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“ Yoga is really one of the grandest of sciences.......Take up the study of this science as you would any other  science of a material nature and remember there is no mystery and no danger in it “

-Swami Vivekanand

The word Yoga is derived from Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning “ to unite”, “to combine” or “to integrate” and thus may be considered to a “state of union or integration”. Yoga is generally understood as the union of the individual soul with the cosmic divine or supreme soul that constitutes the ultimate integration o the fulfilment of person. In a way Yoga unites a single tiny finite individuality with the unbounded eternal immortal universality.

The science of Yoga is the practical value of all Vedas. Veda is pure knowledge. Yoga has its’ application in the practicality of life. Yoga tells us that reality is our own consciousness which has many levels- many excited levels of the mind, active mind and many final levels of excitation and the state of least excitation. The state of least excitation on the level of consciousness may be an accomplishment.

Why do we practise Yoga?

Tested answer –Yoga practice makes you feel better. Practising  the postures, breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit. Yoga lets you tune in, chill out, shake up- all at the same time.

For starters- yoga is good for what ails you.

Research reveals that yoga helps manage or control anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndromes, chronic fatigue, depression, epilepsy, headaches, heart diseases, multiple sclerosis, stress and other conditions and diseases.

Yoga improves muscles tone, flexibility, strengths and stamina, reduces stress and tension, boosts self esteem, improves concentration and creativity, lowers fat, improves circulation, stimulates the immune system, creates sense of well being and calm

Yoga geographically speaking originates from India, its’ wisdom is universal  and eternal.

YOGA 
By: Dr. T. C. Chandna

Introduction:

Life today is full of stress and strain, of tensions and nervous irritability, of passion and hurry. To remove physical, mental and psychological tensions, the ancient seers of India, perfected a system known as ‘Yoga’. It is an education not only of the body and mind or the intellect, but also of the inner spirit. It is the art of right living. Yoga is a complete science. It is a method, which overhauls all the sides of human personality. “To live with God and to commune with God, is yoga”.

Literally yoga means, “to join”. It is joining of the individual self with SELF. Yoga teachings were systematized into 196 short aphorisms (Yoga-Sutras), by a sage named Patanjali who, around 200 B.C., codified the teachings. Patanjali defines yoga in his aphorism as “Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodha” -- which means yoga is a conscious process of gaining control over the mind. Yoga does not want us to turn away from life. It demands spiritualization of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something, which is divorced from life. Most religions teach one what to do, but yoga teaches one how to do. The practice of yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred belief. It is purely scientific, spiritual and universal.

 Harmony is called yoga, “Samatvam Yoga Uchyate” -- says the Gita. Despite all the technological and scientific advancements, even today man continues to suffer as before. This is due to disharmony within himself and the world outside. The purpose of yoga is to create harmony in the physical, mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of the human being. The body is closely related to the mind. A weak, sickly body means a weak mind also. Our entire personality is nothing but the combination of the body, “Prana” and mind. All our troubles are because of the disharmony among these three -- the body, Prana and mind. Yoga brings about this harmony. Asanas are for bringing harmony in the body, Pranayama in Prana and Dhyana (meditation) in the mind. Any disturbance in the body is carried to the Prana, which again communicates it to the mind. To bring this harmony, we have to put yoga into practice in our daily life. An austere and simple life is indispensable for yoga. The foundation of yoga is self-control. Discipline is the essence of yoga, discipline of body as well as the discipline of mind. 

Effects of Yoga: 

After the practice of yoga, the apparent signs that appear are lightness of body, good health, calmness of mind, sweetness of voice, aroma of the body, glow on the face, purity of eyes, cheerfulness, celibacy (sexual control), improvement in scantiness of excretions and anorexia (loss of appetite) etc. 

Types of Yoga: 

There are different types of yoga, all leading to the same goal of Self-realization. The methods vary so as to accommodate varying temperaments and capacities, but like the spokes of a wheel, they all meet at the same centre -- Self-realization. There are primarily four streams of Indian yoga system. All the four yoga systems were propounded (proposed) by Lord Sri Krishna -- in the Gita all the four main types of yoga are emphasized and explained: Jnana yoga (knowledge or wisdom), Karma yoga (selfless service, action or work), Bhakti yoga (exclusive devotion) and Raja yoga (self-restraint). The Gita advises that salvation can be achieved by following any one, or all the four paths of yoga. Of these, Karma yoga is the most practical. 

There are some other categories of yoga also -- such as Japa yoga, Laya yoga, Sahaj yoga, Mantra yoga and Kundalini yoga etc. They are not that important as they are simply permutations and combinations of these four basic types of yoga. 

1. Jnana yoga: 

This is yoga of knowledge. Union with the divine by means of knowledge, study, thinking, meditation and Samadhi (state of super consciousness), using the intellect as a means to negate bondage to the material world, discriminating the real (Brahma) with the unreal (Maya). A higher standard of morality and qualification is demanded of the aspirant to embark on Self-realization. It is apt for the keen intellectuals. 

2. Karma yoga: 

The path of work is the yoga of action, of selfless service, dedicating every work of action to God, with no thought of personal reward. It involves doing action with an attitude of detachment to fruits of action. The best way to detach oneself from the fruits of one’s action is to surrender the fruit at the feet of the Lord.  Karma yoga is a system of ethics focussed on unselfish action. This yoga teaches one to do one’s own duty skillfully and selflessly, dedicating fruits of one’s actions to humanity. This is what is called working without motive. It requires tremendous will power.

3. Bhakti yoga:    

It is the yoga of devotion. The control of emotions is the key in the path of worship. In this path also there is need for great discipline. The attachment to worldly items has to be diverted to the Almighty. Bhakti is undaunted love towards God, absolute surrender to the will of God. Thus the path of Bhakti is really a boon for mankind to get control over emotional onslaughts.

 4. Raja yoga:                            

The yoga described by Patanjali in his yoga Sutras is Raja yoga, the royal path. This is science of physical and mental control. It encompasses teachings from all the different paths and because of the variety of methods it includes, people of varying backgrounds and temperaments can practise it. Raja yoga is involved with three dimensions or realms: physical, mental and spiritual; through its methods one achieves mastery of all three and is thus led to full realization of the Self. It is a systematic and scientific discipline that does not impose unquestioning faith, but encourages healthy discrimination. 

This “royal path” is highly scientific. It is the science of physical and mental control. It is also called ‘Ashtanga yoga’ or the eight fold yoga, because it is divided into eight principal parts. The yoga of mind-culture gives a practical and easy approach to reach higher states of consciousness. Raja yoga gives a comprehensive and systematic approach for developing the mind. When the inner consideration deepens, one realizes oneself. 

Jnana yoga is suitable for a man of rational and philosophical temperament;
Karma yoga is suitable for a man of active temperament,
Bhakti yoga for a man of devotional temperament           and
Raja yoga is suitable for a man of mystic (spiritual) temperament.

Truly speaking, these eight steps of Raja yoga form the common basis of Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Jnana yoga as well.