Yoga is a complete art which took a very significant place in various ancient arts of body and mind exercises. The Sanskrit term ‘yoga’ is derived from the root word ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to unite’ or ‘to attach’. The name implies the coordination of body and mind when practicing yoga.
There are various types of yogasanas, but the following are the most commonly practiced all over the world.
Raja Yoga. This involves practicing meditation to orient the mind towards liberation.
Hatha Yoga. This deals with yoga postures and breathing techniques.
Laya Yoga. Also called Kundalini Yoga. Practicing Lava yoga enables one to experience peaceful bliss and this is achieved through meditation on seven energy centers and focusing one’s attention on sounds from the body.
Mantra Yoga. This helps the practitioner to focus on spirituality. Mantra yoga involves meditation using mantras which could be syllables, words or phrases. The mantras are chanted with rhythm and the meaning of mantras perfectly blends with the rhythm to take the mind to a higher level of consciousness.
Ashtanga Yoga. Sage Patanjali refers to Ashtanga yoga as eight-limbed yoga in his work Yoga sutras. To feel one with Universe and elevate the state of mind to higher conscious level, Patanjali suggests practicing Ashtanga yoga, which comprises eight spiritual practices:
• Yama – moral principles
• Niyama – introspection and contentment
• Asana – yoga postures
• Pranayama – breathing techniques
• Pratyahara – focusing one’s mind, aiming divine awakening
• Dharana – awareness or contemplation
• Dhyana – deep meditation
• Samadhi – state of Oneness with Universe
Of all the above practices, Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga are among the most recognized throughout the world.
Yoga is not just an art- it is a lifestyle. It is an exercise patterned for a healthy life. It is also therapeutic. The health state of a man, both physical and psychological, is mirrored on his spine and ductless glands. Every posture in yoga strengthens the spine and activates the ductless glands thereby improving their functions.
Practicing yoga postures, breathing practices, kriyas or purification methods and meditation help in body and soul coordination. Yoga postures strengthen your internal organs and help uninterrupted flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body. Breathing practices help increase prana (vital life energy) in the body. Kriyas or the purification methods cleanse the body. The types of kriyas are Kapalabhati, Trataka, Nethi kriya, Dhouthi, Nauli and Basti. These kriyas detoxify the body and ensure proper distribution of prana. Meditation refreshes the energy of man, brings the benefits of yogic practices to the deep conscious level of man. Brain function is being enhanced and mental ability gets improved. Meditation helps in opening up to real wisdom.