Introduction of Yoga:
”Yoga” is an ancient Indian science which is the combination of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines. As a system of practice, yoga ,from the beginning has been one of the most influential features of Hinduism. The strong influence of yoga can also be seen in Buddhism. As the knowledge of yoga spread, it fascinated and won followers among westerners.
The doctrines and practices of yoga originated from the period of Upanishads. The Maestro Upanishad is particular outlines of the essential practice of yoga. The practices were elaborated and given a philosophical foundation in the yoga sutra by the Indian scholar ”Patanjali”, who is traditionally regarded as the founder of yoga.
In recent times yoga exercises have been recommended for cleansing the body impurities, tuning the nerves, muscles and bones, reducing obesity and generally improving health and prolonging life.
Yoga methods encompass the entire field of our existence from physical, emotional and mental to the spiritual. It includes ethical disciplines, physical postures, breath control and meditation.
International Yoga Day:
Recognizing its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21st June as the International Day of Yoga.
Eight Stages of Yoga:
- YAMA: ”Yama” means self control which involves truthfulness, abstinence, avoidance of theft, refusal of gift and not doing any injury to living things.
- NIYAMA: The word ”Niyama” means religious observance which embraces poverty, purification rites, austerity, contentment, recital of the Vedic hymns and devoted reliance on the supreme being.
- ASANA: ”Asana” means postures where there are great many, are regarded as basic to all the stages that follow.
- PRANAYAMA: ”Pranayama” means breathing exercise or regulation of the breath which includes breathing through either nostril at will, altering its depth and rhythm and the virtual suspension of breath.
- PRATYAHARA: The word ”Pratyahara” means restraint of the senses by their withdrawal from external objects and the consequent turning of the mind upon itself.
- DHARANA: ”Dharana” indicates steadying of the mind narrow attention to one part of the body, such as the navel, the tips of the nose or the middle of the brow and it such way renders the practitioner insensitive to outside distance.
- DHYANA: ”Dhyana” means meditation which fixes the mind on the object of knowledge, especially Brahma, to the exclusion of all other thoughts.
- SAMADHI: ”Samadhi” means profound contemplation which is the perfect absorption of thoughts in the object of knowledge, its union and identification with the object. The achievement of samadhi liberates the self from the illusions of sense and the contraindications of reason. It leads to an inner illumination, the ecstasy of the true knowledge of reality.