Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yoga Aims For Balance

By Daisy Villa

As a yoga teacher, I think explaining the discipline and health modality of yoga is a good start. Like many, I started yoga for practical and physical reasons. From a regular medical checkup, I found that I had specific health problems that were not life threatening and could be resolved with medication. But this was a wake-up call for me and I changed my lifestyle through diet, exercise and yearned for more knowledge of how to improve my life.

While yoga was born in India, it is meant as a universal path, a way to all regardless of your background and birthplace. Yoga focuses on harmony between mind, body and spirit. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and means union or merger. The ultimate aim is to strike a balance between mind and body and to attain personal enlightenment. To achieve this, yoga uses movement, breath, posture, relaxation and meditation to establish a healthy, balanced approach to life.

Yoga is often mistaken to be a religion. Yoga is not bound by any religions and is happily practiced by Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and many others. There is a place for everyone in yoga, no matter your age, gender or size. Though the exact origins of yoga are unknown, it is considered to be the oldest physical discipline in existence. In earlier times, the rationale of the yoga postures and breathing exercises was to bring stability and relaxation so practitioners could prepare for the rigors of meditation, sitting still and alert for long periods of time. In modern context, yoga can help maintain a fine balance between work and a healthy mind.

On the physical level, yoga increases flexibility; increases lubrication of the joints, ligaments and tendons; massages all organs; detoxifies the body; and is excellent for toning all muscles. It improves cardio, flexibility, balance, physical and mental strength and serves as a way for relaxation.
In my practice and teaching, I use a combination of yoga styles: hatha, ashtanga, kundalini and viniyoga. These classical styles provide a physical format that will challenge as it blends the old and the new for broader appeal.

Yoga has become part of my rule book in life. It can be tough and you need to train hard. It requires a willingness to think for yourself, to be observant, and overcome occasional setbacks. Yoga demands perseverance, continued application and correction of the postures and, above all, love in your heart.

Quoting the great yogi, B.K.S. Iyengar, who founded Iyengar yoga: If you take up any noble line and stick to it, you can reach the ultimate. Be inspired but not proud. Do not aim low; you will miss the mark. Aim high; you will be on the threshold of bliss.”

I encourage and challenge you to think of your life as a noble goal. You are the architects of your life. Leading a healthy and fit life is not difficult to attain. You just have to make it happen.

Note: This is an edited version of my very first article when I had a healthy living column several years ago.  

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