The literal meaning of the word yoga is union – union of their individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. According to enlightened ancient Indian sages, the universe is pervaded by a highly intelligent energy , that has neither a beginning nor an end; neither can it be divided nor can it perish; and it cannot have any pain or misery. Everybody in this world is reated from that intelligent energy and has the same qualities, but they are not aware of it. Man realizes his true nature only when he reaches the highest stage of evolution. At that stage, his energy becomes as subtle as the Universal Energy and merges with it, drawing all the knowledge and power contained therein. That great union is known as Self realization, Liberation, Emancipation, Nirvana, Enlightenment . In that state, man experiences pure bliss. Thu the end and the means both are known as Yoga.
Yogaschittavrittinirodhah’, so says the great sage Patanjali, meaning curbing the tendencies of the mind is ‘yoga’.
Mind is likened to a jumping monkey, flitting from thought to thought. The continuous thinking on different subjects makes it lose its strength and power. Yoga was devised to gain complete control over one’s body mind and psyche, so that one can concentrate better, and it is a concentrated mind that can achieve anything.
Furthermore, yoga harmonizes the twofold energy system of the body- physical and mental. And it is only when they are balanced, the spiritual energy which lies dormant in most people, becomes active and takes the consciousness to the greatest height.
Physically, yoga ensures a free flow of ‘prana’-the life force- throughout the body that enhances the health of body tissues. Thus yoga benefits us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It makes the practitioner strong in the body and mind to face the vagaries of life with equanimity and come out a winner.
Origin and history
5000 years ago, an advanced civilization flourished in India known as the Indus Valley civilization. Its ruins were discovered in two places Mohenjodaro and Harappa –both now in Pakistan. At the archeological excavation sites many statues were found in yoga postures indicating yoga was being practiced even in those early time. Vedas, believed to have been written 1500 years ago also mention yoga. Yoga is said to be much older than that!
Yoga and human body
A human body is a configuration of a body, mind, Prana, and a soul. The mind itself has three different levels- conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. In this complex mechanism, a disease can originate in any of its various aspects, but soon it affects the entire system. Although it is the physical body that manifest the symptoms, more often than not, it is the mind which plays a major role in creating them. In fact, according to modern science, more than ninety percent of the diseases are psycho-somatic. That is why for a cure, a disease needs to be treated wholistically which not many therapies do.
Medical science focuses on managing the symptoms and suppresses the manifestations of the disease, but the core problem remains as strong. Ayurveda goes a little beyond the body of muscles and bones, and aims to normalize the unbalanced production of humors. But it still works on the physical level. Some other therapies such as Acupuncture and Acupressure go to the subtle level and try to normalize the disturbed energy. They too leave the mind untouched.
Treating an affliction partially, may suppress the symptoms for a while, but as long as the cause remains, it can bring back ill health – either as the same disease or a different one. Worst are therapies with medicines full of chemicals which poison and weaken the body making way for more serious ailments in future. Treating the mind alon is no solution either, as in a diseased body every tissue has already been affected adversely.
Therefore a system is needed that can reach to any level of the body and mind and root out the cause and also has the means to rectify the faults . Integrated Yoga is such a system. It is the only therapy that has the necessary techniques to counter each disease- causing factors. These techniques are taken from various yogas such as Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, Bhakti yoga, Mantra yoga, Tantra yoga etc.