Yoga is one of the most famous and globally widespread of India’s traditions. It has existed as a system of exercise, breathing, and meditation for over 5,000 years. The word “Yoga” means “to join or yoke together” – bringing the body and mind together into a harmonious experience. The exercises are designed to apply gentle pressure to the glandular system thereby toning the glands and improving total health. The breathing techniques are based on the principle that the “breath” is the source of life in the body. Meditation calms the mind and body and prepares one to handle stress.
The Upanishads (ancient Hindu texts) define Yoga as a state of gokumu jisho; “extreme nothing self nature.” Essentially, one’s consciousness becomes him. To control the organs of the body are regarded as Yoga.” The organs are controlled and toned by drawing energy up through the seven major energy centers, or chakras. The ultimate goal is to reach the topmost chakra and achieve self-illumination. When certain postures and disciplines are followed, energies that have accumulated and stagnated are moved through the chakras. The practicing of Yoga releases these stagnant energies that would potentially cause various ailments (see below).
THE SEVEN MAJOR ENERGY CENTERS (CHAKRAS)
- CROWN CHAKRA :SELF-ILLUMINATION -RELATED TO BRAIN, PITUITARY AND PINEAL GLANDS
- THIRD EYE CHAKRA :RELATED TO EYES, PITUITARY AND PINEAL GLANDS
- THROAT CHAKRA (ETHER):RELATED TO LUNGS, VOICE, EARS, NOSE & THROAT
- HEART CHAKRA (AIR):RELATED TO HEART AND CIRCULATION
- SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA (FIRE):RELATED TO DIGESTION
- SACRAL CHAKRA (WATER):RELATED TO GENERATIVE & SEXUAL FUNCTIONS
- BASE CHAKRA (EARTH):RELATED TO GENERATIVE AND SEXUAL FUNCTIONS
Each chakra is related to a specific area of the body, such as the head, heart, and sacral area. Some add an eighth Thymus Chakra.
Even though Yoga predates Hinduism by several centuries, it is often mistakenly associated with this religion. It must be emphasized that Yoga is not a religion; it has no creed or fixed set of beliefs. One does not need to be concerned about conflicts with one’s beliefs.
One can better decide if Yoga offers something of personal benefit by considering the eight steps:
1. “Restraint” – Refraining from violence, stealing & lying.
2. “Observance” – Attributes of purity, contentment, tolerance & remembrance
3. “Physical Exercises” – The actual exercising step.
4. “Breathing Techniques” – Special breathing techniques.
5. “Preparation for Meditation”- Refers to “withdrawing the mind from the
6. “Concentration” – Being able to hold one thing in the mind for a period of time.
7. “Meditation” – Being able to focus on one thing, or nothing, indefinitely.
8. “Absorption” – The realization of the essential nature of self.
Physical exercise, breathing techniques, and meditation are the core of most modern Western Yoga classes. Yoga practice is non-competitive. You proceed at your own pace. Relaxing the muscles and keeping them warm is very important. There is an old Yoga quote that states: “Even iron will bend when it is warm!”
Manali is a Certified Lifestyle Coach with over 20 years of work experience and has helped many people establish the mind and body connection and balance in their lives.