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Yoga Has Never Been More Popular PDF Print E-mail

Yoga has never been more popular as a therapeutic and as a preventive science due to its well-proven benefits for stress-relief and relaxation in today’s world.


But its true effects on health go way deeper than just these few to mention. Though, yoga is a subtle spiritual science which teaches us to take an inner journey towards self-realization and achieving good health, may not be its main goal, but is a necessary and initial step towards this long journey. As per Patanjali, only a healthy body and mind can achieve Samadhi.

In general, we can define good health as a state when all the organs and body parts including joints, tissues, muscles, cells, nerves, and glands function perfectly in harmony under the intelligent control of the mind, and science of Yoga is geared toward this physical and mental harmony approaching both as an integrated entity not separate ones. Yoga emphasizes that good health can never be isolated at the physical level and it is much more than toning, stretching, and strengthening of few muscles or bones in our bodies. The body, mind and spirit interact at various levels of consciousness and imbalance in one will lead to the problem in the other. Yoga practice is always aimed at bringing harmony at body, mind and spirit level.

Let’s take a deeper look at yoga philosophy to find its effects on various aspects of health: physical, mental and spiritual.

According to yoga philosophy, the body is made of three layers : casual body(karana sharira); the subtle body(sukshma sharira) and the gross body (karya sharira) and five sheaths: The anatomical sheath (annamaya kosha), which is regulated by Asanas; The life-force sheath (pranamaya kosha) regulated by pranayam practice; The pshychological sheath (manomaya kosha) regulated by meditation; The intellectual sheath (vinamaya kosha) by studying the scriptures with sincerity; The sheath of bliss (anandmaya kosha) achieved by regulating the previous four sheaths.

A complete yoga practice which is also termed as “Sarvang Sadhana” helps penetrate these layers and sheaths in the body and finally reach level of consciousness itself, thereby resulting in all-round development and harmony of mind, body and soul. These benefits are unlike other forms of exercises which work on specific body parts mainly working with the skeletal and muscular systems.

Even distribution of prana or life-force energy is also a very important aspect of Yoga science, as most diseases in today’s world are caused by the fluctuations in brain, clutter of mind and behavioral pattern of the body. Most of the Prana or life force energy is wasted in our body in cluttered thoughts, emotional blocks and worries making us sick. By quieting and calming the mind through asana, pranayama and meditation practice, 100% of vital energy is channelized towards bodily healing and rejuvenation. It should be noted that it is depletion of prana or vital energy which is the main cause of many of the health problems such as high or low blood pressure, osteoarthritis, diabetes, asthma, anorexia. Asana and pranayama practice can help towards even distribution of prana or life-force energy, improving the circulation throughout the body, cleansing the toxins and restoring good health. As per Swami Vishnu Devananda, “All diseases of the body can be destroyed at the root by regulating prana; this is the secret knowledge of healing”.

Another main focus of Yoga practice is the health of the spine. As per a Chinese proverb, “ Youth of a person is determined by the health his spine”. By maintaining spinal flexibility, circulation is improved nourishing the whole nervous system. Physical benefits of yoga practice are very well explained by Swami Vishnu-Devananda, “ It acts as a lubrication system to joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons by increasing circulation and flexibility. The focus on spine within yoga leads to improved posture, freedom from aches and pain. Yogic exercise can be compared to no other system in its complete overhauling of the entire being.”

Another unique feature of yoga is its ability to strengthen, regulate and balance Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems representing “Ha” and “Tha” sides respectively. Any imbalance in their functioning is supposed be the cause of various illnesses ranging from digestive problems to the mental illnesses. A comprehensive practice including proper sequencing of postures, meditation and Anulom-vilom will bring the obvious and subtle health benefits in this direction. Meditation and Yoga-nidra practice have the ability to help us reach the sub-conscious level of our mind with full awareness and to alter many of the negative thought patterns, bad habits to restore the normal functioning of Sympathetic and Para Sympathetic nervous systems.

Effects of Pranayama or different Yoga breathing techniques on health are numerous too. Yoga breaths can cleanse, heal, balance, calm and energize at various levels. Breath is considered as a direct link between mind and body. As per yogis,” if we can control our breaths, we can control every aspect of our life.” Since there is a direct relationship between our breaths and state of mind, pranayama practice can easily help cleanse, calm and balance the mind bringing clarity in thoughts and reducing stress. As our stressful lives always lead to anxiety, depression, anger and, restlessness causing pain, fatigue, indifference, doubt, confusion, laziness, self-delusion and despair. Pranayama and meditation practice can help overcome such negative emotions by strengthening the nervous system, bringing chemical balance of the brain, emotional stability and clarity of mind to improve our capacity to endure stress.

Another unique health benefit of yoga practice is hormonal balance which is mostly ignored by other forms of exercises. The endocrine system in our bodies consists of pancreas, thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, adrenal, gonads also called ductless glands, secret the hormones directly in blood stream or lymph. It is the delicate balance between these hormone levels which is very essential for normal functioning of different organs in harmony. Mental and physical fatigue, fear, sorrows, anger, jealousy, hatred, love and other emotions directly affect the functioning of these glands causing imbalances which lead to various health problems such as blood pressure, heart problem, thyroid disorders, menstrual disorders in women and many more. Many of the yoga postures strengthen and nourish these glands to bring balance and restore health.

The spiritual health benefits of yoga practice are the most powerful but very subtle at the same time as it can fill the spiritual void created by our materialistic lives and give us the purpose of life by uniting with the self which the supreme goal of yoga. As per a yogic saying “There is a beautiful world to be explored inside each one of us. Unless we understand our inner world, we cannot understand and truly enjoy the external world.”

In conclusion, yoga is a complete health package with its endless health benefits. It is a way of life and more of work-in than work-out. Stress reduction, relaxation, pain management, strengthening , stretching and toning of muscles are not the only benefits of the yoga practice. It has power to heal the root cause of diseases by bringing harmony at mind, body, and intellect and soul level. Any sincere veteran yogi would agree that its benefits begin at the physical level, leading to mental peace and clarity which ultimately leads towards happy, purposeful life to love and serve the world, the ultimate goal of yoga.



New Hatha Yoga class with Vishnu Ananda

Come and experience class with Vishnu Ananda, starting on October 30th at 7pm. This class will be in English only. To learn about Vishnu, please go to http://www.yogapoint.cz/instruktori/vishnu-ananda/. Registration is not needed.

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