Many people are initially attracted to Hatha Yoga because of its ability to relieve the effects of stress, but Yoga offers much more. Western doctors and scientists are discovering the health benefits of Hatha Yoga. Widely proven studies show that Hatha Yoga can resolve symptoms of many common and potentially harmful diseases, such as arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, asthma, and obesity. Hatha Yoga provides a way to slow down premature aging. “Pain and suffering are the cries of the body and mind calling for attention.”"
Three Essential Steps
1. ASANA. Derived from Sanskrit, its root means “to stay”, “to be”, “to settle oneself”, or “to establish oneself in a particular position.” The term refers specifically to all the postures or exercises of Yoga which promote flexibility, and which fortify the skeleton and the muscular, glandular and nervous systems. The spine functions as the focal point of many of the postures, all of which require an attentive awareness, stability, firmness and the ability to surrender to gravity. Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, describes Asana as the place upon which the student sits or stands, and that both of them – the student and the posture – are firm and relaxed.
2. PRANAYAMA. Concerning the practice of breathing, where Prana, air or vital energy, is contained and balanced. Yama is the control and direction of that energy and it is acquired by conscious inhalation, retention of the breath, and exhalation. Continuous practice regulates and harmonizes the breath and its rhythm. The dynamic strength behind relaxation in Yoga comes from Pranayama, or awareness of the breath, which increases physical and mental energy by liberating the mind from its continuous current of random thoughts. For thousands of years, eastern doctors have believed that breath is the most important factor of health.
3. MEDITATION. Just as water takes the form of the vessel in which it is contained, so the mind takes the form provided to it by its continuous thoughts and ideas provide. In meditation, the physical body, the breath, the senses, the mind, the intellect, and the ego are all integrated in the object of contemplation. You can choose the path which is right for you; your dedication will determine the rate of your progress. He who looks outside himself is dreaming; he who looks within by using Mantra Yoga Meditation is awakening.
Yoga is a Blessing
Yoga is preventive as well as therapeutic. It is one of the few types of exercise which invert the body, such as in the shoulder or headstand postures. To regularly place the body upside down defies gravity and carries the blood to parts of the body which are hungry for oxygen and nutrition. Yoga postures stretch and relax the muscles and appropriately align the body, given hyper-fatigued muscles an opportunity to relax. By means of appropriate alignment, problems can be avoided before they occur, and pre-existing imbalances caused by bad posture can be corrected.
• It promotes flexibility of the spine and joints.
• It strengthens and tones the muscles.
• It stimulates the glands of the endocrine systems.
• It improves digestion. • It increases circulation.
• It relaxes the nervous sytem. • It increases strength and energy.
• It lowers cholesterol and blood sugar.
• It increases body awareness.
Hatha Yoga has a physiological basis for calming and quieting the mind. Anxiety produces a fight response, which leads to actual physiological responses, such as the release of hormones, adrenaline in particular, producing shallow breathing, muscular tension and a rapid heartbeat. Yoga interrupts this mechanism by calming a busy and agitated mind, and providing a stabilizing influence.