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” The word yoga may fill the mind with images of mystical states of human experience. Is it meditation, prayer, physical exercise, or all? What exactly yoga is all about? For an all-round understanding let us explore the definition, history, benefits and variety of styles and schools of yoga in past and present”
Nature consists of panchamahabhuta, many ancient scriptures mention that human body also consists of the panchamahabhuta. The panchamahabhutas are fire, water, earth, space & air. Accordingly in our human body comprises of fire, water, earth, space and air.
Fire – represents the digestive system;
Water – representing the circulatory and lymphatic system;
Earth – the solid organs;
Space – the hollow organs
Air – represents respiration.
It is from this point of view nature and humans are united.
Many yogic concepts were thought out by the sages to give the perfect knowledge of yoga and to unite the human with nature.
The yogic era is tentatively classified into four periods, (pre-Vedic period – 2700 BC; classical period – between 500 BC to 800 AD; post classical period – between 800 to 1700 AD; modern period – between 1700 to 1900 AD). From this we can say yoga modified or developed or grown-up in such a way along with our human evolution.
This is one of the oldest sciences of the world that originated in India. The early literature on yoga describes and defines it as a form of mental rather than physical discipline. Yoga evolved gradually along with human evolution starting from civilization.
Historical evidence for the existence of yoga could be seen in the pre-Vedic period (2700 B.C). The main sources of information about yoga practices and related literature during this period were available in Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis, teachings of Buddhism, Jainism, epics, puranas etc. In this period, the aim of yoga was self-realisation to overcome all kinds of sufferings and leading to the state of liberation. It is very helpful for preserving and maintaining one’s physical and mental health and for spiritual evolution.
In recent years, yoga has been studied and researched systematically with the guidance, findings and experiences of many philosophers.
Technically, yoga is classified as many variants such as, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Dhyana yoga, Patanjali yoga, Kundalini yoga, Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jain Yoga, Buddha Yoga etc.
Different traditional schools have had their own principles and practices with regard to the aim and objects of yoga. In yogic literature different philosophers from different schools of yoga have their own style but the yoga sadhanas (practices) are same to the Sandhakas.
The practices are shatkarmas, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, bandhas, mudras, mantra japa, samadhi etc.
The ancient sages, philosophers and the traditional practitioners ‘strongly believed in holistic approach of yoga which brings harmony in all areas of life. It is thus, known for disease prevention, promotion of health and management of many lifestyles related disorders.
Result based working world of the modern times needs result by research. Satisfying these criteria, yoga science and research prove that yoga brings harmony between mind and body. Worldwide the word yoga is acceptable as a physical and mental health practice by following the great principle – Ashtanga Yoga which contains 8 parts viz.
Yama – universal ethical principles
Niyama – individual self-restraint
Asana – physical possess
Pranayama – breath work
Pratyahara – quitting the senses
Dharana – concentration
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – emancipation.
The recent evidence suggests that yoga exerts its therapeutic benefits by turning off Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis and Sympathetic Nervous System (Allostatic load) and it corrects under activity of parasympathetic nervous system & gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) system.
Yoga in Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yoga (BNYS)
By these concepts, yoga is added in our Indian system of medicine to treat a person as a whole and not only the external condition. Naturopathy medicine also clearly explains these.