India, the land of mythology, spirituality and Ayurveda - is also the birth place of Yoga, an invaluable gift to the humanity. The practice of Yoga is believed to have commenced almost 5000 years ago. The first reference to 'Yoga' is found in the Rig Veda, the earliest of all the Vedas, and also the earliest available scripture for mankind. The precise date of the Rig Veda is difficult to ascertain, as the Vedas are said to be eternal. Yoga, considered as a holistic science, provides multifarious benefits to its practitioners. Practice of Yoga not only enhances the overall development of the body, but also strengthens the emotional foundations of the mind and provides fulfilment to spiritual aspirations. Today, Yoga is recognized worldwide as a great ancient art, culture and science of India. The Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India is taking adequate steps to secure and preserve the heritage of Yoga and expand its knowledge in its endeavour to offer the know-how of Yoga to millions of practitioners in India and around the globe, and has developed a systematic plan to achieve this objective.
This book is a step towards spreading the message of Yoga in its true essence and spirit across the globe. While Yoga should be adopted as a way of life and practised as a daily routine for achieving the physical and mental health, one should be fully conversant with its spiritual depth and benefits for realizing the synchronization and harmony of body, mind and soul. When considered in the sense of 'union', Yoga also unites the individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness. Yogic practices, done sincerely and regularly over a prolonged period of time will enhance the psycho-physical personality of the practitioners.
The Yogasutras of Patanjali are considered as the basic text of Yoga philosophy (Yoga Darshana). Ministry of AYUSH presents this publication to broaden the horizon of Yoga in the world. The book will serve its intended purpose, if it will act as an inspiration for a further deeper study of Yoga.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj' - which means to unite or integrate. Yoga most commonly known to be a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced world over for health and relaxation. Patanjali defined Yoga as 'Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodhah', which means "Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind". Chitta is mind, Vrittis are thought impulses, and Nirodah means cessation.
No exact date has been ascertained regarding the advent of Yoga. The Yoga tradition is much older; we can find its references in the Mahabharata and the Bhagvad Gita, identifying three kinds of Yoga. Yoga is a way of life, and finds mention in the Vedas about 5000 years ago. The classical Yoga has been documented in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras outlining the Eightfold Path of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga).
Nowadays, Yoga is being practiced mainly around elevating the life force or 'Kuridatlni', which can be achieved through a series of physical and mental exercises. At the physical level, the methods comprise various Yoga postures or Asanas that generally aim to keep the body healthy. The mental techniques include breathing exercises or Pranayama, and meditation or Dhyana aim to discipline the mind. It has been widely reported that since humans possess physical, mental and spiritual selves, Yoga helps in achieving the following:
Attainment of perfect equilibrium and harmony among the three selves Self-healing: freeing the mind from negative blocks and removing toxins from the body Increased personal power and self-awareness Increased attention, focus and concentration Reduced stress and tension in the physical body by activating the para-sympathetic nervous system People across the globe strive to practice Yoga for achieving a better quality of life. They need to be informed of credible and competent personnel for imparting training to them to practice Yoga. The Scheme for Voluntary Certification for Yoga Professionals has been conceived and launched with the aim of enlightening the world to the power of Yoga, which has its origin in India.
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