Everyone will be familiar with the word “Yoga”. But only a little have knowledge about this historic meditation in detail. When we ask anyone what is yoga, the majority will reply- “it is an exercise which gives us good benefits in terms of health.” Actually, what is yoga? Is it only an ordinary exercise which gives us good health? What is its history? Are there any side effects for yoga? Everything will be discussed here.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a Sanskrit word derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means to connect, join or balance. Yoga is a relaxing form of exercise and involves assuming and holding postures that stretch the limbs and muscles doing breathing exercises and using meditation techniques to calm the mind. It was originated in Ancient India and later spread into different countries. Totally Yoga involves physical, mental and spiritual practices. Male Yoga practitioners are called “Yogis” and female Yoga practitioners are called “Yoginis”.
History and development of Yoga
The history of Yoga is a subject for debate as no clear pieces of evidence are available except that Yoga is developed in Ancient India. The book Yoga Sutra is known to be the source of modern day Yoga. It is believed that Patanjali, a renowned sage in India is the author of Yoga Sutra. Patanjali is estimated to have lived between 2nd century BCE to 4th century CE. Yoga Sutra tells about how to master the mind, control the emotions and grow spiritually. The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization. The science of Yoga has its development thousand years ago even before the birth of the first religion or any belief systems.
In Yogic strategy, the first Yogi or the first guru is Lord Shiva who is known as Adiyogi or Adiguru.
Thousand years ago, on the banks of river Kantisarovar in Himalayas Adiguru explained all the facts about Yoga to the legendary Saptarishis or “seven sages”.The sages carried this valuable information to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southern America. But the science got a very good word of mouth in India. Agasthya was the sage who carried Yogic science to India and he made a significant impact in India. Yoga started to have a gradual growth in India from there on. Presence of Yoga is available in folk traditions, Indus Valley- Civilization, Vedic and Upanishadic Heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharat and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions.
Branches of Yoga
The branches of Yoga are listed below:
- Hatha Yoga: A physical and mental branch of Yoga designed to prime the body and mind
- Raja Yoga: This involves meditation and strict adherence to a series of disciplinary steps known as the “eight limbs” of Yoga
- Karma Yoga: This branch is designed to create a future free from negativity and selfishness
- Bhakti Yoga: This branch is created to establish the path of devotion, a positive way to channel emotions and to cultivate and accept a tolerance
- Jnana Yoga: This branch is about wisdom, the path of the scholar and developing the intellect through study
- Tantra Yoga: This branch is all about the pathway of ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship
International Yoga Day
The international Yoga Day is celebrated on June 21. This date was suggested by the present Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his UN address. He suggested June 21 because it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.
On 27 September 2014, during his speech at the UNGA the prime minister was quoted saying-
“ Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day”
This led to the formation of International Yoga Day. The first International Yoga Day was celebrated on June 21, 2015. From the first Yoga Day, the Prime Minister himself led the main event from the front dealing with different subjects.
The first Yoga Day celebration will be always remembered as the PM and dignitaries from 84 nations performed 21 Yoga postures for 35 minutes in Rajpath, New Delhi. A total of 35,985 people participated in this event. The event at Rajpath achieved 2 Guinness world records- for the largest ever Yoga class(35,985 people) and for the largest number of participating nations(84 Nations). The award was given to the Ministry of Ayush and Minister Shripad Yesso Naik received the award. The Yoga Day was celebrated magnificently from there on. In 2016, it was celebrated in the United Nations followed by Lucknow and Dehradun in the next 2 years respectively. In 2019, the main event is planned to be held in Ranchi and nearly 50,000 people are expected to participate in the event.
Advantages of Yoga
- Improves flexibility: For a beginner, during first classes Yoga will seem to be a herculean task. But in the coming days, he/she will be more stable and will get more experience of doing the same. If you stick with it, even impossible poses will become possible. Aches and pains will slowly start to disappear and your flexibility will have a great improvement.
- Builds muscle strength: Strong muscles will always be very crucial especially at the older ages. It will protect us from arthritis and back pain.
- Perfects your posture: Poor posture can cause back, neck and other muscle and joint problems. Doing Yoga consistently helps to make your posture perfect.
- Protects your Spine: The only way for the spinal disks to get their nutrients is by herniating and compressing the nerves-crave movement. In Yoga, there are different postures that will help in backbends, forward bends and twists that will keep the disks supple.
- Improves bone health: The bones in our body are vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. This can only be prevented by good and healthy exercises and Yoga provides it.
- Increases blood flow: Yoga helps in circulation especially in hands and feet. Yoga also helps to get more Oxygen into the cells which will function as a result of this. Twisting poses helps to take away the venomous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which carry Oxygen to the tissues.
- Ups your heart rate: Doing Yoga continuously will take your heart rate to the aerobic range. When the heart rate is in the aerobic range, then the risk of heart attack and depression can be lowered.
- Drops your blood pressure: Yoga relaxes your mind and makes you tension free.
- Helps to find a healthy lifestyle: There are many things you have to take care in Yoga practice. Controlling food is one among them. In total, you can achieve a healthy lifestyle.
- Helps to sleep deeper: Doing Yoga reduces your stress and makes you relaxed. Also, you will not get tired that much. This will help you to sleep deeper.
- Gives your lungs room to breathe: Yoga practitioners take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is more efficient. Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose so that the air is filtered and warmed. This will remove pollen, dirt and other substances from taking into the lungs.
- Gives peace of mind: According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Yoga slows down the loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. Stress leads to problems like migraines, eczema, high blood pressure, heart attacks, etc. Hence if you are stress-free you can live longer and happier.
- Keeps allergies and viruses at bay: Kriyas or cleansing practice is another element of Yoga. Kriyas include processes from rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansings of the intestines.
If you do Yoga with full heart, passion, and sincerity, then surely a great result awaits you. Our present life scenario is too difficult with people preferring their own style of life. Yes, we have to eat to live but the majority of us are living to eat and that is the problem of this current generation. There is a proverb in Malayalam which says “even honey is a poison if we consume more”. Just have a look at our surroundings, many people are suffering from cancer, sugar, pressure, migraine, pneumonia, typhoid, etc. etc. In the past, our world was not this much vulnerable because there were no that much facilities at that time as we have now. But the world had changed a lot so that people’s struggle for life has also been reduced and this is the reason why people are too lazy. They are leading a fine and well-crafted life with full of facilities. So no struggles, no exercises, and nothing. So that the proportion of diseases and illness increases. Here comes the advantage of Yoga. If you are a usual Yoga practitioner, then definitely there will.