Yoga is one of the most ancient cultural
heritage of India. The word yoga in Sanskrit means "to unite", and so yoga
can be said to connote a unitive discipline. In this sense it is an
exercise in moral and mental cultivation that generates good health (arogya),
contributes to longevity (chirayu), and the total intrinsic discipline
culminates into positive and perennial happiness and peace. Therefore,
yoga is the said to be indispensable of the ultimate accomplishment in
life. It is a science that affects not only the conscious self but the
subconscious as well. It is a practical physiological training (kriya
yoga), which if practised can exalt man to the 'supra mundane level'.
What Yoga Is Not
There are too
many misconceptions clouding the science of Yoga. People perceive it to be some
kind of black or white magic, sorcery, physical or mental debauchery through
which miraculous feats can be performed. For some it is an extremely dangerous
practice which should be limited to only those who have renounced the world. Few
others think it to be a kind of mental and physical acrobatism that is
compatible only to a Hindu mind.
What Yoga Really Is
Yoga is an all-embracing way of life, a science of self-culture and mental
discipline that ensures the purgation of the ignoble in man and brings
forth what is most noble in him. It is pertinent to all people
irrespective of his caste, creed, sex, and religion. It can be beneficial
to all - the good and the bad, the sick and the healthy, the believer and
the non-believer, the literate and the ignorant, the young and the old. A
person may begin at any age and can go on reaping its benefits.
The Origin Of Yoga
Yoga had its genesis in the wandering ascetics who sought the solitude of
the forests to practice this ancient science and then imparted their
knowledge to the ardent students (mumuksu) who lived in their
ashrams. The ancient yogi’s were possessive about this art form and did
not make any effort to popularise yoga. The yogic postures and the
subsequent stages of yoga were handed down only to the deserving students.
Hence, this science remained limited to the confines of the forests or
remote caves. The exponents and missionaries of Yoga started spreading the
essence of Yoga to common people for free. Now Yoga is helping general
public all over the World.