What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient set of lifestyles that teaches us the perfect way to live a life that is disease-free, stress-free and that leads to the ultimate goal of Samadhi or deep meditation where one can attain salvation. Yoga simply doesn't mean a form of exercise or physical activity. It is a manifestation of the way that leads to eternal happiness and knowledge that can only be achieved by following the path yoga teaches.
In literal terms, Yoga means Union, but actually, it is just the opposite. It means detachment from the worldly afflictions and union with the Supreme only. It is a complete philosophy on its own, a theory that teaches us to attain the true knowledge of our existence. It begins with physical wellness to the internal peace and then to Samadhi; the deeper consciousness for knowing the exact and true meaning of one's existence. There are six branches of yoga but Hath Yoga is what we follow mostly.
Hath Yog is a discipline that ensures complete and perfect health by the means of purification of body and mind. Asans, pranayama, and meditation are used as the tools to keep the body and mind healthy.
Our ancient Yogic texts tell us that;'ha' means the 'sun', i.e., energy representing the sun inPinglaNadi,‘tha' means the moon, i.e., energy representing the moon in Ida Nadi and,yoga means joining, connecting, or uniting.Thus, uniting the energies of Pingala Nadi and Ida Nadi and placing them in a perfect balance or equilibrium insideSushumnaNadi, is the main aim of doing yoga. There are three inseparable aspects of hath yogaand these are:
- Control of mind through meditation
These three factors are so interdependent, that none of these is valuable without the other. Only Asans can prove to be a physical exercise, only pranayam will not be possible without sitting straight and steady (if asans are not performed), and similarly without controlling our mind one can neither do asans nor pranayam. Thus these three are closely related and complement each other.
Asans, when performed in collaboration with the mind and with proper breathing, the effect of asans becomes manifold. Similarly, pranayam, when performed in a steady and straight posture, with full focus and concentration on breathing, can do wonders to the human body and more on the human mind and soul.Pranayam is the way towards meditation i.e. our effort to control our mind, the third factor of the Hath Yog.
The purposes of yoga were to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation, and higher consciousness in the individual. The original aim of yoga was spiritual development by training the body physically and going into meditation for self-observance with breathing techniques. but unfortunately, a split occurred between those seeking physical development versus those seeking spiritual development and it widened with time leading to the lack of awareness and attention to inner experience has disconnected the practitioner from his body.Thus, we should focus on all three factors of Hath Yog and practice them regularly to attain a perfectly healthy body.