31 Dec 2007
Hatha yoga is known as the science of purification.
"Behind every sick man there is a spiritual man, behind every diabetic there is a yogi, behind a man suffering from depression there is an aspirant. When a patient comes for help, teach him yoga and make him better." -Pradipika
Yoga, through breathing exercises and sustained physical postures, purifies and cleanses the physical body. The mental effort and concentration involved in disciplining the physical body also develop and purify the mind. In yoga, the subtle bodies work harder in exerting themselves to make the physical body work harder. The powers of concentration are greatly increased, and the subtle bodies are evolved by the practice of yoga. The most popular form of yoga in the West, is Hatha yoga.
INTRODUCTION TO YOGA
Anyone can practice yoga. You don’t need specific equipment, special clothes or even to touch your toes. All you need is a small space and a strong desire for a healthier, more fulfilled life. Yoga postures or asanas exercise every part of the body, stretching and toning the muscles and joints, the spine and the entire skeletal system. Even your organs, nerves and glands reap the benefits. By releasing physical and mental tension, they also liberate vast resources of energy. The yogic breathing exercises known as pranayama revitalize the body and help to control the mind, leaving you feeling calm and refreshed.
A BRIEF HISTORY ON YOGA
Yoga is a complete science of life that originated in India many thousands of years ago. It is the oldest system of personal development in the world, encompassing body, mind and spirit. The ancient yogis had a profound understanding of man’s essential nature and of what he needs to live in harmony with himself and his environment. They perceived the physical body as a vehicle, the mind as the driver and action, emotion and intelligence as the three forces which pull the body-vehicle. In order for there to be integrated development these three forces must be in balance. Taking into account the interrelationship between body and mind, they formulated a unique method for maintaining this balance-a method that combines all the movements you need for physical health with the breathing and meditation techniques that ensure peace of mind.
YOGA IN YOUR LIFE
Many people are first drawn to yoga as a way to keep their bodies fit and supple. Others come seeking help or relief for a specific complaint, like stress or chronic backache. While some are merely impelled by a sense that they are not getting as much out of life as they could be. Whatever your reason, yoga can be a tool, an instrument for you-giving you both what you came for, and more. To understand what yoga is all about you need to experience it for yourself. At first glance it seems to be little more than a series of strange physical postures, which keep the body lean and flexible. But in time, anyone who continues with regular practice becomes aware of a subtle change in their approach to life-for, through persistently toning and relaxing the body and stilling the mind, you begin to glimpse a state of inner peace which is your true nature. It is this that constitutes the essence of yoga-this self-realization that we are all seeking, consciously or unconsciously, and towards which we are all gradually evolving.
A PERSONAL APPROACH
What seems intimidating in the beginning, is most gradifying in the end. Don't be discouraged by the discomfort which can occur when starting to practice yoga, or any other personal discipline. We recommend starting with a gravity ball, the kind you find at your local pharmecy or Fred Meyer. Allow gravity to work on your behalf while you direct the breath of awareness to that part of the body that you are stretching and toning. Pinch or contract to tone yourself and cultivate what Carlos Castenada calls Tensegrity. Find yourself doing this througout the day and what you've begun is a process of transformation.
Like all spiritual disciplines, the results you seek will be subtle yet measureable. In terms of the body and the discomfort which can arise from serious practice, it helps to have a friend, mentor, or better yet, a lover who can assist and encourage your development. Basic hydrotherapy, massage, essential oils, herbs and a good diet can also off-set your challenge to overcome any discomfort.
There are other secret's to yoga that are often ignored by mainstream "professional" practitioners that might be considered "bad for business." Seek contact with a practitioner who can level with you in regards to the challenges and benefits that result from a serious practice of strength building and purification.
Yoga is life and life is deep. To aquire the benefits all you have to do is practice, practice, PRACTICE.
- Anonymous Submitter