In Sanskrit, the term `Yoga` stands for `Union`. A yogi's ultimate aim is to be able to attain this union with the Eternal Self with the help of certain mental and physical exercises. For all the extant knowledge of Yoga and its practices, such as Yogasanas and Pranayamas, the credit goes to Maharshi Patanjali. Yamas or eternal vows
Niyamas or observances
Yogasanas or Yoga postures
Pranayama or breath control exercises
Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses from distractions of the outside world
Dharana or concentration on an object, place or subject
Dhyana or the continuance of this concentration-meditation and
Samadhi or the ultimate stage of Yoga meditation.
Maharshi Patanjali systematized the various yogic practices and traditions of his time by encapsulating them in the form of aphorisms in his Yoga Sutra. In this momentous work, he describes the aim of Yoga as knowledge of the self and outlines the eight steps or methods of achieving it. These are:
People have gradually realised that being mentally fit is as important as being physically agile. The growing popularity of Yoga globally confirms that yogic exercises keep one fit at the level of both, body and mind. By inculcating Yoga and meditation in our daily regime, we can increase our resistance, improve health, and develop our mental abilities.
Benefits of Yoga:
i) Improves flexibility:
Yoga has positions that act upon the various joints of the body including those joints that are never really on the 'radar screen'.
ii) Increases lubrication of the joints:
Surprisingly, it has been found that the body, which may have been quite rigid, starts experiencing a remarkable flexibility in even those parts, which have not been consciously worked upon. Research has proved that seemingly unrelated "non strenuous" Yogic positions act upon certain parts of the body in an interrelated manner. When done together, they work in harmony to create a situation where flexibility is attained relatively easily.
iii) Massages all organs of the body:
Yoga is perhaps the only form of activity which massages all the internal glands and organs of the body in a thorough manner, including those - such as the prostate - that hardly gets externally stimulated during our entire lifetime. Yoga acts in a wholesome manner on the various body parts. This stimulation and massage of the organs in turn benefit us by keeping away diseases and providing a forewarning at the first possible instance of a likely onset of disease or disorder in the body.
iv) Detoxifies the body:
By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, Yoga ensures optimum blood supply to various parts of the body. This helps in flushing out toxins as well as providing nourishment to the body. This leads to benefits such as delayed ageing, energy boost up and a remarkable zest for life.
v) Tones the muscles:
Muscles that have become flaccid or weak are stimulated repeatedly to shed excess flab and flaccidity.
vi) Harmonises the mind with body:
The aforementioned enormous physical benefits are just a by-product of this powerful practice. What Yoga does is, it harmonises the mind with the body and this results in real benefits. It is now an open secret that the will of the mind has enabled people to achieve extraordinary physical feats, which proves beyond doubt the connection between mind and body.
Scholars Of Yoga