Good hatha yoga, its history, uses and benefits essay example

Hatha Yoga, a Sanskrit word to describe basic yoga that makes a person attain mastery over the body’s breathing and composure of the brain. It traces its origins to the 11th century by founder Gorakhnath. It basically pays a lot of attention to the importance of diet, purification of body, soul and spiritual perfection.
Hatha which means sun/moon is the combination of positive/negative, good bad and traces its origins to the Patanjali is the master of yoga dating back to the 5th century who compiled all the information into a coherent set of statements to achieve higher consciousness. Throughout history it has been consistently referred to in the Hindu culture and stories of Mahabharata, religious texts of Vedas and Upanishads. The Vedas came into being around 5000 B. C so did the Upanishads. From explaining the various asanas’ the Vedas also included the correction of internal system of the body and bringing out the central core of human being to the outer world. Taking into account the physical appearance and beauty as done today was never the aim of Yoga or its practitioners. Even the whole yoga as a fitness trend started in the 1960’s with the advent of Bikram Yoga in the western world. This it does by first aligning and correcting the chakras of the body which are the descriptions of the various biological systems of the body.
These chakras are aligned from the centre starting from the coccyx to the crown. Signs of depression, anxiety, sudden happiness or sadness are precursors to malfunctioning of the chakras of the body. An over scheduled, stressed out body filled with negative energies leads to the blocking of chakras. These blocked chakras then go on to muddle our energies. Opened chakras help in the cyclical run of energy from the crown to the coccyx. Even one weak chakra leads to illness and fatigue setting in and needs to be corrected. These chakras are related to emotions and organs of the human body.
The first chakra is connected with the root and kidney, large intestines of the body. The emotional chakra is below the navel and connected to the reproductive system. In the same manner, the fourth chakra is the heart chakra and is connected with the power of love, the fifth chakra corresponds to voice, lungs and throat and finally the seventh chakra is the crown of the head and is in connection with the divine. These chakras are also recognized by certain colors like red, blue and violet.
The yoga class starts with basic meditation to focus the mind such that it pays attention even to the minute movements of the body. Meditation has shown to help people relive tension and stress related to an over worked lifestyle. For this to take maximum effect one has to pay attention to the place they are sitting in. Choose a quiet uncluttered corner in a room, the terraces, and rooftops are considered best for meditative practices. They are different types of meditation techniques.
One such way is the Hong-Sau technique. Here after deep inhalation and exhalation exercise of breathing a person has to become aware of the natural flow of one’s breath through the body and out. Focus on the point between the brows and repeat the mantras of Hong-Sau while meditating which translates to “ I am Spirit”. After this start to observe your breath as you go deeper into relaxation, enjoy your pauses as meditative cleansing state and let not your focus wander. Doing this for 5-10 minutes for beginners is a good start and reaching a state of stillness is to be achieved. This helps in opening chakras and clarifying the brain of its negativity.

What follows next are the breathing techniques

The diaphragmatic breathing is the basic foundation of the body. Relaxing as much as possible it aims to provide oxygen to deepest corners of the lung expanding lungs and abdomen to its fullest capacity. This technique itself has gone onto relax the confused mind and give the body necessary oxygen level to move into the postures which would help in the alignment and act as a start up for the various muscles. The more oxygen one has the more purified will be the cells and the blood that will enrich the hemoglobin thereby improving the overall health of the body. In this way more toxins would come out as one exhale with the carbon dioxide.
Moreover they are many other breathing techniques like double breath, measured breathing, solar and lunar breath. Each technique has their amounts of inhales with measured exhaled. Mudras are applied here to close either of the nostrils to practice either alternate breathing or holding onto breath counts to help in the relaxation of the mind and the body. Controlled inhaled, hold and exhale techniques are practiced here. The lunar breath calms the nervous system whereas the solar breath activates and energizes it. Alternate practice of solar and lunar breathing has helped in clearing of thoughts, sinuses and prevention of migraines.
A basic warm up routine gets the body into the mood for deeper stretches and more complex movements. Warm up help the body not to go into muscle stretch shock which may result if one dives into all the posture without giving the body a warm up. These include alternate movements of the body balancing exercise like forward back ward bends, knee shoulder joint relaxations, slow hip and waist rotators and supine hip lifts. These help in the flexibility of cartilages and better distribution of synovial fluids. One has to make sure the body is balanced with movements, absorption/release; seated and standing; breathing and exhalation.
Before starting the postures one has to choose a comfortable sitting position whether on the floor, chair or on the ground. Yoga mats are extremely helpful for those comfortable in their standing position, for those with pain in the joint a comfortable chair would suffice. It is also best to practice in loose clothes that help in the movement of body and air throughout helping in the relaxation. Yoga is also best practices in early morning on an empty stomach. Meditation for 10 minutes and warm ups for another 10 completely set the body for deeper study into yoga.
Yoga postures can start with a sun salutation that reenergize and activate most of the muscles of the body. It starts with a Standing Namaskar, a forward bend, lunge, downward dog, cobra and then all these in reverse. Other than working out all the muscles, multiple Surya Namaskar help in weight loss and is beneficial to the digestive, respiratory and nervous system of the body where it connects the heart to the solar plexus whose expansion and contractions are extremely helpful in removing negative emotion. It strengthens the back, thigh muscles; a downward bend bring blood flow to the brain and reenergizes the body. This cyclical exercise like the cycle of the sun and various other repetitive observations helps one connect the mind to the world which also runs in cycles whether it night/day, seasons of the year or days and weeks.
After this we begin the seated asanas, they align the back and work different muscle groups. The Butterfly pose is lovely for thigh relaxation whereas the boat pose tries to loosen and relax the hip muscles and opens the hip sockets. Cat and cow poses help once spine open up in bends making us more flexible. Another good spine exercise is the pigeon and simultaneously it also works on the triceps and forearms. The child pose opens the back muscles and is great for relaxation with outstretched hands is a great stress buster.
The floor asanas have a calming effect giving clarity of the mind. These would be the twists, bows, cobras, dolphins and planks. Other than straightening the alignment of the body the plank poses are a great workout for the core and arms. These are the poses where the body and mind reach clarity of balancing on the arms and hands. The cobra pose opens the heart and makes it work in a way that helps it to pump blood in a more organized manner. The supine twist massages the abdominal muscles. The leg raises works out the abdomens and helps in trimming down the waist, a problem that is being faced by a large majority of teenagers. The bridge pose has been extremely helpful in working out the buttocks and hamstrings, calming the brain and stimulating the lung and thyroid glands. It has reduced backache and fatigue considerably.
Then come the standing poses. These workout the thigh and upper thigh muscles, energizes the body, vitalizes the muscles and organs of the body and helps the brain focus on important element. They are extremely beneficial for the massaging of joints and ligaments reliving stress in patients with arthritis and osteoporosis. They also teach balance, open the hips, flex the spine muscles and are beneficial strengthening exercises of the legs. The moon poses are great for opening of the rib cage helping in deeper breathing techniques. Continuous practice of these exercise also help in improving the will power of the body and heart to align, straighten and hold. Care needs to be taken into account while doing the chair poses; people with knee/joint ailments should preferably avoid standing chair try to knee relaxation exercises while sitting in a chair or stool. The warrior pose strengthens the entire body and is considered as the middle point of achieving overall strength.

Yoga and its Benefits

Though it sounds repetitive to keep on saying the same benefits for most of the poses, most of it holds true.
– Deepened yoga helps in the growth of the individual. Focussing on these poses allows an individual to look inward, draw out energy from all chakras such that power emanates from the core of the individual.
– Yoga increases the flexibility and alignment of the body improving posture and reducing muscular and joint pain.
– All the combined breathing techniques improve the lung function by increasing oxygen carrying capacity of the cells to the different parts of heart, lungs and diaphragm. Increased oxygen leads to increased stamina and endurance level of muscles of the heart and the body.
– A better heart rate means lowered blood pressure increased endurance and better oxygen uptake during exercise.
– It makes the yogi more rooted in the earth, grounding of negation and belief in self love, harmony and attainment of inner peace becomes the final goal.
– A calm centered behavior removes stress relaxes the temple points and infuses a quality of happiness because these poses massages the glands, leading to secretion of healthy hormones.
– The practice of yoga is not just different physical poses but has to become a lifestyle choice and used in physical speech, actions, ones purification of thoughts with inner strength and will.
– Attainment of the wisdom of life can also be brought about with these changes in breathing and calm inducing savasana pose and positive affirmations.
– As stated in the essay the yoga poses help in massaging the internal organs, leading them to function well, releasing the toxins through sweat and urine making our body more purified, improving digestion by massaging the stomach and intestines and maintenance of weight contributing to a person’s overall health.
– Moreover yoga also helps in the proper functioning of glands with their breathing techniques and holding poses. When the glands are functioning well, the hormones are released accordingly which lead to better overall behavior, lesser mood swings and healthy weight maintenance.
– Yoga asana burn calories leading to healthy weight loss and control of stress eating habits as deep breathing decreases the stress inducing hormones.
– Increase in memory, focus, concentration and better brain function is also noticed in yoga practitioners.
– Yoga also strengthens and tones the muscles giving it not just shape but better balancing and weight bearing strength a highly beneficial point in today’s busy world.
– Yogis experience a true sense of happiness coming from the higher beliefs with reinforcing of compassionate behavior.

The complete realization of yoga is through the eight stages of belief and self control attained through

– Yama-Moral restraint preventing wrong or hurtful actions
– Niyama- Qualities of higher self about virtue and righteousness
– Asana-A steady straight aligned position for meditation or practice of postures
– Pranayama-Control of energy in the body, breathing techniques to open the chakras
– Pratyahara-Divert the energy from the body to the brain to arise self consciousness
– Dharana-A no disturbance stage of the mind and concentration on one thought
– Dhyana-Stage of peace, calmness serenity and wisdom
– Samdhi-Ego is dissolved and identity becomes one with the universe.
– Yoga is highly beneficial to both children and adults alike. The older generation with arthritis will regain mobility and muscle agility with improved blood circulation.
– A flexible child is less prone to injuries and is more attuned to balancing if he or she is a practitioner of yoga.
– Yoga during pregnancy has led to easier labor for many and is god for the unborn baby too, if done under medical supervision.
– Along with developing self discipline yoga is great for sports persons as it increases muscle endurance and stamina. Yoga stretches are great for a warm up before a game and is a great way to replenish ones energies.
– Swimmers, Badminton and Tennis players all employ a part of yoga in their fitness routines these days.
“ Hatha Yoga has grown in popularity in the West as a form of exercise that develops strength, flexibility, bodily relaxation, and mental concentration. The main criterion here is to awaken dormant energies leading to enlightenment.”

Direction of Thinking and Precautionary measure while doing yoga

Practicing yoga should never be for the fun of it at least at the start because then it defeats the entire purpose of stress relief, clarity of mind and positive thinking. It is pretty obvious that benefits may not begin to show immediately but having patience and perseverance pays of here. The benefits of yoga are more of internal than external, it’s the start of a healthy way of functioning of the body. Have positive affirmations as to what ones goals are, repeat them every day. This also brings about a harmony between the mind and the body. This may sound hollywoodesque but in the end it really helps. Yoga tones the entire body giving the arms and thighs a toned definition. A good body outlook will always add to ones confidence levels. Any failure or setbacks should not be seen as a defeat but one step closer to the success you want to achieve. Yoga also helps in practicing determination towards one life’s goals; these can be towards ones health, career, a relationship goal or simply a choice in life which the world may not think to be an ideal one. Wear comfortable clothing, no jewellery or make up. Start on an empty stomach keeping in mind your health conditions may be different. One size fits all doesn’t work here, being aware of one’s medical conditions and taking it slow and easy is always the best route.
Yoga stretching or poses should never make one uncomfortable, knowing your body limits is the key here, do not push beyond a certain level, nobody wants injuries to an already weak body. Moreover ones and injury takes place, medical opinion must be sought and the body needs to be given time to heal on its own strength and difficult yoga poses should be avoided less the injury gets aggravated. It is not necessary to complete all the poses at one go. With calm do the ones that make you comfortable and take it from there, holding and relaxing in postures is what helps in the end. Moreover never do any jerky back or knee movement, these can aggravate existing injuries beyond heal and repair. Alignment is what counts in yoga, straightened backs, arms and foot is always a sign that you are going in the right direction. All through these poses practice slow controlled breathing, this would always make yoga more effective and also brings about a fresh glow on the face, breathing techniques tend increase facial flow of blood leading to an inner happiness and glow shining through.
In my personal experience though I have still not attained the highest level of consciousness, it has made me more aware of myself. The realization through a stable peaceful mind that it is more important to love myself before expecting others to love me has made me more calm and serene. It brought a level of patience that wasn’t there before and taught me that sometimes you just have to wait a while to see the actual good in any situation which by the way is present in all cases.
Yoga also brings us to view other people problems from their point of view increasing the compassion and empathetic nature in ourselves. It has also made me learn never to give up on other discouraging opinions, rather I see them as a positive critique, which may or may not help me solve my issues. If it does, well and good, if it doesn’t then no problem, life goes on in a much more fruitful manner if delusions don’t set in. There are decisions in everyone’s life’s that go wrong, mistakes are made but learning to introspect on them has been more helpful than dwelling on the bad with a morose behavior, as it is nobody’s perfect.
Life moves on more smoothly if one leaves their trust in the higher authorities and give everything their best shot, not every aspect of one’s life can be within our control, it’s always best to let go of some things and the ones that are beyond us. The postures have made me more agile and flexible and usually I wake up with a more content mind than ever before.

References

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