Challenges, complexities and the pace of modem living have enhanced stress levels. We yearn for a relaxed, carefree and happy living. The ancient philosophy of Yoga, known and practiced for over two millennia in India, brings about mind-body/co- ordination resulting in superior physical and mental capacity and happy living. This book presents a simple, practical and balanced approach on everyday living, on:
• the awareness of Self: dealing with the body and its sense organs; soul and its three components of mind, intellect and consciousness; good and bad qualities; and the path to achieve self-awareness;
• the awareness of Supreme Soul and the oneness of Divinity;
• Kundalini Chakras: covering the chakras (nerve plexuses), nadis (energy channels); their mental and emotional aspects; and Yang/Yin energies of Taoist philosophy;
• holistic therapies: briefly describing Ayurveda and Tridoshas, Marma therapy, Pranic and Reiki healing, Acupuncture, Acupressure and Shiatsu, Qi Gong, Tai Chi Chuan, Nadi Shodhana and Hasta Mudra practices; and nutrition and diet for holistic living and;
• Breath, Prana and Pranayama and also explaining the eight steps of Ashtanga Yoga and the various paths and practices of Yogic living;
This book is meant for people of all age groups who would like ‘present rno1nent’ living and has a global appeal. lt will find readership across countries, ethnicities and cultures.
Born and brought up for the first ten years in Kuala Lumpur during World War 11 (Japanese occupation on Malaysia), K. Ravindran, did his schooling in Kerala (India) and his Electrical Engineering from Banaras Hindu University; Varanasi (India). He served with the Indian Air force from 1963 to 1988 in the Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics) branch at various stations all over India. After retirement, he has been an active member of Retired Officers’ Forum — a senior citizen paternity that promotes social causes and organises seminars on holistic and healthy living.
He is widely read on many subjects and has travelled extensively. This book, his first, represents a distillation of an approach that has evolved, based on his reading and interest in spirituality over the past 17 years and his practical experience of pranayama and meditation.
Western influence has made modern life very fast paced and made people materialistic. This has led to considerable stress resulting in stress—related ailments affecting both our mind and body. In this context, the practice of Yoga involving coordination and holistic living leading to happiness, assumes significance in today’s world.
Many books on Yoga are available in the market. But most of them deal with Asanas. In this book written by Shri Ravindran, the stress is on simple, very easy to follow, practical aspects of Pranayama and Meditation. The text is enriched with illustrations making the book readily acceptable to readers.
The ancient Indian philosophy of simple living, holistic diet and finding contentment in what one has, does make a person stress—free, healthy and happy. This book deserves wide readership and I wish all success to the endeavour of Shri Ravindran.
‘Humans were designed to be happy, creative and in harmony with the universe at all times’, says new age spiritual leader Joseph Rael, founder of the Raelian Revolution. Millennia ago, when ancient man lived in caves in a hunter—gatherer environment, he lived a happy life in synchronism with nature. With his superior intellect, he made tremendous civilisational and material progress, resulting in conflicts between him and the environment he lived in. Through advances made in science and technology, modern man has been able to conquer ignorance in many fields. But they also triggered widespread feelings of competitiveness and envy amongst countries. The present world has literally become a global village due to the high—speed Internet connectivity and the jet set air travel facilities. With the fast paced modern life, financial tensions, emotional upheavals, e worries, anxieties, uncertainties, and depression, and, above all, a sense of being overtaken by the speed of events, have increased. The stress of daily life has thus risen to Himalayan proportions. All these factors strain the body, cause nervous tension and adversely affect the mind. This is when the feelings of isolation, loneliness and alienation take over. To deal with this, people turn to artificial solutions to cope with the pressures of daily life. Drug abuse, eating disorders and destructive relationships are some of the stimuli people grasp at in their desperate search for consolation. However, while these measures may provide temporary relief, the root cause of unhappiness—stress—remains unresolved. Modern man yearns for—stress—free, carefree, happy living. This is where the role of the ancient philosophy of Yoga, known and practised for over two millennia in India, comes in.
According to Yogic principles, the nerves control the mind and when the nervous system is strong, a person faces situations more positively. Asanas and Pranayama improve the flow of blood and Prana, the life force energy, to all the cells of the body and revitalise the nerve cells. This flow strengthens the nervous system and its capacity for enduring stress. The practice of Asanas, Pranayama and Meditation helps integrate the body, breath, mind and intellect. It brings serenity to the body cells, relaxes the muscles and releases tension from the organs of perception. When this happens, the brain cells calm down and thoughts are stilled. Invading fears and anxieties cannot penetrate the brain. When this ability is developed, daily duties can be performed with efficiency and economy. Valuable bio-energy is not dissipated and one enters the state of true clarity of intellect, as the mind is free of stress and is filled with calm and tranquillity. A person who follows the Yogic way of life is more likely to act and react in everyday life in a collected manner; and make the right choices and decisions when faced with challenges or issues.
The general concept of Yoga in the minds of most people is the practice of Yoga Asanas, which run into over l00 poses or postures. Though some of these poses are simple and easy to learn and practice, there are many difficult and complicated ones which involve turns, inversions, spinal twists and balancing acts. These cannot be self-taught and require guidance from a certified teacher; and takes time to be learned and practised.
Most of the books available in the market and the schools of Yoga, teach you these Yoga Asanas. No doubt, the practice of these Asanas will provide physical flexibility, particularly to the various joints of the body, toning and strengthening of muscles, improvement in balancing the body, calmness to the mind and inner peace; the effect of all these will get reflected in one’s lifestyle and approach to work. However, Yoga Asanas are only one of the eight limbs or aspects of the Yogic way of life. The Ashtanga Yoga (literally eight limbs of Yoga in Sanskrit) is a way of life, where all the eight limbs are equally important and practising all of them leads one to a holistic way of life, called Raja Yoga, resulting in a balanced and happy life.
In this book, I have emphasised on the total practice of Raja Yoga, which optimises the body and mind for leading a holistic life. The presentation of the book is from the point of view of a beginner or a layman. As such, many of the esoteric aspects of the Yogic way of life have been left out. Yoga Asanas have been included as one of the eight limbs, particularly in the context of practising Pranayama and Meditation. This could be considered as a first step by a reader who would like to master Yoga Asanas. However, I would like to highlight two considerations for such readers—first, one should select Asanas that best fit one’s specific and unique needs, depending upon age, body type, health status, time available for practice, etc. and second, from the wide variety of books and schools/institutes of Yoga Asanas that are available in most countries, one should tap the right source for information, guidance and counselling.
Raja Yoga is the path of union by mental mastery through practices that take one’s awareness inward. It leads to integration of one’s body and mind enhancing mind—body co—ordination. It g awakens poise, grace, strength and development of centred awareness even in the midst of turmoil and chaos. It improves physical strength and mental clarity leading to heightened sense of perception. Thus a practitioner of Raja Yoga begets increased vitality and superior physical and mental capacity resulting in happy living; with greater enjoyment, enthusiasm and inspiration becoming an everyday experience.
Advances in modern science and medicine have no doubt resulted in enhanced life expectancy of man. But the same cannot be said of the quality of life. The practice of a Yogic way of life with its stress on Asanas, Pranayama, Meditation and adoption of an appropriate diet will result in a great improvement in the quality of one’s life. One’s body becomes supple and agile; mind becomes alert and sharp; outlook towards others and life in general becomes positive, compassionate and loving. The net result of all these is anti-ageing, which implies that a person who adopts the Yogic way of living can be expected to be physiologically, psychologically and mentally younger by anything from 10 to 15 years of the biological age.
One who adopts the Yogic way of life becomes capable of surrendering to the will of God and discovers that God is not difficult to find. It is impossible to avoid God for there is nowhere where God is not present.
Happy living to all readers.
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