Some call it philosophy, some just a fitness program, for others it is whole religion. And all of the descriptions contain one name-Yoga. For full understanding of the conception of Yoga you would really need to spend time for that: attend classes, listen and try to feel it on your body and soul. Yoga first of all teaches how to find a harmony in yourself and make body and the mind a unit.
History of Yoga
Introducing you to Yoga here is a little bit of history. Its routs lay down in India. The first mentioning of practicing Yoga is dated back six to seven thousand years ago. It is found in Rig Veda (a collection of oldest scriptures of Hinduism canticles which are dedicated to the Gods) and more detailed information source is known as Upanisads (the part of Vedas – main scriptural texts of Hinduism). It was a new understanding of what man can do that is to say that he together with the mind training and moral culture can become one with the Supreme Being. This conception strives to emphasize the importance of individual’s mind which can help person achieve the appropriate state of it.
The word Yoga it self means, “to unite”. As follows, Yoga in general is a union of mind and body. From the deeper view, it is an individuals union with The Divine through the conjunction of body, mind and soul. Yoga is a man’s journey towards perfection. Modern Yoga has these traditional parts: postures to keep the body fit, introduction to ethical principles, breathing exercises and meditation. Speaking about the goals of Yoga they are different. For some people it is the way to be closer to God. Buddhism claims that Yoga might make deeper your wisdom and compassion. In simple terms it strives for the simple happiness. Isn’t that what everybody wants?
Basic yoga principles
The five principles of Yoga are proper exercise (asanas), breathing (pranayama), relaxation (savasana), vegetarian diet, positive thinking (vedanta) and meditation. Some words about each of them. Probably everyone is familiar with the so called strange and seems impossible postures of Yoga practitioners. To let you know it is not just a package of fitness exercises. It is a developed culture of physical moves. Actually, the term asanas itself means steady pose. According to that during Yoga practice all the posses are held for some time. It helps to develop your body flexibility and strength especially it is good for your spine.
While taking Yoga classes you will be taught to breathe in particular way. It is a full breathing bringing the air to the lowest part of the lungs. It is slow and deep. It is thought that such breathing controls prana – the energy of the breath. In this the body is depurated from negative thoughts and stress.
Relaxation is an important part of person’s life. Seems it is forgotten. Modern society wastes too much energy trying to relax. That’s why Yoga says: do not let your anger and anxiety ruin the energy you accumulate. Yoga teaches physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. Though it is called physical relaxation it is closely involved with mind. Together with thoughts you can help every muscle of your body to relax. Having mental strain breath slowly for a few minutes and soon you mind will go loosened. The highest level of relaxation is when reaching the one of spiritual sense by reaching a pure consciousness. The Yoga diet is vegetarian. It consist only natural food which helps to promote health. Why vegetarian you would ask. Sun is the source of energy for the planet and what grows on it. Animals which eat the plant and are eaten by others are of “second hand” value. That is why vegetarian products are most beneficial. As it is believed that the food we eat has an effect on our mind it is recommended to consume the products which keeps the mind calm. Yoga practitioners avoid meat, fish,eggs, onions, coffee, tea, and alcohol.
Positive thinking and meditation can take you to perfect concentration where doesn’t exist time or space. Where peace and happiness exist. This is the mind’s journey towards quiet mind and beyond it. As meditation is a separate topic and basically a deep and broad one here it will not be discussed.
Last thing to mention is Yoga paths. There is Karma Yoga or the so called Yoga of Action or Service. It is based on the principle that all your actions now are a result of actions in the past. So if you try to behave selfless, with no negativity you will affect your future the same way. Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion is the main path followed in India. It leads to the heart and devotion, to God. Jnana Yoga or Yoga of knowledge or wisdom considers the knowledge and intellect very important to keep the mind open to other religions. Raja Yoga or Yoga of self control teaches to control the body, mind and spirit (usually through meditation).Hatha Yoga is Yoga of postures which was presented in the beginning. Tantra Yoga or Yoga of rituals is well known for one part of it – sex. Through Tantra Yoga you will learn to find sacred sides in everything we do.