Yoga is the mental, spiritual, and physical practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with the objective of attaining a state of permanent peace. The term yoga is derived from either of yujir yoga,to yoke or yujsamādhau which means to concentrate. Yoga also means the stilling of the changing states of the mind. Yoga has also been popularly defined as “union with the divine” in other traditions and contexts. These traditions of yoga are found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Indian monks, starting with Swami Vivekananda, brought yoga to the Western countries in the late 19th century. In the 1980s, yoga became famous as a system of physical exercise in the Western world. This form of yoga is often called Hatha yoga. Many studies have been made to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention for schizophrenia, cancer, asthma and heart patients. In a national survey it was reported by yoga practitioners in the United States that musculo–skeletal and mental health improved.
Asana is a body position associated with the practice of Yoga. It was originally identified as a mastery of sitting still. In the context of Yoga practice, asana refers to two things: the place where a practitioner, yogin; yogi (male), or yogini (female) sits and the posture in sitting down. In the Yoga sutras, it is suggested that asana is to sit in a position that is firm, but relaxed for extended periods.
As the posture routines were promoted to exercise the body and mind over the centuries, the present day yoga is sought as a primarily physical exercise and its modern usage includes variations from lying on the back and standing on the head, to a variety of other positions. However, in the Yoga sutras the execution of sitting with a steadfast mind for extended periods is the third of the eight limbs of Classical yoga. Yoga practitioners even those who are masters at various complex postures still find the “simple” practice of chair-less sitting, generally impossible to sit still for the traditional one hour minimum.as still practiced in eastern Vipassana.
Asana later became a word for various postures needed to restore and maintain a practitioner’s well-being and improve his body’s vitality and flexibility. Asanas are widely known as Yoga positions or Yoga postures.
Yoga in the West is commonly treated as physical exercise or alternative medicine. In the East, yoga is more of a spiritual self-mastery meditation skill. Spiritual cleansing is very important because once the spirit is cleansed, the mental thought patterns follow. What the mind thinks; happens. So if the mind thinks of positive ideas, the aura and character also become positive. The spirit moves the body towards doing things the mind has conceived. Focusing on the true, good, and beautiful will improve the spirit, clear the mind, and finally rejuvenate the body.
Whichever context is used, the cause and effects are the same; yoga is spiritual and physical exercise; a health advantage.
Note: Contributed by The Park Club; a gym in West London.