There are hundreds or more of styles and techniques and therefore as many different Yogas. In order to simplify and clarify the vast science of Yoga can be put into principles which are easy to understand and to include in daily life.
These points are explained below:
1. Proper Exercise (Asanas) – Our physical body is meant to move and exercise. If our lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints, then disease and great discomfort will ensue with time. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.
2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama) – Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity. Breathing controls Prana (life force or energy) in our bodies.
3. Proper Relaxation (Savasana) – Long before the invention of cars, planes, telephones, computers and other modern triggers of stress, the Rishis (sages or seers) and Yogis of yore devised very powerful techniques of deep relaxation. As a matter of fact, many modern stress-management and relaxation methods borrow heavily from this tradition. By relaxing deeply all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.
4. Proper Diet – Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, Yoga advocates a vegetarian diet, more recently becoming vegan due to animal rights issues regarding dairy animals. This is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle however there are ethical ways of eating meat if you need to for health rather than want to for taste. Become aware of the energies that food gives – dead foods or fermented foods will contain ‘dead’ energies and lethargy, foods that have been subject to stress will bring stress and negative energies, fresh foods grown in sunshine will possess these qualities in its energy. Food that is too rich or overly spiced will lead to overactivity.
5. Meditation (Dhyana) – Here is the most important point of all, we become what we think. Thus we should exert to entertain positive and creative thoughts as these will contribute to vibrant health and a peaceful, joyful mind. A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practicing meditation. The mind will be brought under perfect control by regular practice of meditation and mindfulness. This can be practiced everyday, doing everyday tasks and simply requires focus upon any one task at one time.
6. Proper Cleansing (Suddhi Kriyas) – Our bodies and minds need to be kept clean in order to reach any of the goals of Yoga. Everyone takes care of cleanliness on the outside, but rarely a thought is given to our internal cleanliness. There are various cleansing techniques (Kriyas) that are practiced in Hatha Yoga that help to keep us clean and detoxed inside and out! Pay attention to oral health, nasal cleansing, enema, eye gazing and other cleansing techniques that are extremely beneficial to our inner and spiritual health.
Following these principles helps to avoid the accumulation of toxins in our bodies and minds, and helps to release toxins that are already present in the system. This helps to achieve health and well-being of Body, Mind and Spirit and ultimately will help us to achieve the overall aims of our Yoga practice.
By Danielle Bryant BSYA