Yoga, has been and is still an enigma to a large number of people. One should admit that people have learned to consider the Yoga to be something great and at the same time to be something reserved for the sages only. This is the reason for which men and women maintain some awful distance from it. They claim innocence to own such attitude towards Yoga as they have been taught that men with expertise in Yoga are generally extraordinary. Still one can notice that the government of India has been requesting a person like Swami Ramdev to impart lessons of Yoga to the paramilitary personnel that is, to thousands of persons in the security and defense in order to free them from stress and strain.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word and this particular word means union. A section of people of the ancient India has a strong metaphysical bending of mind. They have an idea that with a specific set of mental and physical practices a man can be united with his creator, that is, with the eternal self. They had a belief that a man must motivate himself to this end. The philosophy of Yoga states that the greatest human wisdom may be achieved by a collective insight on physiology, ethics, psychology and spirituality which is possible to earn only through proper, sincere and regular practices of Yoga.
History of Yoga
It is hardly possible to determine how old these practices are. The Harappan people (3300 to 1700 BC) might have such experiences because some seals found in the sites of the Indus Valley Civilization have engravings of male figures in meditation-like posture.
The Vedic period is also based on anticipation. In the Vedas, for the first time in the earliest religious scripture of India, prescription of Yoga has been noticed. The concept of Yoga has been well-exhibited in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishada (one of the earliest religious and philosophical texts in India). This philosophical works of the Upanishadas have probably been produced by 400 BC. References of Yoga have been marked in the Indian Epics, that is, in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana (5th to 2nd century BC). In the Bhagabat Gita (200 BC) and in the Yoga-Sutra of Patanjoli (200 to 100 BC) the Yoga has been referred and discussed as one of the most important subjects.
Amritakunda (meaning Pool of honey) is an ancient Indian text of the Yoga. This book has been translated into Arabian and Persian languages by the 11th century and there is reason to believe that Sufism owes much to the Yoga of India in its infancy. The breath control and different physical postures practiced by the Sufis remind us the endeavors of the ancient Indian yoga.
Yoga has left deep marks even in the Jainism and Buddhism. Thus Yoga has deep relationship with different religious schools of the Indian soil.
Patonjoli, the high-priest of the Indian Yoga, has furnished eight steps of Yoga, namely,
Yamas or eternal vows,
Niyamas or observances,
Yogasanas or yoga postures,
Pranayama or breath control exercises,
Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses from distractions of the outside world,
Dharana or concentration on an object, place or subject,
Dhyana or the continuance of this concentration-meditation and
Samadhi or the ultimate stage of yoga meditation
The benefits of Yoga may be traced by the fact that our mind and body regularly influence one another. Yoga involves our mind and body simultaneously. This balances our nervous and endocrine systems that leave noticeable impact on different systems and organs of our body. It is said that different diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes, indigestion, asthma, arthritis, fatigue of long years etc may be cured by regular practices of the Yoga. Yoga helps us achieve mental peace and enhance power of concentration and thus we reach to equilibrium very close to nature.
Yogasanas (positions), Pranayamas (control of breathing) and Dhyanasanas(meditation) are the principal elements of practices to yield the best benefits.
Instead of conclusion
Endeavors of mankind must be respected. The Yoga has its roots in one of the ancient civilizations of the world. Human beings stand for noble reasons and
infinite faculties. Hence Yoga should not remain anything as limited to the sages of India or even to the fortunate Hindus of India. It has been observed that persons entrusted with the responsibilities of great and complex enterprises undergo seasonal training of Yoga in order to live a tension-free life. Modern life is full of uncertainties. Tensions and stresses are to be faced daily. Yoga should be prescribed for each cross-section of the people irrespective of status, caste, creed, community, language, religion and nationalities. The operation has already started everywhere in the globe and this fruit is to be spread to every corner of the world. There are already a number of Yoga institutes all over the world and there are competent persons, little in number although still, engaged in training others so that health of the brain and that of the heart may properly be taken care of.
Yoga is a combination of physical and mental exercises and it should be learned directly from a person who is an expert in this subject. In the absence of it an incumbent may face serious physical and mental problems.