Yoga is a systematic practice of physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control, and positive thinking and meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment. The practice entails low-impact physical activity, postures (called asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation. Most people are familiar with the physical poses or yoga positions but don't know that yoga involves so much more.
In the health fields, yoga techniques are being applied in health promotion programs, substance abuse treatment programs, and as complementary treatment for diseases such as anxiety disorders, depression, coronary heart disease, cancers, and HIV/AIDS. Yoga is a low-cost self-help approach to well-being.
The origin is a Sanskrit word Yog meaning union. Yoga is a union of the organ systems in the body with the consciousness in the mind. Philosophically, yoga produces a union of body, mind, and energy (or soul or spirit) to bring about a state of equanimity (calmness). Progressing to an even more advanced state, blending science and philosophy, one experiences a union of body, mind, internal energy, and the all-pervading cosmic energy, resulting in better physical health, mental control, and, ultimately, self-realization.
Manoj Sharma, MBBS, PhD
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