Yoga is set of spiritual practices and exercises, which had originated in ancient India. Yoga is a very common term in Hinduism. Yoga has not only influenced Hinduism, but several other religious and spiritual practices across the world. Apart from India, Yoga is considered as an ancient art of exercise that was practiced by the means of asanas of Hatha Yoga throughout the globe. Hatha Yoga is a popular form of exercise within the Indian aesthetics and monks. There are some major branches of Yoga, which are Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
There are several ancient Hindu texts that had described the different postures of Yoga, which are included in the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Shiva Samhita, and many other Hindu texts.
The practice of Yoga has eight different aspects known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga, they are
- Yama or the five abstentions: Truth, chastity, nonviolence, non-covetousness, and abstain from property attachments
- Niyama or five observances: Contentment, study, austerities, purity, and surrender to god
- Asana or seat: It is the seated posture for meditation
- Pranayama or lengthening the life force: It the form of vital energy or the breath
- Pratyahara or abstraction: Process of detaching the sensory organs from the external world
- Dharana or concentration: Focusing the mind on a particular sphere
- Dhyana or meditation: It is the highest degree of thoughtfulness about the particular sphere
- Samadhi or liberation: The merging of the meditation with the consciousness of the individual
Asana is an ancient form of exercise and inseparable part of yoga. The asana are related to the history and cultural traditions of India. There are various types of asana, which are practiced. Asana is an extension of yoga that depends on the anatomy of the human body and its different postures. The postures help the body to be fit and to maintain a high degree of mobility. The knowledge of the science of yoga and the human body is important for an individual to practice yoga through the asana. The main idea of yoga is to bring the body under the control of the mind and the focus in yoga helps in attaining the mind control.
Focus is an important concept in the science of yoga. Focus is the technique used to bring the mind under the control of the individual person. The focus is known as the drishti in yoga. While practicing yoga the focus serves two different means, first of the focus expresses the action and the energy of the yoga being performed and secondly the focus helps in concentrating the mind. The focus is also used as a technique for teaching the different methods of mind control.
Mudra is the graceful movements and gesture of the hands, which is an important part of the yoga. The Mudra has special meanings and it is a visual form of depicting something. The more important advantage of the mudra is that the mudra helps in directing the flow of energy of the body to the parts where it is required. The mudras are known to relax the brain of any kind of tensions. The hand is divided into various parts and the each of them depicts a particular function of the mind and the body. The graceful movements such as curling, crossing, flexing and touching of the fingers as well as the hands are highly expressive in nature.