YOGA – “Health is wealth, Peace of mind is happiness, Yoga shows the way.”Swami Vishnudevananda
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning to yoke, join or unite. This implies joining or integrating all aspects of the individual – body with mind and mind with soul – to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life, and spiritually, uniting the individual with the supreme.
In India, Yoga is considered one of the six branches of classical philosophy and is referred to throughout the Vedas.
Most Westernized yoga classes focus on learning physical poses, which are called asanas. They also usually include some form of breathing technique and possibly a meditation technique as well. Some yoga classes are designed purely for relaxation. But there are styles of yoga that teach you how to move your body in new ways. Choosing one of these styles offers the greatest health benefits by enabling you to develop your flexibility, strength, and balance.
Legend has it that knowledge of Yoga was first passed by Lord Shiva to his wife Parvati and from there into the lives of men.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF YOGA
- Yoga can help cure insomnia, as regular yoga practice leads to better and deeper sleep.
- Yoga can help fight fatigue and maintain energy throughout the day.
- Yoga is an effective treatment for a variety of autoimmune diseases because it can reduce the symptoms these diseases often cause, such as stiffness, malaise, fatigue, and weakness.
- Regular yoga practice will create multiple and noticeable benefits to your health.
FOR HEALTHY BONES, MUSCLES, AND JOINTS
- The physical benefits of yoga are myriad. Yoga keeps body strong, as it involves all the muscles in body to hold and balance yoga asanas (poses). The various yoga postures strengthen feet, legs, hands, abdominals, lower back, legs, and shoulders.
- Yoga’s stretching and breathing exercises improve your flexibility, helping joints, tendons, and muscles stay limber.
- Yoga improves your endurance, especially the more athletic forms of yoga such as ashtanga yoga, power yoga, vinyasa yoga, and Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga requires keeping your body in constant motion between poses, resulting in a strenuous cardiovascular workout and improved core strength.
- Hatha yoga can relieve chronic back and neck pain, since the poses and postures gently stretch and strengthen back and neck muscles.
- Yoga is often prescribed to help heal various injuries, including repetitive strain injuries, knee and back injuries, pulled hamstrings, even minor skin burns but only in experts observation.
- Yoga is an excellent weight-bearing exercise that can improve your bone density. This is particularly beneficial for women approaching menopause, since yoga can help ward off osteoporosis, or thinning of the bone.
FOR HEALTHY CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
- Yoga has tremendous health benefits for your heart.
- The gentler forms of yoga lower blood pressure because the asanas (yoga poses, postures, and yoga positions) keep blood flowing evenly throughout body while you focus on your breathing.
- People suffering from hypertension can benefit from yoga tremendously, as hatha yoga can lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Many practitioners claim that yoga has also lowered their cholesterol.
- Power yoga is an excellent form of cardio conditioning, which strengthens core muscles while it keeps blood and oxygen circulating throughout the body.
FOR MENTAL HEALTH
- Yoga benefits anyone’s mental health by helping him or her relax, and it is an effective form of psychological therapy. Yoga reduces anxiety and stress, resulting in better health, better mood, and better concentration throughout the day.
- Yoga has been used to help treat a wide variety of emotional and mental disorders, including acute anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Even children can benefit from yoga. Those with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity can learn to relax and get control by using yoga breathing and yoga asanas.
- Because yoga is a form of meditation, it results in a sense of inner peace and purpose, which has far-reaching health benefits.
- Yoga has been used to help heal victims of torture or other trauma.
FOR OTHER HEALTH CONDITIONS
- Yoga can rid tension headaches and migraines because yoga circulates blood and oxygen to head, which can often, prevent headaches from starting.
- A regular yoga practice helps boost antioxidants throughout body, resulting in a stronger immune system and improved ability to heal quickly from disease or injury.
- Yoga can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight throughout your life. Power yoga is a vigorous form of yoga that burns calories, resulting in weight loss.
- Many women going through menopause report an easing of symptoms when they begin practicing yoga.
The first principle of yoga is Ahimsa, which means non-violence. Non violence indicates vegetarianism.
It’s a diet which creates health and vitality, supplying your system with ample energy, physical strength, strong digestion, effortless elimination, crystal-clear mental focus, and sharp memory, along with other physiological, emotional, and mental benefits.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
- The more simple your meal, the fewer digestive enzymes your body needs to use.
- Eat as much organic food as possible– eating organic foods reduce your exposure to the harmful chemicals.
- Go easy on proteins and fats – Our body doesn’t need too much protein or fat. It can use only a certain amount of protein. If you consume more than your body needs, it will convert the extra protein into fat. In fact, our body doesn’t need protein, it needs amino acids, the building blocks of protein and most foods contain amino acids, with plants as the richest sources.
- For healthy protein, eat foods rich in amino acids includes,
A. Sprouted grains such as wheat sprouts, barley, quinoa, amaranth, oats, millet, and buckwheat;
B. Sprouted legumes such as lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, green peas, black beans, etc.;
C. Other sprouts: alfalfa, broccoli, radish, etc.
E. Dark leafy greens (kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, parsley);
F. Micro-algae (spirulina – this is a complete protein food with all essential amino acids, chlorella, wild blue-green);
G. Fresh vegetables and especially their juices (carrots, beats, celery, spinach, etc.); and
H. The amazing wheatgrass juice.
- Get a daily surplus of antioxidants- Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, enzymes, or plant-derived nutrients called phytonutrients, found in food. They do what their name implies ANTI-OXIDATION.
- Eat pro-biotic foods a few times a week to maintain healthy bacteria in the large intestine- Healthy intestinal flora helps digestion.
A. In addition, it’s able to ‘produce’ certain enzymes and amino acids, otherwise required to obtain from food.
B. B12 is essential for the red blood cell production, and is known to lack in the vegan diet due to the cleaning and disinfecting of our food.
C. Pro-biotic food includes: kombucha (fermented tea), raw Apple Cider Vinegar, raw sauerkraut, kim-chi (Asian sauerkraut), yogurt (soy or dairy), cottage cheese, miso, and tempeh (fermented soy beans).
D. There are a few other cultural foods obtained through fermentation.
E. Old cultures have always had one or two pro-biotic foods consumed on a regular basis. They must know better.
- Eat daily raw foods rich in enzymes
A. Especially fresh fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, sprouted grains and beans, seaweed and micro-algae.
B. Only raw foods have enzymes and life-force, and they are more important to our health than taking vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It’s the life-force and enzymes that keep us vibrantly alive and internally clean.
C. Enzymes are destroyed after use or by cooking and must be constantly replaced. Cooked foods draw from the enzyme reserves.
D. Any true healthy diet always includes at least 50% raw foods, raw salads, and use plenty of sprouts and greens leafy vegetables.
THE FIVE POINTS OF YOGA
- PROPER EXERCISE: Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life. The Asanas also affect the internal organs and the endocrine system (glands and hormones).
- PROPER BREATHING: Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.
- PROPER DIET : Yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. A healthy motto is: “Eat to live, not live to eat”.
- PROPER RELAXATION: By relaxing deeply all the muscles the yoga can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace. In order to achieve perfect relaxation, three methods are used by yogis: “Physical”, “Mental”, and “Spiritual” relaxation.
- POSITIVE THINKING & MEDITATION: 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.
THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA
KARMA YOGA – THE YOGA OF ACTION
“Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul’s energies and austerities.”
BHAKTI YOGA – THE PATH OF DEVOTION OR DIVINE LOVE
The Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God, channelling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.
RAJA YOGA – THE SCIENCE OF PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONTROL
Raja Yoga is also called Ahtanga Yoga referring to the eight limbs leading to absolute mental control. The chief practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. It also includes all other methods which helps one to control body, energy, senses and mind.
JNANA YOGA – THE YOGA OF KNOWLEDGE OR WISDOM
This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths – for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.
The greatest weakness is doubt. Doubt is thy enemy. Doubt is the greatest sin. Slay this doubt. Slay the slayer mind.
Sri Swami Sivananda