Yoga: The path to inner peace
An insight journey at Paramanand Ashram, India.)
Modern day life is quite demanding. There are many responsibilities we have to fulfill – work, family, social as well personal obligations etc. The days are crammed with a long list of tasks. Some of us are online all the time – phones, computers, iPads, etc. Or, sourrounded by action, noises, people and traffic, thus our mind is constantly busy. To find silence and peace can be difficult – especially inner peace. Some of us are so busy and stressed that we do not take the time to care for ourselves. Many people find a hobby like bicycling, dancing or painting to balance themselves, others start doing Yoga. But what is Yoga and how does one find inner peace through it?
In western countries you will find many studios and places offering Yoga classes, specializing in all kinds of Yoga such as Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Yoga for your back, Yoga for pregnant women and so on. Yoga is so popular that there are even fairs, festivals and retreats, just for Yoga, where you can buy everything related to Yoga from mats, clothes to musical instruments. But do people really know what Yoga is? They may tell you that Yoga is about exercises; stretching, balancing or entering acrobatic postures. If you ask some men, they will tell you that it is something only for women. Attending a class for example, in Germany and many western countries, you get the impression that mainly women participate. However, contrary to popular belief and social stigmas, Yoga is for everybody – no matter which age, gender, sex or physical shape and fitness level.
Yoga is much more than these assumptions and social stereotypes. The practice is thousands and thousands of years old. As mentioned in ancient scriptures, Yoga means the union of your body, mind and soul. It means to balance and discipline yourself. Yoga is awareness and harmony. But what does that mean and how do we implement this in our daily lives? Yoga Philosophy describes our mind as a wave, which constantly moves and flows with desires, thoughts, worries, fears, expectations etc. It is the source of all sorrows, sufferings and problems in our lives. When our desires are not fulfilled or dissolved, we are dissatisfied, which leads to sorrows and sufferings. Yoga helps you gain control of your mind and thoughts, resulting in inner peace and a deeper connection with yourself.
Yoga includes, besides the postures (Asanas), Breathing techniques (Pranayama) and Meditation (Dhyana). Asanas stretch and strengthen your body, remove stiffness, blockages, tones and corrects false postures. When your body becomes more flexible and strong, blood circulation and the function for your inner organs will improve. You are healthier, happier and will feel connected to your body. Naturally, you will adopt a healthier lifestyle with better food, plentiful sleep etc. to support the benefits of Yoga.
Practicing Asanas works at first on the physical level, while Pranayama cleans our nadis. Nadis are invisible energy channels, which flow through our body. There are 72.000 Nadis. The most important Nadis among them are Ida, Pingala and Sushuma. They are located and move around the spinal cord. Pranayama redirects the energy flow through various breathing techniques. It controls the life force energy flowing within the body. By directing the flow of energy in the body through the breath, you can act with intention on parts of your system e.g. if you are in an Asana where you stretch your spine and focus your breath, on the spine, to enter deeper into the posture. Another example is, calming down your mind through focusing on your breath. In this way, Pranayama becomes a valuable tool for controlling your mind and thoughts. The aim of Yoga is, to develop harmony in moving your body and breathe together. In that way, you will be able to relax within the Asana and enter into a meditative state, here, your awareness focuses inward. By doing this, you will become more concentrated, balanced, centered within yourself, relaxed and happy.
Through Meditation you calm your mind, observing your thoughts and emotions with awareness. Meditation is about purification, balancing and transformation. There are countless benefits of meditation on physiological, psychological and spiritual level, as one transcends body, mind, senses and emotions during meditation. Some benefits include: reducing anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches and migraines, stress levels, the immune power improves, reduces phobia and fears, increases creativity, self-confidence, emotional stability improves, removes insomnia, awareness grows and peace of mind increases.Thoughts and emotions become balanced and transformed. The deeper you meditate, the more you will move from identifying with your self-limiting concepts into the realm of oneness, wholeness and integration – that is the heart of Yoga. Yoga is the experience of union.
The holistic approach of Yoga towards body, mind and soul makes this path to inner peace so unique. It is attainable for everybody and so needed in modern daily life. If you wish not to merely function as a machine, start taking care for yourself and find your balance and inner peace in your life.
Yoga is about action. So start now! Try and practice Yoga on a daily basis for just 30 minutes and find out the positive effects yourself. It will change your life!
Sameera (sananda) is from Germany. Professional journalist. RYT500.
Full of divine yogic experiences.