We strive for healthy living and a sense of balance in our lives. We focus on physical fitness in order to maintain a sense of well-being. Being physically fit is only part of the puzzle to gaining optimum health. Mental health, emotional health and spiritual health integrated with our physical well-being provide complete balance and nourishment of body, mind and most importantly, the soul.
In this day of deadlines and stress, our general state of health is compromised on a daily basis. Providing equal maintenance of physical, mental and emotional health is the key to relieving stress, to reducing physical ailments and injuries and to experiencing contentment with all that we do. This union of integrated health is achieved with Yoga. Yoga means “to yoke together” or “to unite” and so with regular practice of Yoga, the body, the mind and the soul unite together to provide a thorough workout that ensures ideal health and well-being.
Our thoughts and actions determine our state of well-being. Our emotional state can determine our physical well-being. Maintaining positive thoughts and balancing our emotions have an immediate effect on our physical state. Only Yoga provides the medium for exercising and balancing health on all these levels.
When practicing the numerous asanas, (Sanskrit term for poses), that include standing poses, balances, forward bends, back bends, twists, inversions, prone and supine postures, the body is exercised fully. Yoga postures do not only exercise the outer layer of the body but internally too on all the internal organs and most essentially, the heart, the lungs, the brain and the cerebral spinal system. Together with the physiological maintenance of all the systems the practice of Yoga poses also activate and balance the astral body by focusing on the Chakras or Energy centers of the body. The main ones being:
Muladhara Chakra = The Root Chakra whose inner aspect focuses primarily on grounding spiritual energies. The physical action centers on sexuality; the mental actions focuses on stability; the emotional action is that of sensuality and its spiritual action dwells on security.
Svadisthana Chakra = The Sacral Chakra which deals with relationships, including sexual relationships and how we deal with others thus the inner theme is feeling. Its physical action is reproduction; mental action is creativity; the emotional actions centers on joy and the spiritual actions focuses on enthusiasm.
Manipura Chakra = The Naval Chakra is primarily concerned with the relationship with one’s self thus the energy is that of self power, self confidence and self esteem. The physical action is based on digestion; the mental action is that of power; the emotional aspect that of expansiveness and the spiritual action is centered on growth.
The Anahata Chakra = The Heart Chakra is the centre of all the energy centers that link the physical chakras already mentioned with the spiritual chakras that follow above from it. The heart chakra focus on compassion and love for one self, love for others and love for the Divine. The physical aspect of Anahata is that of circulation; the mental action concerns passion and the spiritual action dwells on devotion.
The Vishuddha Chakra = The Throat Centre that deals primarily with communication, most importantly truthful and non harming communication with oneself and with others. The mental action is that of clear thoughts whilst the spiritual aspect concerns security.
The Ajna Chakra – The Eyebrow Centre is the centre for intuition, knowledge and wisdom that allows for an emotional action of clarity and the spiritual action of meditation.
The Sahasrara Chakra = The Crown Centre whose physical action is that of meditation and most importantly this practice leads to a connection with the Divine.
When one begins a Yoga class, initially the main reason is based purely on physical aspects of exercise, stretching, toning and becoming healthier. This reason to explore Yoga is indeed a valid one because a Yoga practice does in fact provide physical health. The beauty about Yoga is that from this physical practice one begins to realize that Yoga is also working on the sub conscious levels and with regular practice, one feels a sense of mental and emotional serenity developing and enhancing one’s entire being. From that there is a feeling of being more connected with oneself and this in itself is the spiritual connection that one may seek or naturally finds along the path because the practice of yoga is after all a journey of self discovery and connecting with one’s higher self.
So is the physical movement of Yoga a spiritual process in itself? From very personal experience and that shared with fellow teachers and many beautiful students, the answer is abundantly clear, and as the master, B.K.S. Iyengar himself wrote:
“Where does the body end and the mind begin? Where does the mind end and the spirit begin? They cannot be divided as they are interrelated and but different aspects of the same all pervading divine consciousness.”
Discover the gift of integrated health with Yoga and enjoy the journey of enlightenment!
Featured as the focus article for the Metavarsity September 2012 Newsletter and Yoga Awakening Africa Blog September 2012.