Why Do Yoga?
Over the past three decades this country has experienced an emergence of self-improvement systems. Some have helped large numbers of people. Others, though initially quite attractive and appealing, faded like yesterday's newspaper. Why, with so many alternatives available, has yoga not only retained its popularity, but also grown in both acceptance and practice? What does this ancient custom have that still makes it attractive in this twentieth century?
Over thousands of years, yoga has been subtlety refined and perfected. Sages of India patiently introspected, to discover optimum, effective non-stressful techniques to develop self-perfection and self-actualization. As a multi-faceted discipline, yoga works on the whole being - the body, the mind, and the spirit, to help practitioners attain physical, mental and spiritual health. Yoga promotes natural , wholesome physical health, as it helps one to achieve a positive, focused mental balance. At the same time this powerful discipline helps students to progress towards self perfection.
How can yoga do this? Many people are familiar with some of the positive benefits of yoga. It provides miraculous healing for the cardio-vascular system by improving circulation and lowering blood pressure. For example, in the headstand, the art is strengthened through an increased blood flow which provides more oxygen and nutrients to this vital organ. Dr. Dean Ornish, a world-renown cardiologist and author of Reversing Heart Disease, has developed a system based on various aspects of yoga which, when practiced over an extended period of time can reverse the effects of cardio-vascular disease. Dr.Ornish's system has been proven to be a viable alternative to by-pass surgery and has been written up in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Yoga is effective for the correction of problems resulting from spinal misalignment. It tones, strengthens and stretches all of the major muscle groups in the body, particularly those around the spine which contribute to good spinal health. Yoga also gives the practitioner an awareness of muscle tension and techniques with which can be used to release the tension resulting in increased energy and vitality.
Various yoga postures have a directly correlated effect on the health of particular internal organs. Stretching and bending the body in certain directions applies pressure to particular internal organs increasing circulation to that area which increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients through the blood while removing more toxins and impurities. Sluggish organs, respond remarkably well to specific yoga postures. For example, some forward bending postures stimulate and massage the colon thereby improving bowel functions resulting in improved gastro-intestinal health.
Even after many years of unhealthy living, it is generally possible to reverse failing health. Two things are necessary, patience and perseverance. The immediate, instant gratification in so many things in twentieth century lifestyle has resulted in belief systems predicated upon fast food, instant bank loans and mind kind of "miracle" over-the-counter cures. Certainly it is easy to understand that we did not develop instant bad health, instant mental imbalance, or instant detachment from spiritual values. The reclamation of these lost treasures will not take as long as it did to lose them. Remember, the key words are PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE! Fortunately, even small changes, increase aware of progress, particularly, on the physical plane. Through yoga, our muscle tone and flexibility improve returning some of the vigor and vitality of youth. With these and improve circulation improves increasing our concentration and awareness. We start to have glimpses of inner peace.