Meaning and Significance of Yogic Asanas
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Yoga

Yoga Body Exercises or Asanas.

Yoga Asanas are the practice of yogic exercises that are designed to keep the body in a state of maximum physical fitness and to maintain optimum mental equilibrium. Yoga Asanas are a way of life while submitting to the methodology of yoga. But yoga is a practice that is not solely dependent upon yoga asanas. Yoga can be practiced in many different ways. This has been covered in details in the section of Different Styles of Yoga.

The basic fundamental of all styles of yoga lies in the fact that the body is to be used as a medium to experience the divine. The meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ is unification. Thus, what yoga really means is that, it is a methodology where a human experiences communion with the Almighty. The human body is used as a means to achieve this. Yoga Asanas or Yoga Exercises are physical exercises designed to meet the requirement of keeping the body healthy and the mind sound so that the final amalgamation with the divine becomes a possibility.

Yoga Asanas or Yoga Exercises give absolute health to the body. A healthy body is definitely needed to experience the merger with the divine. Also the discipline needed to be followed while practicing yoga asanas makes the person more controlled in his habits and desires. There is also a factor of keeping the diet under control and so the person generally exercises discretion in all aspects of his life. This further enhances the possibility of leading a disease free life. The discipline and health thus attained are also considered very imperative while experiencing the ultimate merger with the divine.

Also contradicting the general belief that yoga asanas are basically meant to lead a sagely life and the people practicing them should renounce the world, it is best said that yoga asanas are meant to give complete control to the mind and body. They are designed so as to provide a wholesome and healthy existence. A person suffering from any ailments cannot really enjoy life. The period of existence given to a person on this earth is his lifespan. The nature and God desires that a person enjoys his lifespan and understands all the pleasures the existence entails. But a person suffering from ailments cannot do any of these things. He cannot derive pleasure from his surroundings. He may not be interested in observing the beauty and creativity of the nature surrounding him. He will certainly not be in a position to enjoy himself. So yoga asanas are recommended that a person attains the state of positive physical and mental balance wherein he can enjoy all the pleasures of existence. Yoga Asanas therefore do not recommend saintliness; they make a person acquire an affirmative balance.

It is an old adage that ‘a healthy mind lives in a healthy body’. The concept of yoga asanas or yoga exercises believes that since all the blood vessels in the body are interlinked, if one part of the body is diseased the other also cannot remain without getting affected. Similarly if one indulges only in the enhancement of the brain and pays little or no attention to the body, the brain will also not be able to remain in a healthy state for a very long time. Yoga Asanas are exercises that are designed to accomplish coordination between the mind and the different systems of the body. All these systems are inter- connected and are represented at the minutest levels by numerous cells. They are flushed with blood that takes the vital oxygen and reaches to them so that they can continue with their numerous processes of creation, regeneration and other systematic functions. This can continue in the normal way only in a healthy body. Yoga Asanas provide considerable exercise to all the systems of the body thus facilitating the process of functioning at the cellular levels.

Yoga also believes in the existence of an ethereal system of Chakras in the human body. These are centers of control of all physical systems. Kundalini is pure raw energy in serpentine form, which is aroused through the yogic practices of Kundalini yoga and is taken to various chakras in a controlled fashion. This enhances all the physical systems of the body and the practitioner gets a taste of supreme spirituality and mental harmony. Many yoga asanas strengthen the chakras and give enhanced control to the practitioner over them. The additional muscular strength attained after regular practice of yoga asanas helps the person in controlling the kundalini once it gets aroused. It is recommended that yoga asanas be practiced for at least two years before attempting kundalini yoga.

The human being is the ultimate symbol of consciousness. He is the only creature that has been given the power to think. Other creatures are also blessed with a brain, but their brain can only contemplate that what is necessary for survival. Humans can actually ponder over matters, revel in good memories, get inspired by great thoughts, be determined and success oriented and imbibe and cultivate many positive thought processes for their advancement. Yoga Asanas help an individual cultivate a good body and train the mind for better forms of contemplation like meditation.

It is believed by the ancient texts that there are as many types of yoga asanas as there are number of species. According to the ancient Hindu mythology this number is believed to be eighty four lakhs, one lakh being ten million. Many of the asanas are based on animal postures and derive the extreme physical abilities and perceptions of the animals. They are believed to make a human being far superior in his capabilities if he masters them all.

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