“Pranayama is control of Breath”. “Prana” is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath.”
One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve a healthy body and mind. Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutras mentioned pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness, he mentions the holding of breath as important practice of reaching Samadhi. Hatha Yoga also talks about 8 types of pranayama which will make the body and mind healthy.
Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana & Samana. Out of these Prana and Apana are most important. Prana is upward flowing and Apana is downward flowing. Practice of Pranayama achieves the balance in the activities of these pranas, which results in healthy body and mind.
Asana is a Sanskrit term which is often translated as “posture” or “pose.” Asana can also be translated as “a steady, comfortable seat,” particularly for the purpose of meditation.
Many people equate asana with the act of performing fancy, advanced poses. However, anyone of any level of experience can practice (whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced). Individual asanas can also be modified to suit all practice needs and desires.
In the contemporary world where many of us are perpetually on the go, practice can slow us down and help us bridge disconnections between the body, mind, and breath. It can also be practiced to increase strength and flexibility, improve balance and core strength, and bring a sense of mindfulness into our everyday lives. Scientific research is also suggesting that a regular practice can provide the following benefits ~ Relieving chronic pain, teaching you to control your respiration, improving sleep and self-reported quality of life and reducing anxiety and depression.
Living by the yoga laws is a wonderful way to summon the many spiritual benefits of yoga, some of which include ~
Spiritual Awakening Awakening to a higher consciousness is a spiritual experience in and of itself. Through yoga, the soul unifies with the body and the mind. This catalyzes a spiritual awakening—a deep recognition of the fact that we are never alone, and we always have further to rise.
Mental Clarity One you align with your inner consciousness, a profound sense of mental clarity unfolds. Have you ever waited to make an important decision until after you’ve practiced or meditated? This is because your most enlightened self will be present, and your mind will be clear.
Positive Manifestation Yoga facilitates the delicate dance between action and detachment. It calls upon us to let go, so we can let in. Oftentimes, through yoga and meditation, we notice the intentions we set in silence find us when we least expect them—a true testament to handing things off to the universe and exhaling.
An Attitude of Gratitude Every time we bow forward with our hands at heart center, we give thanks. Yoga teaches us to appreciate what is unfolding right now. A lesson in gratitude, each practice compels us to be content and thankful. This can only serve to bring forth abundance and love.
Inner Tranquility The unification of the mind, body and soul with the universe brings forth an unparalleled sense of inner peace. The kind of peace that comes from within can never be destroyed by outside forces. Yoga is an anchor that holds us in a steady state of tranquility and calmness.
As interpreted by Chopra and Simon, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga are:
Law of Pure Potentiality: Since you are an unshakeable part of what exists in the physical world, you are also infinitely creative, limitless and eternal.
Law of Giving and Receiving: You must give and receive to experience love, abundance, and anything positive you wish to reverberate through your existence.
Law of Karma (Cause and Effect): Every action generates a returning reaction. If you choose positive actions that bring forth happiness and success, you will, in turn, receive such energy. If you choose negative actions that bring forth pain or suffering, they will boomerang back to you.
Law of Least Effort: By harnessing your energy and offering no resistance, you allow your actions to be motivated by love, tapping into the infinite power of the universe as you do less, yet accomplish more.
Law of Intention and Desire: When you quiet the mind and introduce your intentions through pure potentiality, you galvanize the universe into action, allowing your desires to manifest with ease.
Law of Detachment: Everything, at this moment, is happening as it should be. There is no need to resist or force. Simply intend for everything to unfold as it should, take the action that’s necessary, and allow the results to happen.
Law of Dharma: By expressing your unique gifts to serve others, you will experience unlimited love, abundance, and true fulfillment in your life.
Even if you practice once a week, you’ll feel the difference. If you can, try to practice two to three times a week but don’t let unrealistic expectations stop you from doing shorter practices. 10 or 20 minutes is better than doing nothing at all. In short, do what you can, when you can. Focus on, and be proud of what you do, rather than focusing on what you think you should be doing.
“Yoga’s history has many places of obscurity and uncertainty due to its oral transmission of sacred texts and the secretive nature of its teachings. The early writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed or lost. The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old. Yoga’s long rich history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice and development.
Pre-Classical Yoga The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests. Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis (mystic seers) who documented their practices and beliefs in the upanishads, a huge work containing over 200 scriptures. The most renowned of the Yogic scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, composed around 500 B.C.E. The Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga).
Classical Yoga In the pre-classical stage, yoga was a mishmash of various ideas, beliefs and techniques that often conflicted and contradicted each other. The Classical period is defined by Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras, the first systematic presentation of yoga. Written some time in the second century, this text describes the path of RAJA YOGA, often called “classical yoga”. Patanjali organized the practice of yoga into an “eight limbed path” containing the steps and stages towards obtaining Samadhi or enlightenment. Patanjali is often considered the father of yoga and his Yoga-Sûtras still strongly influence most styles of modern yoga.
Post-Classical Yoga A few centuries after Patanjali, yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment. They developed Tantra Yoga, with radical techniques to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence. This exploration of these physical-spiritual connections and body centered practices led to the creation of what we primarily think of yoga in the West: Hatha Yoga.
Modern Period In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters began to travel to the West, attracting attention and followers. This began at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago, when Swami Vivekananda wowed the attendees with his lectures on yoga and the universality of the world’s religions. In the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India with the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and other yogis practicing Hatha Yoga. Krishnamacharya opened the first Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924 and in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy Ganges River. Krishnamacharya produced three students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity of Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda was a prolific author, writing over 200 books on yoga, and established nine ashrams and numerous yoga centers located around the world.
The importation of yoga to the West still continued at a trickle until Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. Since then, many more western and Indian teachers have become pioneers, popularizing hatha yoga and gaining millions of followers. Hatha Yoga now has many different schools or styles, all emphasizing the many different aspects of the practice.”
The literal translation of the word “yoga” from Sanskrit (which is recognized as the original language of yoga) is “union.” And that’s an apt basis for defining yoga as we know it today; bringing together the mind and the body by use of the breath.
Yogoda Satsanga Society of India was founded in 1917 by Paramahansa Yogananda, the great spiritual leader from India who spread the message of yoga in the West. Coined by Yogananda, the society’s name is derived from Sanskrit with yogoda derived from the root words, yoga, meaning “union,” and da, meaning “that which imparts.” Satsanga is derived from the root words, sat, meaning “truth,” and sanga, meaning “fellowship.”
Yogoda Satsanga Society is called Self-Realization Fellowship in countries outside the subcontinent of India. The headquarters of the society is on the banks of the sacred Ganges River.
Insight Yoga is a style of yoga designed by Sarah and Ty Powers that combines elements of different principles and philosophies of Buddhism, yoga and psychology. The foundation of Insight Yoga is to combine both active and passive yoga postures with breath work, meditation, mindfulness and self analysis to attain peace, tranquility and harmony with the self and the universe. The core teachings are based on developing the physical and subtle body, the mind, the heart and on understanding relationships.
Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV) is an alternative name given to the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health, or MVAH. This is also sometimes known as Maharishi Vedic Medicine.
Maharishi Ayurveda is an alternative approach to health and medicine that was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1980s. A high degree of importance is given to the use of positive emotions, as well as to the role of the person’s consciousness, in their overall health.
The holistic approach that is embraced in MAV covers a wide range of practices which tie in with the lifestyle and philosophical outlook of many yogis. A yoga practitioner who understands their own body and how to look after it will be able to get the maximum benefit out of this approach to health by using it to shape their physical practice.