Yoga means meeting the personal soul with the universal soul. Yoga is almost 5,000 years old. People attribute yoga only to physical exercise, which involves different parts of the body such as bending hands and feet, stretching and breathing in difficult ways, etc. The science of yoga has completely absorbed the essence of the way of life.
In today’s modern time, yoga exercises are considered to be the best way to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy. The general impression about yoga is that it is now beyond borders.
Inception of Yoga
The beginnings of yoga have not been properly covered. The study of history was not given as much importance in India as compared to the West. Although in India, practicality has been given more importance along with the strength of mind. But after making full use of these experiences there, no formal record could be kept of them. Therefore, the historians who have written the history of yoga, after a great deal of research, difficulties, and efforts, went somewhere and found out the real facts.
In archaeology, we learn about yoga. We came to know these sciences at the beginning of the twentieth century. Excavations at various places during this period revealed that there was an ancient civilization in India three thousand years before Christ. Some of the seals found during the excavations show some of their Gods practicing yoga. From this, we know that the knowledge of yoga existed before the arrival of the Aryans in India.
Between the 2nd and 5th centuries B.C., Patanjali, a scholar, and Sanskrit linguist, is thought to have protected as well as patronized yoga. In this regard, the famous Indian yoga expert B. K. S. Iyengar in his book ‘Light on Life: Patanjali’ has clearly stated that he can be called the father of yoga. It is important to note that the lessons and principles of the earliest yoga were formulated by Patanjali. His words have now become a saying that the “promotion of consciousness in the human body is possible through yoga”. Sanjay Singh, a professor at Patanjali University in Haridwar, a city considered sacred to Hindus in India, says yoga means “being tied up”. In Buddhism and Hinduism, yoga is a mixture of body and breath exercises and meditation. In most of the books written on yoga, the immobility of the senses due to silence is called yoga. Here yoga is described as a principle that means to reach the heights of consciousness.
Physical and Psychological Benefits of Yoga
This process is used to control the spirit and keep it healthy. According to research, yoga is a method of physical and psychological exercise that has a positive effect on human health. Yoga is an exercise that improves all the functions of the body and has the best effects on mental and emotional health. Doing yoga regularly keeps you young, active, and healthy for a long time.
According to a study conducted in the US, deep breathing yoga practice, which is done by inhaling and exhaling slowly, can relieve stress. This exercise reduces the stress hormones in the brain, makes the mood pleasant, and keeps the mind calm. Experts say that yoga improves physical health along with agility, increase energy, and mental health, but its benefits can only be achieved by adopting it regularly.
Physiology of Yoga
Medical research has confirmed the positive effects of each yoga posture on the human body. Doing yoga asanas gives flexibility to the spine and other joints and builds immunity and the body stays fit. In yoga, the body’s response to bending and stretching creates an electric shock in the veins. Regular practice of yoga strengthens the intervertebral veins by nourishing them so that the nutrition and food pass easily through the throat into the stomach and quickly digested. These postures cause our body to produce white particles that build up immunity in the body.
Yoga and Psychology
There is a lot of similarity between self-calculation and psychological analysis and early yoga exercises. The purpose of both is to teach a person to live happily in the world by highlighting the abilities and strengths present in him. An anxious person usually feels lonely. Yoga emphasizes the relationship between the individual and society. Both yoga and psychology consider coercive behavior to be negative and unconstructive and help us to relieve the stress that leads to such behavior.
8 Ashtangas of Yoga
- Niyamas (Moral and Ethical Codes)
Niyamas are the second branch of the “Eight Limbs of Yoga” from the prehistoric Indian erudite Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The word Niyamas means commitment directed towards us (internal observations).
- Pranayama (Breath Work)
In Sanskrit, an old Indian language, the word ‘prana’ represents life energy, and the word ‘Yama’ stands for control. Pranayama is the most important part of yoga, an exercise for mental and physical strength. The Pranayama practice involves different breathing exercises and patterns. You deliberately inhale, exhale, and seize your breath in a specific order. Pranayama breathing exercises are used with other practices of yoga including asanas (physical postures) and dhyana (meditation). Collectively, these practices of yoga are responsible for lots of health benefits.
- Asana (Postures)
Just like Pranayama, asana is another Sanskrit term that means ‘posture’. Asana can also be interpreted as a balanced, comfortable seat, mainly for meditation purposes. Many people associate asana with the act of performing sophisticated poses. However, anyone can practice asana exercise. Individual asanas can also be customized to suit all practice requirements and desires.
‘Mudra’, is another Sanskrit word, which means a figurative hand gesture that has the strength of producing pleasure and happiness. It also has been evident that a normal practice of Mudra not only increases the overall good health, but can be used as a preventive measure against different health problems. Our hands delineate our destiny and the fingers being the power points that create a link between individual life force (Pranic force) and universal cosmic energy.
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the Senses)
Pratyahara is a Sanskrit word, composed of two words, prati and ahara. “Prati” means against or away and “ahara” means food or anything we take into ourselves from the outside. “Pratyahara” indicates “control of ahara,” or “getting control over exterior powers.” It has been resembled a turtle moving back into its shield – the turtle’s shield is referred to as the mind and the turtle’s limbs are the senses.
- Dharana (Concentration)
Dharana or concentration (gayan) in yoga is the sixth stage. Patanjali explained Dharana as focusing the thoughts at a point. It has to be practiced after personalizing the thoughts through Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses). Dharana (concentration) leads to Dhyana (meditation). In the 8-step course of yoga, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are considered among the internal limbs of yoga.
- Dhyana (Meditation)
Dhyana (Meditation) denotes going beyond the boundaries of the physical body and the mind. Only when you rise above the limited perception of the mind and body, do you have a full dimension of life within you. When you are recognized as the body, your whole existence is only about endurance. When you are recognized as the mind, your whole perception is confined to the social side, religious perception, or the family side. You can’t look further than that.
- Samadhi (Spiritual Absorption)
Samadhi, or meditative absorption, is the maximum condition of mental concentration thought possible by Hindus while still existing in the life cycle (samsara) and is realized through yogic meditation. Samadhi (spiritual absorption) is a condition uninterrupted by all sentiments and feelings originating with self-importance, and the realization of such mental lucidity is said to specify major progress in meditation practices of one.
Super Brain Yoga for Better Memory
There are many exercises in yoga that you can do on a daily basis to improve your memory and intelligence. The most popular exercise in this regard is Super Brain Yoga. It’s very easy to do. Stand up straight and grab your left ear from below with your right hand and grab your right ear with your left hand. Pull both ears slightly and bring your hips down while bending your knees as you exhale, as if you were sitting on a chair. This exercise is also called squat. Now straighten while exhaling then move to the same sitting position. Do this exercise for 2 minutes 3 to 4 times a day.
There are many interesting facts behind this asana. The ear lobes contain the electrodes of the brain and the pressure point of memory is also on the ear lobes. When we pull our ears, they play a role in enhancing memory and intelligence. There is a pressure point on the forehead to improve memory called the third eye pressure point. It is located on the forehead between the two eyebrows. You usually observe that when we don’t remember something, we unknowingly poke our foreheads in the middle. It is a natural process, but it is directly related to memory.
8 Asanas of Yoga for Better Health
- Simhasana (Lion Pose)
This is a great exercise. This is especially useful for facial muscles. It helps with a sore throat and shortness of breath.
- Siddhasana (Accomplished Pose)
This is the best sitting posture. There is a sense of spirituality in it. It sharpens the mind and improves the nervous system. This pose improves blood flow in the body.
- Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
This posture strengthens the muscles of the hips and legs. This pose relieves stress, reduces mental stress and also relieves physical fatigue.
- Virasana (Hero Pose)
This asana works as an ointment for tired feet. This posture improves digestion and relieves gas.
- Parighasana (Gate Pose)
This posture helps the intestines and stomach to function properly. This exercise is also good for lung health. Blood flow is improved and at the same time, the body gets the necessary energy.
- Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Be sure to try this asana to strengthen your leg muscles and bones. This brings regularity to the body’s shape and movements. This yoga pose also benefits the reproductive system.
- Garbha Pindasana (Embryo in Womb Pose)
It relieves constipation and other gastrointestinal problems. This asana should be done if you feel cramps or cramps in the abdomen. It strengthens the spine, navel, and stomach.
- Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
It relieves hip pain. The bones of the legs and hips and muscles are strong. This posture can be extremely beneficial for people suffering from arthritis and hemorrhoids.
As stated above, yoga is a five-millennia-old work out a practice that has evolved over time. Contemporary yoga focuses on bending, stretches, and poses that are especially intended to encourage inner peace and physical energy.
Primeval yoga was not as much about health and more about mental focus and growing spiritual energy. There are many types of yoga exercises, based on what people require from it and a person’s existing level of physical health and strength. On the other hand, some people prefer to swap traditional treatment for health care conditions with yoga and this can put off a person from getting the required care.
Health Benefits of Yoga
1. Improves Strength and Flexibility
Slow movements of yoga exercises and deep breathing increases blood flow in the human body and warm up muscles, while holding an asana can build vigour.
2. Helps with Back Pain
Yoga practices are good just like basic stretching and bending for reducing pain and improving mobility in patients with lower back pain. Yoga is also recommended by the American College of Physicians as the preferred treatment option for chronic lower back pain.
3. Alleviates Arthritis Symptoms
According to a Johns Hopkins research of 11 recent studies, mild yoga exercises have been revealed to relieve some of the pain and discomfort of swollen joints for people experiencing arthritic problems.
4. Benefits Heart Health
Customary yoga exercise may decrease levels of anxiety and inflammation, contributing to improved heart health. Some of the factors that are contributing to heart problems, including high blood pressure levels and excess weight, can also be managed by yoga exercises.
5. Helps Sleep Better
Research also suggests that a regular bedtime yoga practice can help you get in the right approach and organize your body to fall asleep.
6. Increases Energy Level
You may experience increased physical and mental power, an increase in attentiveness and fervor, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine yoga exercise.
7. Helps Reduce Stress Level
It is also a proven fact that yoga exercises can reduce stress levels. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health reveals that yoga not only supports overall health but also alleviates stress levels, improves mental health, mindfulness, healthy and nutritious eating, quality sleep, and weight loss.