What is Yoga?

The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘Union’. It is a blend of Physical and Mental Exercise designed to sharpen ones concentration, improve health and attain eternal contentment. It is an ancient science of India with holistic approach and a gift to the whole world. Yoga is about realizing your own physical, mental, and spiritual potential. Yoga is both preventive as well as therapeutic for health problems.

When and where yoga originated ?

Yoga originated in India, ancient texts says more than about 50000(3000-B.C) years back.

Is there only one Yoga ?

There are different branches in yoga, Karmayoga (The path of selfless work), Bhakti yoga (The path of devotion), Rajayoga (The path of psychological control), and Jnanayoga (The path of knowledge or wisdom). These are the main four paths of yoga and there are also other different paths: they are Tantrayoga, Kundaliniyoga, Mantrayoga, Dhyanayoga, Japayoga Swarayoga………….
The aim of all yoga ultimately is same to get salvation.

What does Hatha yoga mean?

Ha means sun energy’ and ‘Tha means moon energy’, thus to the aim of the Hatha Yoga system is to balance both the energies. Hatha yoga – a system of physical discipline that maintains the body in a clean and healthy condition. These practices are primarily intended for physical health and, for complete control over every muscle and nerve of the body. Hatha yoga is a part of Rajayoga.

Does Yoga help in preventing and curing sports injuries?

Every sport involves vigorous movements. All vigorous activities shorten muscles and make them more susceptible to pulls and strains. It is necessary that the more a person involves himself in intensive and vigorous exercise, the more he needs to stretch.
According to Mr. Herbert A. de Vries has shown the utility of stretching procedures in the prevention of athletic injuries. When athletes exercise vigorously their muscles are injured slightly. With healing ,the affected muscles become shorter and tighter. Such a muscle is more susceptible to injury. Those who do not stretch lack flexibility and are more frequently injured.
In sports like running, the muscles most commonly injured by pulls and strains are the hamstrings and the calf muscles. Athletes competing in running sports should regularly practice stretching.
Athletes engaged in running events should perform at least four asanas to prevent injuries during running events.
These are : Padahastaasana .2. Pashcimaatanaasana,3, Ugraasaa, and Halasana.

How can yoga help me?

Yoga helps in many ways: To strengthen Respiratory system, Digestive system, Cardiovascular system, Nervous System, Hormonal system, and Immune system and it also helps to control weight, improves flexibility, reduces stress etc. These are just a few of the reasons, why so many people become yoga practitioners.
In short, yoga helps physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is a positive science.

Who can do Yoga?

Yoga is for everyone. There is no limit of age , religion, color or sex. Teacher’s guidance is recommended for patients and aged persons. ‘Yoga is a Way of Life’.

What is the best time to do yoga ?

Early morning before 8.00 am is best, but if you want to practice in the evening then after lunch, minimum a four hour break is necessary before doing Yoga.

Do I have to be a vegetarian to practice yoga?

Traditionally yoga diet is vegetarian, If you are a non vegetarian, you have to switch over gradually to get maximum benefit. Kindly note the great Sivananda Swami’s quote , “By the purity of food, follows the purification of the inner nature”.

Do Yogasanas prove beneficial to students of Bharata Natyam?

A student of Bharata Natyam can derive a number of benefits by practicing yogasanas. This will take only a limited time and space.
Asana ensure good health and a sense of buoyancy or lightness of the body. The dancer therefore gains the capacity to perform for a longer time without any sign of tiredness or lethargy. The student practicing yogasanas learns to use his\her body, in a most effortless and graceful manner.
Pranayamas –breathing exercises-bestow better control over the body and mind. Thus ,they help the dancer gain control over the expressions of various emotions. In short, the dancer achieves excellent co-ordination of the body and the mind; Yoga helps to a great extent to shape oneself into a top class performing artiste.

                                   KUMARI SUJATHA SRIVASAN
Reproduced From Kendra Patrika, August 1981 issue

Why I am not getting concentration while doing meditation ?

Concentration can be achieved only over a period of time. In the beginning everyone suffers from this problem, but if you practice positively you can definitely improve.
More over gradually you should follow the ‘Yama Niyama’ (basics of Yoga) for example if you eat wrong food (tamasic food e.g. meat, cigar, liquor), it distracts the mind because we are in the path of violence. Always remember only good food leads to good health.
“By concentration one obtains stability of the mind.” Jain Teaching.

I am a heart patient …. Can yoga help me?

Yes, yoga can help you very much but with proper guidance of a yoga teacher.

How many times a week should I practice?

It is best to practice everyday.

What is Pranayama and its benefits?

Pranyama means breath control or complete control over the vital energy. Pranayama improves lung function, heart function and cognition and helps to develop an integrated personality.

For meditation facing towards which direction is good?

Facing towards East is the best position in meditation. The reason for this is that the earth rotates in that direction and you gain a subtle benefit by facing that way,( for instance, while traveling by train, or on any moving vehicle it is natural to face the direction in which one is traveling).
If you cannot face east, then north is appropriate as there is a magnetic current always flowing towards the North Pole. All positive energy travels towards the North Pole. So, either for meditation or while sleeping, face east or north.

What are the categories in the Asanas?

Front – Bending Postures, Back – Bending Postures, Side – Bending Postures, Sitting Asanas, Standing Asanas, Balancing Asanas, Meditative Asanas, Relaxing Asanas.