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‘YOGA’ is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means to connect or join. As the word suggests, in yoga we connect our body and mind to our soul. We go deep inside, away from these word tensions and temptations. This gives us immense peace and we feel lighter and cooler. The main motto of yoga is to break the tight and complex strangles of pain, sorrow, jealousy, greed & anxiety. The ultimate consequence of yoga is that we can attain ‘Moksha’ and free us from the clutches of desire, bondage, insecurities, limitations and hence lead us on the path of spirituality. It is a way of understanding ourselves and cleansing our mind and purifying our soul and connecting it to God. Its origin is back in Indian Vedic traditions. Rigveda gives a detailed explanation of its complete process. Hinduism is the biggest preacher of Yoga together with Buddhism and Jainism. It has its own epistemology and metaphysics and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.
In this, we make our body strong and strengthen its tolerance power. We should never mistake Yoga with exercise as the latter just involves working physically and outwardly whereas Yoga is the union of body with the divine power and slowly understanding the futility of materialistic life. When we do yoga properly for a long period of time we feel how lame these wordly pleasures are and finally get an urge of renouncing them and getting salvation and coming out from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Anyone can start doing yoga at any time, at any age and at any place. We don’t need any special instructor or location for it and can do it on our own. Yoga is the superset of meditation, pranayama, and exercise. Nothing can limit us from doing it-be it be-body size, conditions, lack of space, lack of time age or anything. Yoga is very vast and interesting and not as boring as it seems.
Bhagwad Gita, one of the most sacred books gives a description of yoga. It gives a detailed explanation about different aspects of yoga and incorporates the philosophies of yoga which include karma, dharma, incarnation, atman, brahman, maya, and moksha. Krishna tells Arjuna during the war of Mahabharata, philosophies which can be put in our lives to make us a better human. Gita tells to attain peace and happiness with the help of Yoga. Quoting the lines of Bhagwad Gita” Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. It tells us various definitions of yoga which shows that yoga is not as simple as we see and feel it be. According to Bhagwad Gita, Yoga is:
- Controlling both body and mind
- Introspecting and knowing ourselves more than we have ever known
- Attaining composure and peace of mind
- Feeling serenity
- An attempt to get good health of body and mind
- Ability to discern between wrongs and right
- Discretion of work and a rest from myriad and mundane work
Different branches of yoga are :
- Jnana Yoga- Yoga committed to inquiry
- Karma Yoga- Yoga which harps on working hard and not sitting idle and believing in Dharma and doing self service
- Bhakti Yoga- Yoga which asks us to devote ourselves before The Almighty and not thinking too much of the consequences
- Raja Yoga- Yoga committed to introspection and contemplation
- Hatha Yoga- Yoga committed to discipline of the body and balance of physical,mental and inner body forces by performing asana and pranayam
Yoga is preached by Indians since olden times and is still followed today. Our mornings are beautifully garnished with a pinch of yoga and a morning walk. Some people have added it in their daily routine to keep themselves fit and toned. Why waste thousands of rupees in going to the gym, joining special meditation class, buying beauty products and eating medicines when you can make a small shift in your schedule and take out little time for yoga. Yoga is so simple and can be said as 99% practice and 1% theory. It is not a magic but a way to bring us back to life we had left behind in search of something better. Our lifestyle is so jammed with those tasks of getting up with just 5 hour sleep, not eating breakfast in hurry,going to office, sitting on computers with our eyes glued to files and papers, consuming too much caffeine in form of coffee or tea by being cajoled by the fact that we will feel fresh by intaking it one after other, coming home late and eating the extra oily and spicy- basically ‘tasty’ junk food and then using our phones and again sleep. That 10-minute power Yoga can hence prove to be your savior.
Yoga has got so famous that it is spreading fast throughout the world like in China, Australia, the United States, and other European Countries. From the nations in the extreme east to extreme west and from Northern Hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere- all have embraced the name of Yoga. On 11 December 2014 United Nations accepted the proposal of celebrating a day as International Yoga Day by a consensus of 177 member nations. Hence we celebrate every year 21st June as International Yoga Day. The solidarity of Yoga is so great that it has cut the differences of caste, color, region & religion and brought everyone unanimously on the common ideology. It has instilled faith and confidence in the people and brought harmony between man & nature and a holistic approach to well-being and health.
Yoga leads to the full development of our mental powers, leading to heightened concentration, intelligence, creativity, intuition. The liberation of our spirit from ignorance, suffering, incapacity, leading to freedom, equality, constant joyfulness and inner strength to overcome all challenges of life. It awakens the deeper sense of unity and oneness with the whole Universe and all living beings. Together, these lead to the realization of our highest divine Perfection. At a community level, the evolution of the individual through yoga results in:
- Reduction of greed, coarseness, and violence in thought and action.
- An enormous reduction in the cost of healthcare and social support.
- A dramatic reduction in conflicts and misunderstandings within families, communities, and between nations.
- Increased collaboration and effective teamwork in businesses and communities
- Compassion towards all beings: plants, animals and humans and long-term and ecological thinking in all socio-economic planning.
- The increased power of innovation, technology, and knowledge the deeper impact of art, music, poetry, dance to uplift the quality of life and an overall increase in the pace of human development and evolution.
In a nutshell, in this world of excess show off, people seeking after materialism, yoga promises restraint and balance. In a world suffering from mental stress, yoga promises calm. In a distracted world, yoga creates focus, creates concentration. In a world of fear, yoga promises strength and courage. A healthy body and a disciplined mind are the foundations of a world free from fear. In crafting a new self through Yoga, we create a new world.
We live in a world that is divided, in a world in conflict over material gains. A world in conflict over failures to understand each other. How shall we understand each other, if we do not understand ourselves?
Swami Vivekanand says in his book on Rajyoga – “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these — and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”
It is this freedom that will free us from misunderstandings, from doubt, from conflict, and lead us towards world peace.
We are at a point in history, where global warming and appalling swift in the increase of crime rates threaten the world as we know it. People’s minds are brimmed up with hatred, greed, anger, disgust, pain, and loneliness. Yoga shows the way to consumption that is healthy, balanced, and in tune with nature. We will need to raise a generation that lives according to these principles if we want to leave the world habitable for future generations.
Sri Aurobindo said “Indian Yoga is potentially one of the most dynamic elements of the future life of humanity. It is now emerging from the secret schools and ascetic retreats in which it had taken refuge and is seeking its place in the future sum of living human powers and utilities.”