Yoga is connecting to the resources of all existence.
The basic purposes of yoga is to maintain physical health, achieve inner peace and to know one’s true self.
Yoga helps people develop within, learning to bring body, spirit and soul into alignment.
This learning is similar to a journey from outside towards inside leading from materiality to the transcendence. A purifying process which begins with the elimination of tension in the muscles and ends when all the nadis (channels) are clear. Hatha Yoga teaches us that our body has about 72 000 of these fine-fibre channels of life energy.
Traditional Hatha Yoga
The “ha” (sun) and “tha” (moon) words in succession mean overcoming opposites, achieving unity. Physical exercises are emphasised in this type of yoga, as it tries to influence and balance mental wellbeing. Hatha Yoga is based on a complex system of movements and philosophy. It helps develop subtle energy body using asanas (postures), pranayama techniques (breathing exercises) and kriyas (cleansing practices) which promote reaching the balance of mental activities.
The positive impact pranayama has on autonomic nervous system (nervous system regulating the operation of internal organs) can be observed on brainwave patterns by using EEG: the rapid and short beta waves are replaced by long, slow alpha waves, which refers to a meditative relaxed awakened state. Activity to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for resting and peace of mind, increases. While concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) reduces in the blood.
Since then, numerous studies have shown that yoga, not only helps in preventing diseases, but doctors also use it during therapeutic treatments to cure physical and mental illnesses. In fact, simple asanas and breathing exercises can significantly reduce stress reactions.
The asanas strengthens the muscles and the stretching exercises reduce muscle tension. This is beneficial to athletes and also to patients with neurological disorders.
General physiological effects of Hatha Yoga:
- Improves co-ordination, posture, muscle strength and flexibility and increases joint movements
- Improves blood circulation
- Increases lung capacity, decreases respiratory rate
- It has a positive impact on functioning of nervous system, immune system and endocrine glands
- Improves metabolism, excretion and digestion, helping to get rid of excess weight
- Reduces anxiety
- Increases mental balance, stress tolerance and mental performance.
How can yoga be so successful among yoga fans for thousands of years? What could be the reason of this deep, mystical enthusiasm that gives millions of people motivation for spending hours practicing yoga on a regular basis?
While performing positions correctly, the first breakthrough experience is felt when heat radiates into the body, indicating that the so-called Nadis in our body opens and the prana (i.e. energy) flows freely in the body. This strong flow of energy can clear blocks resulting in recovery from diseases. Negative qualities, believed to be part of one’s personality, can cease and long-running unpleasant life situations can be resolved.
Practitioners can feel the direct physical effects for hours, even days at this time: intense feelings of joy, filled with energy, cleaner perception both physically and mentally, experience completeness. These are not supernatural experiences but the body’s natural state when it is not restrained and not poisoned with improper lifestyle and thinking.
Many people mistake yoga with extreme practices exercised by Indian ascetics, however yoga is not a path of suffering. Of course these wonderful changes are not given as a gift. The practitioner (Yogi) must go and follow their own path, gradually reducing their limitations which make them different from others.
Yoga is thus the sum of consistent methods starting with physical practicing and leading practitioners towards their aim through the recovery of mental health.
So why do I personally love yoga? For me it is the most stress-relieving activity, heals my body and soul and can be done at almost any age.