Most people, specially from western worlds, think of yoga as
merely an eastern exercise program. Nothing could be further from
the truth. The underlying purpose behind the practice of yoga -
the literal meaning of yoga is `joining' - is to reunite the
individual self (Jiva) with the absolute or pure consciousness
Union with this unchanging reality liberates the spirit from
all sense of separation, freeing it from the illusions of time,
space and causation. Since according to yogic philosophy the human
body and mind are part of the illusory world of matter, with a
limited time span, while the soul /spirit is eternal and passes
onto another world when this body wears out. Thus, central to
yogic philosophy are the concepts of Karma (cause- effect
relationships) and Reincarnation.
Yoga is therefore regarded as a divine science of life,
revealed to enlightened sages in meditation. First textual mention
in the Vedas was corroborated by oldest archeological evidence of
seals from the Indus Valley dating back to around 3000 B.C. The
Upanishads that followed the Vedas provide the main foundation of
Vedanta philosophy (that espouses the idea of an absolute
consciousness called Brahma) and yoga teachings.
Around the sixth century B.C. appeared the massive epic The
Mahabharata written by sage Vyasa and containing The Bhagavad Gita.
Apparently a set of battlefield instructions on one's duties in
life, they are very allegorical in showing how the challenges of
life have to be faced - so much so that it is often considered the
best book on management ever written. The Gita contains yoga terms
and concepts to enable the reader face life similarly.
The backbone of Raja Yoga is furnished by
Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, thought to have been written in the third century B.C. The
classical text on Hatha Yoga, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which
describes the various asanas and breathing exercises which form
the basis of the practice of modern yoga, was compiled much later
by a yogi named Svatmarama.
In the modern perspective, Yoga is one of the most effective
and wholesome forms of experience to control the waves of thought
by converting mental & physical energy into spiritual energy. Yoga
eases away pent-up tension, rejuvenates the body & soul, enhances
concentration, cures diseases and keeps a hold on the aging
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga helps to bring natural order and balance to the neuro-hormones
and metabolism in the body.
At the same time, these exercises improve endocrine
metabolism, thus providing you with a preventive shield.
Yogic postures activate the energies that have accumulated
and stagnated in the energy pockets of the body - since left
inert, these energies create various ailments.
Yogic exercises cleanse your body, mind and consciousness by
venting toxins from the body.