The dictionary defines wellbeing as the state of healthy and happy. We usually tend to forget that both go together. Happiness doesn’t last when you have multiple health issues to tackle and the discomfort of being ill takes away the happiness. In other words, our physical, mental, and spiritual planes are interlinked. Would you prefer a piecemeal approach to self-development or? As a one-stop solution, consider yoga for holistic wellbeing.
Ashtanga, 8 limbs of Yoga
Now, Yoga is often misconceived as only asana (postures) and dhyana (meditation). However, yoga goes beyond that. Pantanjali, the author of Yoga Sutras, has classified Yoga as a sequence of eight limbs from outer to inner levels of existence.
In particular order, Ashtanga yoga, relatively a traditional approach when compared with modern forms of yoga, notes the 8 parts as yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Let us understand what these are and how they benefit us.
Yama and Niyama
Yama and niyama correspond to the rules of conduct and the command over behavior respectively. Put together, yama-niyama showcases how to mold behavior and actions to make sure mental peace is maintained.
Asanas fulfill the need for physical fitness of an individual. The steady postures are combined with loosening stretches together with a few intense routines like suryanamaskar (sun salutations), chandranamaskar (moon salutations), and ganeshasana (super brain yoga). These asanas target the entire body through workouts while stimulating various glands, systems, and muscles for ensuring internal plus external improvements in the functioning of the body.
Pranayama consists of varied forms of breathing exercises that help to calm down the nerves and expand the breathing capacity of lungs thereby ensuring increased oxygen supply and better quality of blood circulation.
Pratyahara loosely translates into the withdrawal of senses and is essentially the first stage of preparing the body to enter into meditation. The best and classic example of this is the mere closure of the eyes. The moment you close your eyes, your mind has no option but to look within. The complete control of one’s senses is achieved through pratyahara.
Dharana – Dhyana – Samadhi
Dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are stages of meditation signifying distinct experiences of mind and body. While Dharana is crucial to control the mind and proactively silence it, dhyana is the juncture of meditation where the physical and mental self emerges as one.
The best example for this is yoga nidra or yogic sleep which allows the body to experience the ultimate level of relaxation after its guided journey through pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana.
Achievement of samadhi, the eighth limb of ashtanga yoga, takes years of perseverance, patience, and practice, wherein the connection between the spiritual, mental and physical forms is believed to be complete, a state referred to as the union with the divine. The sound “Aum” (ॐ), central to these stages, is known to activate brain waves responsible for relaxation.
In ashtanga yoga, without doubt, asana, pranayama, and dhyana (meditation) remain immensely popular, since these bear a visible benefit on our wellbeing.
These not only keep the body beautiful with better skin, reduced hair fall, improved vision but also magnifies physical and emotional strength. Yoga toughens the spine, supports muscles, and makes joints stronger. The improved blood circulation has a positive impact on heart and glands thereby regulating hormones.
Benefits of yoga
Yoga not only acts as an immunity-booster, but also helps to combat a variety of ailments. These include, but are not limited to, PCOD, PCOS, diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid, lower back pain, and depression. Doctors often prescribe yoga as a preventive measure as well as for faster recovery.
You can practice yoga to suit your individual needs. For instance, on the one hand, through various asanas, enhanced oxygen-intake scales up the body’s energy levels, and on the other, practicing yoga nidra, shavasana, and meditation helps to heal the heart from emotional pain and provides relaxation. It also improves the quality of sleep.
From ancient texts to modern research, yoga has no dearth of authoritative recommendations. Recent studies1 have shown that yoga can protect genes from stress and alter human DNA – a benefit that holds a better life for future generations.
Yoga for holistic wellbeing
Yoga puts a tick against every checkbox on the list of wellbeing. Many yoga practitioners live by the mantra “Know yoga, know life. No yoga, no life.” So, when would you dust off that yoga mat and get onto it? Rest assured, you would derive nothing but mindfulness, positivity, strength, and stability. All this for just a few hours a week. Let yoga guide you to wellbeing.
How can Unakriti help?
Our wellbeing workshops help you on your journey to a centered, contented, productive, and happy self.
Contact us if you would like to learn physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, social, spiritual, and many other aspects that make up for holistic wellbeing. If you prefer personalized sessions, browse our Transformation Coaching plans.
1Footnote: Coventry University. “Meditation and yoga can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213301.htm (accessed November 13, 2019).
Disclaimers: (1) Maps, wherever used on this site, serve a representational purpose only. Unakriti does not endorse or accept the boundaries shown, names, or designations used by map providers. (2) This story/article is based on the