Ashtanga Yoga – A simple guide to healthy life during crisis

The Ashtanga Yoga is a practice of the ancient wisdom of Patanjali’s yoga sutra. It leads to the overall development of mind, body, and spirit. These are very simple concepts whose thorough practices could eliminate the problems and sufferings of life. The Ashtanga yoga starts with the activities that we should avoid in life, and then it progresses towards the activities that one should regularly follow in life. The practice of Ashtanga yoga is to avoid certain bad practices and then to replace it with good practices. This philosophy gives us a very deep idea that humans have both positive and negative qualities. The negative quality should not make us lowly and the positive qualities should not make us filled with pride. There should be an approach towards the reduction of negative qualities and the increment of the positive ones. Such an understanding is mentioned appropriately in the theory of Ashtanga yoga.

Before we jump directly into the theory, we should know that the Ashtanga yoga practices are completely practical, and just knowing may not do any good. And hence, one should implement the concepts practically for the progress of humanity. The Ashtanga Yoga is classified as the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga sutra i.e., Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. It is an active combination leading to the purification of mind, body, and soul. Ashtanga yoga practices have a direct impact on the present-day crisis. These impacts have to be studied properly for the well being of all.  

Yama– It consists of the practice of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha. It shows us the qualities that one should avoid doing in one’s life.
1. Ahimsa(non-violence) tells about practicing the qualities of non-killing, non-aggressive, and non-revenge nature. The ongoing crisis mostly results in a war-like situation. And if we focus on the Yoga philosophy, then it clearly speaks of not being violent. The non-indulgent in war may safeguard us from losing life and resources.
2. Satya (non-lying) is a concept of practicing truth for general political and economic conduct. A person acquiring the legal and government positions should never speak lies because their lies could harm and disturb others. The present crisis demands the people in media to represent reality so that people may feel courageous and prepared to face the crisis.
3. Asteya(non-stealing) is a practice of not taking what is not yours. With the decline in the economic growth of a country, people are losing the way of livelihood, and therefore, some has started the activities of stealing money for maintaining their life. The stealing could bring a bad reputation and provide long-lasting harm to others.
4. Brahmacharya (abstinence of sexual conduct) tells that one should try to be Brahmachari in life. It is very meaningful in today’s time of crisis. The over-population is still an active issue of society. People are not getting basic supplies in their life, and if the population isn’t balanced then the demands of many would-be left uncompleted.
5. Aparigraha(non-possessive)  wonderfully speaks about the practice of sustainability. The idea of sustainability is to utilize and acquire resources not more than our needs. These days people have no food, and money to cope up with the effect of pandemic disease. If a certain population stops unnecessarily acquisition of the excessive resources, then everyone would be able to tackle the problems of survival.

Niyama is the habit or pattern of one’s lifestyles. Nature and the cosmos always follow a certain order and that’s the only reason other beings could thrive on this planet. In case, humans follow the necessary orders of life, then we could be productive and successful. The Niyamas described in Patanjali Yoga sutras is – Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana. Sauch or cleanliness is the practice of hygiene culture. It is the top need to conquer the pandemic spread. Cleanliness is not just for the body, but also for our minds and thoughts. The regular cleansing of mind and body may prepare us fully to fight the pandemic effects. In the corona period, the stress is put upon sanitizing and cleansing hands more often. Santosha or contentment in one’s activity is much needed in today’s time. People are completely shattered by all the regression in the economic conditions of society. There is continuous barrier in one’s growth. In such scenarios, to be satisfied in one’s work and result is very much important. The present conditions may not support us in our career and economic needs, but we should be satisfied with the doings and the results we are achieving. Tapas or austerity is the best practice for today’s time. By following Tapas, one should have control over the personal desires in this situation. One should observe strict resilience for luxurious living, toxifying substances, and negative addictions. We should understand the hardships that people are facing around, and compromise our life not to trouble others.  Svadhyaya or self-study is an activity everyone could attain by the continuous self-effort. This lockdown is a time to look deeper within self and inquire about one’s limitations. The study of scriptures, mantras, and subjects of interest should be continued during this harsh time. The words of wisdom could heal the loss one has faced during pandemic times. Ishvara Pranidhana is the unfaltering devotions towards the ultimate consciousness. It’s obvious that the situation has taken away the peace, and so only a deep faith, and understanding in God may bring back the lost peace.  

Asana– It is the third limb of Patanjali yoga sutra. It talks about body posture and seat in which we should be seated comfortably. The comfortability of our seats shouldn’t impact the postures of the body. The complete stay within the four walls of our house is producing a negative impact on our health status. The lack of movements and exercises could bring illness. To avoid growing illness, one must focus on the pose and body structure. The active poses will definitely support the thoughts of our minds. As a result, we could be successful in following the productive styles of living.

Pranayama– It is the best practice for immunity and regulating the supply of oxygen in our body. The coronavirus is mostly affecting the normal breathing capacity of humans. The critical patients of Coronavirus are given ventilator supports so they could breathe normally. Pranayam increases lung capacity and could help us to remain prepared for any disease. The best kind of pranayama one could practice during pandemic times are Bhastrika(forced exhalation), Kapalbhati(exhalation), and Anulom-Vilom(active inhalation and exhalation).

Pratyahara means withdrawing the attention from the outside world and turning inwards. This practice could fully be attained during this critical time of the pandemic. During this time, we may not able to achieve our every physical desire and therefore, we must control such desires and look inwards for understanding our inner conscious world. Proper understanding of the inner world could control the unnecessary rising up of desires.

Dharana – Simply, Dharana is holding the mind’s attention at any point in space. It is useful because we are losing our focus due to regular news and updates of the crisis. We aren’t able to concentrate upon the regular activities and futile thoughts are taking control of our minds. This is the time to pay the utmost attention to the patterns of thoughts. The thoughts could determine the action we are conducting so that it may act in the welfare of all others. Whenever we are losing focus, the simple practice of mindfulness can help us to retain the lost attention and procure the interest in work.

Dhyana–  Dhyana is holding one’s attention without any interruptions. Dhyana is possible by the regular practice of meditation. Meditation could calm our mind and could bring back the lost peace. Daily meditation practice could release us from all underlying stress and take us more towards the inner happiness. Meditation is the best practice to stay tuned to the present world and stop hanging over the past happenings or future predictions.

Samadhi –  It is not easy to attain the stage of samadhi. It is the attainment of enlightenment and cessation of self. The existence of the ego, pride, and I are totally controlled by reaching this final stage of ashtanga yoga practice. It is believed that no disease could affect a person who has reached this final stage of realization. In this stage, the mortality rate of human lowers down. A person is healthy, both internally and externally.

The Pandemic is very stressful period of this year. But, the practice of yoga definitely eliminates the disease, illness, and negativity which disturbs the state of our mind. The active practices of the preliminary limbs (the first five) could prepare us completely to practice the final limbs(the last three). This could help to attain a complete stage of spiritual development, knowledge, and happiness. This article reflects on the present issues which could be controlled by the regular and active practice of Ashtanga yoga. It’s time now to re-initiate the ancient techniques for achieving peace and wellness.     

Reference 

Yoga for Good-Day!

The art of living a happy and healthy life lies in the ancient Rig Vedic practices of ‘Yoga’. Yoga, an ancient therapy is verifiable in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The Yogic practices comprise of different Asanas(postures) and Pranayams(breathing techniques). This asanas and Pranayam is an easy and effective method for all the age groups. Notably, there are different types of yoga created particularly for different age needs.

Simple Technique- Larger Benefits

The simplest of yoga postures could result in the highest of health benefits. In order to derive the best of health benefits from Yoga, you don’t need to be a learned master. You could practice yoga simply at the comfort level of your home and could get rid of all the diseases.

Just simple and effective guidance from a long-time yoga practitioner could show us the right directions to do the yoga techniques. As long as you practice yoga, you will surely understand its importance and embark on the journey of Yogis (male yoga practitioner) or Yogini (female yoga practitioner).

Yoga for Mindfulness

The knowledge and practice of yoga give physical, mental, social and personal benefits. Yoga is the practical aspects of life. The longer we practice yoga, the better we know our-self. The yoga practice understands our body needs very well. It re-generates the old cells and hence purifies our body.

As we grow older, our body starts turning weak. If proper care & attention is not taken, then it becomes difficult for the body to support life. To ensure long life, one must keep practicing yoga or other forms of exercises.

One must also eat the right kinds of food or the sattvika food for the status of a fit body and a healthy mind. Yoga vidya teaches to intake the sattvika quality (avoidance of meat) of food for better performances in life. The green leafy vegetables and a good amount of water could keep us healthy and fresh throughout our day. Detoxification of our body is only possible when one chooses a healthy diet style.

The mindfulness of doing the right kind of activities or taking the right food is generated by the persistent practice of Yoga.

Listen to your Body

For overall benefits from any activities, one must listen properly to the needs and demands of the body. It means we must check the quantity as well as the quality of food intake. We must also check the amount of physical and mental activity we are doing on a regular basis. The jerk in our body produces when we suddenly start doing any hard physical activities. The jerk could be very harmful to our body as it could damage some nerves permanently. In order to avoid a sudden jerk, one must start the yoga practices in a systematic and tuned way.

Challenging our limitations and getting out of the comfort zone must be a priority for everyone. One must be an active performer and do their best in all the activities. Yoga practices make us strong for all the challenges in life ahead.

To know more, let’s see the concepts described in the teachings of Yoga. Let’s begin with the Patanjali Yoga.

Patanjali has taught the performances of Astanga-yoga in life. Astana-yoga is adopting eight kinds of essential habits in life.

They are- Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.

Yama or the five abstentions like Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya(Truthfulness or abstentions from lying), Asteya(Non-stealing), Brahmacharya(loyalty to one’s partner), and Aparigraha(non-possessiveness).

Niyama or the five kinds of observances in life, which are Saucha(Purity), Santosha(Contentment), Tapas(perseverance), Svadhyaya(the study of Vedas), Ishvara Pranidhana(Contemplation of God).

Asanas means be seated in the position of Yoga. It also means to include yoga in our day-to-day activities.

Pranayam denotes breathing techniques which could help to keep up the breaths throughout our body. It regulates our breath and increases the benefits of breaths each cycle.

Pratyahara means withdrawal of sense organs from the external objects. Our senses should help us to gain the right knowledge in life. It shouldn’t be directed to negativity and falsehood.

Dharana (Concentration) – when we are concentrating well on our tasks, then we could be successful in completing that task.

Dhyana(meditation)- A meditative mind could be very useful in maintaining the internal as well as external forms of our life. Through guided meditation and hypnosis, we could cure many visible problems and could keep invisible problems away.

Samadhi(Liberation)– It is the ending part of a true yogi. A person is able to find the soul or consciousness and liberate it from the bondage of life & death.

Challenge Your Body- Physical Fitness

Yoga provides instant satisfaction and long lasting transformations. The physical limit is definitely met as one practices Yoga continuously. Yoga postures are made on challenging postures of animals. The dog pose, serpent pose, camel pose, peacock pose, dead pose, all such poses are created imitating the life of animals around.

The difficulty level increases as we practice various kinds of poses regularly and systematically. Our body starts adapting a variety of poses for the overall strength and wellness.

Conquering the psychological & Emotional limits

Psychological limits- Yoga is the best techniques which distress the body and maintains mental health. Major psychological problems such as schizophrenia and depressions could be cured by the regular practices of Yoga.

The ‘meditation’ in yoga is the fruitful method for sound mental health. The peace at mind makes a person happy, calm and cheerful. The relations start turning positive and the likeability of a person in a group increases. As we calm our mind through the arts of meditation, we breathe long and deep. The longer and deeper breaths regulate the blood flow and overall performances of our body. Yoga is the perfect methods for rejuvenating our mind.

Emotional limits In our life, we may have to face a chain of emotions. Sometimes we are totally broken by a failure or close-one death. In such conditions, we should have a strong emotional balance. Yoga helps to produce such positive balance of mind and body which could help in healing the emotional troubles.

Yoga has proved as a prosperous form of exercise for long years and it would continue providing the benefits for the coming years too. The new technology, climate change, society renewal has changed or transformed everything we see. But art has always been the same.

Yoga method has been the same for a long time, but it has divulged into various forms according to the various rising needs. In today’s time, you can choose yoga which is tailored just for you like power yoga, couple yoga, parental yoga, pregnancy yoga, hot yoga, child yoga, etc.

The implementation of Yoga in life could be very useful. There is no boredom due to its various types plus there are multiple health benefits too. Inclusion of Yoga in one’s life is a one step forward to better health, money, career and social relations.

The psychological, physical and emotional health is tuned up as one starts practicing Yoga and our life starts turning better.

Moksha in Ancient Indian Beliefs

‘Moksha’ is the term used in Indian Philosophy which signifies salvation or liberation. It means to become free from the continuous chain of Birth and Death. ‘Vimoksha’, ‘Vimukti’ and ‘mukti’ are similar terms used to denote Moksha.

The highest state of self-realisation or the union of a creator with creation is called Moksha. Moksha is a Sanskrit word and the literal meaning is to achieve freedom from samsara or the world. Here, Why we are stressing so much upon freedom? It is because human life is said to be in bondage. Our body is said to be a prison in which our soul resides as a prisoner. Once the Soul leaves this body, it is considered as free. So, basically, Hindu religion does believe in life after death. Death is a term which means complete destruction of the body. Death is termed as a complete cessation from all kinds of sufferings.

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The Upanishads theorise that Moksha is so beautiful that it can’t be described in words, it could only be explained in symbols. While liberation is a negative term to explain moksha, the positive definition is the attainment of individuals purpose or goals.

Moksha is called as the highest goal of life. The other important goals are Dharma( duties), Artha( material satisfaction) and Kama(sensual gratification).

Liberation or moksha is regarded as freedom from all kinds of pleasure and pain. In Nyaya- Vaishesika Philosophy, the self is seen as a conscious being, attached from the body. So, Moksha could be reached by getting freedom from all forms that body perceive. Prabhakara defined Moksha as the realization of moral goals. Kumarila-Bhatta sees liberation as a soul’s intrinsic happiness with complete cessation of all kinds of misery.

Therefore, the real world is seemed to be unreal. Liberation is something which is beyond reality. Many saints and philosophers have tried to define the path following which we can attain Moksha. Some give this the name of the meditative technique, and some called it an intuitive technique.

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Charvaka philosophy doesn’t believe in soul and they don’t regard the life after death concept. They believe in spending a materialistic life because once the body is destructed, nothing remains.

Philosophy of Jaina, Buddha and Vedanta teaches moral values, a spiritual realisation so as to reach the path of liberation. Buddhist teaches the four noble truth and the eight-fold path so as to attain the path of liberation. Buddha says ‘Sarvam Dukha’. As a result, Moksha is said as coming out of the path of suffering and attain liberation.

Jaina believes liberation as an eradication of karmic particles from the soul. These karmic particles are formed as a result of unseen potency of passion and vibrations. It is due to karma that soul acquires conditions of nescience or not knowing anything.

Vidyananda Swami says that Right attitude, Right Knowledge and Right conduct is the technique to attain the path of liberation.

Bhagavad Gita says Moksha could be reached by following three paths: Jnana( the vision of reality), Bhakti( total surrender to the Lord) and Karma( involving in action). Moksha can be achieved through Nishkama karma( i.e., selfless action). Ahamkara(egoism) is caused by Karma(action). This Ahamkara is generated because of avidya( or ignorance). Once we have the proper knowledge of self, we can free ourselves from ahamkara. Self Knowledge is called as Atma-Vidya.

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According to Samkhya, Moksha means ascetical practices and meditative intuitions. But Geeta sees it differently. In the famous conversations of Shri Krishna and Arjuna, when Arjuna was distracted from all the crisis happenings around the world. Lord Krishna doesn’t ask Arjuna to run away from circumstances and practice meditation to realise self and attain Moksha instead he guided him to fight in the battlefield and fulfil his Dharma or duties.

Advaitins believe in ”Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya, Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah”. This means the Brahama is real, the world is illusory and the self is not different from Brahman. Avidya creates a difference between Jagat and Brahman, but this distinction could be erased by embracing the right kind of knowledge.

In yoga, freedom is regarded as absolute isolation of matter from the soul.

When Jiva attains freedom, it rises higher and higher and gets assembled with the ultimate creator. This is the basic idea of liberation or Moksha explained in different schools of Indian Philosophy.

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