Yoga is a way of life which focuses on developing awareness about the nature of one’s existence. It is a form of body-mind practice utilizing systematically physical postures (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation techniques, meditation etc. on the background of internally directed self-awareness. Understanding basic principles about yoga can be very helpful for a sustained personal growth and sense of well-being.
Yoga is neither a mystical phenomenon nor an exercise in physical acrobatics. Yoga is simply a conscious and systematic process for the complete physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual development of a human being. In short, it is a methodical approach to self-perfection. In practice it is a technique for calming down the mind to its subtle and more sensitive layers by releasing stress and sharpening the faculties of action and knowledge.
In short the principle of Yoga is based on spirituality. Yoga says that we are not just the physical bodies but have four more subtle bodies (panchakosha), and Pure Consciousness forms the foundation of all the five bodies.
The three cardinal principles of Yoga are:
- Relaxation of all the groups of muscles
- Slowing down of the breath
- Calming of the mind
Principles of Yogic practices:
- Yogic practices are not ‘exercises’ as we understand the word ‘exercise’. The word exercise is generally applied to vigorous physical movements. Since Yogic practices do not involve vigorous movements any kind of violent action be avoided during Yoga practices.
- The nature of yogic practices is varied and involves different mechanisms through which the results of particular yogic practices are obtained. The asana, pranayama, bandha, kriya, dhyana do not use the same channels for bringing the result of the practices.
- Asana – one of the most important and best known of the yogic practices are “static stretching procedures”. They should be performed slowly and smoothly in order to influence the tonic system rather than the phasic one. Slackening of effort is required in the practice
- All yoga practices utilize one of the three faculties of intellect, emotion and will-power of man. These three faculties are the expression of functional mind in the form of reasoning, feeling and willing.
- Practice of Yoga as functions of mind provides it a universal basis for its understanding and acceptance beyond religion, race, creed, caste or gender; since these functions of mind are common to all.
- Yogic practices should not lead to undue fatigue. If there is fatigue it should be overcome by the practice of relaxation in shavasana.
- All yogic learning is neural basis. Unless proper neuromuscular co-ordination is formed one cannot expect further developments in any motor skills.
- Minimum expenditure of energy is the criterion of simplicity and efficiency in any yogic activity. Vigorous movements consume more energy, while static activities consume less energy.
- Early morning is the ideal time for yoga practice but it can also be practiced in the evening.
- Bathing before the practice is good. Use cold or warm water as per the requirement of the individual and season.