Yoga is a system of training the body to enable free, rhythmic movement, developing good posture in walking, standing, sitting or an ability to take specific postures which are called Yoga Asanas. These are designed to benefit both the outer form as well as the wonderful inner natural mechanism with its miraculous powers of self healing and recuperation. Gradually as we go along, every organ and function is understood and with this knowledge it is possible to claim some degree of conscious control over it. Understanding the body mechanism gives one the power to keep and maintain its health. So physical health is the first consideration in Yoga and this aspect is called Hatha Yoga.
Maintaining health requires balance and depends upon a number of factors. Yoga outlines a course to follow which rules hygiene and cleanliness as first priority. By the various other disciplines, exercises and postures a healthful state is accomplished and often leads to the body remaining becoming more youthful and vital. Certainly different ages require particular practices and adjustments made.
One of the exercises is Pranayama, or breath control, teaches us how we waste our life and energy through leakage of energies. Prana is the vital energy that is expressed in physical, emotional or mental activity. Our vitality is affected by misdirected force and breath as occurs with emotional upsets and mental anxiety as well as neglected psychological disciplines and codes of living. Through the study of pranayama we find greater relaxation as well as a practical tool to help provide us with the energy we desire for our purposes.
Desire is generally related to emotional energy and to our ultimate purpose to experience loving and happy states of consciousness. Bhakti Yoga focuses upon love as the motivating force of our lives and encourages both passive and active expression of loving kindness, learning to extend the capacity to love beyond self and self- interest to embrace everything and everyone.
In order to discipline the total personality we need the benefit of mind control. This is the basis of Raja Yoga. We learn how to quieten the mind to know peace; to practice positive thoughts that will guide us in our actions; to meditate in order to be enriched by our intuitive thought and inspiration, and to draw upon the inner resources of the soul so that we know how to live true to ourselves.
In our disciplines the one that sounds simplest is most difficult. We must learn to still our random thoughts. Then we can expect to experience the pleasure of creative free thought.
When we reach a stage of being in total harmony, having accepted and integrated the different facts of ourselves we know the beginning of fulfillment through Yogic practice.
Beyond this is to be in harmony with others by embracing spiritual wisdom that leads to wholeness and intimate knowledge of life. This increases to expand as our soul grows in understanding of Nature and our Creator and allows us to offer our own unique contribution to the world, a purpose for which we were born.