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Yoga for health and happiness 


Role of yoga for physical and mental well being ?


The today's practitioners of yoga can be divided into three groups. The smallest group comprises of those who take it very seriously as a way of life and as a philosophy of renunciation and emancipation. Such person live in the monastries and ashrams. 

The second group includes people who are disenchanted with the effects of affluence and wealth generated by the progress in science and technology. They seek a new way of life, for which they leave their homes, often join some of the new movements, change their dress and food habits, meditate, sing devotional songs, and try to find a new purpose and meaning to their otherwise dull ultra modern way of life.

The third and the largest group consists of people who are not very keen on the deep philosphical or esoteric implications of yoga or in a new way of life. Instead, they are able to overcome these health problems, they can lead a happier and more productive life. A large number of people in this group are interested in quick, easy cures to their problems. Some of them are those who seek benefits of yoga after having tried other methods and therapies without much success. The number of such yoga enthusiasts is growing very rapidly. It is they who have helped the opening of a new chapter in the history of yoga

Yoga for fitness and health consists of five main categories of techniques. Each one of them has its special importance and utility. These categories include: 

(a) Postures or asanas: Asanas are a wide range of postures that improve flexibility of muscles and suppleness of joints. People who are not sufficiently well informed about various aspects of yoga believe that yoga practice mainly comprises of practice of asanas. This is perhaps because a large number of yoga teachers are teachers or experts of asanas, many books on yoga discuss only the techniques of various asanas, and many common discussion, exhibitions and performance of yoga deal only with the asanas. There are two main categories of asanas. These include
The meditational poses -good for sitting comfortably and steadily for a long time for the purpose of breath-control or meditation. They have three main benefits. These are to relieve tension from the body and mind, improve digestion and exertion, and overcome postural defects. There are about half a dozen such poses available. 
The cultural or exercising poses - involve stretching, pressing or squeezing action and arrangement of the limbs in a sitting, standing, lying down, inverted, or balancing position. Hundred of such postures can be learned and practiced, and each one of them has its own special advantages.
(b) Breath control or pranayama with muscular looks or bandhas: Pranayama is a technique of controlling breathing. It involve sitting in a comfortable, steady, relaxed position, and taking deep, full breaths with prolonged, uniform and complete inspirations and expirations. After practicing deep breathing for some time, retention of breath inside and outside may also be practiced. Pranayama yields benefits for all functions like respiration, blood circulation, digestion, excretion, secretion, and for improving muscle tone, removing congestion of blood, and release of tension. It helps considerably to calm down an irritated and excited mind and make it steady. The bandhas that involve vigorous contractions of particular muscles enhance the benefits of pranayama. Meditation can be done easily after a few rounds of pranayama. 

(c) Cleaning techniques or shuddhikriyas: Shuddhikriyas are cleansing techniques that cleanse various internal organs of the body. They are also called shatkriyas or shatkarma because they are six in number. These include: 
Neti, which is used for cleansing the nasal passage with water, a linen thread, or rubber catheter. 
Dhauti, which is used for cleansing the stomach with water or with a twenty-two feet long strip of cloth. 
Basti, which is the technique of cleansing of colon. 
Trataka, Which is a technique to cleanse the eyes and the mind. 
Nauli, which is the foremost among the cleansing techniques, is used to cleanse all the organs and glands inside the abdomen and make them strong. 
Kapalabhati, which is an exercise in continuous abdominal breathing, is said to cleanse the skull and make it shining. 


(d) Relaxation : The dead pose, called shavasana is a special technique of yoga for deep relaxation in order to lesson the ill effects of stress. Meditational postures and pranayama are also effective in reducing the adverse effects of stress. 

(e) Meditation: It is an effective method for improving the poise and stability of the mind. When meditation is combined with other techniques of yoga, its effect is greatly enhanced for treatment of a wide range of health problems or disorders. 

 





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