For those of you who practice yoga, but have never done much research into how it came about, I have put together an informative post about the Yoga Sutra for an educational segment of our "Year of Yoga" series. Though you may recognize yoga as an alternative workout, or a peaceful way to break a sweat, the practice actually originated in India with the Hindu religion. The root of "Yoga" is found in hymn 5.81.1 of the Rig Veda, a dedication to rising Sun-god in the morning. The texts explaining the Yoga school of Hindu philosophy include both a theory of values through the observances of positive values and avoidance of negative, as well as an aesthetic theory on bliss from intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives.The values to be observed are called Niyamas, while those to be avoided are called Yamas in Yoga philosophy.
Have you ever felt completely exhausted, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed? I can imagine everyone has experienced this at some point, as I know I certainly have -- how do you cope? There are medications you can take or immerse yourself with distractions, but do these ever address the root cause of your feelings? If not, give yoga a try. Though I cannot promise that it will be the solution to all of your problems, it can help in many ways that will allow your mind and body to operate on an optimal level to tackle any challenge head on. Improved flexibility, better circulation, improving posture, strengthening muscles, protects your bones, increases heart rate, boosts immunity -- the list goes on to cite countless health benefits associated with the practice.
Whether it be mental, physical, or spiritual health, you can enhance your whole self with the practice of yoga and the study of its sutra. Being aligned in both mind and body creates a state of happiness, one that does not need constant replenishment in the form of short term rewards. This practice encourages awareness, which in turn mediates reckless behavior. Personally my yoga practice has encouraged me to spend more wisely, voting with my dollar for businesses that I believe in and products that promote a sustainable lifestyle. When I shop for clothing or accessories I prefer to buy fewer, better things. No longer am I swayed by marketing techniques that try to teach -- just one more purchase, one more thing I need to be happy. Instead I take pleasure in knowing that my decisions are deliberate, my happiness comes from taking actions to support my beliefs and make a positive impact on the Earth.
Using yoga as a method of encouraging self awareness can have countless benefits for you and the environment in which you live. In closing I will leave you with a quote from the Yoga Sutra:
"...having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (atman), within oneself."