“Regular practice of yoga can help you face the turmoil of life with steadiness and stability”. B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga is an ancient science and art of the body and mind. Originating from India, yoga is now practiced worldwide by people of all ages. No matter if you are 17 or 70, flexible or inflexible, you can do yoga.
Yoga is not just a physical practice once we can not separate body from the mind. Yoga is actually a spiritual practice in its essence and as part of yoga practice, one can take from it is whatever the person needs at the moment and move gradually if they wish for.
In a yoga class you practice postures (asanas) that put your body in unusual positions, all the while being constantly asked to keep your awareness on your breathing.
The more you practice yoga, the more awareness of your body and breathing you gain. This helps keep you in control of your mind.
You will develop:
- Physical and mental strength and flexibility – stronger and longer muscles;
- Breath awareness – controls stress and related disorders, anxiety and high blood pressure;
- Postural awareness and the way you use your body in daily activities;
- Increased general energy levels and well-being;
- Improved concentration and memory;
- Increase mobility especially after injury and surgery;
- Focused and clearer mind;
- Increased level of general awareness;
- Sense of connection with yourself with allow you to live your full potential;
Yoga can be a very effective complementary therapy for the treatment of common conditions such as:
- Lower back, hip, knee or shoulder pain;
- Chronic fatigue syndrome(guided relaxation in particular would be recommended);
- Immune system disorders.
Yoga goes beyond the practice of asanas and pranayama. Yoga means union (body, mind and soul) and it is a philosophy of life divided in 8 principles/limbs (Asthanga) of yoga. The 8 principles of yoga are:
Yamas – Restraint
Niyamas – Practice or observance
Asanas – Body postures
Pranayama– Breath control
Prathyahara – Conquest of the senses and mind
Dharana – Concentration – focused mind
Dhyana – Contemplation – the seer and the seeing becomes one
Samadhi – Transcendence of human qualities, experience of universal consciousness
So, according to the yoga sutras, the practitioner of yoga should practice the yamas and niyamas in their daily life as well as in their yoga practice of asanas and pranayama. There are 5 yamas and 5 niyamas:
In “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” (LYSP), Mr Iyengar translates that when the person practices the yamas, everybody around him abandons their hostile behaviour.
From my point of view, when we become engaged in the endeavour to practice the yamas, we don’t change people or situations, we change ourselves and our perception of the world around us.
Ahimsa – Non-violence, non-harming
Satya – Truthfulness( towards other and ourselves)
Asteya – Non-stealing (in all aspects)
Brahmacarya – Continence or observance of how we spend our energy
Aparigraha – Freedom from avarice, non-greed
Mr Iyengar explains in “LYSP” that the niyamas are individual but also spiritual disciplines.
It seems to me a natural evolution for us to progress towards the 5 niyamas. Through the practice of asanas, the person naturally gravitates towards the practice of niyamas. These are:
Sauca –Cleanliness or purity (body, mind, thoughts and environment)
Tapas – Internal strength and discipline
Svadhyaya – Self knowledge
Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender to God or surrender to the highest energy
Read about the Yamas and Niyamas in details