Association for Yoga and Meditation India

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Yoga

What is yoga?

The word yoga made up Sanskrit word Yuj, means union. Yoga brings a union or harmony among body, mind and soul. In other words yoga unites annamayakosha, pranamayakosha, manomayakosha vijyanamayakosha and anandakosha. When an individual got harmony at all his koshas can realize inner self.

Traditionally, yoga is known as one of the six systems of Indian Philosophy (Nagendra, 2008). It studies the behavior and control of mind or consciousness. Yoga is the state of mind in which there is no movement of consciousness and the mind is calm, relaxed and peaceful, consciousness is made up of three factors namely mind, intellect and ego,which is the vehicle of observation, attention, aims and reason and has three functions, cognition, conation and motion (Iyenger 2007). Holistically Yoga is about freedom,freedom from all tensions and stresses, diseases, miseries - to move toward positive health, leading to perfect health (Nagendra, 2009).Yoga provides the necessary skills to realize the truth or reality or pure consciousness by gaining mastery over the mind.

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History and Types of yoga:

The concept of yoga can be traced back to ancient civilization, which is thought to have originated in India around 1000 B.C and refers to a group of values, attitudes and techniques(Feuerstein 1990). According to archeologist Gregory Possehl, several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1700 B.C.E.) sites, depict figures in positions resembling a common yoga or meditation pose.  Over the centuries the techniques of yoga evolved into a number of different paths, Raja yoga, Jayana Yoga Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, any one of which can lead to a person to self-realization.  The most popular form at present is Raja Yoga, which is a psychological approach and incorporates guidelines about behavior, physical postures, exercise for breathing and concentration and finally steadying the mind. This method of yoga was formally organized in a written form known as ‘Yoga Sutra’ authored by Patanjali, some time between 200 B. C. and 300 A. D. (Feuerstein 1990). More recently new forms of physical practice of raja yoga  such as Hatha Yoga (Gupta,2003), Sivananda Yoga (Sivananda, Y.T.T.C. 2000), Iyengar yoga (RIMYI, 2010), Integrated Approach of Yoga ((Nagendra, et al.1983), Hot Yoga (Chodhary, B. 2010), Astanga Yoga (Jois, K.P. 2000), Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga are emerging.

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Benefits of yoga:

Meditation is the seventh component of Astanga yoga (Tamini 1961); many physiological changes have been documented on the benefits of meditation. Meditation lower pulse rate, blood pressure, decrease cortisole and cholesterol level (Adame, et al. 2009). Another study on cyclic meditation has shown to improvement on score of memory as compared to savasana (subramanya, 2009). Asanas or postures which is one of the constituent part of Hatha yoga, stretches and strengthens different muscles of the body showed significant improvement in agility and flexibility level (Bal, 2009) Regular practice of the Classical Yoga can be quite helpful in producing a healthy immune system and proper environment for its functioning, which is reflected in the study of yoga for HIV/AIDS patients (Fairfield, et al 1998). Another style known as Iyengar Yoga has been studied for chronic back pain and found that yoga decreases functional disability, pain, and depression in people with chronic low-back pain (Williams, 2009).

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Yoga in any style is not only effective physiologically but also effective psychologically. Yoga strengthens the inner being by removing the internal imbalances like mental restlessness, emotional upsurges or intellectual conflicts and lead to energetic, confident and stress free state of mind. Studies have indicated the positive effects of yoga on depression, anxiety, mood, stress-related disorders (Brown, et al.2005) and chronic insomnia (Khalsa, 2004).Techniques of integrated approach to yoga (Nagendra, et al.1983) such as asana, pranayoma, meditation and devotional session practiced for eight weeks, have shown improvement in self esteem (Deshpande, et al. 2009).It has been shown that yoga has reduced stress among school students and improve overall academic performance (Amit, et al. 2009). While other study on the deep relaxation technique (DRT) has found to reduce state anxiety, whereas both DRT and supine rest improved sustained attention (Sushilkumar, 2009).

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