The true essence of yoga revolves around elevating the life force or ‘Kundalini’ at the base of the spine. It aims to achieve this through a series of physical and mental exercises. At the physical level, the methods comprise various yoga postures or ‘asanas’ that aim to keep the body healthy. The mental techniques include breathing exercises or ‘pranayama’ and meditation or ‘dhyana’ to discipline the mind.
“Yoga accepts. Yoga gives.” – April Vallei
The ultimate goal of yoga is, however, to help the individual to transcend the self and attain enlightenment. As the Bhagavad-Gita says, “A person is said to have achieved yoga, the union with the Self, when the perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires, and becomes absorbed in the Self alone.”
Importance of Yoga
Yoga is not a religion; it is a way of living that aims towards ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.
Man is a physical, mental and spiritual being; yoga helps promote a balanced development of all the three. Other forms of physical exercises, like aerobics, assure only physical well-being. They have little to do with the development of the spiritual or astral body.
Yogic exercises recharge the body with cosmic energy and facilitates:
- Attainment of perfect equilibrium and harmony
- Promotes self- healing.
- Removes negative blocks from the mind and toxins from the body
- Enhances personal power
- Increases self-awareness
- Helps in attention, focus and concentration, especially important for children
- Reduces stress and tension in the physical body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system
The aspirant feels rejuvenated and energized. Thus, yoga bestows upon every aspirant the powers to control body and mind.
Benefits of Yoga
The art of practicing yoga helps in controlling an individual’s mind, body and soul. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve a peaceful body and mind; it helps manage stress and anxiety and keeps you relaxing. It also helps in increasing flexibility, muscle strength and body tone. It improves respiration, energy and vitality. Practicing yoga might seem like just stretching, but it can do much more for your body from the way you feel, look and move.
Yoga asanas build strength, flexibility and confidence. Regular practice of yoga can help lose weight, relieve stress, improve immunity and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested United Nations to celebrate June 21 as the International Yoga Day as it is the summer solistice; the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being . Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” — Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly, September 2014.