The name Yoga comes from a Hindu philosophy used to attain spiritual insight and harmony, but generally refers in common use to a system of exercises as well as now a days system of medicine that is practiced as part of this discipline. The word itself is derived from the Sanskrit “yeung”, meaning to join. A yoke as used on oxen is closely related, but also the same root gives us “join”, “junction”, “junta”, “adjust”, “joust”, and “juxapose” to name a few. Meaning union with the divine, yoga is a philosophy and discipline applied to the development of mind, body, and spirit.
There are many disciplines of yoga emphasizing different aspects or combination of mind body spirit. Through practices of holding a variety of body positions or asanas, and the centering of the mind and breath in a meditative way, the practitioner increases body awareness, posture, flexibility of body and mind and calmness of spirit.
Swami Sivananda recognised that every Yogi, or human being for that matter, possesses and identifies with each of these elements: Intellect, heart, body and mind. Although many people think this term refers to union between body and mind or body, mind and spirit, the traditional acceptance is union between the Jivatman and Paramatman that is between one’s individual consciousness and the Universal Consciousness. Therefore Yoga refers to a certain state of consciousness as well as to methods that help one reach that goal or state of union with the divine.
Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that originated in India more than three thousand years ago. Its purpose is to help each one of us achieve our highest potential and to experience enduring health and happiness. With yoga, we can extend our healthy, productive years far beyond the accepted norm and, at the same time, improve the quality of our lives.
Classical yoga as defined by Patanjali is an eight stages process of spiritual development Ashtanga (eight step) yoga. The first two stages are ethical disciplines (Yamas and Nyamas). Then come postures (Asanas in Sanskrit) and breathing exercises (Pranayama). The last four limbs are meditative stages: control of the sense (Prathyara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and enlightenment (Samadhi). Yoga has become a very common term in the Western world today.
Yoga promote health and well-being through physical exercise. The regular practice of asanas, and breathing exercises(pranayama), makes the body strong, supple and healthy. It has a profound effect on the circulation and on the functioning of the inner organs, glands and nerves, keeping all systems in radiant health and leading to greater energy, better concentration, and a happier, more fulfilling life. Many common physical ailments can also be improved through the regular practice of yoga, and it is never too late or too early in life to take it up. Anyone can practice yoga. Yoga and Health are closely related. Yoga is a popular aid in improving both physical and mental health. This is basically the most common goal of people who practice Yoga – for health reasons. Some of the important Yoga benefits include anti-ageing, balance and flexibility of body, increase in knowledge and wealth, improvement in mental health and development of personal and social values. Yoga also helps in improving strength, sexual life and reducing weight. Yoga makes you feel good. Yoga is relaxing. It’s energizing. It’s strengthening. Yoga cures different incurable diseases.
Source – Yoga4Health