WHAT IS YOGA?
The primary aim of yoga is to restore the mind to simplicity and peace, to free it from confusion and distress. This sense of calm comes from the practice of yogic asanas and pranayama. Unlike other forms of exercise which strain muscles and bones, yoga gently rejuvenates the body. By restoring the body, yoga frees the mind from the negative feelings caused by the fast pace of modern life. The practice of yoga fills up the reservoirs of hope and optimism within you. It helps you to overcome all obstacles on the path to perfect health and spiritual contentment.
Yoga can be tailored to suit each individuals capabilities, allowing students to develop and improve at their own pace-the ultimate aim being to fully master the art of meditation to reach an “accomplished state” with body and mind united in total harmony.
Yoga is for everyone. You need not be an expert or at the peak of physical fitness to practice. The strain of modern life can lead to physical pain and illness, as we neglect our bodies in the race for material success. The stress of modern life can also lead to mental suffering: feelings of inadequacy, isolation, or powerlessness. Yoga helps to integrate the mental and the physical plane, bringing about a sense of inner and outer balance, or what I term alignment. True alignment means that the inner mind reaches every cell and fiber of the body.
Yogic asanas, or poses, tone the whole body. They strengthen bones and muscles, correct posture, improve breathing, and increase energy. This physical well-being has a strengthening and calming impact on the mind.
Practicing asanas cleanses the body. increasing the circulation of fresh blood through the body and purging it of diseases and toxins. Regular practice of the stretches, twists, bends, and inversions – the basic movements of asanas – restores strength and stamina to the body. Asanas, together with pranayama, or the control of breath, rectify physical, physiological, and psychological disorders, They have a positive impact on the effects of stress and disease.
Yoga asanas, while appearing to deal with the physical body alone, actually influence the chemical balance of the brain, which in turn improves one’s mental state of being.
B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life
Pranayama is the measuring, control, and directing of the breath. Pranayama controls the energy within the organism, in order to restore and maintain health and to promote evolution.
Pranayama gives control of breathing processes and control of our own vital force. When the inflowing breath is neutralized or joined with the outflowing breath, then perfect relaxation and balance of body activities are realized. In yoga, we are concerned with balancing the flow of vital forces and then directing them to each and every cell of the physical body and the subtle body.
Pranayama or breathing technique is very important in yoga. It goes hand in hand with the asana or pose, allowing a more healthful state to be experienced and allowing the mind to become more calm.