AS A PSYCHOPHYSICAL SCIENCE - YOGA & HEALTH
will talk about Yoga and the stresses in our lives and how Yoga can
help us to relax and to calm the mind, in this busy stressful modern
Indian Philosophy, Yoga covers a wide range of knowledge. For our
purpose here, we will limit ourselves to that part of yoga, which
deals with the yogic postures and meditation.
for your information, we also have Yoga that deals with the dark side
of our life –which means a period of hesitation, despondency,
dejection and sorrow that one has to go through in order to understand
the real situation and to come to terms with it.
is a philosophy dealing with the psychophysical aspect of our lives.
It is a psychophysical science, as depicted by the Vedic Indians
thousands of years ago. It is a science to bring about wisdom, a sense
of right proportions, patience, self-restraint, and calmness.
is not a set of dogmas and practices just for the initiated.
is for peace of mind.
since yoga became popular in the West, the word has become almost
synonymous with its physical postures, which appeal to the west’s
physically oriented society – part of yoga’s modern popularity is
precisely because yoga blends with the present day culture of body
appears what has taken hold in the west is the physical part of the
how do you do the mental exercises and build and strengthen the mental
postures (or exercises) are not practised to shape up the body like
one does in a fitness centre, or to lose a few pounds or kilos, but
the main purpose is to prepare your body for MEDITATION in order to
fortify the mind to quell the disturbing mental storms that we often
experience in our lives.
consists in the continuous flow of the same cognition (knowledge) of
the object of attention undisturbed by any other cognition.
science of meditation was developed in India for the purpose of
supplying the mind with the necessary nourishment and food and for
giving it exercise, rest and relaxation.
is rejuvenated when mind rests. Without this exercise, mental muscles
will become flabby.
yogas teach meditation, the mind being the final obstacle to be
overcome and the most difficult to surmount. The mind works harder
than the body. Our mind is always in a state of agitation.
do of course need a healthy body where mind resides in order to
BODY HOUSES THE MIND. CARE OF THE BODY IS ESSENTIAL.
is acknowledged that the condition of the body has some hand in
determining the state of the mind, and hence instructions cover not
only the discipline of the mind, but also the control of the body.
practising yogic postures, one can experience the effects of various
poses on the body and the mind.
invigorate your body and keep your mind healthy and calm.
bring about a feeling of freshness and relaxation and remove physical
Meditation will strengthen the muscles of your mind.
mind body experience is what distinguishes yoga from conventional
exercises, promoting fitness from inside out. Mental toughness over
sheer physical strength is important. Yoga is more a work-in than a
only Yoga strengthens all of the systems in the body – but also
teaches us how to rest. You can create a perfect harmony between your
body, your life and your mind. You can live in amity and concord with
your own self.
IN OUR LIVES
is something that stimulates us and increases our level of alertness.
Life without stimulus would be incredibly dull and boring. Life with
too much stimulus becomes unpleasant and tiring, and may ultimately
damage our health or well-being. Too much stress can seriously
interfere with our ability to perform effectively.
little can lead to boredom and "rust out" - but too much can
produce "burn out".
is the physical and mental response of the body to demands made upon
it. Stress arises when we are unable to get rid of our negative
feelings that pile up as a result of our reactions to the daily
affects us mentally, emotionally and physically. It affects efficiency
and effectiveness, undermines relationship and influence physical and
the recent growth in corporate mergers and
acquisitions, laying off people is a regular thing; it has generated a
lot of stress. Staffs are being reduced to increase efficiency, and
the ones left have larger workloads.
environment is stressful in most cases. Stress manifests directly in
the body. Stress affects interactions with the co-workers. Job stress
causes physical symptoms – headache, backache, stomach problem and
is a part of everyday life, and learning to manage stress is an
increasingly valuable tool for modern life. There is a way to reduce
stress. Many techniques are available to deal with stress.
has following affects:
Physically through the experience of physical symptoms like pain in
the back of your neck, tightening sensation between your shoulder
blades, tension headaches, etc.
& emotionally through negative behaviour, poor relationships at
work or in your personal life, as well as poor lifestyle choices.
things cause stress in different people. Some of the things are:
deadlines, difficulty in organizing work, poor time management, out of
control debts, noise, adjusting to life in a new environment,
difficulties with personal relationships (e.g. splitting up). Very
often stress results from an accumulation of many different pressures,
which build up gradually without us noticing.
with the fast pace of life, repeated change in jobs, homes, frequent
divorces and marriages, and advancement of modern technology with
which we cannot keep pace, numerous tensions are created. In this
unrelenting struggle for existence, we try to keep a calm exterior but
conceal a disturbed mind. Mental stress and strain is the penalty we
pay for becoming modern. This has resulted in the phenomenal increase
in psychosomatic disorders, that is, the disorders of the body caused
by the disturbed mind.
nights follow and the next day’s life is one of depression. You will
live in a fool’s paradise if you live in the world of sleeping pills
and tranquillizers, which bring an apparent respite, but no cure. You
only become dependent on them.
is really more a psychological factor than a physical, quantifiable
one. The tranquillizers only suppress the symptoms.
is not only bad for the body and the mind; it also causes us to bury
our true nature beneath the debris of tasks, deadlines and worries.
is most created when we can’t cope up with the demands that we are
everyday life is full of demands taxing on our physical, emotional and
lives are full of stresses and pressures, some we create ourselves,
others we cannot control. Coping with the stresses of modern life is
an essential skill and there are many techniques available to us,
techniques with a long long history.
– consisting of Yogic postures / exercises, breathing exercises and
Meditation – is one of the simplest methods to combat stress in our
fast modern life.
helps relieve the stress of the daily routine and teaches us how to
relax and release tension.
gives you the opportunity to experience calmness of mind.
Stretching the body and working with the breath engages the body's
parasympathetic nervous system - allowing the body to normalize,
gradually improving health and posture - defeating fatigue, increasing
alertness and leading to improved productivity, feelings of
function best when we are in a state of relaxation. Relaxation is a
breathing space in the rush of daily living. This breathing space is
necessary to prepare the body and the mind for greater energy and
clearer vision. Even a change or place of work brings about
lowers blood pressure, respiration and pulse rates, releases muscle
tension and eases emotional strains.
nerve cells get invigorated because during relaxation they are
relieved of their routine burden of working.
you think that 8 to 10 hours of work a day should be followed by a
period of relaxation, just like nature has ordained that there shall
be sleep after a waking period?
sleep is never possible with the fast pace of life, particularly in
big cities. People keep running in frenzy and hardly find time to sit
down and think or read a book or even listen to music.
who live in the Western world have neither the leisure nor the
opportunity, and frequently not even the will, to practise meditation.
Our busy life seldom allows us to look inward.
is wrong to think that we cannot spare time. It is not so much the
lack of time as the feeling that there is no need for such relaxation,
which is the cause of the mad rush. Money made in a life of such
tension will leave one no life of retirement. A life of “rush
rush” is a life of tension, nervousness and anxiety.
problem has to be tackled at the root.
must learn to relax.
helps relieve the stress of the daily routine.
meditate to beat the stress.
will help you to relax.
do jogging after a stressful and tiring day. They usually think
sweating and physical exertion can refresh them. Yes. It does. But you
will get a bonus if after jogging you sit down and allow your mind to
rest. You do the mental exercises by resting your mind. Learning to
relax is a key to a physical, emotional and mental health.
your mind rests, it gets exercised; it gets its nourishment. Mind is
then invigorated. You become calmer, you become patient, and you
don’t meditate on your office project – it will then bring the
office stress with it, which you want to get rid of.
is of no use to enter the closet with the daily paper and the business
file. Even if you leave them outside and shut the doors and windows,
you may have an unquiet time with all your worries and preoccupations.
will counteract physical and mental fatigue. It will establish
studies have shown what Yoga has known for thousands of years:
is beneficial to the body and the mind. As it is accompanied by deep
relaxation, it unstresses the body, causing a feeling of physiological
and psychological ease, rejuvenation and heightened vitality. At more
advanced levels, the practitioner experiences deep peace and
tranquillity, which carry over into everyday life.
most important thing is that we should learn the mental discipline
that will teach us how to be in harmony with our own selves, our own
instincts, emotions, sentiments, and ideas.
will help you to learn that discipline.
VS OTHER EXERCISES
let me talk about the yogic postures from the physical point of view.
is a fundamental difference between Yogic exercises and other types of
common misconception is that Yogic exercises are physical exercises.
Physical exercises are repetitive movements, whereas Yogic exercises
involve very little movement and are only poses, which are to be
maintained for a period of time.
postures and the breathing exercises help you to change the reaction
to stress and thereby minimise the ill effects of stress. These
postures involve concentration on certain parts of the body, and,
therefore, the result is a toning up of both the mind and the body.
poses when maintained for a definite period help to conserve energy
and give a feeling of relaxation and exhilaration.
exercises are also meant to improve the functions of the organs.
DOES YOGA AFFECT US ON A PURELY PHYSICAL LEVEL?
muscular system is the one we are usually most aware of when we do the
poses. Even the muscles that we do not know much about are involved.
yogic postures concentrate on a deep stretching movement. Muscles are
given a gentle, controlled stretch, without any strain. They are thus
able to extend gradually and safely. A flexible muscle is also a
strong, well-toned muscle.
skeleton system also benefits. As the muscles loosen and stretch, so
do the ligaments, which hold the bones in place.
circulation system improves through regular deep breathing. Yoga helps
you become more aware of your breath, even when you are not doing the
breathing exercises. The inverted postures enhance blood circulation,
reversing the venous blood flow and also improve lymph drainage.
digestive system is helped by the internal massaging action which some
of the postures perform on the organs.
nervous and endocrine systems are affected. Yoga’s concentration on
the spine, through which the major nerve pathways flow, helps to
control nervous energy.
common purpose of all the poses is to establish a proper tone in the
neuromuscular system as a whole.
encompasses both physical and mental stimuli. Yoga is ideal. It not
only exercises the body, but also through the act of breathing it
calms down the nervous system, it oxygenates the blood and tissues and
it brings changes in the brain functions.
is a form of lifestyle that is beneficial in regulating the bodily
functions, psychic processes and improves well-being.
COMPARED TO OTHER PHYSICAL EXERCISES,
postures are easier than aerobics and weight training.
need no special place or equipment.
are a slow dynamic and static movement.
is low risk of injury of muscles and ligaments.
involve minimized effort; you spend much less energy.
improves oxygenation of blood.
improves circulation of blood and lymph
exercises help to maintain good body posture
has no age limit
exercises take into account the body's natural movements. Yogic
postures result in static stretching which actually is very effective
in removing cramps and preventing soreness. Static stretching is safer
of the Yogic postures and breathing exercises unlike physical
exercises do not strain the cardiovascular system.
stress causes the back muscles to become tense. Gentle yoga stretches
help reduce physical tension directly. When muscles relax, the mind
becomes more tranquil.
are useful for the body as well as for the mind. They change the
reactions of the body to the day-to-day tensions, which are so rampant
really makes yoga different is the mental focus and attention that we
bring to bear on the body - the stream of attention we focus as we do
the posture. The result is a toning up of both the mind and the body.
In adopting and maintaining a posture there is a co-ordination between
the nervous system and the muscular system, which set up a kind of
tone in the body and influences the physical and mental behaviour.
is a comprehensive system to keep the body fit and mind alert.
the autonomic system could be controlled through the slender
connection with the nervous system was a great discovery of the Yoga
system and it still retains its title to the sole possession of the
technique to bring that about.
us not forget some very important things about Yogic exercises, these
Yogic discipline is
not a group activity but an individual one.
commitment and regular practice.
It is a
Your body is not
like anyone else’s body. What you can do, it is perhaps impossible
for someone else to
It is a game of
inches /mm; you improve by slowly inching forward, (mm by mm).
You are developing
internal skills that cannot be measured by how far you can bend your
Yoga bans hurry
from all its methods and favours the slow-but steady approach.
I come to the concluding part of my speech.
INNER SELF CONTAINS THE CLUE TO THE ANSWER OF OUR LIFE.
Vedic Indians preached ATMANAM VIDDHI – KNOW THYSELF.
will even find these two words, written in Greek in the temple of
Delphi in Greece.
idea Know Thyself is also reflected in the great psychologist Carl
Gustav Jung’s theory of individuation.
Maria Rilke in his famous book “Letters to a Young Poet” wrote,
“ I can give you no other advice other than this, retire into
yourself and probe the depths from which your life springs up”.
meditation, it is like letting the mud in a muddy pool settle down.
When mind settles down, the mind becomes clear and when mind becomes
clear, you can explore and find what’s in it. You will be able to
monitor your feeling, from moment to moment.
will help you to eradicate the complexes in your mind, eliminate agony
that you created.
is the cultivation of the mind. It is the reconditioning of the mind.
It is an act of attention, an effort of will. Meditation is the
said “You have to open up the unconscious and not suppress it,
silence it with drugs.”
attempts to explore the inner world of consciousness and helps to
integrate the conscious and the subconscious.
fact that there is a conflict in us proves that we have the will to
control our mind – but often our will loses the battle. Sometimes
our mind becomes extremely unsteady and extroverted and flits
constantly from one object to another.
of thought is liberation. Mystery lies in disciplining the flow of the
suppressing all fluctuations of thought and the distractions of
desire, we allow the mind to settle on the object, penetrate it and
become one with it.
changing our thoughts, we change our life and indirectly we change the
character of the world.
is our mind that organises the world about us, which builds our
relationships, which creates our various feelings. Mind control is
therefore a fundamental condition.
the ancient system is now followed almost all over the world, and
often in CNN news it only shows that it is needed and has a part to
play in our lives.
is a tool that you can use to improve your overall sense of
YOGA DOES NOT PRESCRIBE A QUICK SOLUTION.
you only have a few minutes to work out and want to burn calories,
yoga will disappoint you. But the overall results of the mind body
experience are phenomenal. It will certainly help you to think more
clearly, act more decisively.
end here by quoting the Vedic philosophers who said more than 3000
or intelligence is the driver of the chariot of the body,
by the horses of the senses, which are controlled by the reins of the