Mar 012024

“India a land of yogis and mystics” is a quote familiar with the western press. Known for its magical feats and the famous rope trick, India is a land that has always exuded charm. Yoga is a tradition in India and is seen as a means to enlightenment. Yoga is of four basic types, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Raja Yoga. Karma deals with action in the world, Jnana deals with knowledge and intellectual endeavor, Bhakti deals with devotion to a deity and Raja yoga deals with meditation. Modern Yoga has taken on a new connotation devoid of any spiritualist with the asanas or postures of hatha yoga included in fitness regimen. This has essentially led to many self designed types of yoga and is a lucrative business. Yoga essentially means enlightenment and is central to Hinduism and offshoots of Hinduism. Modern Yoga practice has inherited a few elements from this ancient tradition. Breathing exercise (pranayama) and meditation is the most popular of these. Yoga has a unique ability to relax a person and this is adopted by persons who do not look for enlightenment but for its utility to health of mind and body

The goals of Yoga are expressed differently by different traditions. The goals of modernism are relaxation and distressing of a person. With this in mind we have a number of tailored programs. Yoga for beginners, Yoga for Women, Yoga for Children, Yoga for heart, etc. are the advertisements you would see to entice people to join a yoga fitness center. The common form of Yoga is the practice of concentration. The focus of meditation is different from school to school. Heart (anahata), or third eye (aina) are major points of focus, meditation on peace or Deities is another form. Hatha yoga was invented as purification so that meditation can be done with ease.

Physical purification, Moral Discipline, and meditation are the basics of yoga. There is a far wider reality which often gets forgotten in modern fitness practices. It is sorry to see that instead of holism practiced another view of yoga is propagated. Blinding the horse to see only in one direction is what the market forces have done to Yoga. Enlightenment is left far behind in our globalization and commercialization. Hatha yoga is only viewed for its health benefits and not for its enlightenment.

Health Benefits

    It is believed to calm the nervous system.
    It helps to balance the body, mind, and spirit
    It follows the same principles as life energy and helps prevents specific diseases.
    It is used to reduce blood pressure and stress
    It improves sleep, coordination, flexibility, concentration and digestion.
    Alternative remedies suggest it as a therapy for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    It is helps in treatment of spinal problems and chronic back pain.

Yoga as a healing alternative is now the most popular form and very few look towards yoga as a means toward enlightenment.

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