Internationally acclaimed as the world’s biggest spiritual and cultural repository, India has carved itself a place as a nation which is fast emerging as a developed land. Having given the world a plethora of mind-blowing inventions like chess, the number ‘zero’, the Fibonacci series, the decimal system and so on, our nation has truly housed some of the most brilliant minds ever born. Also among the enviable list of contributions of India to the world comes Yoga, a spiritual discipline that originated in our country and is currently practised worldwide. So what is Yoga? That is exactly what I am going to tell you all about!
Developed around the 5th or 6th century BC, Yoga is a divine and spiritual practice that soothes the mind and body and helps a person gain inner peace. Apart from this, it is also effective as a medium of achieving flexibility and physical fitness and awareness. Yoga is known to heal and many claim that it gives them renewed energy to face the daily challenges of life. After all, a calm, collected approach to a problem often translates to the problem being solved more effectively and this is exactly what yoga helps us achieve.
Mentioned in the Rigveda, Yoga dates back to the early Indian civilization. However, various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jain, etc. have also promoted this practice, thus giving rise to two of the most renowned types of yoga, Hatha yoga and Raja yoga. And due to luminaries like Swami Vivekananda, the West too saw Yoga gain momentum in the 1980s. While the West treats it primarily as a physical exercise, Hindus view this practice as a gift from the divine, which helps us connect with our spirituality.
The aim of every Yoga practice is ‘moksha’, which translates to the word ‘liberation’. Thus the core of this practice is built on the following pillars and values as jotted down by experts:
- It is the disciplined and correct path towards achieving any goal.
- It helps control the body and mind.
- It helps expand and raise consciousness.
- It is the path to omniscience, thus liberating the soul to experience the true presence of God.
Every exercise practiced in Yoga is known to enhance the functioning of one particular part of the body. Thus, instead of targeting the entire body at once, these exercises, also known as ‘asanas’ collectively give the surreal feeling of inner peace and wellness. Some of these asanas and their benefits are listed below:
- Tadasana, also called the Mountain Pose, is a soothing exercise designed to relieve the muscles of the back, hands and the spine.
- Uttanasana, which involves bending forward, is a stretching technique that increases blood flow to the brain. After all, those grey cells need their nutrition too right?
- Trikonasana or the Triangle Pose, is a must-do for pregnant women. This exercise is known to sharpen our minds as well as improve balance, concentration and other functions of the body.
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) is an excellent option for those considering a weight loss regime. Extremely effective on belly fat, this asana targets the digestive system and makes the digestive process a smoother one.
- Suryanamaskara: This is a rather exceptional exercise, which if done religiously, can drastically improve one’s health and well-being. Its beauty lies in the simplicityof its concept, which is pretty evident from its name. Also called the ‘Sun Salutation’ exercise, it is composed of 12 asanas which not only reduce hypertension but also improve strength and balance. As far as long term benefits are concerned, it is believed that this exercise helps prevent chronic diseases, asthma and fatigue.
While the list of such exercises are endless and I have barely grazed the surface of the mighty ocean of Yoga, it still doesn’t stop any of us from appreciating the marvelous boon that Yoga is. The only minor drawback is that these exercises are a fine art and performing them under supervision is generally advisable to prevent complications like sprains. And this is where a yoga teacher comes into the picture. An experienced professional can make quite the difference by inducing motivation and positivity among the students, apart from just teaching this art. But how exactly can a beginner choose the best suited teacher?
Rest assured, because Google being the boon it is, has an answer to everything. And this is why every beginner should surf online and check for all the available yoga teacher training reviews. These reviews not only describe the courses available, but also shortlist and filter the courses according to the user’s country, city and the category he/she falls in, ie. Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. And the icing to the cake, the fact that these reviewing websites only display popular courses which have been approved and certified by H&Y, Yoga Alliance and similar facilities. One such review website is called Health and Yoga and it is replete with ample pictures of the institute conducting the course, its past students and so on.
Most of us lack the motivation to push ourselves towards a healthier lifestyle by exercising. Yoga is an easier and more soothing alternative and each of us should incorporate it daily. Unlike most exercises, yoga gives inner peace of mind from the first day itself and by practising yoga along with meditation, one can truly achieve the highest degree of spiritual peace. As the name indicates, yoga leads to the union of the body, mind and spirit.
In the hustle and bustle of this fast paced world, it is vital to slow down for a moment, give ourselves some time to disconnect and experience the serenity of the universe. After all, the benefits are so vast that they completely outweigh the pain one has to undergo initially to perform this art. And you never know; if each and every one adopts this lifestyle there might even come a day when we don’t have to face dreadful diseases like cancer or fatal incidents like heart attacks. And when that day comes, we can finally appreciate the role of spirituality in the well-being of mankind.