Yoga: The whole world is talking about yoga principles these days. In the west people are increasingly casting a keen eye on relaxation and yoga meditation, essentials of the ancient Indian principles of yoga. No wonder Indians have kept the tradition alive and well; as a therapy they know that there’s nothing better than good old yoga.
The word yoga means ‘union’, though a more literal equivalent is the English ‘yoke’. In fact, the words yoga and yoke have the same Sanskrit root. The knowledge of yoga meditation comes to us originally from the Vedas.
The idea then developed and branched into a whole lot of other texts and philosophies. The yoga that is most well known today is the Hatha Yoga of bodily positions called asanas. Through a perfection of the practice, one is supposed to reach a higher state of being, a state that is in union with brahmana or the Absolute (also the Hindu concept of godhead). In the ancient times our rishis (Hindu ascetics) practiced yoga to achieve self-realization, a necessary step towards spiritual progress. For them yoga was the way to liberation (moksha) from the material world. Advanced yogis (experts on yoga) even claimed to acquire extraordinary powers, such as how to vanish into thin air.
Anyway, other religions like Buddihism and Janisim, too, absorbed the techniques of yoga. Today millions are turning to this age-old system because of its therapeutic goodness. If you have a little patience, you can cure yourself of most ills without pills. and with time, such bodily discipline also influences consciousness and concentration, silencing the wandering Cain in your mind forever.
Medical research has endorsed the benefits of yoga postures on the body. Yoga is just the remedy for ailments like a poor spine and painful joints. The stretching and compressing during these asanas, and the alteration of the body’s orientation and centre of gravity generate ‘piezoelectricity’ (electricity caused by pressure) in the body tissues.
A regular practice of yoga exercises regulates the growth, maintenance and strengthening of body tissues. In fact, the whole body metabolism is stimulated and the body’s healing powers improved.
Ayurveda: 'Harmony is health’, is what Ayurveda preaches. This is India’s age-old science of medicine which illumined many, like the early Greeks and Arabs who were so awed that they went ahead and borrowed from it.
According to World Health Organization, Health is not only physical well being or absence of disease, it is rather physical and metal well being. And Ayurveda deals with mental, physical and social well being of an individual; making it different from other form of medicinal therapies. Derived from the Sanskrit word, Ayurveda is divided into two words - 'Ayur' which means life and Veda which means knowledge.
Ayurveda in India was at its glorious best in the age of rishis (Hindu ascetics) and rajas (kings). Our ancient masters and physicians knew exactly how to be hale and hearty till a ripe age, which would be nothing less than a century! Traces of the science have filtered down the centuries, and are being revived in a big way these days. But most people tend to think of Ayurveda as an alternative system of medicine, which it is not. It is a way of life.
We tend to ignore that the human body does react to nature’s ever-changing moods and that human life is but only a link in the great web of Life. Medication today has been reduced to curative or system-regulating medicines; preventive medicine has hardly made much progress except for a handful of vaccines. Ayurveda or ‘the knowledge of life’ will tell you that there’s much more to ‘medication’ than that. Ayurveda is based on sound observational concepts which have stood the test of time for thousands of years.