Why Does Anyone Practice Yoga
We do practice different forms of exercises to meet different aims and needs. We do weight training to acquire strength. We go for jogging or perform aerobics to get a cardiovascular workout. We perform tai-chi to improve our sense of stability and harmonization. We do stretching to achieve suppleness. For peace of mind and relaxation, we meditate.
At some point, you may therefore have wondered if there is one single type of training that would meet all your different aims. One that will give you a full and complete workout that does everything from helping you to achieve strength to gaining endurance, improving balance, gaining flexibility and one that finally also helps you to relax. There definitely exists one such complete and perfect form of exercise that helps achieve everything! What else, but the practice of yoga?!
The aims and practice of yoga is without a doubt more than mere stretch outs and relaxing. It is the definitive mind and body test and a superb means of achieving body and mind alertness.
Relaxation Benefits of Yoga Practice
A typical session of yoga practice will make you feel a sense of pure energy and relaxation. You get to work on your physique and align your bones correctly, as well as learning to breathe deeply, thus providing adequate oxygen for your lungs, blood and brain. You will also experience relaxation in its purest and most profound form, because by making your body aware and working on the muscles, you will be able to relax more easily than other forms of exercises might allow.
Thus, the main reason why you feel really good and totally relaxed after a proper yoga session compared to either a cardiovascular workout or weight training (or for that matter any other form of exercise) is because you are getting to develop self-awareness and also appreciate your own body.
Who Should Practice Yoga
In short the answer to this question would be anyone and everyone!
Irrespective of whether you have never done any physical exercise or whether you are a world class athlete, you can still gain huge benefits from the aims and practice of yoga.
So, do not fret even if you have never lifted your finger to carry a pen, yoga will do you good and will gradually become as comfortable as it would be to someone who jogs an hour a day or works out daily.
Plus, the mental acuity and alertness that comes with the practice of yoga will lead you to enjoy a remarkable growth, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
As the age old saying goes, “practice makes perfect”, but for you to become skillful and competent in yoga demands effort, determination and practice. However, as another saying has it, you reap what you sow.
Satisfaction and Fulfilment from Yoga
Therefore, you must put in enough effort to achieve the full satisfaction that you are looking for. If your aims are looking for a quick fix, you cannot hope to achieve full satisfaction and fulfillment in yoga. Alternatively, if you want to maintain or regain your health, energy and strength or simply want to feel younger, stronger and more energized, then the aim of yoga is exactly what you are looking for.
Also, if you are looking for a perfectly balanced and complete form of exercise that can be practiced by anyone and everyone, in any condition or state and you are ready to accept fresh new challenges as you progress, then again, yoga is your perfect choice!
The Intention and Aims of Yoga Practice
Some have said that the fundamental intention and aims of yoga are to attain emancipation or the ultimate freedom that is known as the "Kaivalya". Basically, this equates to an understanding of your innermost being or soul. Subsequently, you would be free from the chains of cause and effect, which is the Karma that binds you to continual reincarnation.
It is said that in Kaivalya, you exist in peace and harmony after achieving complete wisdom and understanding of the difference between the spiritual (which is eternal, static and free of sorrows) and the material, which is not. It is therefore suggested that this must be attractive as life is generally seen as something that is filled with sorrow and pain. Even happiness and bliss leaves pain and loss when they are gone, since nothing is considered permanent in the material world.
As a result of this non-material focus, the aim of yoga is believed to be a spiritual pursuit.
Nevertheless, along the path of the practice of yoga you can also achieve health, contentment, harmony and wisdom which will stimulate your spiritual growth and support your efforts to apply everything that you learn along the way.
What is Yoga Exercise
Time and again we hear the word yoga. Often people think it is some sort of exercise with funny poses, right? The left leg stretches upwards and the hand goes behind the body to hold the leg, no? But yoga is not just about stretching, maintaining a posture, breathing or even merely a form of exercise. It is much more than just that. It is a spiritual practice but not a religious one that helps you to maintain a fine balance between work and a healthy mind!
Not to worry, you are not the only one who doubts this! Many people have questioned how something like this could help them to maintain a balance between work and a healthy mind or even establish a healthy, lively and balanced approach and aim to life. And to understand this better and to know how the practice of yoga actually works, you need to get a better understanding of what yoga exercise is all about.
Achieve a Stable Balance
Yoga originates from the language Sanskrit and it means “union” or “merger”. And the essential purpose of it is to achieve a stable balance between the mind and the body and to also to achieve self-enlightenment. And to accomplish this, the aims and practice of yoga applies movement, breathing, pose, relief and meditation as various means of maintaining a healthy, lively and balanced approach to life.
Yoga is believed to be a physical exercise that is the oldest still being practiced. Thus, yoga signifies stability in every area of life. In earlier times, the logic behind yoga practice was to achieve constancy and relaxation so one could get ready for the severity of meditation - that is, to stay sat still and remain alert for a long period of time. From today’s perspective too, yoga has a crucial role in achieving a fine equilibrium between work and a healthy mind.
Even though yoga is a systemic philosophical approach, yoga is not a religion, being more about aiming for a spiritual balance than any code of beliefs. And yoga is not solely about staring at candles and breathing incense or for flexible young people just to lie around relaxing either. Anyone, irrespective of body type, age, experience or physical abilities can practice yoga.
Guidelines for the Practice of Yoga
There are certain things that you must take care of when you want to start practicing yoga. Some of these basic guidelines would benefit beginners, in particular, although anyone can sometimes use a refresher!
Yoga is best practiced in the morning. This is because the mind is at its calmest and in the most composed frame, still fresh and rested. And the body movements too can be done with ease and proper energy. In order for you to start practicing yoga, you must have the desire, the aims and self-confidence to do so.
The place where you intend to carry out your yoga practice should be taken into consideration too. It would be best to choose a place that is peaceful, serene, has proper ventilation, dust free, moisture free and where one cannot be distracted easily.
Before you start practicing yoga, you must clear your bowels and bladder if necessary; as well as clearing your nostrils and throat of all mucus, and it would be good to drink a glass of lukewarm water. This may sound strange, but as you start to practice yoga, you will realize the importance of such minor things.
After doing all this, you should wait for a few minutes in order to fully relax once again and then you can begin following the aims of yoga.
Energize and Revitalize
As you would do with any other form of exercise, you should begin with easy asanas or poses and only advance to tougher ones when you have mastered them, and feel ready to move on. You should be logical and systematic, and bear in mind that you should start with light movements and if at any time you start to feel tired or weary, you should stop your yoga practice until you feel vital and energized once again. The aim of yoga should be to energize and revitalize you, not cause you to feel any kind of tiredness or depression.
You must take breaks in between if you find a certain step is especially tiring for you. If you intend to practice yoga, you should follow a balanced diet and it is ideal for you to eat after an interval of at least four hours following your session of yoga. The quantity of food should satisfy your appetite and you should aim to totally avoid over eating or starving yourself. At the same time, you should completely avoid eating stale or old food as well, as it may well not be that healthy to do so.
The clothing that you wear while practicing yoga is very important and you must make sure that it is loose and comfortable. Form-fitting cotton or Lycra pants and shirts are the best choice.
Long Deep Breaths
While you are performing your yoga, your breathing should be long and deep. You must remember to keep your mouth closed and inhale and exhale only through your nose, and you should also have a yoga mat that is made of comfortable materials, especially if you practice on an otherwise hard floor.
Do all of this, and your yoga practice will be enjoyable and bestow the maximum benefits on you. And, as we have already established, no matter how cynical you might be about the benefits of yoga, the undeniable truth is that no matter how old or young you are, or what shape you might be in, yoga is good for you!
So, now that you know you should start practicing yoga, all that remains is for you to take action and start doing so!