Guruji on Yoga and Importance of Physical Fitness
In today’s world, most people are in the midst of constant activity and excitement. They are ever on the go without any respite, and in the bargain, they lose their peace of mind and become victims of anxiety and restlessness. If this situation is left unattended, one may reach a stage where there is no clarity of mind and even simple tasks become challenges, due to anxiety attacks. It is therefore important to resolve such a situation, before it is too late. Our ancient education system attended to all facets of a human being’s growth. At a tender age, every child was taught the necessary skills and given the required tools, so that they were equipped to experience life in entirety.
Yoga means union of the individual self with the divine Self, a state where one is established in harmony, unity and equanimity. Yoga also refers to a group of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines which help the individual to grow physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually. Any spiritual discipline that helps man to evolve and gain glimpses of spiritual understanding, is Yoga. A spiritually conscious person is not inclined to have anxiety attacks. So, it is necessary to make Yoga a part of your everyday life. This will lead you to a sense of peace, well-being, and one-ness with the environment as a whole.
One of the most precious gifts bestowed upon us by the Creator is a human body. It is an instrument that enables us to experience life upon Earth. Our souls are clothed in these physical sheaths so as to help us carry out the tasks we have come here to accomplish. In the struggle to accomplish, man is constantly striving to evolve and grow. There is no limit to man’s capacity and the right way to evolve towards the Divine is through Yoga. Yoga brings about emotional stability and clarity of the mind. The body-mind combine is complex and difficult to separate, and hence due importance must be given to nurture the same.
The main purpose of Yoga is to develop the human faculties, to gain inner awareness, and to make man free from self-imposed human limitations. The practice of ‘pranayama’ is said to be one of the methods by which one can gain mastery over the fleeting mind. Hatha Yoga is a complete system of Yoga which enables physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual awakening. Hatha Yoga practices combine ‘asanas’, ‘pranayama’, concentration, and meditation. Hatha Yoga creates a state of harmony in body and mind by balancing the masculine and feminine aspects of oneself.
Include the ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’ of Hatha Yoga in your daily life. The ‘yamas’ are practice of non-violence, truthfulness, non-indulgence, non-stealing, and non-possessiveness. These principles help in restraining oneself from living in an unhealthy way. The ‘niyamas’ are observing purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to the Divine. When you include these in daily life, you are in effect making a commitment to live a healthy life. By and by, you begin to transform yourself from inside out and outside in.
Physical fitness is a must for every human being on earth. Strong bodies have strong minds. Yoga includes ‘yogasanas’ which help to keep the body and mind in good condition. These physical exercises are so designed that each and every part of the human body is addressed. So, each body part can be brought under control through the practise of specific ‘asanas’. Regular practice allows the relevant parts of the body to remain agile and flexible. Physical fitness also involves proper breathing skills. ‘Asanas’ work externally to make the body strong and supple while ‘Pranayama’ works internally to purify the nervous system.
Pranayama means control of the ‘prana’ or the vital force which is responsible for life in man. Its breathing exercises are designed to gain control over ‘prana’ so as to keep the complete human system functioning smoothly and actively. Pranayama helps us to breathe in a systematic and rhythmic manner. Most of us are unaware of the shallow breathing that we do, causing damage to our internal cells due to insufficient intake of oxygen. Regular practice of Pranayama helps in bringing the entire system under control. Every cell in the human body, including the brain cells are rejuvenated through proper practice of Pranayama.
Regular practice of ‘Yogasanas’ promote a healthy and well-proportioned body. Start with simple exercises for about fifteen to twenty minutes, when you wake up in the morning. Lie on your back with eyes closed and relax. Inhale and exhale deeply. Slowly flex your toes and visualise the ‘prana’ flowing into your toes. Bend your knees and lift up your feet at a convenient angle. Visualise the ‘prana’ flowing into your ankles and knees; gently rotate or move them as convenient. Attend to every part of your body including your eyes and forehead, in a similar manner. Then, relax for a minute or two and reverse the entire procedure. With this method, the ‘prana’ is gently led towards your head and then back to your toes. Your entire being gets replenished with fresh energy and vitality. The nervous system gets added nourishment and abundance of vitality. Also, you develop flexibility in the spine region and experience an extra sense of lightness all over.