Yoga is an intelligent system designed to improve one’s life on the physical, mental and spiritual planes. Although conventional scientists may disagree, ancient yogis refer to yoga as a science due to its formal, systematic and rational approach to obtaining knowledge that reveals and transforms the Self. Even though mainstream media and research tends to focus on the physical and healing effects of yoga, the benefits of yoga go far beyond. This makes yoga a “complete” system in many ways, ideal for the increasing number of people who are choosing a holistic path to health and wellbeing. The yogis will tell you that there isn’t much of anything that yoga can’t provide (besides emergency medical care). However, yoga is meant to ultimately be a pathway for attaining spiritual enlightenment (or Samadhi), the coming together of the Universe (macrocosm) and the individual being (microcosm). In other words, its goal is the triumph of consciousness over ignorance.
In order to understand what yoga is, it’s important to also understand what it is not. Yoga is not a religion, dogma, theology or set of beliefs. Yoga is available to everyone, because nature and consciousness belongs to all of humanity. Yoga puts you into resonance with the Universal energy (the sun, earth, etc.), which requires a “tuning in” on the part of the student. This is why concentration and intention are integral parts of the yoga practice for successfully producing desired results. By learning to discipline the mind and attuning to the energy centers in the body (chakras) responsible for the results you seek, yoga is a very effective system for just about any objective or goal one might have. Below are the 4 main reasons for practicing yoga (which can also be defined as the effects of yoga) so that one may understand the wide array of pathways that exist within yoga.
1. Physical Benefits
It’s widely known through numerous scientific studies that yoga is very beneficial for energizing, rejuvenating, revitalizing and offering healing support for the body. Although there are varying levels of acceptance in relation to the extent of physical benefits (or miracles) yoga can provide, yoga has been shown to be helpful for just about any ailment one might incur – digestive, respiratory, reproductive, degenerative, mental, physical, etc. To determine a sequence to target a specific health condition, it’s important to consult a guru or yoga teacher.
2. Quality of Life Benefits
Many people turn to yoga for it’s relaxing benefits. In today’s world, people carry a lot of stress in just about every area of life. Yoga can be a great way to disconnect for the duration of the class and release some of the habitual thinking patterns that cause worry in our day-to-day lives. Yoga is also effective for increasing vitality, improving athletic performance, raising self-confidence, opening the heart to be more giving and receptive of love, refining memory/concentration/intelligence, creating more peace in one’s life, providing inspiration, and aspiring towards excellence.
3. Spiritual Benefits
Even though there are many people who don’t choose to do yoga for spiritual reasons, it’s commonly known that yoga offers a spiritual path for those seeking. Yoga is an excellent way to uncover answers to questions like “who am I?”, “where do I come from?”, “where am I going?” and “why am I here?”. Human beings are the only “conscious” beings on earth who have the ability to ask these types of questions. Most people, whether spiritual or not, can recognize the “I” within themselves that never goes away despite environmental and physical changes throughout life. Understanding the “observer” inside each of us is one of the primary objectives of a person seeking to know himself or herself and make sense of existence from a spiritual perspective. There are many practices within yoga that assist with this process.
4. Development of Paranormal Abilities
Finally, although much less conventional and likely misunderstood by the general public, some people partake in yoga with the desire to develop paranormal abilities such as telepathy, psychic ability and other forms of parapsychology. Contradictory to many, yogis don’t believe that these abilities are abnormal. Rather they believe that self-discipline and commitment can lead to mastery in these areas if one so chooses. For some this provides confirmation that they have advanced along their spiritual path or that they’ve been given a blessing to help them better understand the nature of the Divine. However, in general, yogis are encouraged not to partake in yoga for the sole reason of developing these “siddhis” as they are called. Instead it is suggested that they view them as by-products of their spiritual practice and to be careful with the ego’s investment in these abilities.
Published On: March 14, 2013