The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj which seems to have many translations. The different meanings attached to yuj include yoke, connect and union. Broadly, the term “to unite or integrate” best describes yuj and therefore Yoga. Through the practice of Yoga, it becomes possible for a human being to connect with himself. And once he has connected with his own consciousness, he can then connect with the universal consciousness.
Ancient Yogis believed that in order for man to be in harmony with himself and his environment, he has to integrate the Mind-Body-Soul. And this becomes possible when emotion, action, and intelligence are in balance. The Yogis formulated a way to achieve and maintain this balance through exercise, breathing, and meditation – the three main Yoga structures.
Needless to say, all three structures involve the body. Since the body is man’s primary instrument for work and growth, Yoga encourages practitioners to treat it with care and respect. Let’s take a quick look at the three structures:
Asanas: Improves circulation, stimulates the abdominal organs and puts pressure on the body’s glandular systems, resulting in better health.
Breathing: Breath is the source of life. Enhanced breathing techniques are an excellent way to invigorate the body. Deep breathing also helps the mind anchor in the present moment, which is a primary requisite for the next step: meditation.
Meditation: Sometimes, meditation is equated with “blank mind”. The truth is that meditation is a tool to practice mindfulness. In a mindful state, we pay rapt attention, maintain unwavering focus and become aware. Research has shown that this simple act of sustained attention helps the treatment of chronic physical pain, emotional distress, depression, stress and anxiety, eating and personality disorders.