Importance of Yoga
Life is a sum of three factors. Mind, body, and the soul. Most folks know fairly well about the first two i.e., the mind and the body. It’s in the third i.e., the soul that we falter. The first two have entire sciences built around them from eons of research and experiences. The third, the soul still stands abandoned, desolate and little understood.
No one can really be blamed for this state of affairs given the difficulty to understand and deal with something that even while being present in us, rarely manifests itself in any worldly manner. That said, the soul and its troubles are something all of us face all the time in our lives and very few know how to deal with it.
That’s unless you are into Yoga!
Yes, yoga, the ancient India science of living, exercise and meditation finds mention in scriptures that are as old as 5000 years! That’s how old yoga is. It finds mention in practically every ancient scripture from Rig Veda to the Upanishads, and the Bhagawad Gita.
Religions running parallel to Hinduism being Jainism and Buddhism too have detailed accounts of Monks and Ascetics practicing yoga for varied reasons including so-called self-enlightenment. From Patanjali to Sushrut to Panini, each one of these Sages of ancient India have spoken eloquently about Importance of Yoga and its benefits.
Over the years, yoga has been refined and described to suite various needs and situations be it related to warfare, peacetime, mental alertness, physical strength and sustenance, stamina, health or even frugal minimalist living while giving up so-called outward display of carnal pleasures. Yoga if seen in the context of yogis and yoginis, be it Indian or Chinese means giving up desires and concentrating on achieving goals for a larger cause and larger good.
In fact, if seen from the preserve of disciplining the body and mind to follows rigours and make the body strong, supple and obedient to the mind without getting swayed by temporary feeling, yoga was equated to an ascetic life. It was meant only for those who had given up on life in the normal order and accepted a higher order of living that was devoid of pleasures and comforts. So strong were these percefeeling that till about a century back, barely anyone from the subcontinent other than the usual stock of ascetics, monks and minimalists were ever associated with it.
And then came the likes of the Beatles, their visits and myriad modern-day yogis who among other constitute leading lights in cinema, music and industry in the west. Their love for yoga has given the ancient Indian science a new lease of life, and one that does not seem to be in any hurry to bow down.
So then, why is yoga so good for the body?
Simple. It helps us treat ourselves in ways that makes a better version of ourselves with our own efforts and initiation!
- Yoga is physically exerting
Yoga in its simplest form has physical exercises that stretch the body into impossible shapes (impossible initially but with regular practice, there’s nothing impossible about them). These are extremely helpful in bring the body back into its peak form.
Used as we are to a sedentary life, our bodies have shrivelled up to such an extent that regular acts like running, twisting, squatting, sitting crossed legged etc too have become difficult for most of us. Most of us have weak shoulders, back muscles and legs given that we hardly take the trouble to move and strengthen ourselves. Yoga if done in its entirety for a reasonable time makes us stretch, twist and turn into such shapes that our bodies become toned, supple and very, very strong. These besides, continuous exercises including the likes of the “surya-namaskar” increase our breathing, heartbeat and pulse rate and bring about positive developments in our health.
- Yoga brings regularity to life
It’s impossible to do yoga regularly and derive benefits unless one is regular with one’s life and its practices including exercises. For this reason, yoga is said to form a habit which if continued for a long time, positively affects other activities. Yoga needs discipline and doing it long enough brings discipline in our lives.
Dinacharya, Ratricharya and Ritucharya are the three benefits of doing yoga regularly. It regularizes everything from daily habits, habits that one follows in the evening before falling asleep, to habits to be followed throughout the year to take care of climate changes. By bringing about the smallest of changes to life in the yogic way, benefits big and small stand to be derived.
- Yoga regulates our thoughts
Thoughts follow action, and actions follow habits. And habits need the goading of a life pattern called Yoga to fall in place. Positive, uplifting thoughts can’t take place when habits and actions are negative. They need the backing of something strenuous, tenacious and strengthening like yoga!
- Yoga regulates the way we conduct ourselves in the context of the world
If Yoga regulates our bodies, it also helps calm our actions, and brings an element of mindfulness to our thoughts. With a calm mind we are in a position to analyse our actions vis-à-vis the reactions and actions of the world around us. This reduces conflicts and brings more than its share of positively in whatever we do. The positive aspect of this is that the world analyses our positive and calm self and responds likewise.
- Yoga helps calm the body, mind and soul
There are two elements of yoga, and they affect us in varied ways. One gets us going with fast-paced strenuous exercises that gets our adrenalin going. Later in the day, with the dopamine effect falling in place, our mind becomes calm and composed. The other is meditation that with measured breathing, calms our mind and helps us concentrate our thoughts away from the troubling and mundane. In all these it helps us connect with a higher form of thought that we generally don’t because of the prevailing confusion and clutter in our minds.
- Yoga can be practiced by anyone, anywhere at any time, and does not need many resources. It’s for all!
The best part about yoga, and which forms an important element of its popularity, is its approachability! Anyone can attempt it anywhere with any level of fitness. Unlike trying to get a six-pack deemed fitness, yoga is as normal and natural as breathing itself. That being the case, and given that it isn’t machine or place specific, anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can attempt it at their convenience. There is one certainty though. If practiced with full earnestness and vigour, you get awesome, life-changing results that stay with you for life!