What is Yoga?

The word 'Yoga' comes from the Sanskrit word 'yuj' meaning to yoke, or unite and also can be translated as 'harmony'. This implies harmonizing all aspects of the individual – body with mind and mind with soul – to achieve a happy, balanced and fulfilling life, and at the advanced stages of Yoga, a yogi can realize the universal consciousness, uniting the 'self' with the 'supreme'. The different systems of yoga have techniques and practices ranging from physical postures (asanas), to the deepest stages of meditation, all aimed toward helping a person achieve optimum physical, mental and spiritual well-being.


The Roots of Yoga

Yoga is also one of the six classical Indian philosophies and is referred to throughout the Vedas – the oldest historical writings dated back to 5000 BC. The earliest archeological evidence of yoga was found in the stone seals, depicting the yoga poses, during the excavations of the Indus valley civilization dating back to 3000 BC. Legend has it that knowledge of Yoga was first passed by Lord Shiva to his wife Parvati and from there to the rest of human kind.


The Aim of Yoga

The ultimate aim of Yoga is to experience the Truth, by realizing the true nature of our ‘Self’ and the Universe. Then one can become free from the chain of cause and effect (Karma) which brings us to earthly life again and again. In that highest state of yogic realization, one can regain one’s real nature – Eternal Existence, Supreme Wisdom, Absolute Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). According to Yoga, the ‘self’ (soul) is timeless, unchanging and free of sorrows. Yoga is therefore a spiritual quest. However, along the path of yoga, the yogi also gains health, happiness, tranquility and wisdom, which are indicators of progress and an encouragement to continue the practice.


The Paths of Yoga

The beauty of yogic teachings is that a yogi is free to think, to rationalize, to feel and then to choose a path according to his choice. In modern day India, there are 33 million Indian gods, millions of techniques and thousands of schools – all of them aiming for the same goal and existing side by side. Even now, one hears about new styles of yoga being invented every other day. However, all of them can be classified under the following broad categories:


1. Jnana Yoga: Yoga of Wisdom – the path of intellectual philosophy and non-dualism.
2. Bhakti Yoga: Yoga of Love – the path of devotion to a divine personality and non-dualism.
3. Karma Yoga: Yoga of Action – the path to spiritualize our day to day life with selflessness.
4. Raja Yoga: Yoga of Meditation – the path of mastering the mind and mystical experiences.


It must be realized that there are no clear cut boundaries between these various paths and one is free to blend the practices and philosophies of the others, as all these paths have the same goal. The yogi is free to practice or experiment with any number of paths at one time.
Many people take Yoga as a physical exercise, but in Eatern cultures, yoga is a scientific system covering the vast arrays of philosophy, psychology, mysticism, music,literature, dance and other forms of art.


Misconceptions about Yoga

There are still a lot of misconceptions about Yoga, for instance, Yoga being a religion. Yoga is not a religion. It is a set of techniques for us to find spirituality. In fact, Yoga is being practiced by a lot of people from different religions like Christians, Jewish, Buddhists, and Muslims. Yoga is now gaining popularity all over the world.
Another misconception is that Yoga is an exercise, a way for us to keep fit. It is partly true, but if you think that Yoga is just that, then you are greatly mistaken. Yoga develops the body, since a weak one is a hindrance to spiritual growth. It does not simply focus on the physical but on the mental and spiritual aspects as well.


Is Yoga for me?

Definitely, yes! Yoga is for anyone who is willing to learn its philosophy and ideas. It does not require any special equipment or clothing. What it requires is your will to have a healthier, stress-free life. You may first approach Yoga as a way to achieve a great body or to keep fit and that is perfectly alright. After the purification of the body, you will eventually start reflecting on yourself and desire to find your inner peace. It exercises not just your body but your mind as well. With a healthy body and mind, you’re on your way to a more fulfilling life.

YOGA FOR HEALTH

The basic assumption of Yoga is that the body and the mind are part of one continuum of existence, the mind being more subtle than the body. This is the foundation of the yogic view of health. The interaction of body and mind is the central concern of the entire science. It is believed that as the body and mind are brought into balance and health, the individual will be able to perceive his true nature; this will allow life to be lived more freely and spontaneously. Yoga first attempts to reach the mind, the place where health begins, for mental choices strongly affect the health of the body. Choices of food, types of exercise, which thoughts to think, etc. all affect the body. As practiced traditionally in India, Yoga includes a set of ethical imperatives and moral precepts, including diet, exercise, and meditative aspects. Yoga is frequently used in modern medicine to enhance health and treat chronic disease as well as stress.

Yoga for Stress-free life

In the midst of our modern world characterized by daily stress, fatigue, and pollution, more and more people are seeking that elusive sense of relaxation and inward awareness. We are often depressed, tired, and an easy victims of disease. Though the practice of Yoga is closely associated with ancient texts, beliefs, and values, it also yields benefits useful for people’s practical daily lives. Here are some reasons why more and more people are practicing Yoga: 1 Yoga relaxes the body and the mind. Even in the midst of stressful environments, Yoga helps control breathing and clears the mind of cluttered thoughts, leaving only deep physical and mental refreshment. 2 Yoga can help normalize body weight. For people who are either overweight or underweight, Yoga exercises can help achieve the desired weight. The principles of balance and moderation in physical activity and diet under Yoga can also lead to a healthier lifestyle. 3 Yoga improves your resistance to disease.The postures and movements in Yoga massage the internal organs, enhancing blood circulation and functionality, thus, lessening the risk of illness. 4 Yoga increases your energy level and productivity. For as quick as 20 minutes, Yoga can replenish the mind and body with precious energy needed to respond to daily tasks and challenges. 5 Yoga leads to genuine inner contentment and self-actualization. Meditation-one of the aspects of Yoga- focuses the mind, taking it away from the distractions of the highly-materialistic world and leading it to genuine happiness.

How it Works?


Yoga employs asanas, pranayama (breathing), kriyas (cleansings) and meditation to achieve the perfect harmony amongst the body, prana, mind, intellect, and consciousness. Yoga Postures are gentle stretching movements designed to help balance the mind and body and to release tensions by stretching or pressurizing muscles, nerves, spine, glands and internal organs. They work by increasing the blood circulation and prana supply to these areas and by stimulating them with a gentle squeezing action. All the asanas were designed with economy of time and effort in mind. Most of them work on more than one aspect of the body at the same time. For example, the spinal twist asana benefits the spine, adrenal glands, liver, pancreas and kidneys. The Yoga asanas produce their beneficial effect on the organs and glands all at once :


1 The position of the asana causes an increase in blood circulation to the specific target organ or gland.
2 The position of the asana often produces a slight squeezing of the organ or gland. This has the effect of massaging the organ or gland and stimulating it.
3 Deep breathing and visualizing the target area sends an extra supply of prana to the area.
4 Yoga's focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder and neck pain.

Meditation

An ordinary person may consider meditation as a worship or prayer. But it is not so. Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. "Watching your breath" is meditation; listening to the chirping of birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation. It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns.
Meditation is the art of focusing the mind, restraining the thoughts and looking deep within. Practicing meditation can give you a better understanding of your purpose in life and of the universe, as well as provide you with certain physical and mental health benefits.


Meditation and Positive Thinking

The benefits of the postures are greater if you concentrate on the healing action where it is needed. You can incorporate a variety of affirmations, meditation/concentration practices and visualization. Many times focusing on an object or sound (like clicking of a clock) can help us concentrate and leave our distracting thoughts away. Affirmations are inner-self conditioners. Our inner mind will believe everything we say with conviction and emotional force, though it may take some persistent repetitions to get the desired result.
An even more powerful technique than affirmation is visualization. Here, we show our subconscious mind a picture of what we are talking about. Forming such pictures inside our minds is called visualization. To be effective, visualization should involve all the senses, not just the sight. In other words, you should mentally see the affected area as they receive fresh blood circulation, oxygen and physical massage.


Why Meditate?

For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness. The variety of meditation techniques, traditions, and technologies are nearly infinite, but the essence of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness.
These are the ultimate precious gifts of meditation, yet people are initially drawn to meditation for many different reasons. Some begin meditating because of a doctor’s recommendation, seeking the health benefits of lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, and restful sleep. Others come to meditation seeking relief from the fearful, angry, or painful thoughts that constantly flood their mind. Still others come to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate.
It is accurate to say that the purpose of meditation depends on the meditator – but it is also true that anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.


ADD MEDITATION TO YOUR LIFE

Whether you are a student, a taxi driver or a busy mum, meditation will help you to deal with life’s challenges in a positive way. Meditation can lower your levels of stress and therefore have a positive effect on your body and mind.
The timeless art of meditation has been practiced by saints and sages since ancient times to bring about the joyful state of self-realization. In this consciousness a person is free from temporary worries, anxieties and concerns and is immersed in a higher spiritual happiness and inner peacefulness.


The importance of Mantra in Meditation.

With spiritual practices like yoga and meditation becoming more popular, it seems like everyone is talking about mantras. But what exactly is a mantra and how are you supposed to use it?
In our westernized, modern-day spiritual practices the word “mantra” has become as mainstream as “intention.” But the two are actually quite different. The word mantra is a Sanskrit word that can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. In other words, a mantra is an instrument of the mind—a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation.
Mantras like, "I am strong," "I am focused," or "I let go and surrender" or “Om Chanting” can help the practitioner maintain a connection to the state they wish to cultivate during their time on the mat.
This mantra is used in silent repetition during movement to help keep the mind focused. It is a saying in Yoga that “Asanas are Postures of the Body and Mantras are Postures of the Mind.”
In the practice of mantra meditation the mind and heart are drawn away from the material dimension with all of its hassles, stresses, worries, etc. which continue to burden us. In meditation you’re focusing your mind on the mantra and gradually the mind develops an attraction or a taste for the mantra, for the spiritual dimension itself, and finds comfort in it and relaxation in it and rest in it. So the mind gradually experiences restfulness or peacefulness in the mantra.
Mantra as a spiritual practice it should be done on a regular basis for several months for its desired effects to take place. At the end of the day, the mantra is meant to bring you back to simplicity. We live in such a complex world that it’s easy to get lost in all the details. Mantras can help you circle back to the simplistic approach to life and focus on those things that inspire you and truly make you happy.


MEDITATION – A PATH OF SELF DISCOVERY

Meditation is a path of self - discovery it is inseparable from the yoga system. The culmination and definition of yoga—is perfect spiritual love. The wisdom of the yoga texts teaches that our actual identity is we are eternal spirit souls, part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. Meditation helps purify our consciousness so we come to understand our real spiritual identity.

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline).
  • Decreased blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Lower cholesterol levels.
  • More efficient oxygen use by the body.
  • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone.
  • Restful sleep.

Scientific research on meditation is accelerating with the growing awareness of meditation’s numerous benefits, including a decrease in hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and addictive behaviors.
General Hospitals found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.
Instead of being dictated to by genes and chemical processes in the brain, it may turn out that you are the author of the life—capable of change, healing, creativity and personal transformation.
Meditation requires discipline, determination and patience. You won’t get it on the first try, but constant practice will help you go a long way. All of your efforts will pay off someday when you attain the physical and mental health benefits mentioned above and even more.
The purpose of the workshop is to learn how to meditate in a way that suits you and how you can use it in your daily life to restore balance.


YOGA STYLES FOR ALL AGE GROUPS AT NAMASTE YOGA

You are welcome to join any Yoga class from this list:

Classical Yoga or Traditional Yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga.
Hatha Yoga.
Restorative Yoga.
Chair Yoga.
Gentle Yoga + Much More.

Yes, yoga is for you and it’s for everyone else too. One of the many good things about yoga is it gives you instant gratification and also brings about a lasting transformation. Yoga isn’t just about working out, but about a healthy lifestyle so that’s why it is for everyone.
From a teenager to an athlete to a middle-aged mom to fitness freaks, yoga welcomes all.


Yoga and meditation practice teaches us how to overcome bodily discomforts and constant mind chatter, so we are able to go beyond it and start to experience moments of true silence and peace within. The physical aches and pains of the body are distracting to meditation practice and bad posture disturbs us energetically.

In this course we will teach participants how to sit in a position that is comfortable for long durations and most importantly we provide a yoga practice focusing on the therapeutic aspects, liberating the body from existing tensions. This stabilizes the body and mind to allow you to go beyond it and deepen the practice that leads towards one’s true inner self, transcending both the body and the mind.


We invite you to give yourself the gift of relaxation, meditation, yoga, and OM this New Year and get deeply connected with your true self !

Namaste Yoga