The Yogic Path to Inner Peace
Yoga is a life of self discipline based on the tenets of "simple living and high thinking". To the ancient Yogis, the body was seen as a vehicle for the soul and this is a useful metaphor in the modern context. Just as a car requires a lubricating system, a battery, a cooling system, the proper fuel and a responsible driver behind the wheel, the body has certain needs if it is to function smoothly.
We shall drive along the "Five Points of Yoga" path as devised by Swami Vichnu-devananda of India at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Canada. The eastern philosphy reformed for the western world. These five points are Proper Exercise (asanas), Proper Breathing (Pranayama), Proper Relaxation(Savanasana), Proper Diet (Vegetarian) and Positive Thinking and Mediation (vedanta and dhyana).
In Yoga, the physical exercises called "asanas" are nonviolent and provide a gentle stretching that acts to lubricate the bodies system of joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and many other parts of the body. Asanas help to tone the nervous system, improve circulation, release tension and increase flexibility. When performed in a slow and relaxed manner, they are designed to develop more than just the physical body. They also broaden the mental faculties and enhance the spiritual capabilites. Asanas make up the third limb, or step, in the Raja Yoga system.
The second point, Yogic Breathing, or pranayama, is deep breathing that helps cleanse and nourish the physical body. As you inhale fully, you are supplying an abundance of oxygen, an element that is essential to every cell in the body. As you exhale, the waste products are being expelled. Breathing also helps to connect the body to it´s battery - the solar plexus, where tremendous potential energy is stored. When tapped through special
Yogic breath techniques (pranayama), this vital energy or prana, is released for physical and mental rejuvenation. There are many types of yogic breathing such as abdominal breathing, full yogic breath, alternate nostril breathing and kapalabhati - a practice that is considered to be so cleansing to the entire sytem that when practised on a regular basis the face shines with good health and radiance.
Proper Relaxation is the third point in our drive along the Five Points of Yoga. When the body and mind are continually overworked and stressed, their natural efficiency diminishes. Rest and relaxation are nature´s ways of giving the body a chance to recharge. Like the radiator of a car, they cool down the system. Yogic methods retrain the mind and muscles to relax completely and relaxation methods are utilized throughout a healthy asana exercise practice as exampled of child´s pose or corpse pose.
The fourth point along the path is the vegetarian diet. A meat free diet enables the body to obtain the maximum benefit from food, air, water and sunlight. The yogic diet consists of foods that are easily digested and promote good health. As well as being simple, natural and wholesome, it takes into account the subtle effect that food has on the mind and on the astral body. Followers of a Yogic diet find themselves attaining a high standard of health, a keen intellect and serenity of mind.
Here´s our final destination along the Five Points of Yoga as devised by Swami Vichnu-devananda of India at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Canada ... where the eastern philosphy of Sivanada was transformed to the western world. Positive Thinking and Meditation is comparable to vehicles requiring an intelligent driver. The body needs a balanced mind that can stay in control. Regular meditation will help you achieve this; your mind will become clearer and more focused, and your ability to concentrate will improve. There are meditation tools to help you along your path, like a japa mala (a string of 108 beads to keep count of your mantra repetitions), or a candle to focus on to keep in the moment and concentrate. Positive thinking will purify the intellect and you will begin to experience wisdom and inner peace.