens the muscles of legs and arms. With an energizing effect on the mind, it builds confidence and willpower too.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): This pose increases the flexibility of the spine and strengthens the lower back muscle. It cushions the spine, triceps, and open the chest for inhalations.
- Naukasana (Boat Pose): In this asana, the body takes the posture of the boat. It tightens the stomach muscles and teaches a sense of stability.
There are many other yoga postures like Paschimottasana, Child’s pose, Sukhasana etc. and regular practice of all the yoga postures results to be very beneficial in one’s life.
Benefits of Yoga
The prime minister Narendra Modi, in his UN address, explained the importance of yoga and suggested the date of June 21 be celebrated as International yoga day. This day is celebrated annually on June 21 since 2015, after the declaration by the United Nations general assembly (UNGA) in 2014.
Leading the first international yoga day celebrated in the year 2015, the prime minister enthusiast everyone including soldiers, students, officials, and leaders in a yoga demonstration at the historical place Rajpath. It led down of new era by creating awareness in school, colleges, and other places about the benefits of yoga. Among numerous advantages, some of the prominent benefits of practising yoga are mentioned below:
- Yoga reduces stress levels and helps to cope with the feeling of anxiety. Multiple studies have shown that regular practicing of yoga decreases the secretion of the primary stress hormone, cortisol.
- Many people add yoga to their fitness routine to maintain body balance and improve flexibility. Research shows that practicing yoga just for 15 to 30 minutes, make a big difference for those looking to enhance performance.
- A study in 2009, found that practicing Prayanam or ‘Yogic-Breathing’ has improved the function of lungs and reduced the causes of respiratory diseases. Regular breathing practices help in building endurance, optimize performance, and keep our lungs and heart-healthy.
- Chronic pain is the persistent problem that affects millions of people, but practicing yoga reduces the hereditary pain and also maintain blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose level, as well as heart rate.
- It is an old saying that “waist circumference and blood measurement – a marker for heart diseases.” Yoga improves the living style, food habits, and promotes a night of sound sleep.
Yoga is a special science which teaches us how to live a healthy life and how to remain satisfied with our life decisions. Baba Ramdev, a renowned yoga guru and founder of Patanjali association, himself became paralyzed when he was two and a half years old, claimed that he was cured via practising yoga. So, yoga is a therapy which helps in getting rid of illness slowly if practice regularly.
Yoga is a practice that works on eight levels of development in the area of mental, physical, spiritual, and social health and also makes some positive changes to the internal body. It is the secret of a healthy, relaxed, active, calm, and long life without using any artificial technologies and medicines.