Man has stepped into the third millenium. Medical men are working with many technologists to offer better health care. world health organisation is engaged in taking stock of global health status and taking necessary steps to raise the health standards.
Scientific aptitude that entered medical profession in the begining of 20th century made rapid strides in eradicating epidemics and pandemics, through invention of antibiotics and vaccines. Although nutritional deficiencies and infections continue tobe the major problem in the under developed and developing countries, the scinerio in developed countries is totally different. Hi-tech medical facilities with fascinating advances in spare part surgeries, although has made life more comfortable, with a life expectancy of greater than a hundred years, the expected quality of life, with harmony and peace seems to be far from reality. Problems of stress, stress related ailments, student unrest, breaking up families, are all on an exponential rise. The frustrated patients are moving towards alternative so called non-scientific therapies.
Deep thinkers, have raised questions as to why this way? what went wrong in our health delivery system? why the mental and social health problems are on the increase? what should we do to prevent such problems? can we raise the basic health level to greater heights as a preventive programme rather than do fire fighting after ailments have shown up? What are the markers of positive health? Is positive health a single state? what are the measures of positive health at the physical, mental, social and spiritual levels? what are the tools for acheiving states of positive health?
Health professionals who started by giving releif to their suffering sick fellow beings, through medicines and surgeries, are now faced with such newer questions because of the need of the hour. Most of the common health and social problems cannot be solved through germ theories, antibiotics or surgeries. The advent of fascinating diagnostic tools has started pointing to the role of mind on matter. Biochemical, psycho-neurophysiological, immunological researchers are all recognizing the role of mind, the life style, suppressed emotions, stress etc. in the causation of many of these challenges of the millenium. Several research publications on the value of positive thinking, prayer, spiritual healing, mind-body medicine, yoga, acupunture, Qigong therapy, energy medicine are being poured into medical journals in spite of the resistance from hard core matter based pharmaceutical and surgery oriented researchers.
Now in the turn of the millenium, health professionals are forced to accept the paradigm shift in our approach to understanding human health problems. Mental health is being studied in all its facets. A large reserch team is at work in WHO, during this year of mental health, to find out methods of promoting the mental, social and spiritual well being of the human race at large.
Yoga, a science not less than 5000 years old has addressed a normal man to move towards higher states of harmony and peace both as an individual and also as a social being. Through years of introspection, practice and dialogue a huge knowledge base is available in this soil of spiritual seekes who meditated in the caves of Himalayas. The fund of knowledge that has been handed over to us by these keen researchers is gaining recognition by the health scientists as valuable tool to raise the basic human consciousness towards a harmonious life style of contentment and peaceful living.
svyasa with scientific research as its base has used many of these techniques from the yoga lore and demonistrated its value in promotion of positive health in several areas.
Positive physical health in the form of improved muscle strength, stamina, dexterity, immune stability have been acheived after the integrated approach of yoga for Positive physical health.
Improved perceptual sharpness, intelligence, memory, emotional stability that are indicators of positive mental health have been acheived after yoga pracitces.
Use of yoga in rehabilitation of socially sick persons from remand homes, prisons etc. has been acheived. The crime rate reduced in many cities of USA when one percent of the population practised transcendental meditation. Prevention of many of the stress related health problems are possible through yoga practices. Large number of general public, professionals, executives etc, are drawn towards these PPH programmes to not only prevent the dreaded diseases like heart attacks and cancers, but also to promote their own family harmony and peace.
This booklet takes you through a glimpse of the huge knowledge base from which relevent concepts, and practices have been culled out to make it practicable for common, working busy person today.
We are indebted to Sri Mohanji, Sri N. V. Raghuram for their contribution to the knowledge presented in this book. We thank Sri Ganga Nigombam, Kum Jayanthi Devi, Sri Sanahal Sharma Phurilatpam, Sri Natesh and many other Yoga Therapists for their help in preparing and publishing this booklet.
Yoga is becoming popular in all parts of the world. For the restless mind it gives solace. For the sick, it is a boon. For the common man it is the fashion of the day to keep himself fit and beautiful. Some use it for developing memory, intelligence and creativity. With its multifold advantages it is becoming a part of education. Specialists use it to unfold deeper layers of consciousness in their move towards perfection.
Because of its rational basis, the modern medical system has replaced almost all the traditional systems of medicine in different parts of the globe. It has proved itself most effective in saving man from the fatal hands of contageous and infectious diseases. However, new widespread psychosomatic ailments and psychiatric problems are posing a great challenge to the modern medical system. It is here that Yoga is making a vital contribution to the modern medical system.
Extensive research on Yoga therapy over the last few decades has brought out the usefulness of Yoga for dealing with these ailments as an effective adjunct to medical management and also for long term rehabilitation.
'Prevention is better than cure' l; this proverbial saying is kept only as an accepted proverb in modern medicare delivery system. Hardly 1 % of the budget is allotted in any country. Yoga could play a vital role in preventing diseases. All health clubs have started including yoga as part of their schedule and many go only for yoga in these health clubs.
Promotion of positive health is being nurtured by many who do not want to be the victims of modem ailments. Yoga is playing a vital role in this aspect in the new millennium.
1.2 Understanding Yoga
The term Yoga has its verbal root as (Yuj) in Sanskrit. Yuj means joining, (Yujyate anena iti yogah). Yoga is that which joins. What are the entities that are joined? In the traditional terminology it is joining of (Jivatma) with (Paramatma) the individual self with the universal Self. It is an expansion of the narrow constricted egoistic personality to an all pervasive, eternal and blissful state of Reality.
Patanjala Yoga is one among the six systems of Indian philosophy known as Sat darsanas. One of the great Rsis (Seer), Patanjali, compiled the essential features and principles of Yoga (which were earlier interspersed in Yoga Upanisads) in the form of 'Sutras' (aphorisms) and made a vital contribution in the field of Yoga, nearly 4000 years ago (as dated by some famous western historians). According to Patanjali, Yoga is a conscious process of gaining mastery over the mind.
The scope of Yoga as portrayed in Bhagavadgita and Upanisads is far more comprehensive. As Swami Vivekananda puts it "It is a means of compressing one's evolution into a single life or a few months or even a few hours of ones bodily existence". In general, there is a growth process due to interactions with nature in all creation. But it may take thousands and millions of years for this natural growth; that is the long, instinctive way in animals. Man, endowed with discrimination power, conscious thinking faculty the (Buddhi) and well-developed voluntary control systems, aspires to accelerate his growth. Yoga is that systematic conscious process which can compress the .process of man's growth greatly.
Sri Aurobindo emphasizes an all-round personality development; at the physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual levels. He means by Yoga a methodical effort towards self-perfection by the development of the potentialities latent in the individual. It is a process by which the limitations and imperfections can be washed away resulting in a Super human race.
Thus, Yoga is a systematic process for accelerating the growth of a man in his entirety. With this growth, man learns to live at higher states of consciousness. Key to this all-round personality development and growth is the culturing of mind.
1.3 Definition of Yoga
A Yoga - Mastery over mind
As mentioned earlier, Patanjali defines in his second Patanjali's aphorism - 'Yogah Citta Vrtti Nirodhah'. (Yoga Sutras: 1.2) Yoga is a process of gaining control over the mind. By so controlling the mind we reach our original state; 'Tada drastuh swarupe avasthanam' (Yoga Sutras 1.3). Then the Seer establishes himself in his causal state. This is the technique of 'mind control' prescribed by Patanjali. Control involves two aspects - a power to concentrate on any desired subject or object and a capacity to remain quiet any time. All of us have been developing the first aspect namely concentration. Rarely, the second capacity of man, to remain calm and silent, has been harnessed. Hence, Yoga mainly emphasizes, this second aspect. In Yoga- Vasistha one of the best texts on Yoga, the essence of Yoga is beautifully portrayed thus, 'Manah Prasamanopayah Yoga ityabhidhiyate' - Yoga is called a skilful trick to calm down the mind. It is an (Upayah), a skilful subtle process and not a brutal, mechanical gross effort to stop the thoughts in the mind. An unskilled layman trying to repair a television set is almost sure to spoil it, while an experienced and skilful person knows exactly on what to lay hands and to rectify the malfunctioning. He operates at the right place. Knowledge is the key.
Similarly, in the control of mind, a novice tries hard and gels disgusted when he finds himself more messed up, while Yoga give' him the necessary techniques to operate at the right place at the right time to gain complete mastery. This skill is the trick of allowing the mind to calm down and not to use brutal force to stop it.
In action, Yoga is a special skill which makes the mind reach its subtler state: 'Yogah Karmasu Kausalam' (Gita 2.50). Yoga is dexterity in action. The dexterity is in maintaining relaxation and awareness in action. Relaxed action is the process. Efficiency in action is an outcome. Thus, Yoga is a skilful science of gaining mastery over the mind. Yoga is normally and traditionally conjectured and popularly known as a process or a technique to reach the ultimate state of perfection. However, yoga is found defined even as the states of higher powers and potentialities and even as ultimate state of SILENCE. Further yoga is also described as the power of all creative endeavours and creation itself. We will now see how yoga is described as a state and a power in various yoga and Upanisadic texts.
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