What is Yoga?
Yoga means union of the mind , the body and the spirit in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated.
While this refers to a certain state of consciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.
Many people think that yoga is just stretching. But while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. These yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body and it is performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy.
Anyone can start a yoga practice, even if you don’t feel like you are not very flexible or strong. These things will improve the longer you practice
Health, harmony, prevention - there are many good reasons for practicing yoga But ultimately, you practice yoga because it helps you live your daily life. As a practice in self-awareness, yoga is an infinitely rich guide to how you spend the hours you're not on the mat.
Sivananda Yoga, after teaching of Swami Sivananda who is considered as a modern Sage from india and was a spiritual teacher and a proponent of yoga and Vedanta, is a form of Hatha yoga in which the training focuses on preserving the health and wellness of the practitioner.
Traditionally Sivananda yoga is an exact and easy-to-learn system that aims at naturally achieving the goal of yoga through creating a healthy body and mind that leads to spiritual evolvement.
Based in the teachings of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda summarized the yoga philosophy in 5 principles or the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand.
5 Points of Yoga
Proper Exercise : Asanas
Our physical body is meant to move and exercise. If our lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints, then disease and great discomfort will ensue with time. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.
As yoga regards the body as a vehicle of the soul on its journey towards perfection,Yogic physical exercises are designed to develop not only the body. They also broaden the mental faculties and the spiritual capacities.
The body is as young as it is flexible. Yoga physical exercises which are called Asanas, focus on the health of the spine, its strength and flexibility. The spinal column houses the all-important nervous system, the telegraphic system of the body. By maintaining the spine's flexibility and strength through exercise, circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their supply of nutrients and oxygen.
The Asanas also affect the internal organs and the endocrine system (glands and hormones).
Proper Breathing : Pranayama
Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.
The most important thing about good breathing is the Prana, or subtle energy of the vital breath. Control of the Prana leads to control of the mind. Breathing exercises are called Pranayamas, which means to control the Prana.
Proper Relaxation : Savasana
By relaxing deeply all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.
When the body and the mind are constantly overworked, their natural efficiency to perform work diminishes. Modern social life, food, work and even the so-called entertainment, make it difficult for people to relax. Many have even forgotten that rest and relaxation are nature's way of recharging. Even while trying to rest, the average person expends a lot of physical and mental energy through tension. Much of the body's energy is wasted uselessly.
During complete relaxation, there is practically no energy or "Prana" being consumed, although a little is keeping the body in normal condition while the remaining portion is being stored and conserved.
In order to achieve perfect relaxation, three methods are used by yogis: "Physical", "Mental", and "Spiritual" relaxation.
We are what we eat.
Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, Yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle.
The yogic diet is a vegetarian one, consisting of pure, simple, natural foods which are easily digested and promote health. Simple meals aid the digestion and assimilation of foods. Nutritional requirements fall under five categories: protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins. One should have a certain knowledge of dietetics in order to balance the diet. Eating foods first-hand from nature, grown in fertile soil (preferably organic, free from chemicals and pesticides) will help ensure a better supply of these nutritional needs. Processing, refining and overcooking destroy much food value.
Positive Thinking : Vedanta and Meditation : Dhyana
we become what we think.
A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practicing the teachings of the philosophy of Vedanta. The mind will be brought under perfect control by regular practice of meditation.
When the surface of a lake is still, one can see to the bottom very clearly. This is impossible when the surface is agitated by waves. In the same way, when the mind is still, with no thoughts or desires, you can see the "Self" this is called Yoga.
In the meditative state, there is neither past nor future, but only the consciousness of "I am" in the eternal NOW. It is only possible when all mental modifications are stilled.
If you meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to face life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation is the most powerful mental and nerve tonic
and on the physical level, it helps to prolong the body's anabolic process of growth and repair, and to reduce the catabolic or decaying process.