The popularity and significance of yoga


What is yoga?

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.

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.”

Yoga is not a religion; it is a way of living whose aim is ‘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. 

This facilitates:

· Attainment of perfect equilibrium and


· 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 concen-

tration, especially important for 


· Reduces stress and tension in the 

physical body by activating the para- sympathetic 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 mind, body and soul. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve a peaceful body and mind, it helps to manage stress and anxiety and keep you relaxing. It also helps in increasing flexibility, muscle strength and body tone. It improved 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.

 The eight limbs of yoga

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are eight “limbs” (Ashtanga in Sanskrit) of yoga. Each limb relates to an aspect of achieving a healthy and fulfilling life, and each builds upon the one before it. Surprisingly only one of the limbs involves the performance of yoga postures. Eight limbs are as follows :

1. YAMA:

Five ethical guidelines regarding moral behavior towards others:

Ahimsa: Nonviolence

Satya: Truthfulness

Asteya: Nonstealing

Brahmacharya: Nonlust

Aparigraha: Noncovetesness


Five ethical guidelines regarding moral behavior towards oneself:

Saucha: Cleanliness

Santosa: Contentment

Tapas: Sustained practice

Svadhyaya: Self-study

Isvara pranidhana: Surrender to God


Practice of yoga postures.


Practice of breathing exercises.


Withdrawal of the senses, meaning that the exterior world is not a distraction from the interior world within oneself.


Concentration, meaning the ability to focus on something uninterrupted by external or internal distractions.


Meditation. Building upon Dharana, the concentration is no longer focused on a single thing but is all encompassing.


Bliss. Building upon Dhyana, the transcendence of the self through meditation. The merging of the self with the universe. Sometimes translated as enlightenment.


In brief the eight limbs are as follows:

· Yama: Universal morality

· Niyama: Personal observances

· Asanas: Body postures

·  Pranayama: Breathing exercises,

  and control of prana

·   Pratyahara: Control of the senses

· Dharana: Concentration and cul-

tivating inner perceptual awareness

· Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on

  the Divine

·  Samadhi: Union with the Divine –

April 2014
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