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Yogic Knowledge

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We won’t be able to alter the entire world, but we can alter ourselves and fly like birds. We can be calm even in the midst of disasters, and by doing so, we may help others to be calm as well. Serenity spreads like a virus. When we grin at someone, he or she will return the smile. A smile, on the other hand, is free. We should inflict joy on everyone. Why not die happy and laughing if we just have a minute to live? ” (136-137) The Yoga Sutras, Swami Satchidananda

Many people refer to the ‘Yoga Sutras’ without knowing where they came from. The question of “who wrote the yoga sutra?” has sparked significant debate, with the conclusion still out. This collection of 195 sutras or words of wisdom, compiled by the revered ancient sage Patanjali, is the foundation of classical or raja yoga.

Yoga is the integration of body, mind, spirit, and soul in its purest form. According to Yoga, we struggle from the delusion of separation between our own awareness and Universal Consciousness, or Brahman. The Yoga Sutras provide practical guidance to remembering that oneness on your spiritual journey.

Yoga encompasses far more than just asanas. Even when life gets wild, the sutras teach us how to be our genuine selves and embrace every moment.

The Story Of Patanjali – The Mythical Version

Once upon a time, all the Munis and Acharyas came to Lord Vishnu to tell him that even though He (incarnated as Lord Dhanvanthari) had provided them with the skills to treat illnesses through Ayurveda, people continued to be ill. 

They began to wonder what to do if someone became ill. It’s not always just a physical illness that has to be addressed; sometimes, it’s also a mental and emotional illness. How can one purge impurities such as wrath, desire, greed, and envy from one’s life? What is the formula for success?

Lord Vishnu was resting on his snake-infested bed, which included the 1000-headed serpent Adishésha. When the Sadhus addressed Him, He gave them Adishésha (the symbol of awareness), who became Maharishi Patanjali and lived in the world. As a result, Patanjali came to this world to impart yoga knowledge, which became known as the Yoga Sutras. The Puranas do not explain; it is up to us to figure out what the hidden meaning is.

Story Of Patanjali – A Theoretical Version

We don’t have a lot of information on Patanjali himself. His life is thought to have taken place during the first and fourth centuries of the Common Era. 

He penned the sutras in a style known as “Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit,” rather than traditional Sanskrit, indicating a Buddhist presence. The Yoga Sutras’ author was most likely not a half-man, half-multi-headed serpent.

That was a different Patanjali, a legendary god; yet, the two have been confused at times, such as in the Iyengar and Ashtanga practices’ beginning invocations.

According to the history of the work, many of our understandings of the Yoga Sutras have been filtered through multiple commentators on the original verses.

The Yoga Sutras, written approximately 2,000 years ago, are considered one of the most important yogic writings. It’s possible you’ve seen it on your local studio’s bookshelves, on the study guide for teacher training, or heard it mentioned in class. However, it is frequently veiled in mystery. 

So, what’s the big deal? Are Patanjali’s yoga sutras still applicable today? Is it possible to make a difference by adhering to its principles? What do yoga sutras say? Let’s explore more about the legendary ancient texts, i.e., PATANJALI YOGA SUTRAS.

What Is The Central Idea Of The Yoga Sutras?

Sankhya is one of the oldest Indian philosophical systems. It teaches that the way to enlightenment is knowledge. Patanjali’s greatest contribution to the world was that he translated this profound—yet solely intellectual—philosophy into a format that the average spiritual seeker could understand and apply. A map to help you on your path to enlightenment.

We don’t know exactly what Patanjali was trying to say. Many people have interpreted and commented on his Yoga Sutras through the years. The sage Patanjali offered yogis ashtanga yoga, often known as the eight limbs of yoga, a long time ago. This corpus of knowledge describes how to educate the body, mind, and senses for spiritual advancement in natural evolution. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is the name of the system described in this collection of maxims.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are not the first nor the only ancient text on yoga. They provide a system for achieving self-realization. Although nothing is known about Patanjali himself, many think he lived between 500 and 200 B.C. He was also thought to be an enlightened soul who returned in human form to assist others in overcoming their afflictions.

Patanjali’s wisdom is contained in 196 turns of phrase or deep truth maxims. The aphorisms provide an unending source of insight and a step-by-step route to enlightenment for the spiritually unawakened. While each word is short, it provides an unlimited field for thought and debate when combined with the others. This is why intellectuals and yogis continue to analyze and examine Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras today.

In essence, the Yoga Sutras organize contemporary philosophical ideas into a fundamental structure. Sutra is the Sanskrit word for thread, and each sutra symbolizes one thread in the rich and complicated tapestry of yoga. Contemplation, Practice, Accomplishments, and Absoluteness are the four sections that tie the threads throughout. They explain the philosophy of yoga, the practical ways for obtaining enlightenment, the development of divine capabilities as a result of practice, and the nature of final emancipation and the ultimate self.

What Do Patanjali’s Yoga Su-tras Tell Us?

You might expect the Yoga Sutras to spell out a sequence of poses to release the body and mind, but the sole mention of asana (physical practice) in the actual text is that you should be seated comfortably. Not exactly what you’d expect from a yoga book! So, how can this text omit poses or postures if it is presenting the essence of yoga? To address this, it’s better to start with the second sutra of the first book, where Patanjali defines yoga.

Yoga is referred to as “citta vritti nirodhah.” This translates to: ‘yoga is the restraint of the mind-stuff alterations.’ Perhaps not quite what you were hoping for. This suggests that yoga is a discipline that calms the mind’s (sometimes turbulent) fluctuations. We may be able to see more precisely if we can reduce the impact of these mental disturbances or calm the turbulent, noisy nature of the thinking mind. We can build a more accurate view of the nature of reality and ourselves within it by seeing more clearly, and thus discover a more profound sense of calm.

Yoga, according to Patanjali, is a mental science. First and foremost, yoga’s origins may be traced back to psychology and philosophy before becoming a physical practice. Yoga, in its purest form, allows us to ponder profound issues about the nature of awareness. We might begin a journey away from the pressures and sufferings of daily life by learning to cultivate a certain contemplative awareness – not to the point of insanity, but with a desire to make objective observations of oneself – according to Patanjali’s yoga.

Yoga And Samkhya

Both Samkhya and Yoga are Dualistic theories that accept the distinction between Spirit (Purusha) and Matter (Karma) (Prakriti). 

Redemption, which is the objective of both religions, occurs when a person is freed from the cycle of reincarnation by realizing that their Spirit is pure consciousness and so unattached to the physical world. 

This is accomplished in Samkhya by a process of intellectual investigation into the nature of matter, whereas Yoga achieves the same outcome through intense meditation.

Some ancient scriptures refer to Patanjali’s Yoga as Samkhya with Ishvara. Like many Sanskrit phrases in the Yoga Sutras, the word Ishvara can be construed in several different ways.

It could be a reference to God or a master or competent teacher. Fidelity to Ishvara is one of the necessary conditions for nirvana in the Yogic system, but not in Samkhya.

Theories And Techniques Of Yoga Sutra

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali consists of an eight-fold path known as Ashtanga, which means “Eight Limbs,” that serves as a guide to living a meaningful and purposeful life.

The Yoga Sutras are not presented in chronological order. Rather, they are placed in a wheel-like circular pattern. The profundity of each of the four ‘Padas,’ or portions, varies. The wheel of depth moves deeper and deeper through the four Padas as one proceeds on the path to spirituality, resulting in an ultimate sensation of detachment.

The path from self-realization to ultimate self-realization is long and winding. However, the feeling of calm that frees oneself from earthly ties is found in the search for the ultimate self. This never-ending trip is where one might feel a sense of perfection that cannot be found anywhere else.

The Four Chapters Of Patanjali Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are divided into the following four chapters:

1. Samadhi pada: Defines yoga but is intended to help individuals who are near to achieving samadhi, or self-realization.

2, Sadhana pada: Describes the eight stages that must be followed to progress spiritually. This chapter is written for the average individual. 

Most yogis utilize the eightfold path as a guide for yogic life; therefore, it’s arguably the most essential of all the chapters. This encompasses ethical, moral behavior, asana, pranayama, sensory mastery, concentration, meditation, and self-realization, all of which are completed in this order.

3. Vibhuti Pada – The eight siddhis or supernatural powers that a yogi can obtain in the highest degrees of spiritual development are described and warned against in Vibhuti pada.

4. Kaivalya pada: Defines how to exist in the world without being influenced by the three gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) or energy qualities. 

These four chapters, taken together, look at a person’s total development in action, thought, and speech. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are one of the most widely cited sources of yogic wisdom since they give the ultimate instruction manual for yoga and spiritual development.

Digging A Little More We Discover – The Eight Limbs Or The Ashtanga Concept In Yoga Sutra

1. YAMA – The yamas are a set of five ethical principles that focus on our interpersonal connections and prepare us for a peaceful living in society.

  • Ahimsa is a nonviolence ethic. You avoid harming yourself or others physically, verbally, or emotionally if you practice ahimsa.
  • Satya is the truth ethic. This entails speaking the truth in your words, thoughts, and actions, as well as matching your words to your actions.
  • Asteya is the non-stealing ethic. This is quite self-explanatory: don’t take what isn’t yours.
  • Brahmacharya is the moral code that governs how you use your sexual energy. The goal of this yama is to develop inner power, vitality, and vigor, which are necessary for advanced yogic activities.
  • Aparigraha is the non-collection ethic. This yama encourages you to simply purchase what you require and discourages you from being attached to material things.

2. NIYAMA –  The niyamas are a set of five precepts that focus on personal conduct and discipline. To foster spiritual progress, they encourage you to adopt a pure lifestyle and mentality.

  • Saucha means “cleanliness” in Sanskrit. This refers to the purity of diet, thoughts, and environment, as well as proper hygiene.
  • Santosha denotes serenity; The happiness ethic. It inspires you to be content with what you have.
  • Tapas is a self-discipline philosophy. Tapas helps you build the self-discipline required to stay on the yoga path.
  • Svadhyaya is the self-study ethic. This comprises spiritual instruction and research, as well as a comprehension of our life’s purpose.
  • Ishvara pranidhana (full surrender to God) is a moral commitment. This practice shifts your focus from earthly concerns to your quest for self-realization.

3. ASANA – Yoga’s physical practice, known as asana, is designed to cleanse the human body and improve long-term health. In a strict sense, you strive to appreciate a steady and pleasant posture that can be maintained for a long time during meditation.

4. PRANAYAMA – Pranayama, or breath regulation, connects the three outwardly centered limbs above with the four internally centered limbs below. 

To boost your life energy, you control and expand your breath using pranayama after preparing your body with asana. This prepares the mind for the next phases of yoga by clearing it of distractions and ignorance.

5. PRATYAHARA – The practice of sensory detachment is known as pratyahara. The senses must be conquered once the body and its energies are under our control. The intellect can grow on the spiritual path if it is no longer enslaved by the senses.

6. DHRANA – Dharana is the Sanskrit word for focus, and it is necessary for the following limb, meditation. Meditation is impossible to achieve without concentration. To properly concentrate, you must first develop control over your body, prana, senses, and mind.

7. DHYANA – Dhyana is a meditation technique. Meditation arises naturally as a result of an uninterrupted flow of focus. As a result, mastering dharana is required before achieving this limb.

8. SAMADHI – The hardest of the eight steps to comprehend is Samadhi. It will stay elusive until it is encountered. Samadhi is a state of meditation in which the practitioner loses self-awareness by focusing his or her attention on the object of observation.

Self-realization or illumination are two terms used to describe samadhi. The sense of “I-ness” vanishes at this point. There is no vanity, and the yogi genuinely realizes that they are one with everyone and everything around them, rather than separate from everything.

Above And Beyond The Eight Limbs

There is a phase in Patanjali’s teaching that does not appear in most modern teachings that leads to release from torture. 

This condition is known as nirbija-samadhi, which is now translated as seedless contemplation, with the seeds being thoughts that produce more thoughts. While we may assume that this is the cosmic unity we connect with the completion of the eight limbs, sources clarify that the goal of Patanjali’s Yoga is the complete separation of the human spirit from the materiality of the world.

When this happens, the spirit can extend indefinitely and perform what we would consider supernatural activities.

The Yoga Sutra Today

One of the grounds that Yoga Sutras has remained classic literature is that it is based on a thorough and comprehensive study of human tendencies. And, even though life has moved on significantly since the Sutras were written, the mind’s essence remains fundamentally the same; we merely know it in different ways and other languages.

Many of the difficulties outlined in the Sutras are dealt with in clinical psychology today – cravings, addictions, compulsions, aversions, and cognitive misunderstandings, to name a few – all of which can cause considerable suffering.

So, do you think the Sutras help you enhance your yoga practice? The answer is that it is entirely up to you: if you truly desire it – with patience, devotion, and trust – it has the potential to transform your life both on and off the mat.

Wrapping Up

“Due to the strength of previous impressions, one yearns for fresh sensations. However, there is no such thing as contentment. This leads to dissatisfaction and frustration.” – BKS Iyengar.

The benefits of putting the Yoga Sutra’s precepts into practice come up in unexpected ways, with blessings of clarity and kindness. Your yoga practice is functioning here, in your interactions with people, in your moods, and in your responses to life’s challenges, so you know it’s helping you stay centered, calm, and steady.

You can respond from a place of love and trust, compassion, and non-judgment in these situations. You radiate from your core as a result of your connection to something both deep within and beyond yourself.

You will find that when you are attached to your core and acting from that place within, you can handle practically any situation with greater comfort and clarity.

Sumeet

“As breath stills our mind, our energies are free to unhook from the senses and bend inward.” ― B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life.

There is no denying that the breath and the mind are entirely linked. Therefore, we shouldn’t overstate the importance of breathing. The act of taking a breath is the act of living. It’s the one thing we couldn’t live without, but we seldom take the time to admire and appreciate it in all of its glory. So take a break from reading and take a deep inhale and exhale. Then, take a few more deep breaths and watch how a sense of calm washes over you. Be aware of your breathing is something I recommend to all of my patients. Become aware of how your thorax is expanding and shrinking. The breath has a magical quality. The state of our thoughts is a reflection in the form of our breath and vice versa. Therefore, we employ techniques like ujjayi breathing to regulate the mind by stabilizing the breath.

Ujjayi Pranayama (breath control method) is a delicate, whispering breath known as victorious breath or ocean breath. It’s like the sound of the air through the woods or waves on the coastline.

Examine the origins of Yoga’s pranayama, the physical and mental advantages of ujjayi breathing, and when and how to practice it.

A Glance At Ujjayi Breathing

Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word that combines the roots’ uj,’ which means great or high, and ‘jay,’ or ‘jii,’ which means to conquer. Thus, ujjayi is most commonly translated as “conqueror’s breath” or “victorious breath.”

Because of its peculiar sound, ujjayi is also known as ocean breath or Darth Vadar breath. The ujjayi diaphragmatic breath is distinguished by nostril inhaling. The duration of the exhaust equals the length of the inhale.

There is no breath retention between entire inhalations and full exhales. Instead, as the breath passes past the throat, a mild constriction of the glottis produces an audible ocean-like sound.

It might help if you imagine your ujjayi breath as rolling ocean waves. Long, fluid, and calm breathing is required. Your inhales are solid and whole. As the diaphragm falls, extend the belly out, fill the lungs, and blow the ribs wide.

Consider a gorgeous blue ocean wave that is growing and about to crest. Pay attention to the natural pause at the top of the inhalation and relish this little respite. Next, visualize an ocean wave rising and rolling over itself, collapsing into the vast sea and gently slipping back into where it originated when you begin to exhale, and the diaphragm starts to rise. Allow these breaths and visualizations to cycle until you can entirely focus on your ujjayi breath without using your imagination.

Roots Of Oceanic Breath

Pranayama is a word from Sanskrit that is made up of the root words “prana” (life energy) and “Ayama” (expansion). The root ‘Yama,’ which means constraint, is included in the second portion of the word.

As a result, pranayama can be translated as either growth of our life force or a breath constraint. Therefore, the fourth of the eight limbs of Yoga, pranayama, is an essential aspect of yogic practices.

The victorious practitioner of ujjayi pranayama is eventually victorious over life and death itself. When pranayama penetrates the heart, the yogi becomes almighty, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika of the 15th century.

Patanjali’s Views On Pranayama And Ujjayi Breath

Patanjali, also known as Gonardiya or Gonikaputra, was the author or co-author of two great Hindu classics: the first, Yoga-sutras, a classification system of Yogic thought assembled in four volumes with the titles “Psychic Power,” “Practice of Yoga,” “Samadhi” (state of profound contemplation of the Absolute), and “Kaivalya” (state of profound contemplation of the Absolute (separateness).

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali explains how pranayama leads us to samadhi or complete absorption of the yogic practices. According to Yoga Sutra 2.49, the slowing of the breath occurs when we have established ourselves as secure and comfortable in our asana, or posture practice.

Pranayama, according to Patanjali, is the natural result of complete body harmony. As a result, some teachers believe that pranayama, particularly ujjayi, should not be taught. Instead, when the student is ready, this tiny breath will emerge organically. Teachers and researchers, on the other hand, disagree over Patanjalis intended meaning. Paying close attention to the breath, according to Yoga Sutra 2.5,  causes a profound feeling that is felt both externally and inside. 

This moment of calm, the stoppage of prana is described in Yoga Sutra 2.51-2.53 as the point when all of our mental illnesses are eliminated. The student’s breath persists, but they get wholly immersed in prana. As a result, the mind is prepared for intense focus.

How To Practice Ujjayi Breath

“Ujjayi Pranayama is a balancing and calming breath which increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat.” —Krishnamacharya

Remember to unwind before you begin. Don’t obsess over the procedure. Ujjayi breathing intends to help you lengthen and smooth out your breath. So think less and breathe more.

It’s best to begin in a relaxed seated position. Close your eyes lightly and sit tall.

Ujjayi breath is inhaled and exhaled through the nose with the lips closed — no air travels through the lips. It also helps to keep the body warm. The lips slowly close, and the focus is in your throat, even if the breath is traveling via your nostrils.

As though breathing in and out of a thin straw, you generate a tightness in your throat. Be aware of any stored tension in the teeth, jaw, throat, and neck while keeping a closed mouth position – let this go.

As you inhale and exhale, you can feel the wind tickle the back of your throat. This is linked to the timbre of the breath, which has been compared to the sound of waves, Darth Vader, and my partner dozing off. 

The tone and the audibility are smooth and consistent, with continuous, unbroken cycles of inhales and exhales; often, there is no discernible variation in sound between the in and out breath cycles.

Take a deep inhale and imagine fogging up a mirror as you exhale to practice ujjayi breath. Making the sound “haaaah” slowly as you exhale can assist. 

Slowly close your mouth while you are still making the “haaaa” sound. Then, continue to breathe in the same manner, with your lips sealed. The trick is to slightly tighten the back of the throat, making the airway smaller and causing the breath to drag up and down the windpipe. It takes some time to get used to it, so be patient with yourself.

Brief Version To Practice Ujjayi Breath For Beginners:

  • One hand should be on your lap/thigh, palm pointing up or down, and the other hand should be at the same level and in front of your mouth, palm towards you.
  • Exhale into your palm with your mouth wide open, as if you were heating a mirror/glass and feeling the hot breath on your hand. Keep your hand where it is on your next inhale and breathe in, generating the same sound.
  • If they can’t stretch the breath uniformly on both sides, shorten the more extended breath to match the shorter breath. At no point should you be out of breath or gasping for air. There is NO RETENTION; it’s like a never-ending sea of waves with no holding, wholly fluid and flawless. Optimistic.

SAMA VRITTI

Sama: same Vritti: whirlings, fluctuations, modifications.

The duration of the breath is the same as on the inhale as it is on the exhale, in addition to the steady tone of the breath. So you take a full in-breath and an out-breath in the same amount of time.

Using a clock is excellent practice; numerous excellent online/phone applications are helpful for that. Set your metronome to 75 beats per minute and inhale for four beats and exhale for four beats. It’s ideal to use an app that emphasizes/ punctuates the start of each new breath cycle.

The final touch is to breathe fully, profoundly, and thoroughly while maintaining an even tone and length of breath (air volume of breath). 

Within each cycle, spend the full inhale filling up, and the entire exhale releasing breath. Again, it should be smooth and easy, and you should attempt not to let the breath run out.

When To Practice Ujjayi Breath

You can do Ujjayi breath whenever you want. You do not have to be on your yoga mat to participate. If you’re on your yoga mat, though, remember that your breath generates heat in your body. So it might not be the best choice when you are doing hot Yoga. 

You might not want to add this aspect of heat to your body if you’re doing a Yin or Restorative yoga class. Instead, keep a gentle and smooth breath without making any noises. 

There may also be times in your practice when adding heat is unsuitable (for example, some pregnant practitioners find Ujjayi breathing to be too hot to maintain for a complete practice) or when breathing via the nose is impossible (e.g., blocked sinuses). 

Benefits Of Ujjayi Breath

Try to relax your thoughts and bring awareness to the current moment by managing your breath. Yoga practitioners believe that you can improve your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health by intentionally practicing breath control techniques.

Unlike other pranayamas, done when seated or lying down, you have to breathe in Ujjayi in every stance throughout the exercise. The Ujjayi breath’s consistency, tone, and depth help bring your mind, body, and spirit into the present. This unity gives your practice more depth and richness.

Integrating Ujjayi pranayama into your practice will enrich both your on- and off-the-mat experiences. The following are the advantages of Ujjayi:

  1. Physical Health

The technique is said to generate internal heat, which aids in the release of tight parts of the body, reducing the risk of injury during stretching. At the same time, deep breathing expands the lungs more than usual, increasing circulation and releasing toxins from the interior organs.

Additionally, a 2010 study found that the immune system is strengthened, and sleep is improved. Furthermore, this form of breathing aids in the management of high blood pressure and thyroid issues, as well as the rejuvenation of the nervous system.

Both nostril breathing and ujjayi have significant benefits when done correctly. Both of these things stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Our heart rate lowers and stabilizes when this system is triggered, our mood improves, and our immunological response becomes stronger.

According to a 2012 study from India, ujjayi breathing reduces sympathetic nervous system activity. It switches off our bodily response to stress by stimulating the vagus nerve.

  1. Flow Of Energy

More prana, our vital life force, enters the mind-body system with the Ujjayi breath. It removes the sluggish energy from the channels (nadis) through which it passes, assisting the body in overcoming exhaustion, stress, and negativity. Additionally, this pranayama promotes the transfer of energy from the root energy center to the crown.

  1. For De-stressing

The slow, concentrated, rhythmic character of the Ujjayi breath shows to help soothe the nervous system almost immediately when you’re feeling irritated, anxious, or worried. This breathing technique also regulates the cardiorespiratory system, according to studies. Stress, anger, and frustration can be relieved by restoring equilibrium to these two systems. It also helps to relax the mind and body. Check out this study for more data and how ujjayi breathing has helped people who are constantly agitated.

  1. Focus

The steady tone, and depth of the Ujjayi breath have a meditative character that helps us integrate our mind, body, and spirit with the present moment, making us more self-aware.

When this happens, mental focus and attention improve, Yoga poses flow more easily, stability improves, and we can hold postures for more extended periods. Sustaining the Ujjayi breath during your yoga practice, whether it’s Hatha Yoga, vinyasa yoga, or another discipline, allows you to stay centered, grounded, and integrated while keeping your thoughts at a distance.

  1. Helpful with Depression

As per Central Michigan University, Ujjayi breathing is a technique for calming your mind by focusing on your breath. This aids in the suppression of thoughts that could otherwise detract from your meditative state. 

Another study published in 2017 found a substantial reduction in depressive symptoms in patients with depression who were using or not taking antidepressant medication.

  1. Stress-relieving Treatment For Cancer Patients

Cancer and its treatment cause a slew of debilitating symptoms that are frequently unabated by conventional therapies. Pranayama, a set of yogic breathing methods, has been shown to reduce cancer-related symptoms and enhance life quality.

Seven scientists did a pilot study to determine the feasibility of pranayama and investigate its impact on cancer-related symptoms and quality of life. Four breathing methods were taught in weekly workshops and performed at home as part of the pranayama intervention. During two cycles of chemotherapy, the treatment group practiced pranayama.

  1. Meditation And Relaxation

The Ujjayi breath promotes body and mind relaxation. Vibrations in the larynx cause the constriction of the throat, which stimulates sensory neurons that signal the vagus nerve to calm the mind and body. This movement also applies light pressure on the carotid sinuses in the neck, resulting in a decrease in tension.

Ujjayi is powerful pranayama with numerous advantages. The slow, steady breath pattern also helps you let go during restorative postures and encourages sense withdrawal, easing you into a meditative state. Start using Ujjayi breath in your asana practice to feel its strength.

Effects Of Ujjayi Breath On Mind

Slow and steady nostril breathing may provide cardiovascular benefits in a 2013 study on the effects of ujjayi breathing.

  • It can improve the sensitivity of the cardiac-vagal baroreflex (The baroreflex, which controls heart rate, contractility, and peripheral vascular resistance, is the quickest mechanism for regulating acute blood pressure changes)
  • It might lower blood pressure and enhances oxygen saturation
  • It could decrease anxiety in yogis who are new to the practice.

However, when these new yogis tried ujjayi breathing, the favorable effects faded. For novices, ujjayi breath requires a lot of effort, which causes tension. Only use Ujjayi breath if and when it feels more soothing than slow nostril breathing without throat tightness.

Caution While Practicing Ujjayi Breathing

Avoid tightening your throat when practicing Ujjayi Pranayama. If you have a pulmonary condition such as asthma or emphysema, do not do any breathing exercise for the very first time without the supervision of a skilled and good teacher.

If you feel faint or dizzy, stop doing the activity. Always stay within your capabilities and restrictions. Before doing Yoga, see your doctor if you have any medical problems.

When Should You Use Ujjayi Breathing? 

In the west, ujjayi breathing has become famous as the preferred pranayama, particularly in the Ashtanga, Jivamukti, and Vinyasa lineages. Most instructors begin by asking you to perform ujjayi pranayama, which is as familiar as saying namaste at the end of a lesson.

Some teachers recommend perfecting ujjayi in a seated posture before applying it to asana practice. In contrast, others say that ujjayi should not be done during Asanas because it will emerge naturally when asana is no longer required. Just listen to your teacher and your body.

Conclusion

Your breath may be a wonderful person if you pay attention to it, guiding you in a variety of ways. The ancient yogis knew that the breath and the mind are inextricably linked. Ujjayi not only shines a light on your unconscious behaviour, but it also quickly creates a new practice, one that may calm, lull, and entice your body and mind into a state of enhanced and increasing calm.

Pranayama can help the mind and body in various ways and on a variety of levels, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Keep in mind to take it slowly. 

As you improve your breath control, build on your previous experience. You will begin to release your mind as you relax and breathe intentionally but naturally. Hopefully, this is clear, and you will include this pranayama into your practice. Consult an experienced yoga instructor near you to learn more about Ujjayi breathing and apply it to your yoga practice.

Sumeet and Dr. Rai

Modern lifestyles have been so much fun with fast cultures and quick results. We live more actively on online platforms and feel lonely when alone. We stress out on every small thing, unlike the older generations who could fix things with a cool head. Stress and physical health concerns have been a part of our lives, and they aren’t sugar and spice. Yoga has been an answer for more than centuries for physical flexibility, emotional well-being, and stress-related issues in India. Around 90 percent of doctor visits could be linked to stress-related problems, according to this article. Therefore it is time to find out whether Yoga for stress helps, keep reading.

Interestingly, a small percentage of doctors also recommend Yoga as a practice that could help bring positive lifestyle changes. Let us explore how and why Yoga can be helpful when dealing with stress. If you are interested in having the opinion of a clinical psychologist, keep reading.  

Stress and its Symptoms

Most of us usually prefer not to disclose or even agree that we are feeling stressed. Stress is a silent killer, and it works in ways hard to understand. Though the level of stress might vary from mild to chronic, no one is an exception to it, right from kids to older folks. Psychological stress is a significant factor in depression and neurological issues, e.g., nerve disorders. It is quite difficult to list down the symptoms of stress as they vary from person to person. The kind of stress a kid experiences while performing on a stage is much different from the stress one undergoes after a traumatic life incident or after losing a loved one. 

Some common physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms are listed below. 

Physical Symptoms

  • Clenching your fists or jaws
  • Tightness in the shoulders
  • Difficulty to sleep
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Frequent digestive problems
  • Trouble having sex
  • Body aches or cramping
  • Feeling a racing heart
  • Weight management issues 

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling lonely and sad
  • Easily irritated
  • Irritation towards almost everything
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling drained 
  • Lack of focus or difficulty to concentrate

Behavioral Symptoms

When in chronic stress, we tend to overdo our natural or routine activities. Binge eating, excessive smoking or drinking, addiction to drugs, an obsession with sexual activities, compulsive shopping, etc., are a few behavioral symptoms in individuals with substantial stress impacts. Keeping an eye on these patterns is necessary as they could be the behavioral symptoms commonly ignored or go unnoticed.

Yoga to Rescue

We can simply define stress as physical and mental reactions to the situations we undergo. We cannot avoid a physiological event but can manage it to reduce the consequences and troubles it brings along. A normal physiological reaction could turn into a stressful event, commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response, when Cortisol (the stress hormone) levels fluctuate. Chronic stress leads to accelerated biological aging, oxidative stress (plays a role in the aging process and occurs naturally in the body), and chronic low-grade inflammation. Oxidative stress creates an imbalance between the antioxidants and free radicals (oxygen-containing molecules that could easily react with other molecules and create a large chain of chemical reactions) in your body, resulting in DNA damage.  “Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity” published a study on individuals who have practiced 90 minutes of Yoga for 12 weeks (5 days a week) as a combination of asanas, Pranayama, and meditation and have displayed slower cellular aging, lower levels of inflammation, and reduced effects of depression and stress on the body. 

Yoga is a centuries-old, ancient art of developing yourself. It is different from other forms of exercise because it involves ethical behavior towards yourself and others. Yoga trains the nervous system to cope with stress while bringing in a balance at the physical and emotional levels. Yoga teachers and practitioners can cope better with stress and are happy and more content than most. When it comes to managing stress, most of the Yoga styles are beneficial. Still, I would personally recommend going for Hatha Yoga or Restorative Yin Yoga.
The asanas add a pinch of meditation and practice Pranayama (breathing in rhythmic patterns) for greater well-being. In Yogic and Ayurvedic approaches, both the mind and the body are very much connected. The body chemistry varies according to your moods. Likewise, your life quality depends on the thoughts you carry, experience, or hold.

Benefits of Yoga

  1. Yoga can help you reduce the Cortisol levels in your body, which indirectly helps you manage and reduce your stress.
  2. Bringing in a balance in your body and mind through Postures (better known as asanas), Systematic breathing (Pranayama), and meditation might help you fight against sleep disorders.
  3. Studies have shown that Yoga could be supportive in decreasing your stress as well as anxiety.
  4. Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system (counter stress response) in the spine and can result in you having a healthier back and puts your aches and pains in control. Did you know that around 16 million Americans experience chronic back pain, resulting in day-to-day restrictions, really stressful.
  5. This article shows that Yoga increases self-compassion and positivity.
  6. Yoga might be used as a complementary therapy if you are trying to quit smoking. A study on 55 women undergoing 8-week group-based cognitive behavioral therapy for smoking cessation was also put through a twice-a-week Vinyasa Yoga and found positive results.
  7. It increases body flexibility and lowers the heart rate.
  8. Yoga is beneficial for respiratory functions and helps you to keep problems like Asthma in check.

Setbacks of Yoga

Yoga needs to be practiced consistently to achieve the desired results. It could be challenging to learn Yoga from books as you might be holding the postures incorrectly, and it is essential to learn from a teacher, which could be pricey. Learning the Poses from Video tutorials online is comparatively better. Still, I would recommend using these online tutorials for a revision than learning them as a beginner.

Simple Yoga Asanas for Stress

Suppose you are someone with uncontrolled blood pressure, severe osteoporosis, risk of clots, pregnancy, etc. In that case, you might have to refrain from holding specific postures. This list of some simple and basic asanas that help you manage stress is listed here in this section. Still, we strongly recommend you consult your doctor about your state of health before experimenting with new forms of exercise.

  1. Sukhasana or Easy Pose – A pose where you sit cross-legged with your back straight helps you improve your body posture and relax the mind. 
  1. Marjaryasana or Cat Pose – Kneel on your fours and place your hands and knees under your shoulders and hips, respectively. Arch your back up, let the head fall between your shoulders, and hold. Try to touch the upper chest with your chin, but do not force it if you are a beginner. This stretch helps you to strengthen your back and release the tension in your upper back and neck.
  1. Bitilasana or Cow Pose – Kneel on your fours and place your hands and knees under your shoulders and hips. Roll your tummy down, trying to create a dip in the back, and lookup. This stretch helps to create an emotional balance, strengthens the spine, and reduces stress.
  1. Balasana or Child’s Pose – Kneel and sit on your heels. Bend forward to touch the ground with your forehead and rest the chest on the thighs. It is a counter asana and helps stretch the spine, thighs, hips, and ankles. It relaxes the brain and relieves stress and fatigue.
  1. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose – Lie down on your belly and bend back to create a stretch in your spine. This asana helps tone your spinal nerves and improves kidney and liver functions.
  1. Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend – The standing forward bend pose to reach the ground has many variations to it. As a beginner, you can simply try to bend your back without bending your knees and try to reach the ground. It helps relieve stress in the spine, neck, and back and reduces anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It activates abdominal muscles and helps feel the stretch throughout the body.
  1. Tadasana or Mountain Pose – It is the basic standing asana. You start with your feet together and slowly lift the thighs, waist, and crown with an elongated spine. It helps improve posture and gain a better balance.
  1. Shavasana or Corpse Pose – Lay flat on your back, with palms facing upwards, and close your eyes to consciously thank all your body parts. Try to release the tension by focusing on every part of your body and make it a point to practice the Corpse pose after every Yoga session or before sleeping. It is incredibly relaxing. Do check out the wonders of Corpse Pose in detail?

In addition to these Yoga asanas, try incorporating systematic breathing techniques like Pranayama and meditation as a daily routine to help soothe your mind and body. Remember that Yoga can be used as an exercise to reduce stress in the long run but is not a treatment. Always talk to your doctor or a psychologist for help. 

Sri Lakshmi and Dr. Rai

I had panic attacks and surprisingly didn’t even realize it was due to anxiety. Even as psychologists, we are not immune to it. They were occasional and not consistent, but the fight or flight response prevented me from thinking clearly, and the deep feelings were panicky. Rationalizing my way out of anxiety might not be of real help. Yoga for anxiety is what you need to explore if you are sailing in the same boat. A study conducted on women shows that Yoga could be used as a complementary treatment method in reducing and managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Read through the sections below to understand how Yoga and Meditation practices might help your body and mind.

Anxiety, Stress, Or Depression?

Let us first try to understand these commonly used terms – Anxiety, Stress, and Depression, before we jump in to understand how Yoga helps. I feel these terms are commonly used interchangeably as all three are similar in nature. But mind you, they are all different, and we might be looking at the wrong answers if we are unable to define where we are standing correctly.

Stress, in simple terms, is a physiological response to a situation. Stress is not all bad. A healthy amount of fear is always necessary for growth. The real trouble arises when you experience stress more consistently or for longer durations that might impact your mental health or your productivity in a day. To understand more about stress and how Yoga could help, read our article on Yoga for Stress.

Anxiety is a state that you experience as a response when you feel more stressed. In simpler terms, anxiety is the next level to stress. Anxiety creates a sense of fear and worry due to a stressful event. It tends to keep recurring in situations even when the stressor is absent. Even the thought of such stressful events could sometimes push you to panic attacks.

Depression, on the other hand, is like an anxiety disorder sharing similar symptoms but is mainly associated with low mood, a lost feeling, or feeling inactive and lonely. Just like stress and anxiety, depression also interferes with your daily activities and functioning of life.

Do You Have Anxiety? 

At a personal level, you can check for some common symptoms as listed here to identify if you are experiencing anxiety. But we would always recommend you consult your psychologist for a final word.

  • Excessive Worry
  • Feeling panicky, tense, or uneasy
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Palpitations (the feeling of a racing heart) 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Obsessive or uncontrolled thoughts

Suppose you are experiencing all or any of these symptoms persistently. In that case, you could be experiencing an anxiety disorder which could even push you to depression. So, act now and talk to a therapist!

Yoga To Help! 

Yoga is a rare combination of body postures, Pranayama (special breathing techniques), meditation, and the centuries-old and wise yogic lifestyle. It helped not only me but also the founder of this page. It gave me some control over how much mental suffering I must endure, although it took me a while to reach this level, and I had to work myself up to it.

A 2017 research shows that even a single Hatha Yoga session could help you reduce the level of stress from an acute psychological stressor (a math task, trouble with your partner, increased demands, and so on) and slightly improve the level of self-confidence. Though more scientific studies are necessary, Hatha Yoga has shown promising results for those suffering from anxiety.

We have listed a couple of Yoga poses that you could try and practice to manage stress and anxiety in the long run. You might find some of these poses to be difficult, but make sure you keep trying patiently and stay focused on your breath throughout. Remember that learning to cope with stressful and challenging asanas will make you stronger and help you endure stress in the real world.

  1. Dhanurasana or Bow Pose – This is a back-bending pose that helps strengthen the spine and stretches the abdomen, thighs, ankles, thorax, and other muscles in the front of the body. It helps in improving the posture and stimulates the abdomen and neck. Do not push yourself too much on this pose if you have chronic back pain or any past back-related surgeries. Lie down on your belly and place your hands alongside your torso. Fold your knees towards your back and hold your ankles with your hands and try to find a balance. Lift your chest and hold your face straight, looking forward. Hold the curved position and focus on your breath. Exhale, release your ankles, and relax.
  1. Matsyasana or Fish Pose – A reclining back-bending pose that strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck. Lie on your Matsyasana or Fish Pose: A reclining back-bending pose that strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck. Lie on your back on the Yoga mat. Bend your knees with your feet firmly on the ground. Place your palms below your buttocks, facing downwards, and position your elbow and arms close to your torso. Lift your chest and arch your upper back. Try not to stress your head and avoid crunching your neck. You can either keep your knees bent or stretch out your legs straight and hold. Exhale and relax from the pose back on the Yoga mat. Bend your knees with your feet firmly on the ground. Place your palms below your buttocks, facing downwards, and position your elbow and arms close to your torso. Lift your chest and arch your upper back. Try not to stress your head and avoid crunching your neck. You can either keep your knees bent or stretch out your legs straight and hold. Exhale and relax from the pose.
  1. Sethubandhasana or Bridge Pose – It is a basic back bending exercise, which helps in stretching the thighs, chest, neck, spine, and hips. It soothes the brain and improves the functioning of the central nervous system. Lie in the supine position on the Yoga mat. Bend your knees and place your feet firmly on the ground at hip-width apart and close to your buttocks. Place your arms alongside your torso and parallel to the body. Inhale and slightly raise your torso and push your pelvis and lower back upward. Hold the pose and release to relax.
  1. Paschimottanasana or Two-Legged Forward Bend – This seated forward bending pose stretches your spine, hamstrings, shoulder, and vertebral column. It calms the brain and soothes headaches. It improves digestion and helps in lowering stress and depression. Sit straight with your legs stretched in line with your hip. Extend your arms straight above your head and inhale. Bend forward and exhale, trying to reach your feet. Focus on your breathing and the length of your spine. It is vital to hold this pose and not to bounce back immediately.
  1. Hastapadasana or Standing Forward Bend – This pose is also called the hand-to-foot pose. It helps in reducing belly fat, strengthens and stretches the spine, and improves digestion. Stand straight with arms alongside your body. Inhale and extend your arms up in the air. Exhale and bend forward to reach your feet. Try not to bend your knees while reaching your feet. Stretch your spine and place your palms on your feet or below the feet (if you are comfortable). Release the pose by inhaling while returning to the standing pose.
  1. Vrikshasana or Tree Pose – This pose primarily focuses on balance and improves your neuromuscular coordination. It helps strengthen your legs and improves alertness, concentration, and endurance. Stand straight with equal balance on both your feet. Slowly shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Bend your left knee and try to position your left foot on the inner side of your right thigh. Stay focused and retain your balance. Stretch your arms up above your head and try to join them for the perfect posture.
  1. Trikonasana or Triangle Pose – This standing pose helps in stretching and strengthening your thighs, ankles, hips, spine and helps relieve stress. It also stimulates abdominal organs. Stand straight and place your feet shoulder width apart. Stretch your arms horizontally side-ways. Slide your right arm on your right leg to reach the right ankle. The left hand will be in a straight line pointing to the ceiling above and opening the chest. Tilt your head to see the left-hand fingertips and hold for a minimum of 5 seconds. Alternate the sides.

Remember to finish your Yoga practice with Yoga Nidra, as it is believed to flush out toxins from your body resulting in lower stress levels. A Washington Post article on a returned soldier with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) showed that Yoga Nidra helped him relax and cope. He attended a specialized care program in which 120 other service members participated, of which 90% had PTSD. After adding Yoga Nidra to the program, the results were positive. However, more scientific research is yet to be done on it.

Breathe Consciously – Pranayama

Best results are often achieved through consistency and dedication. If not daily, try practicing Pranayama at least as frequently as possible. Some of the most influential and popular breathing techniques are discussed in this section.

  1. Kapal Bhati Pranayama or Skull Shining Breathing: This breathing technique increases the metabolic rate and helps reduce weight. It stimulates the internal organs, thereby assisting in digestion and blood circulation. Sit in a comfortable posture and relax. Close your eyes and inhale deeply using both your nostrils. Exhale in parts by expelling the air with forceful contractions of abdominal muscles. Repeat the process for a minute or more. 
  2. Bhramari Prayanama or Bee Breath: This breathing technique helps lower your blood pressure and aids in releasing cerebral tension. It promotes sound sleep patterns and relieves stress. Sit in a relaxed cross-legged position and close your eyes. Place your palms on your lap and inhale through both your nostrils. Make a buzzing bee sound while exhaling and try to retain the exhale for long. 
  3. Bhastrika Pranayama or Breath of Fire: This breathing technique oxygenates the blood and energizes the entire mind and body. It calms the mind and increases the vitality of the organs. Sit in a cross-legged position and fold your arms to your shoulders and make fists. Inhale and stretch your hands straight up and open your fists. Exert a slight pressure while exhaling and bring back your arms to shoulders and close your fists. Repeat cycles and relax to normal breathing.
  4. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing: A simple yet channelized breathing technique helps you stay more focused and pumps more oxygen to the brain. You can sit comfortably, either in a chair or cross-legged on a Yoga mat. Take a few normal initial breaths to settle in. Now inhale through your left nostril by closing your right nostril with your right thumb. While opening your right nostril, close your left nostril with your right-hand ring finger and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat the cycles with alternate nostrils. 

In addition to Yoga Postures and Pranayama, try meditating for a minimum of 15 minutes every day. It will help you break your thought patterns and place you in a better position to make wiser decisions in life. Eat more fruits and vegetables and try to reduce meat consumption. You are what you eat, and if you are eating only dead animals, you might start to feel like one. Eating meat is fine, but we recommend you stop it, especially when you are going through depression or anxiety. Stay positive and believe that everything will fall in the right place. You have already been through so much; we are sure that you will be able to handle your current situation. If you are suffering from anxiety, remember times when you haven’t. Anxiety has come into your life, so it can go away also. Keep practicing!

Don’t try to treat your anxiety through Yoga. Find a suitable therapist and practice Yoga along.

SriLakshmi and Dr. Rai

It’s difficult to think of a recent fitness movement that has gotten more attention than yoga. Today, you can hear individuals arguing about the many benefits of yoga and making reference to its innate superiority in everyday life almost everywhere you go. It’s not surprising, given the importance of yoga in the treatment of physical and mental ailments around the world today. Yoga is now practiced by approximately 30 million Americans, and there are tens of thousands of yoga studios in the United States alone. Yoga is unquestionably an ever-evolving tradition that has swept the western world.

But where did yoga come from? What is the source of it? And why was it made in the first place? What is the true History of yoga? There are fewer well-known questions than Down Dog. What part does yoga’s past play in our current practice? 

Let’s learn about the origins of yoga and the rich past of this practice that we adore can only add to our knowledge of the scope and complexity of yoga. Yoga is now widely practiced. Yoga has evolved into a mainstream cultural phenomenon and is arguably India’s biggest cultural export.

The Origin of Yoga

It is an ancient activity that brings the body and brain together. It originated from the Sanskrit word “Yuji,” which means “yoke” or “union.” 

Yoga is so ancient that no one knows when it first began. But it all existed throughout human history when people began to wonder what life was all about. Only a legend can provide us with information about yoga’s roots. 

Owing to the oral transmission of holy texts and the secrecy of its teachings, yoga’s past is riddled with ambiguity and confusion. Early yoga writings were recorded on delicate palm leaves that were quickly weakened, destroyed, or lost. Yoga’s origins can be traced to 5,000 years, but some scholars believe it may be as old as 10,000 years.

Yoga is also a psychological, physiological, and spiritual discipline emanating from ancient India. But given its Indian roots, the benefits and gifts of this practice have now spread all over the world. Its primary purpose as a spiritual practice is to aid in the unification of our mind, feelings, body, and energy. 

Mindful body activity, meditation, contemplation, breathwork, and sensory detachment are all examples of yogic practices.

Pre-Vedic, Vedic, Pre-Classical Yoga, Classical Yoga, Post-Classical Yoga, and Modern Yoga are the six major stages in the history of yoga. Let’s have a look at each one.

The Pre-Classical Yoga Period

About 5,000 years ago, the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India established the foundations of Yoga. Yoga was first recorded in the Rig Veda, one of the oldest religious texts.

  • CLASSICAL YOGA PERIOD

Pre-classical yoga was a jumble of disparate concepts, values, and strategies that often clashed and undermined one another. Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras, the first structured presentation of yoga, defines the Classical era. It was written sometime during the second century, explains the path of RAJA YOGA, also known as “classical yoga.”

  • POST-CLASSICAL YOGA PERIOD

Yoga masters developed a method of practice to rejuvenate the body and extend life a few decades after Patanjali. They accepted the physical body as a way of achieving enlightenment, rejecting the ancient Vedic teachings. They created Tantra Yoga, a radical form of yoga that purifies the body and mind.

  • MODERN YOGA PERIOD

Yoga masters started to move to the West in the late 1800s and early 1900s, gaining interest and followers. Swami Vivekananda wowed the participants at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago with his lectures on yoga and the generality of the world’s religions. Yoga’s introduction to the West slowed to a trickle before Indra Devi opened her Hollywood yoga studio in 1947. 

Many more Indian and Western teachers have followed in their footsteps since then, popularizing hatha yoga and attracting millions of followers. Hatha Yoga is now divided into several schools or types, each stressing different aspects of the practice.

Let’s Come Down To The Word Yoga – What Is It And What Does It Imply?

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – Bhagavad Gita. 

This is a concept that we are all familiar with. This Sanskrit word has been introduced into English dictionaries because it is so popular in our dialect. “Yoga” comes from the root “yuj,” which means “to Unite.” 

Since this is no longer a commonly used term in the English language, you might miss the context at first glance. Yoga means “unity” in its broadest sense. Yoga is a psychological, physical, and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. 

Despite its Indian origins, the advantages and blessings of this tradition have now spread across the globe.

Let’s Break Down The Concept Of “To Unite” – What Does Yoga Unite?

A coming together of mind, body, and soul; of air and body; of our lower egos and higher self. A symbiotic relationship with the world, source, or deity. Many of these words have been used to explain the “union” that yoga brings in. Its primary purpose as a spiritual practice is to aid in the unification of our mind, feelings, body, and energy.

Mindful body activity, meditation, contemplation, breathwork, and sensory detachment are all examples of yogic practices.

Lord Shiva is considered to be the first yogi, and He passed his wisdom and learning to the Saptarishis, a group of seven learned men. They spread this information through seven different continents, demonstrating that humans can develop beyond their physical limitations.

The History Of Yoga

The existence of Yoga in ancient India is suggested by the number of seals and fossil remains from the Indus Saraswati valley civilization with Yogic motives and figures practicing Yoga Sadhana. Many academics and yogis disagree on when yoga began and how it developed. 

Some sources claim that it has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Others say it dates back over 10,000 years. The Bhagavad Gita, which means “the Lord’s Song,” is a yogic theology scripture written between 400 BC and 200 CE. 

It’s a holy text that focuses solely on yoga practice. This was purely a spiritual activity.

The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient text about a war that takes place on the battlefield. Yoga is an unusual setting i.e. a battlefield, for harmony, love, and happiness! However, this setting is often interpreted as an analogy for the “war of the mind.”

It was the first holy text to declare that everyone would attain enlightenment. – direction is different, but they all lead to the same destination: enlightenment. Yoga’s real nature and origin is enlightenment.

During the Vedic period, Vedic monks were usually self-disciplined and avoided all types of extravagance; instead, they conducted yagna sacrifices and used positions that most scholars assume were the precursors to the modern-day Yoga poses we use.

The Age Of Yoga

Yoga was created in the 5th century for mindfulness and religious purposes, not as a form of exercise. The idea became even more common among Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus at about the same time. The first versions of yoga were mostly used for spiritual purposes and were based on a set of core principles.

The first core value examines a person’s awareness and cognitive state to determine the source of pain and, ultimately, use meditation to resolve the problem. 

The second core principle aimed to raise consciousness, while the third was used to achieve enlightenment. Since it used Yoga to reach into other people’s bodies and behave divinely, the fourth quality was shrouded in mystery.

Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, BKS Iyengar, K Pattabhi Jois, Paramhansa Yogananda, and Swami Vivekananda all contributed to the development of Raja yoga. In the mid-nineteenth century, yoga made its way to the West. At this period, Vedanta, Bhakti, and Hatha yoga prevailed.

Yoga had a long and storied journey to make it to the twenty-first century! It’s had a lot of different writers and has gone through a lot of changes. Given this, the nature of yoga is being one with oneself, one’s soul, and one’s surroundings.

What Were/Are The Different Types Of Yoga?

Yoga is divided into four pillars that are widely accepted:

  • Raja Yoga revolves around the mind and emotions
  • Yoga Bhakti is the Yoga of love and devotion
  • Karma Yoga is a form of yoga that focuses on inspired action and service
  • Yoga Jnana is the Yoga of inner wisdom and knowledge.

Other styles of asana-based yoga include – Vinyasa – Ashtanga – Bikram – Iyengar yoga – Restorative yoga – Prenatal yoga – Yin yoga. (Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Buddhist mindfulness practice, and Hindu Hatha Yoga have all inspired Yin yoga. Yin Yoga poses are performed in stillness for an extended period, unlike most other physical forms of Yoga.)

Of course, there’s Hatha Yoga, which has become the most commonly practiced style of yoga in the West today. The emphasis of Hatha Yoga is on the body, especially the physical asanas or postures.

Tantra Yoga

When you hear the words “Tantra Yoga,” you can have a lot of associations. Any terms that come to mind are sexual, personal, strange, hippie, and so on. The only way to transcend these negative stereotypes is to educate yourself on the subject. 

Tantra is an ancient practice that combines asana, mantra, mudra, and bandha (energy lock), and chakra (energy center) function to create power, insight, and siddhi (bliss) in daily life.

Tantra Yoga entails harnessing and embracing Shakti’s five powers, the female goddess who embodies imagination and transformation. Tantric Yoga says that by balancing yin and yang, we can travel into life with more trust and contentment.

What Is Hatha Yoga? 

Hatha Yoga (Sanskrit: “Discipline of Force”) is a form of Yoga that emphasizes body mastery as a means of achieving spiritual purity by withdrawing the mind from external things. Hatha Yoga has become increasingly common in the West as a type of exercise that promotes resilience, endurance, physical stimulation, and mental focus.

Diet, purification procedures, breathing control (Pranayama), and the practice of bodily exercises called asanas, which structure a regimen of physical exertion, are all important aspects of Hatha Yoga. Padmasana (“lotus posture”) is a traditional asana in which the crossed feet rest on the opposite thighs.

A very effective and beneficial breathing technique that not only aids weight loss but also puts the whole system into perfect equilibrium. Kapalbhati Pranayama, also known as Skull Shining Breathing, is a breathing technique also included in hatha yoga practice. 

Other asanas are included in Hatha yoga

  1. JAL NETI: Jal Neti is one of Hatha Yoga Pradeepika’s six detoxification practices, or ‘Shatkarmas.’ Jal Neti is a method used by yogis to remain disease-free and, most specifically, to use their breath effectively in their yogic activities. Jal Neti is nasal care in the same way as cleaning your teeth is dental hygiene. Water is used to purify and disinfect the nasal passageway, which runs from the nostrils to the throat.
  2. DHAUT NETI: Dhauti is one of the Shatkarmas (or Shat kriyas) that make up the yogic method of cleansing strategies for the body. It is mostly meant to disinfect the entire digestive system, but it also involves the respiratory tract, external ears, and eyes. 

It is divided into four categories, according to the 18th century Gheranda Samhita: Antara (internal) Dhauti, Danta (teeth) Dhauti, Hrida (cardiac or chest region) Dhauti, and Mula Shodhana (rectal cleansing).

Vastra Dhauti is used to cleanse the stomach and esophageal tract. A long strip of wet cotton fabric is swallowed into the stomach during this procedure.

  1. NAULI: Nauli is one of the yoga kriyas or shatkarmas or provisional purifications. The exercise is said to clean the abdominal area and is focused on a circular motion of the stomach muscles that massages the internal belly organs.
  2. BASTI: Basti is an effective Shatkarma or yogic cleansing, that is used to clean the lower abdomen, specifically the colon. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other references, it has many beneficial effects.

    The word “Basti” refers to something that “resides inside a cavity enclosed by four walls.” Basti may also mean “to hold” and is often used to refer to the bladder. Basti kriya is analogous to an Ayurvedic procedure called enema, which cleanses the colon by inserting a tube filled with therapeutic fluid into the rectum.
  1. TATRAKA: Tatraka is a yogic cleansing (a shatkarma) and tantric meditation practice that entails looking at a single spot, such as a tiny object, black dot, or candle flame. Traka is said to improve one’s ability to focus. It improves memory and puts the mind into a state of consciousness, concentration, and focus.

Was Yoga Considered An Exercise?

While yoga’s roots aren’t in exercise, some forms have been transformed into workouts that emphasize the physical aspects of the practice. People come to yoga with a variety of goals in mind. Some people practice yoga for the contemplative or meditative aspects, while others prefer the workout and activity aspects. 

Yoga may also aid in the development of power. Certain positions and poses that require an individual to support a portion of their body weight can challenge and strengthen a muscle.

Many prestigious Yoga Institutions, Yoga Schools, Yoga Universities, Yoga Departments in Educational institutions, Naturopathy colleges, and private trusts and associations now offer yoga education. In hospitals, dispensaries, medical institutes, and therapeutic settings, many Yoga Clinics, Yoga Rehabilitation, and Training Facilities, Preventive Health Care Units of Yoga, Yoga Research Institutions, and so on have been created.

Modern Versus Ancient Notion Of Yoga

Yoga is a tool that assists man in reaching his full potential. Yoga is a practice that aids in the full development of an individual’s ability. All aspects of a person – physical, mental, moral, intellectual, and emotional – must be addressed to achieve this. Simply healing the body would be an indicative approach that would inevitably lead to other issues not long after recovery.

The concept of using yoga to cure illnesses, improve physical health, and gain stress relief is a new, although simplistic, viewpoint. Yoga was not only used to treat illnesses in ancient times. The importance of sanitation and hygiene, for example, was also present in ancient times. This did not, however, apply solely to shaving, washing, and other morning fasts. It entailed keeping your mind pure and clean, and by extension, your thinking process. In other words, it resulted in overall health.

People used to live lives that were entwined with the natural world. They were in their natural form when they evolved. There was an awareness of the body’s and mind’s mutually beneficial relationship. Bends and turns are only possible when you are in sync. Breath regulation and self-awareness are essential to doing this.

The Modern Myth Of Yoga

Today, much of our exposure to yoga is limited to yoga asanas. This is why we equate yoga with fitness and versatility.

Remember how people used to sit on the floor in yoga asanas regularly? We need to get into a padmasana, or lotus pose, now! Correct posture and a serene state were once a way of life that has been lost to modern living. That is why poses have become so popular in recent years. But now you know that yoga was never intended to be just asanas.

The true goal of yoga is for him to achieve self-realization and accomplishment.

The United Nations has designated June 21st as International Yoga Day, a day to give this ancient practice its proper place as a way of life that promotes peace, unity, and global integration.

Our Take On Yoga

We in the Yogic-Experience team say that everyone can practice Yoga, it absolutely doesn’t matter which religion you belong to or don’t. Should certain things go against your beliefs, simply stop doing them or ask for guidance. It is up to you whether you see Yoga as a spiritual practice, mostly in the west it is seen as an exercise. Which is perfectly fine. 

Wrapping Up

In India, the land of Yoga, various social practices and traditions represent a reverence for ecological harmony, tolerance for other schools of thought, and empathy for all creations. 

Since yoga has such a long tradition, it provides us with a lot of benefits. We fight the pressures of our daily lives by taking the time to draw our consciousness inside during our yoga practice.

We at the Yogic-Experience team believe that everyone can practice yoga, regardless of their religious affiliation. If you find yourself doing things that go against your values, either avoid doing them or seek advice. It is entirely up to you if you consider Yoga to be a sacred practice; in the West, it is mostly regarded as an exercise. That’s entirely acceptable.

There’s a chance we’ll catch a glimpse of absolute illumination. And, of course, this would make all of the yogis before us very proud.

Yoga Sadhana in all hues and colors is thought to be a magic bullet for living a meaningful life. It is a worthy activity for citizens of all faiths, races, and nationalities because of its emphasis on holistic health, both individual and social.

Billions of people all over the world profit from the practice of Yoga, which has been maintained and encouraged by great eminent Yoga Masters from ancient times to the present. Yoga is rising in popularity and becoming more dynamic by the day.

Sumeet

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