Yoga and Health

The technology of being human

The word Yoga means 'the perfected state of universal oneness or spiritual completion' but it's also used to describe the activities, the exercises leading to that state.

Beginning with the physical, the first aspect of yoga is asana comprising all the physical exercises. These exercises condition the body creating freedom of movement, improved muscle tone and overall balance within one's physical structure.

Yoga asana are designed to exercise every muscle in the body so that the muscles are contracted, twisted, squeezed and relaxed to push out toxins and then the muscles are relaxed. By twisting the torso, the internal organs are also gently affected so that the circulation of energy and fluids throughout the body is improved.

The practice of yoga asana at its most basic level is atomic helping to keep the physical body fitter and healthier than by not exercising. Doing a little yoga asana practice does not replace other physical activities, it complements and balances which in turn leads to better performance and reduces the chance of injury.

As a standalone practice, yoga asana when performed as a daily routine for more than 30 minutes or an every other day routine for more than an hour along with good diet is sufficient to maintain the body in the state of good health throughout one's entire life.

Pranayama which equates to the science of breathing or simply regulating one's breath complements an asana practice. It is not enough to keep the body as superbly fit but the deep breathing massages the internal organs, exercises the ribs and helps to keep the spine healthy. It helps to facilitate the flow of Chi or prana, the vital life force within the body to move which in turn sustains the endocrine system and boosts immunity.

When combined, yoga asana and pranayama constitute what is generally thought of as hatha yoga. These complimentary practices when performed for 30 minutes or more most days help to maintain the body and mind the state of good health and more resilient to stress and disease.

These exercise systems when practised in accord with the personal ethics (Yama) of yoga that ensure that you don't accidentally harm yourself during the practice or during your day today life and the social ethics (Niyama) ensure that you develop a more harmonious relationship within your community which at the end of the day means that you have less angst to deal with.

The final aspect of yoga practice is relaxation whereby through a sitting meditation or a laying down relaxation (shavasana) you let the body completely rest and allow your mind what your consciousness to withdraw into itself were eventually one comes to a state of no mind yet a rather interesting awareness. In the state where even the physical senses go into a state of rest, the body's autonomic nervous system takes over the physical helping it to regenerate and heal.

In these practices, there is nothing to believe, all that is required is a willingness to try. Think to yourself that this body is my body, this mind is my mind and this life is my life. You experience the entirety of existence only within your own mind and as you begin to relax and take down the walls that you have belts where you begin to know freedom.

Freedom comes first in the body, you will begin to feel within a few days of commencing asana practice that your body feels easier. You would know in a few days beginning to practice breath control that your mind is calmer and your perception sharper. As you combine asana, pranayama and relaxation, regular practice over a period of months will deliver measurable results yet it will also draw you into conflict with what you believe therefore belief must also be surrendered.

This is perhaps the trickiest part for many people and as the yoga practice is in a sense transforming your body to make it fitter and stronger, it is also up to you to transform how you see the world in accord with your direct perception which is referred to as inner engineering. Through inner engineering you will come to understand that what we call civilisation, the combination of all human societies as they stand today have been created out of ignorance and base desire for power and control. As the most advanced piece of biological technology on this planet, we have greater capacity than what we give ourselves credit for.

As yoga asana gives freedom to the body, pranayama opens the windows of perception and relaxation takes us into ourselves beyond the world we can start to appreciate a greater truth and enjoy a greater freedom of existence where we can choose to be more pro-life and pull in the resources to make it happen.

Yoga as the word is commonly used is an exercise system renowned the world over as a way to keep fit, learn to relax and work towards that oneness.  But even this 'sense of oneness' is too esoteric so I will keep this overview simple. These exercises consist of physiological exercise known as asana, regulation of breathing known as pranayama combined with personal and social ethics.


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