6 minutes reading time (1256 words)

Yoga and Healthy Living

Yoga and Healthy Living

Is yoga an important aspect of healthy living? What is yoga anyway and why is it considered by so many to be  an  exclusive lifestyle and not for the mainstream? What if you included it into your daily regimen, do you think it would improve on your health and wellness? 

I had just moved to a picturesque little town in Connecticut named Bethel, the kind of place you see on picture postcards with red roofed barns exquisitely set in white snowy landscapes. The next day my cousin drove me around town to be familiarized and right there on Main Street, I saw a yoga studio. My blood swelled up with glee. I excitedly squeaked the words "Yoga!"  because I knew in that moment, that no matter the cost, i'd be a regular patron there. 

True to my word, I was there almost every day of the week.  I found yoga to be very therapeutic. It calmed and helped me to focus, relax, breathe properly, and be more connected to myself and the essence of who I am. It also assisted greatly in improving my  physical health.

At that studio, they taught  a style called Naam Yoga which is  kundalini yoga set to mantras, mudras and singing.  Overtime I went to different places and did other forms of yoga such as Hatha, which focuses on building physical and mental strength. Purna, which is practiced with the use of straps and props; Bikram which is done in an overly heated room ; Kemetic which is the ancient form of yoga seen on the walls of the pyramids of Egypt; Vinyasa, An american styled yoga which is sun salutations done in a rapid styled non stop flow; Ashtanga, which combines, metaphysics with certain  exercises, ethical practices and self development techniques for body, mind and spirit. 

Recently,I returned home to Jamaica.  One morning, I was sitting on a beach in lotus pose, a posture that is  normal to yoga and one that  has become almost second nature to me. Unconsciously, I started to move my upper body in circles, clockwise, then anti clockwise, turning from the hip. A lady came on the beach and gave an excited little shriek. " look!" She exclaimed to her friends following down the steps behind her, " She is doing Kundalini Yoga!"
She came over to me, introduced herself and engaged in animated conversation about the benefits of Kundalini yoga , how it savedher life and helped her through a terrible sickness.
It got me into questioning: Whatt is yoga  really? and how come she took one simple posture I was doing and just like that correctly identify it to certain style.

What is yoga?

Quoted from Self Realization Fellowship:

" It is said in the Bible: "Be still and know that I am God." In these few words lies the key to the science of Yoga. This ancient spiritual science offers a direct means of stilling the natural turbulence of thoughts and restlessness of body that prevent us from knowing what we really are. Ordinarily, our awareness and energies are directed outward, to the things of this world, which we perceive through the limited instruments of our five senses. Because human reason has to rely upon the partial and often deceptive data supplied by the physical senses, we must learn to tap deeper into  more subtle levels of awareness if we would solve the enigmas of life — Who am I? Why am I here? How do I realize Truth?
By practicing the step-by-step methods of Yoga taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds or through blind faith, we come to know our oneness with the Infinite Intelligence, Power, and Joy which gives life to all and which is the essence of our own Self.
The word yoga itself means "union": of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Though many people think of yoga only as physical exercises — the asanas or postures that have gained widespread popularity in recent decades — these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul."

Yoga is recognized as part of an art form practiced extensively worldwide to assist in healing the self of ailments. It is generally practiced as part of the holistic lifestyle where mind, body, spirit health is tied together as one and inseparable. Some say it is a spiritual practice , where one engages in certain postures to unite the  entire self into one focus. The breatr is used extensively to assist in making difficult postures easier.

Many people who have high demanding jobs and take on yoga as a way to  centre  them, have found that they are better focused, more controlled and make better decisions as a result. For them yoga has become a way of life. One such is mogul Russel Simmons who swears by his yoga practice. I have heard him say in interviews, that he puts no important decision or signs to any important deal before his daily yoga practice. He has attributed it to the power behind his health and wealth, so it  is the most important thing for him and he puts it off for no thing.

Yoga is widely believed to be an ancient healing art form that has its origins in India, but some will take it back even farther to a place called Kemet and the lifestyle of this ancient African  culture who practiced this art to keep them highly attuned, focused, healthy and phenomenally creative. For some cultures like that of the sadhus in India, yoga is practiced like a religion with much reverence and devotion.  Amongst them it is believed that being able to master difficult postures and hold them for extensive periods is a way of bringing the soul closer to its divine oneness with God.

Wherever yoga has its origins and whatever socio economic group one wants to place it in, one thing is for sure. It is a naturally occurring aspect of life.Postures are named after the things around us, the sun, tree, dog, cobra, cow, cat and more.These postures all mimic movements that come naturally and unconsciously. Child pose is so called because it is what we see babies do naturally. You will see little children at play and the moves they naturally make are those you relearn in yoga. There is even one called corpse because it calls for you to lay flat and be still, to allow your body to realign and balance with your mind and spirit.

Today we live in a highly stressful environment that demands a lot of our energy and attention.  Usually, the demands stretch us to maximum capacity, focus is spent on things outside of ourself and the tendency is to neglect one's needs, health and the desires of the divine within. This can create sickness and misery. Yoga is considered as a way of bringing yourself back to the awareness of the divine within you, so that you can  be harmonious, peaceful and more productive in a purposeful way. 
Your health and wellness is everything. Without that life can be miserable, joyless and traumatic.  Many have used yoga to restore balance  to an otherwise turbulent life, to be focused, calm, healthy happy and for a better relationship with the self, the divine and all others. Taking on yoga, is returning to your natural self where you become more connected, balanced,healthy and wealthy. Yoga anyone?


Sources:  Self Realization Fellowship
Photo courtesy of Active .com

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