Braving the bleak climatic conditions of the great Himalayas and surviving in the minimal resources in the dark caves, the sages were in search of the answers to the questions of life. As the human brain developed, inquisitiveness into the life, the body, the universe and relationship between the trio began surfacing. The more the sages delved deeper into the self, a whole new science of yoga started taking shape. By 200 BC, it had become a full-fledged science. With time, the yoga reformed, modified and evolved to become better and more inclusive.
The west remained oblivious to the magical science until the twentieth century when Swami Vivekanand introduced Yoga in the western world. Various other yoga gurus such as B.K.S. Iyengar simplified and popularized the concepts, methodology and the benefits of the Yoga. The knowledge no longer remained the domain of the sages and became global. A new revolution made Yoga comprehensible and easy to practice. The people started appreciating the benefits of Yoga and Yoga continues to benefit the world.
Everything we do and everything we desire is aimed at attaining satisfaction and happiness. But how often are we completely content? Probably never. A state of bliss and complete joy does not depend on the external stimulus. It is the environment that lies within which is responsible for the state of joy. Happiness is proportional to the peace of mind. Happiness drawn out of materialistic gains doesn’t last long. Serenity comes with acceptance of both joy and sorrow alike. Man is bound to have emotions that are subjective. Emotions depend on the man and his relationship with his surroundings. Ecstasy, grief, excitement, jealousy, anger etc. are all basic emotions of human. Yoga helps generate acceptance and ultimately brings calmness and stillness of mind.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word derived from the word “yuj” meaning ‘to unite’. Unification of the mind with the body and the soul is the ultimate aim of the yoga. The soul is pure and free of preferences. The mind has its own preferences. It is the seat of the power of thinking. Millions to trillions of thoughts storm through the brain, mostly being in an irrelevant spree. In addition, it is the main centre of receiving the perceptions of touch, smell, sight, hearing and tasting. It is the control centre that sends the signals to act and to speak. It has the power to direct the body towards something and to withdraw the body from the unwanted actions. Lastly, the body is the structure or the machinery needed by the mind to perpetrate the actions. The aim is to engage the body, the mind and the spirit in attaining a state of complete stillness.
Meditation is the key to peace of mind. As the awareness of the thought process dawns upon the person, he starts gaining control over thinking. Meditation brings about a greater authority to the brain to restrain body from indulging into felony and to direct it towards what is right. To meditate one needs to prepare the body to endure the long hours of sitting. The first and foremost need of meditation is healthy body and mind. “Hathyog” is the form of yoga that encompasses body cleansing methods and physical practices that strengthen the body. As described in the “Ashtang Yoga (the eight-fold path)” by The Patanjali, there are certain ethical and physical practices that are the prerequisites to the yoga. The ethical practices clears mind of worries. The good hygienic practices and self-disciplined life help ward off infective diseases and the person feels fresh and sound. The “asanas” or the yoga poses serve two purposes. Firstly, Yoga poses have found to help in many diseases. Secondly, the yoga poses strengthen body and maintain the healthy state.
Over the years, many researchers have documented the benefits of yoga poses in certain diseases. In some diseases yoga alone has worked, while in the others it has either enhanced the efficacy of the conventional treatments or countered their side effects. Certain studies have found that yoga promotes the release of GABA from the brain and has contributed in relieving stress. Ongoing studies have also found the effect of yoga poses as beneficial in many incurable diseases such as cancer. Yoga and meditation have also contributed to better living standards in both the patients and the healthy individuals alike.
A healthy and well maintained body is just perfect and ready to avail the full benefits of meditation. A visible change in life starts appearing within days of commencing yoga. But do not expect miracles. Everything that is permanent is gradual. Just enjoy the process and you will finally feel the state of joy that is different to the happiness drawn externally. A healthy body and mind will make you feel more active, enthusiastic and cheerful. Glow will emanate from you. You will be able to handle the relationships, the career and the life with ease.
A compendium of old and new methods of yoga and meditation is available. A beginner can start from anywhere and at any time. Yoga is not just the exercise. Nor it is all about making headstands. It doesn’t have to be too fast or too slow. It has to be according to you. You have to start from the minimum and progress very gently. This is nothing that you cannot do. Do not limit yourself by autosuggesting-“I can’t do this”. Sometimes you may have to push yourself but try not to make it too hard. Choose a guru or teacher who suits you well. But then, who is your best critic? It’s you.