Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on the Hindu concept of divinity or Brahman. The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
The Sanskrit word ‘yoga’, the literal meaning of “yoke”, from a root yuj meaning to join, to unite, or to attach. As a term for a system of abstract meditation or mental abstraction it was introduced by Patanjali in the 2nd century BC. Someone who practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy with a high level of commitment is called a yogi or yogini.
The goals of yoga are varied and range from improving health to achieving mokasha. Within the Hindu monist schools of Advaita, Vedanta, Shaivism and Jainism, the goal of yoga takes the form of moksha, which is liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death (samsara), at which point there is a realization of identity with the Supreme Brahman. In the Mahabharata, the goal of yoga is variously described as entering the world of Brahma, as Brahman, or as perceiving the Brahman or Atman that pervades all things. For the bhakti schools of Vaishnavism, bhakti or service to Svayam Bhagwan itself may be the ultimate goal of the yoga process, where the goal is to enjoy an eternal relationship with Vishnu.
In fact, traditionally, yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit or Cosmic Consciousness. Physical and mental exercises are designed to help achieve this goal, also called self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level, yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen and align the body. These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana) to quiet, clarify and discipline the mind. One should never forget that yoga is not a religion, but a way of living a healthy and peaceful state of mind. Beyond doubt Yoga originated in ancient India and is one of the longest surviving philosophical systems in the world. It is the gift of the oldest Vedic philosophy to the modern world.
It is now an open secret that Yoga harmonizes mind with body that results in quantum benefits. Yoga through meditation works remarkably to achieve this harmony. In fact these work together in achieving the common goal of unity of mind, body and spirit – a state of eternal bliss. This broadens outlook of a person towards life. Our emotions seem to be associated with our mind and this is what makes human beings different from computer systems.
TRADITIONAL BRANCHES OF YOGA
Under the Vedic system there are four main or primary yoga branches from which most other types of yoga emerge.
- Jnana Yoga – The path of wisdom. Covers Yama and Niyama and is the science of acquiring proper knowledge.
- Bhakti Yoga – The Yoga of universal love and affection.
- Karma Yoga – The Yoga of selfless service that covers Pratyahra and is the science of action.
- Raja Yoga – The highest Yoga. Covers Dharana, Dhyana, and Samashi and is the science of concentration and meditation.
Meditation: Contemplation to concentration
The word meditation is used to describe practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby affecting mental events by engaging a specific intentional set. These practices are subset of those used to induce relaxation or altered states such as hypnosis, progressive relaxation, and trance- induction techniques (Vaitl et al. 2005). The English word meditation comes from the Latin root word ‘ meditari’, which derives from the same root as the word meaning- to heal. The practice of meditation set in motion process that leads to the restoration of a person’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The English connation of the word – meditation is therefore more associated with healing and relaxation (Adiswarananda, 2004).Meditation is also defined as concentration (Continuous thinking) and sometimes as contemplation (repetitive thinking). However, in yogic understanding meditation is not mere concentration but it is more than concentration. According to Swami Vivekanand – The power of attention of mind, when properly guided, and directed towards the internal world, will analyze the mind, and illuminate facts for us. The powers of mind are like rays of light being dissipated; when they are concentrated they illuminate everything. The goal of meditation has complete absorption in the object of meditation (Samadhi), finally leading to communion or union with the Ultimate Reality. The goal of meditation is the cessation of all miseries through the realization of the indwelling self, or ‘Purusa’, which is Pure Consciousness. The benefits of meditation are threefold: physical, psychological and spiritual. I would like to state “Krishna” suggestion about Yoga.
योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।।
(yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmani sanyugam tyaktvā dhananjay
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhutvā samatvam yoga ucyate)
– Bhagavad Gita 2.48
It means” “Be steadfast in yoga (yoga-sthaḥ), O Arjuna. Perform your duty (kuru karmani) and abandon all attachment (sangam) to success or failure (siddhy-asiddhyoḥ). Such evenness of mind (samatvam) is called yoga.”
I firmly believe that in this modern era of anxiety and high expectation to perform the best in this industrialized and materialistic global world. Yoga and Mediation play vital role to heal out individual’s stress. Modern world counts each and every moment of individual’s performance and contribution to a particular organization. People feel so much stress in day to day life. They feel insecurity on daily basis. Meditation and Yoga help individual to come up with the problem as well as prepare an individual to live healthy, happy and prosperous life.
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