Yoga is an ancient way of life for health, wellbeing and spiritual transformation. It includes a range of practices that touches almost all aspects of our life. These practices are clubbed into eight-limbed path consisting of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Hatha yoga an off-shoot of the eight-limbed path consisting mainly of asana, pranayama and purification practices is an easy way to integrate yoga in our daily life. One can embrace yoga step by step in the following manner:
- Purification (Shodhan): though yoga is a discipline of mind, however in order to purify the mind it is necessary for the body to go under purification. With the purification of body, the energy blocks are released and various body systems are properly maintained and harmonized. Jal Neti is a very basic and simple purification technique that can be practiced by all.
- Diet modification (Ahara): Yoga emphasizes on mitahara, which are related to quality and quantity of food and also the state of mind during the intake of food. Food should be light, freshly cooked and moderate in intake. Mitahara also advocates that the food should be eaten with positive state of mind with utmost concentration. Balanced and moderate diet is helpful in the next step of asana practice.
- Postural modification (Asana): while training the mind it is essential to be able to assume a stable and agreeable position, so that the mind is free from bodily interference. Therefore asana (posture practices) develops the ability to overcome the urge that compels us to move or change position. Postural modification brings stability in body.
- Relaxation (Vihara): relaxation can be brought about by recreation and creative activities. These activities bring joy and happiness. There are also specific relaxation asanas such as shavasana and makarasana which remove tension and bring physical and mental relaxation.
- Breath modification (Pranayama): breath modification is done by regulating the breath and its rhythm by slowing it down. There is a close connection between the flow of respiration and the dynamics of mind. With slow breath mind achieves the capacity to concentrate.
- Concentration (Dharana): once the body is stable and relaxed with breath slow and balanced we can easily move on to the next step of concentration. Concentration brings “one-pointedness” of mind on a chosen object focused upon internally. It helps the mind in penetrating the essence of the object and grasp its nature internally.
- Meditation (Dhyana): when concentration is spontaneous it turns into meditation. In this stage there is an effortless flow of the object of concentration. This enables the mind for supra-sensory cognition of object to know its underlying Reality. In this stage the mind is absolutely calm.
In this way starting from simple steps of purification and diet modification we can easily embrace yoga into our daily life.