• What is yoga?
• Effect of practice
• Practice results
• Preparation for classes
Certainly, for each person Yoga means something different. For some people Yoga is a trendy fitness, method to lose weight, for others – the way to become healthy, there are also people thinking that Yoga is a form of magic, not suitable for ordinary people, something with special rituals, walking across hot coals, swallowing nails etc. So many men, so many minds. But let us forget about those labels formed in our imagination or those heard from other people about yoga, and talk about its essential core.
Yoga is neither fitness, nor sport. Yoga is the way to create harmony of body, mind and spirit.
According to Patanjali’s Yoga sutras (“The Yoga Sutra” is an ancient classical text of Patanjali (Spiritual Mentor, approximately forth century BC) the Yoga consists of eight limbs. Each preceding limb is the preparation for the next one. For example, before starting to practice asanas, a person should clear his mind from negative thoughts, emotions, wishes, and should start following the prescribed moral-ethical norms. Negative emotions hinder further detached practice of asanas and may become harmful in subsequent higher limbs (for instance, negative thoughts and actions will only grow and cause sufferings to other people). The point is to avoid behavior, which causes suffering. So, what are these limbs?
Yama is a combination of the ethical norms, which regulate our relationships with other people. There are five yamas, they are:
• Ahimsa – non-violence
• Satya – truthfulness
• Asteya – non-stealing
• Brahmacharya – abstinence
• Aparigraha – neutralizing the desire to acquire wealth
This is a sphere of spirituality and self-discipline. There are five niyamas:
• Sauca – purity
• Samtosa – contentment
• Tapas – eagerness, «self-discipline», «effort», «inner fire». Tapas means the desire to fulfill your own affairs.
• Svadhyaya – self-study and learning the Divine texts
• Isvara Pranidhana means “to devote yourself and all your actions to the Supreme”.
Asanas are the special physical postures that are practiced in yoga. They are the third limb of yoga. From yogis’ point of view, body is a temple of our soul, and taking care of it is an important step in spiritual growth. Practicing asanas makes us more disciplined, and forms ability to concentrate. Both are needed for mediation.
The forth limb of yoga is pranayama, controlling energy and emotions by the means of controlling breathing. It is the purification and accumulation of energy, harmonization of the work of energy channels, body rejuvenation and life extension.
Pratyahara means withdrawal of own senses from external objects. On this stage we apply efforts to direct conciseness inside ourselves, and to keep the inner focus without being distracted by external objects.
This is a state, in which our mind is able to concentrate. Practice of concentration teaches us to slow down our thinking process by concentrating on one mental object.
Meditation and contemplation.
A state of the enlightenment, joining of individual awareness, representing microcosm with The Cosmic Absolute, representing macrocosm.
Therefore, we can conclude that practicing yoga is not only fashion’s tribute, or attending trainings three times a week, it is a way of life for growing and developing on physical, energy and spiritual levels.
Normally, only asanas, pranayama, concentration and meditation (in its simplest forms) techniques are being practiced in training rooms. Yama and niyama are left for the student’s individual exploration. Of course, there is hope that while practicing asanas and seeing a positive example of yoga’s instructor, the student himself will start to change in a positive way, and to follow moral and ethical norms. One way or another, but student’s life and character may be changed drastically. Indeed, with the help of yoga we are harmonizing our life energy (prana), which moves everything that happens inside of us, and outside in the world.
The history of yoga amounts to over 5 thousand years, nevertheless, it has not only lost its actuality for the humanity, but it became even more applicable today.
The todays rhythm of life is the rhythm of a big city that is in a constant motion, we are surrounded by the atmosphere of life’s worries, and tension. And it is often not even necessary to be in a big city, you can feel life’s worries, mind’s anxiety and tension in a forest or far-away mountains. You cannot run or hide from yourself.
Many people that started to practice yoga have noticed that certain changes began to take place in their lives. Changes may take place in the relationships with friends and relatives, in the circles of communication, the place of work or residing may change, as well as the perception of previously favorite dishes…
In order to change something in your life, you only need to make the first step in this direction.
This is by far not the most complete list of all Yoga’s advantages, but the most important thing is that Yoga brings the calm state of inner satisfaction and joy to our lives; it changes the person and his attitude towards himself and the surrounding world.
All these results can only be achieved by practicing Yoga regularly.
Yoga is only for young, strong or flexible people.
This is not true!
«Yoga is for everyone!», and this is not an overstatement, as it is useful for everybody, regardless of sex, age and physical state. Yoga gives everyone all they need – health, strength, flexibility, beauty, inner peace, and joy of life.
Even kids may practice Yoga as gymnastics, but performing bandhas, mudras, pranayama, and other yoga techniques is better to be started from the age of 15. You may practice yoga if you are 90, or 100 years old. But it is important to find a good teacher; otherwise no one will be responsible for the outcome of your independent studies. There are certain cases requiring specific approach (for instance, hypertension, migraine, problems with joints, scoliosis, some functional diseases, fatigue) – in such cases ordinary classes do not meet the requirements for such approach. The best solution in these instances would be holding individual classes or practicing in a therapeutic class.
We wish you to overcome any obstacles that may lie on your path of self-devolvement, whether it is the path of the Yoga or some other system of human development. But remember that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” (Lao Tzu).