Yoga Asana is body posture. It is a Sanskrit word used to describe the position of the body. Patanjali, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga, defines asana as a ‘steady and comfortable posture.’ Traditionally, many asanas are practiced under the Hatha Yoga tradition, primarily to achieve better physical and mental health.
3. Yoga Pranayama (Yogic Breathing) :
Yoga Pranayama is constituted by two words: Prana and Ayama. Prana is the vital force which pervades the whole cosmos. Prana is subtler than air and can be defined as the energy essence that is lying within everything in the universe. Prana is the principle of development and sustenance both of the nervous and cellular tissues of the body and the mind. In the process of breathing when the prana air is inhaled, it results in definite action taking place. One is related to the ingestion of oxygen into the alveoli and the other to the ingestion of the nervous energy into the brain system. Ayama, on the other hand, means controlling or giving a rhythm or a definite flow. Viewed in this sense, pranayama may be defined as a process and technique through which vital energy can be stimulated and increased and this brings about perfect control over the flow of prana within the body.
Key Points :
- Pranayama practice provides freedom from negative and harmful mental conditions like anger, depression, lasciviousness, greed for money, arrogance and the like.
- With pranayama, the fluctuations of mind are controlled and it prepares the mind for perfect meditation. With the practice of pranayama, you would start experiencing lightness of body, feeling inner peace, better sleep, better memory, and better concentration. Consequently, it improves spiritual powers/ skills.
- Better functioning of the autonomic system improves the working of lungs, heart, diaphragm, abdomen, intestines, kidneys and pancreas.
4. Dhyan (Meditation)
The word meditation is derived from two Latin words: meditari (to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). Its Sanskrit derivation 'medha' means wisdom. Meditation is considered ordinarily as a worship or prayer. But it is not so. A focus is used, such as a candle flame, a Mantra or the rhythm of the natural breath. The surface mind tends to go out again and again, but the person in meditation gently brings it back to the subject of concentration. Meditation thus means a focused awareness. Whatever you do with such a focused awareness is meditation. ‘Watching your breath’ is meditation; listening to the birds is also meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.
Key Points :
- Meditation is one of the most natural and yet most profoundly rewarding of all human activities. It connects you with your own inner powers of vitality, clarity, and love. When done deeply, it also connects you with God and His infinite joy/Ananda.
5. Shithilikran (Relaxation) :
Yoga Asana, Yogic Deep breathing, Meditation and Yoga Nidra are four keys for Physical, Mental and Spiritual relaxation.
(a) Asana: Some yoga poses (Shavasana, Advasana, Jyestikasana, Balasana, Matsya Kridasana, Makarasana etc.) are especially helpful for relaxing both mind and body. Integrate these poses into the end of your yoga workout, or simply use them whenever you need to rest your body and quiet your thoughts and the result is wonderful. Both the beginners and more advanced yoga practitioners would find these poses relaxing as well as refreshing.
Key Points :
- Relaxation poses offer physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. The best-known relaxation pose is savasana or corpse pose. This is the pose that is done at the end of most yoga classes.
(b) Yogic deep breathing: It is one of the best ways for physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. This is because when you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message down to your body. The things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease and come down to the normal as you breathe deeply to relax.
Key Points :
- Yogic Breathing is a good way to relax, reduce tension and relieve stress.
- Yogic Breathing is easy to learn. You can do them whenever you want and you don't need any special tools or equipment to do them.
(c) Meditation: It is a mental/spiritual technique for relaxing the mind. Its objective is to ensure that the subconscious mind remains free from the compulsive habit to think incessantly. Spiritual meditation is used to know the pathway to Divinity. We can increase the power of our subconscious mind through a regular practice of meditation. Research has shown that meditation can contribute significantly to an individual's psychological, spiritual and physiological well-being. Meditation gives you a sense of great clarity of consciousness that allows you to identify with the mental, physical and emotional being in the right manner.
Key Points :
- Deep meditation helps lower cortisol and lactates in the blood and thus reduces stress and brings in deep relaxation.
- The slow, steady breathing of meditation helps reduce depression, irritability, moodiness, anxiety, stress.
- Personal and spiritual growth may come though a deep meditation. The regular practice of meditation deeply influences one's behavior and fosters positive thinking. Regular meditation increases the production of ‘feel-good’ hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, providing a natural ‘high.’ It helps you see positive sides of life and also moves you to think positively and live positively.
(d) Yoga Nidra: Known as 'Yoga Sleep', it has come from the Eastern traditions of yogic spirituality. It does not mean falling asleep but it induces a state of deep relaxation and inner awareness. A very powerful physical and mental relaxation technique, it soothes the body and helps release the mind's engagement with the confusing, contradictory, recurring thoughts and leads the mind to fall silent. It helps resolve mental problems too. Done on a regular basis, it proves beneficial for people suffering from physical pain and disabilities. The practice of Yoga Nidra is known to immensely relaxing, rejuvenate and rebalance the mind, body, and spirit.
Key Points :
- Yoga Nidra may have numerous benefits that are outside the therapeutic realm. It helps harmonize two hemispheres of the brain and the two aspects of autonomous nervous system viz. sympathetic and parasympathetic. The rotation of the body awareness stimulates different parts of the brain which control each and every body nerve. When you are aware of each part of your body you are actually messaging the corresponding part in the brain as well. A connection between the body and the mind is established and the impressions in the subconscious are brought to surface, experienced and removed. Thus, the fixation of awareness to the gross body is replaced with the awareness linked to the subtler body, to aspects of prana and spiritual dimensions.
6. Yoga Aahar (Yogic Diet) :
Yoga Aahar or diet plays a paramount role in the routine of yogic lifestyle. The ancient yogis were well aware of the importance of dietetics. They knew that while food habits could condition the body and the mind certain physiological and psychological states inversely could create an appetite for certain foods. To follow a yoga diet, one need not necessarily be a yoga practitioner. What is required is a desire to live a better life by following a diet. Yoga diet has been proven over thousands of years to build strong bodies and minds and harmonious relationship between the two. The yogic diet is a vegetarian one, consisting of pure, simple, natural foods which are easily digested and promote health.
The balanced yoga diet for the common men should be spaced by an interval of four hours between each meal. Breakfast, while practicing serious Yoga asanas, may consist of milk, a little of whole wheat preparation, honey and dried or fresh fruits. At noon, lunch can be made of a vegetable soup, preparations from grains, fresh green vegetables and roots, salads and fresh curd or buttermilk. In the evening, the practitioner can take fruit juices, nuts and a small quantity of whole wheat preparation. Other grains may make up what is generally light refreshment. Dinner is to be taken at least two hours before going to bed and the menu should include preparations from grains, green vegetables, dairy products, and juicy fruits. The ratio for the composition of meals in a yoga diet is like this- grains constituting 30 per cent of the calorific value needed for the individual, vegetables and roots constituting 25 per cent, dairy products 20 per cent, fruits and honey 20 per cent, nuts countering the balance of 5 per cent for a wholesome yogic (Sattvika) diet.
Key Points :
- A yogic diet helps harmonize the tridoshas and trigunas. It calms the mind and the emotional imbalances are controlled. It promotes long life and vigor. A yogic diet promotes intelligence and enhances memory. It develops overall wellbeing and sound health in harmony with the deeper soul.