India’s Heritage Yoga, has been practiced for yugas by yogis. Today’s era, finds every person conscious and mindful of their physical fitness. People indulge in different cardio as well as non-cardio regime like cross-fitness training, gym, weight training, swimming, walking, running, cycling, marathon and trilithon. But seldom with mindfulness. Exercise or any fitness routine is not just a form of maintaining the body at a superficial level rather it has to be worked from inside out. A medium to connect with inner potential of maintaining health, and feeling calm.This is the difference between Yoga and any other form of exercise or fitness training.
Yoga as explained by Patanjali, is the union of body, mind and soul. Unlike every other form of exercise, yoga guides the mind to focus on that part of the body and muscle which are being used for a particular asana. Mindful concentration on the specific body part make us aware and connects us with the specific muscles, bones and tissue being used for the asana. We unite with our own body and understand its rhythm by sensing the opening up and relaxation of the specific muscles. This union of mind and movement draws more prana essential for physical, mental and emotional wellness.
Our body and mind require energy to do all the work. Energy is gained from the food we consume and life- force. Life force also called as prana energy is absorbed through deep inhalation and exhalation cycles during the practice of yoga and pranayama.Regular practice of pranayama not only regulates our breathing but also helps using right body part and muscles for breathing. It lowers the pressure on the heart, which purifies the blood and supplies it to our body. Diaphragmatic breathing facilitates use of core abdominal muscles for breathing, allowing full expansion of the lungs rather than superficial use of chest or neck muscle. Incorrect breathing technique puts excess pressure on the chest and neck muscle tensing them and leading to various ailments.Yoga detoxifies all the accumulated toxins and awakens the brain-cells, whichpurify and rejuvenate our thoughts, attitude and uplifts our mood.
One of Patanjali’s sutra throws light upon an important aspect of life which, we tend to ignore.
“Yoga; Chitta, Vritti, Nirodha”
Yoga; Chitta, Vritti, Nirodha means cleansing and detoxifying thoughts, attitude and approach in life. Problems commence with the accumulation of baggage of emotions. Chitta are our thoughts, Vritti, our tendencies and samaskaras are the vortices, which get accumulated around our spinal centre over incarnationsand have a deep influence our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Nirodha is cleansing and detoxificationof the mind and body.
Yoga works at a deep level by repairing the body cells for a young, rejuvenated, happy and healthy self. Fitness regime of every type keep us agile and energetic, but regular practice of yoga makes us alert, sharpens our memory, reverses the age and most importantly it improves the body immunity level. Yoga asanas facilitate complete stretching of body muscles allowing them to breath. Mindful deep breathing techniques,enhance the supply of blood and oxygen to the body.
Power yoga, 40 degree yoga, restorative yoga are the different approaches to yoga in the past few years. But what is vital is to be mindful of the asana being performed by bringing awareness to the movement and becoming one with the asana. Simply doing intense physical movement of an asana but mind wandering in the valley scattered thoughts does not yield desired result. Not the number of asanas but the quality time spent on every asana is significant. Slow and gradual movement into the asana and holding yourself in that asana as long as your body permits, helps tone the body muscles, maintain weight, stay alert and energetic, always.
Of the different Yoga style that I have come across, what has appealed me the most is Ananda Yoga form of Hatha yoga. It is meditation in movement. It does not lay emphasis on physical well-being alone but leads to an emotional and mental transformation too with constant awareness to breathing.
Every asana has an affirmation associated with it. Mentally affirming along with the asana has twin benefit. First, when entering into an asana,mind is guided to focus and concentrate on the asana and the muscles being used and following the simple inhalation and exhalation pattern instead of assuming the final posture. Second, the mind does not wander in the valley of thoughts. It allows to keep the attention in the moment deriving maximum benefit with this union of your body, mind and spirit.
A deeper level of Yoga which, works at the subtle prana or breath is known as Kriya Yoga, which was introduced by Sri Lahiri Mahasaya disciple of Mahavatar Babaji, a deathless Guru.With its roots and origin in India, today,yoga is learnt and practiced by many schools and adopted in different styles/ techniques/ names across the world.Yoga has travelled out from east not only to the west but in deep pockets across the globe. This is the journey of yoga.
By declaring 21st June as International Yoga Day in 2015 our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has not only created a platform for global recognition of India’s heritage, but has also stirred the chord in people’s hearts to take the first step towards self-awareness and healthy living.
Breathe in calmness; breathe out anxiety with Hatha Yoga and embrace life.
Love & Light!