Yoga was believed to be practiced at the dawn of civilization. Yoga is a science that has existed for thousands of years, before religions and belief systems. The word “yoga” is more versatile than any other in the Sanskrit language. Yoga is both the act of yoking a dog and also the yoke. Yoga’s effect on lifestyle disorders is highly regarded. There is confusion about which yoga style to follow, how often we should practice Yoga, etc., as there are so many different styles of Yoga in the world. This article attempts to sum up the original meaning of Yoga and clarify its practices.
Understanding this is essential to understanding the true meaning or sense of Yoga. Above is a picture that shows the various purposes of Yoga. Yoga, as it is practiced and taught today, has little to do with ancient yoga texts and sutras. Yoga has evolved, with every generation creating their vision and version of the practice. This process has been going on for at least 2000 years. This is because the semantic field of “yoga,” the meanings and concepts of the word, is so wide. It is possible to transform it into any process or practice.
What type of Yoga is best for me?
It is a very important question, and it cannot be very clear at times. Yoga lost its original form due to its malleable nature and ended up being aerobic exercise. Yoga is a different form of exercise that involves the mind, body, and soul. It also facilitates salvation. Liberation from suffering.
We haven’t made any progress in reducing diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers, etc. Despite the billions of dollars spent by the drug and technology lobbies. Instead, the incidence of many diseases is increasing. It is not intervention but ‘intervention that we need to focus on. The current model of Yoga Research is similar to the pharmaceutical industry. Researchers are trying to find “a single Yoga pill for every ill,” and they recommend people follow this breathing exercise or that asana, which is totally against the principle that yoga advocates.
Many excellent scientists are now researching Yoga and jumping on the Yoga bandwagon. There are many excellent papers published from a scientific perspective but very few from a Yogic philosophy.
Yoga should be re-evaluated to reap the full benefits of Yoga rather than just lowering blood sugar or blood pressure.
The Need of the Hour
It is not about how often or for how long you practice Yoga, but about what techniques and how many times. Yoga is the way we live in harmony with our Dharma. Yoga must not be “smalled down” to “fit into” the “box” of the modern scientific method. Yoga must go beyond asanas. Pranayamas. And meditation.
‘Mitaharamvina yastu yogarambam tu karayet Nanarogo bhavet-tasya kinciyogo na siddhyati’ – Gheranda Samhita.16
This stanza emphasizes the importance of diet in Yoga, a context that is often forgotten. In this stanza, it is stated that if you do not follow the rule of a moderate diet in the beginning phase of Yoga, then you may be afflicted with a variety of diseases. This will prevent your success in Yoga. It is important to integrate the concept of “Ahara,” a yogic diet, with current practices. Yoga will not be effective if it is not used to conserve energy.
YOGA AND HEALTH AND DISEASES
If we perceive health as an integrated state of oneness (Advaita sukham) and disease as the discordant lack of it (wait duhkham). Then, Yoga becomes the tool as well as the methodology and process of re-integration/re-harmonization at all levels of our being. Maharishi Patanjali refers to “vyadhi” as an obstacle (antharaya) in the integration of individual personalities towards liberation. His approach is not analytical or limited but rather holistic. Patanjali is more interested in integrating than focusing on particular symptoms. Yoga Chikitsa, or Yoga as a Therapy, is only possible when it’s holistic, all-encompassing, and combined with consciousness and awareness in every moment of life.
EVIDENCE AND YOGA
In a nutshell, Yoga is not just a phenomenon that can be attributed to a set of practices. It’s an entire life journey, where we must apply the principles of Ashtanga (yama and niyama as well as pranayamas, pratyaharas, dharanas, dhyanas, and samadhis) to reduce unhealthy habits. This is not always possible to prove by high-quality research because we cannot measure how each individual’s mind and body behave. Absence of evidence does not prove absence. Many times, common sense can be more useful than research findings.
In order to conclude this concept, we recommend that you practice Yoga in its entirety. Yoga is a way of living that is full of all the components (Ashtanga) or determinants of health. It is composed of many different practices, which, when combined in their original form, produce better results on all levels of being.