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Mind, Body and Yoga

 Mind, Body and Yoga

While present day understanding of Yoga is limited to seeing it only as a mode of physical exercise, the word ‘yoga’ actually implies ‘union.’ It is meant to be a true union of mind, body and spirit, thereby taking one to the heights of spiritual advancement, perfect physical health and unparalleled equanimity of mind.
While other physical exercises can be performed with a wandering mind, yoga is meant to be performed with optimum concentration and focus. With every asana (posture), proper breathing is of utmost importance. This two-fold approach of yoga helps one derive maximum health benefits. Also, the practice of relaxation in savasana (corpse pose) after every few asanas provides the body with tremendous benefits by relaxing the mind and allows ample time to prepare for the next asana.
The fact that yoga is an extremely gentle yet powerful practice allows one to develop a beautiful and fit body, both internal and external, minus the ill effects other intense workouts cause, like muscle stiffness, injury or fatigue. Moreover, most intense workouts leave one with a ‘drained’ feeling but every yoga session is bound to leave the practitioner feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
This is because yoga helps one connect with one’s real self. We lose touch with this Self because of the constant clamour of thoughts and doubts in our mind. The practice of pranayama or breathing exercises, which are an integral part of a complete yoga session, help control the mind bringing about great peace and emotional steadiness. Also, the focus on keeping the spine erect while performing different asanas aids in developing greater will-power in the practitioner.
The wonderful thing about yoga is how easily the body adapts to it and how, over time, all the asanas that look extremely challenging become doable. The practitioner begins to understand that limitations are only in one’s mind. Once the mind gets tamed, the body becomes receptive too. Hence, in order to control the body, we need to control the mind and that is what yoga helps us attain.
Also, all healing powers lie within our own selves and yoga helps unleash and awaken them. The body becomes healthier, more flexible and resilient. The mind becomes quieter and more receptive to one’s commands.
While other physical exercises are merely exercises, yoga is a complete lifestyle. The patanjalisutra, the seminal text on the science of yoga, recommends practicing yama or moral discipline and niyama or purification through discipline. Under yama one is advised to practice the virtues of ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), aparigraha (non-stealing) and bramacharya (continence or moderation). Niyama implies the practice of saucha (keeping the body clean), santosha (contentment), tapas (austerity), swadhyaya (self-study of scriptures) and isvarapranidhana (surrendering to the divine).
Regular practice of yoga asanas and pranayama along with these yamas and niyamas, allows one to attain a state of samatvam or equanimity of mind. It leads to self-realisation and one develops the understanding that while the body is like a car, the soul is its driver and the mind is its fuel.

Sharath Komarraju

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