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Sunday, December 6, 1998
Yoga has many benefits over most exercises. It is one exercise that can be done by any age group and even by the most unfit people. Yoga is also the most comprehensive of all exercises, since it benefits each body part, remarks Anup Deb Nath
OFTEN ignored by many due to its Indian roots, yoga consists of great exercises to help make our bodies fit and healthy. Yoga has existed in India for many, many years and though we have moved away from it, people in the west have recognised its many benefits and are incorporating it into their exerccise routine.
Yoga has many benefits over most exercises. It is one exercise that can be done by any age group and even by the most unfit people. Yoga is also the most comprehensive of all exercises, since it benefits each body part.
The word yoga has been derived from a Sanskrit word meaning "discipline", which refers to a method of gaining the ultimate release from the bondage of karma and rebirth.
The yoga that is popularly practised is also called the "royal yoga" raja yoga), which is based on the system of Patanjali (AD c 300). This was one of the six classical systems of Indian philosophy.
The yoga of Patanjali teaches an eight-fold path, beginning with the knowledge of how to acquire moral attitudes. Practices of breath control and posture were specifically designed to teach the person how to concentrate without the mind becoming distracted by extraneous factors.
"By progressively concentrating on more abstract concepts, the yogi achieves a higher meditative states culminating in contentless trance (nirvikalpaka samadhi) which is said to constitute liberation. Yogis in more advanced stages of this process are said to be endowed with remarkable powers (siddhis), such as special capacities for sight, an ability to levitate and to project their minds into other bodies, and so on.
Hatha Yoga develops the theory of postures and breathing as well as teaches physical practices which are needed to overcome the obstacles in the achievement of the stages in the eight-fold yogic path.
There are many other forms of yoga, which may not be as popular or common but teach different aspects of control. They include Laya Yoga and Mantra or Japa Yoga.
With no strenuous body movements or complicated footwork, yoga may not seem very difficult to do but it is. It should not be attempted without proper guidance. You have to undergo training at the hands of an expert before you decide to try out yoga at home by yourself. Exercises and movements of yoga should be attempted by stages and it is only after some practice that some of the more advanced poses of yoga can and should be attempted.
Yoga has a few simple rules that should be followed to make the whole exercise routine beneficial. Every movement must be attempted very slowly and smoothly. Fast movements do not mean faster results but, to the contrary, often mean no results at all. The slower and more controlled each movement is, the more the benefit will be.
Proper breathing forms an integral part of yoga. Training under a good instructor means that you will learn how to breathe correctly with each exercise, thus making it much more beneficial for you. Breathing has to be slow and controlled, while you breathe in deeply through the nose. As the exercises get more advanced, so do the breathing techniques needed.
The benefit of excluding all external distractions (including a wandering mind) is that you learn how to leave all your tensions, worries and preoccupations aside for that brief while. This gives you a more relaxed feeling at the end of your exercise as well as a more focused, concentrated workout.
Yoga is a complete
exercise system for the body. It not only works on each
part of your body and internal organs it also
incorporates exercises which help you in other ways. From
ways to control and improve your breathing to teaching
you to focus your mind and develop concentration, release
tension, to better digestion, yoga has an exercise for
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