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Should You Be Doing Yoga

May 21, 2008
There are many misconceptions clouding the science of Yoga. People perceive it to be some kind of black or white magic, sorcery, physical or mental debauchery through which miraculous feats can be performed.

For some it is an extremely dangerous practice which should be limited to only those who have renounced the world. Few others think it to be a kind of mental and physical acrobatism that is compatible only to a Hindu mind.

Yoga had its origin in the wandering ascetics who sought the solitude of the forests to practice this ancient science and then imparted their knowledge to the ardent students (mumuksu) who lived in their ashrams. The ancient yogins were possessive about this art form and did not make any effort to popularize yoga.

The yogic postures and the subsequent stages of yoga were handed down only to the deserving students. Hence, this science remained limited to the confines of the forests or remote caves.Very little was known about this Vedic practice until the Yoga Institute of Santa Cruz, Mumbai was founded in 1918, which became India's oldest technical institute on Yoga.

Yoga is one of the most ancient cultural heritage of India. The word yoga in Sanskrit means "to unite", and so yoga can be said to connote a unitive discipline. In this sense it is an exercise in moral and mental cultivation that generates good health (arogya), contributes to longevity (chirayu), and the total intrinsic discipline culminates into positive and perennial happiness and peace.

Therefore, yoga is the said to be indispensable of the ultimate accomplishment in life. It is a science that affects not only the conscious self but the subconscious as well. It is a practical physiological training (kriya yoga), which if practiced can exalt man to the supra mundane level.

Yoga is an all-embracing way of life, a science of self-culture and mental discipline that ensures the purgation of the ignoble in man and brings forth what is most noble in him. It is pertinent to all people irrespective of his caste, creed, sex, and religion.

It can be beneficial to all the good and the bad, the sick and the healthy, the believer and the non-believer, the literate and the ignorant, the young and the old. A person may begin at any age and can go on reaping its benefits.

Yoga is more than a physical discipline of keeping fit. It's an ancient concept, and has a lot to do with the philosophical and the spiritual. So there're a lot of Yoga-related terms or types of yoga you'll come across. Don't get confused. Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Astanga Yoga are the most common disciplines of Yoga, which give you the strength, relaxation and flexibility the combined benefits one looks for. But there are various other disciplines and kinds of Yoga.

Scientists today ascertain that the intrinsic organic health of a human being is of prime importance along with the outer development of the body. This was realized thousands of years ago by the ancient Indian yogis. The practice of yoga has a substantial foundation in science. Yogic asanas accelerate blood circulation in the body and Pranayama abates carbon dioxide content ensuring sound health.

Yoga provides all-round benefits to a human being. To maintain the purity of blood and elimination of toxins, both outer and inner cleanliness is indispensable. Scientists prescribe sun bath, steam bath, shower-bath, air-bath and to this the yogis include the nasal cleansing (neti), stomach wash (dhouti), the depuration of the alimentary canal (basti), the purgation of the intestines, the bladder, and the sexual organs (vajroli).

Yoga is much more than "a new-found ability to touch your toes." Asanas have an all-pervading effect on the physical and mental functioning of the body. Physical benefits include through healing, strengthening, stretching and relaxing the skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardio-vascular, glandular and nervous systems. Yoga can certainly have mental benefits, through the cultivation of a quite and a peaceful mind, alertness and concentration. Yoga also can also have deep spiritual benefits.

Yoga exercises have a strengthening effect on the nervous system through its non-tiring physiological activities that bring about poise of body and mind. Unlike the normal workouts that concentrate more on the inflation of the muscles, Yoga takes care of every little part of the anatomy.

The most important things you'll need to get started - as they say - are a big heart and a small ego.
The time most suitable for Yoga is in the morning before breakfast when the mind is calm and fresh and the movements can be done with ease and vitality.
A person must seek a place of quietude, which is well ventilated, free from dust, insects, unpleasant smell, draught, and moisture. There should be no distraction whatsoever.

Before you start your exercise you should empty your bowels and bladder, clean your nostrils and throat of all mucus, consume a glass of lukewarm water and then begin the exercises after 15 minutes.

Always remember that you should begin with the easy postures and then proceed to the difficult ones. One must follow the graded steps of Yoga.
In the beginning, all movements should be practiced lightly and you must cease to go further if fatigue shows.

Yoga must pep up and not impart weariness and despondency. Periods of relaxation are advisable if a particular exercise proves to be tiring.
Yoga is a wonderful way to get physically fit, and to alleviate daily stress. Give it a try, and maybe you will fall in love with it.
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