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Yoga: The Art of Being and Science of Well-Being

  • Categories
    Yojana/Kurukshetra
  • Published
    1st Aug, 2019

Yoga is an inner science comprising of a variety of practices and methods through which human beings can achieve a union between the body and the mind to attain self-realisation. The aim of yoga practice (Sadhana) is to overcome and endure all kinds of sufferings that leads to a sense of freedom in Every Walk of life with holistic health, happiness and harmony. Yoga is a perfect Wellness module as it is comprehensive and holistic in its nature. Yogic Principles of Wellness help to strengthen and develop positive health enabling us to withstand stress better. The roots of Yoga are in ancient India; its universal origin is the burning desire in the heart of the philosophers – the yearning to be happy and free of suffering.

Traditional Schools  of Yoga:

  • Traditional School of Yoga include Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Patanjala Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jain Yoga, Buddha Yoga etc.

Scientific Studies on Yoga and its acceptance in modern world

  • Modern day lifestyle and globalization has led to regional diversification of Yoga. From its birth place it has travelled across the world.
  • Different scientific study on Yoga has led to establish the fact that it has multiple benefits.
  • Stress, improper dietary habits and sedentary living have led to decline in health, performance and led to diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and cancer.
  • Yoga has emerged as an useful alternative to medication in combating these disorders and shows that science and spirituality need not always be treated as separate entities. Yoga has the potential to solve the lifestyle problems and psychosomatic diseases.
  • The studies indicate improvement in physical and cognitive performance, body flexibility and distress tolerance. It also strengthens our immunity thereby preventing diseases.

Promotion of yoga

  • UNESCO inscribed yoga in the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • The National Health Policy 2017 recommended introduction of Yoga in school and at work places as part of promotion of good health.
  • In order to promote Yoga as a part of school curriculum Yoga education was made compulsory by National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), a statutory body under Ministry of Human Resource Development, through its 15 Teacher education programmes.

Fundamental of Yoga

  • Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga:
  • In Karma Yoga the body is utilized and in Jnana Yoga the mind and intellect.
  • Bhakti Yoga utilizes the emotion and Kriya Yoga  the energy is utilized.
  • All ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a guru.

Yogic Practices for Well-Being

  • The widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Shatkarmas, Yuktahara, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma etc.
  • Yama’s are restraints and Niyama’s are observances. Asanas, capable of bringing about stability of body and mind.
  • Pranayama consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence.
  • Pratyahara indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness (withdrawal) from the sense organs which connect with the external objects.
  • Dharana indicates broad based field of attention (inside the body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration.
  • Dhyana (mediation) is contemplation (focused attention inside the body and mind) and Samadhi (integration).
  • Bandhas and Mudras are practices associated with Pranayama. They are viewed as the higher Yogic practices that mainly adopt certain physical gestures along with control over respiration.
  • Satkarmas are detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature and help to remove the toxins accumulated in the body. Yuktahara advocates appropriate food and food habits for healthy living.

Yoga and Mental Health

  • Yoga practice reduces depressive symptoms since a long time. It lifts the mood and improves interest in activities, attention/concentration/memory, sleep and appetite.
  • It has positive effects on the cognitive/behavioral aspects due to its mindfulness component.
  • To treat patients with mild to moderate depression, yoga aloe is sufficient. This has been reflected in several recent studies in India and abroad.
  • Yoga practices has improved socialization, motivation to do activities, occupational functioning, ability to recognize others emotions/feelings and cognitive abilities in patients with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
  • This effect occurs due to increase in the ‘cuddle hormone’, namely oxytocin, by yoga.
  • Yoga is an alternative complementary therapy to treat addiction of tobacco, alcohol and opioid.
  • Methods of concentration taught in yoga practice have effectively reduced attention deficits in individuals.

Increasing relevance of Yoga in Modern Times

  • Yoga should become a part of our everyday life. Yoga is an ancient Indian science having a scientific background which has an antiquity of 11,500 years. Practice of Yoga can enhance physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual powers of
  • India is in the frontline of information technology, biotechnology, nano-science and other types of research. The internal and external stresses of people in these fields can be relieved by practicing Yoga and also for attaining peace and comfort. Various Yoga organisations and NGOs and several central universities have popularised Yoga worldwide with untiring efforts.
  • The systems of Ayurveda, Veda and Yoga have enhanced the health and longevity of Indians since time immemorial. Charaka while elaborating on the issue of health of an individual says that complete health means the totality of healthy body, sense organs and pleasant mind which has been incorporated in the motto of World Health Organization. In this context, the great contributions of ancient Indian medical doctors like Charaka, Sushruta, Vagbhata, Madhava, Nagarjuna, vedic sages and others merit our attention.
  • Yoga and meditation are very important tools in controlling Diabetes which has spread like an epidemic disease the world over and India is soon emerging as a second Diabetic capital of the The world-renowned scholars and research centres have accepted that Yoga can cure diseases such as Diabetes, Obesity, Cancer, Hypertension and other non-communicable diseases. The practice of Yoga would help people to live healthily, happily, harmoniously and people can be free from various ailments and diseases.
  • Yoga should be imparted to children from the very young age and it should become their lifestyle. Yoga would become a powerful means for promoting ageless Indian culture and tradition. Indian youth who form more than 50% of total Indian population should practice Yoga for the overall development of their personalities.

Changes in life style causing disease

  • Physical inactivity is now identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Unhealthy diet was the second biggest factor in India driving most deaths and disability combined after malnutrition.
  • Food borne diseases cost India $ 15 billion.
  • According to World Health Organisation, there is no improvement in global levels of physical activity since 2001. People with a sedentary Lifestyle are twice at risk than the physically active ones.

Yoga: A solution for lifestyle disease

  • There is strong evidence to demonstrate that adults between the ages of 18 to 64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.
  • We have to keep in mind that 65 per cent of India's population is under the age of 35; 50% of India's population is under the age of 25.
  • Future India should be healthy and fit. Yogic practices are considered as perfect exercises because they are more natural by using the Stored energy from the body itself. 
  • Scientific findings on yoga are: yogic practices enhance grey matter for cognition and white matter for communication; enhance white matter to avoid depression which is the number one reason for ill-health.

Yoga has successfully emerged as a way to manage personality, physical and mental health of individuals. It has proved a way to improve attention and cognitive abilities as well as reduce intoxication habits and depression. It has emerged as an alternative way in corporate culture to heal one’s body as it takes lesser time than other physical and mental exercises. It is the science of activating inner energies and blossoming of human potential to its fullness. It is Health Insurance at zero budget and a passport to health assurance. Yoga is a powerful antidote to the stresses of modern daily life. It sutures the wounds of life.  Adoption of yoga in lifestyle can effectively cure many disease and help a personality to build up. It can help India to achieve SDG 3 i.e Health and Well Being. Inclusion of yoga in National Health Policy and special focus of government through initiatives like AYUSH by setting up a dedicated ministry for it has signified its importance for India. Yoga has been widely accepted all over the world as an alternative way of Health management. This can be reflected by the fact that UNO declared June 21st as International Day of Yoga (IDY) and celebration of this IDY has become a global phenomenon. Efforts by government of India to promote Yoga support its popularity factor.

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