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Yoga for health and happiness
Purpose of yoga
In due course of time, yoga is mainly looked upon as a set of techniques useful for achieving fitness in daily life and prevention and cure of sime specific diseases or disorders. But the goal of yoga was different when yoga practices came into existence more than three thousand years ago. Throughout its history, yoga seems to have undergone changes regarding the purpose for which it was practiced. Many different varieties of yoga came to be practived for different purposes. The main verieties fof yoga include
Bhaktiyoga(Yoga of devotion): is the oldest variety of yoga in which the person practicing it invokes the Creator of the universe to shower grace and compassion. This grace and compassion is meant to help the devotee overcome all the travails and hardships of living . Practice of Bhaktiyoga includes prayer, worships of living. Practice of Bhajtiyoga includes prayer, worship, observing austerities and abstinence, and practice of virtue. In the middle ages in India, Many saints cultivated the way of devotion as mass-movement.
Karamayoga(Yoga of duty or action): is described in great detail in the Bhagavad Gita. The main principles of karamayoga include
(a) never giving up and never failing in one's duty, and
(b) looking equally upon opposites such as success and failure, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc., without being efected or swayed away by them.
Jnyanayoga(Yoga of knowledge): is explained thoroughly in the Yogasutra of Patanjali (second century BC.). It consists of eight-fold yoga. Ynyanayoga includes outer and inner aspects of disciplining and training the body and mind. It has three important techniques: postures, breath-control, and meditaion.
Hathayoga (Yoga of bodily performances): In recent times, Hathayoga has become very popular . It was popularised by the experts if Tantra, called the Natha-yogis in the periods between twelfth and fifteenth centuries AD. Two main experts who popularised hathayoga include Matsyendranatha, Gorakhnatha, etc. Hathayoga is described as the yoga of unity of ha and tha. This means the unity of the sun ad the moon in body or the unity of vitak airs - prana and apana.
The purposes of the four varieties of yoga in daily life are not the same. Bhajtuyiga seeks to propitiate the object of worship, i.e. God. As a result of this worship, the practitioner of bhaktiyoga hopes to overcome difficulties in daily life and/ or to remove the hurdles on the goal of all religions. Karmayoga is based on the ideal that by equanimity (samattva) in relation to the opposites (dvandvas), the practitioner of karmayoga can be freed from the shackles of his/her deeds (karma-bandha), and thereby attain liberation (mukti). Patanjali's jnyanayoga or rajayoga involves techniques for purifying the mind by removing impurities through the eight-fold practice. These include:
Abstinence or Yama
Observances or Niyama
Postures or Asana
Breath control or Pranayama
Retrieving the mind from objects of enjoyment or Pratyahara
Concentration or Dharana
Contemplation or Dhyana and
Absorption or Samadhi of the mind.
The above eight-fold path leads to self-realization (atmadarshana). The purpose of hathayoga is achievement of mental stability by silencing the mind through pranayama. Achievement of mental stability arouses the dormant divine power in human being called kundalini. Arousal of the dormant divine power enables hearing the subtle sounds (nada) and absorption of the mind in the state of samadhi.
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