Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical, spiritual, and mental practices. In Sanskrit, yoga means “to unite.” Indeed, yoga creates a divine union between mind, body, and spirit. If anyone about yoga ,it will be associated with physical postures, also called asanas. However, that’s only one aspect of yoga.
In the book “Yoga Sutra” Patanjali, a sage in ancient India, described eight limbs of yoga, where the physical practice ( Asana) is just the third limb. There are also Yamas, Niyamas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Each limb of yoga has its purpose and helps live life with more integrity, self-discipline, harmony, and respect for others and connection to spiritual aspects of life. Yamas and Niyamas are ethical and personal guidelines for mindful and harmonious living.
Pranayama teaches breathing exercises to control the vital energy of the universe. Pratyahara translates as focus, withdrawal of the senses, Dharana– concentration, Dhyana -absorption and meditation, and Samadhi translates as self-transcendence.
The withdrawal of senses, concentration and super consciousness are to do with the spiritual aspirations, while the ethical restraints and ethical observances are to do with everyday actions. These are most relevant in addressing the global challenges and achieving the SDGs.
The ethical restraints include qualities such as non-harming(Ahimsa); truthfulness(Satya);non-stealing(Asteya);non-possessiveness (Aparigraha); and maintenance of vitality(Brahamcharya).
The ethical observances include cleanliness (Shauch); contentment (Santosh); purification through discipline (Tapa); self-study (Swaddhaya); and devotion to a higher power (Ishwar Pranidhan). The arguments are that these ethical restraints and observances can collectively develop a morality that can help to deal with global challenges such as climate change and help in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals are underpinned by a strong moral agenda that appeals to the human for harmony with fellow human beings and with the natural world of which we are part. The theory and practice of yoga, therefore, seems like a natural fit with this moral agenda. These restraints and observances have the potential to help people and nations to deal with the global challenges and for the world to achieve the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. But for that to happen, yoga needs to go beyond the grand gatherings, and into people’s hearts and minds. Only by appealing to people’s ethical and moral values, the practice of yoga can promote global wellbeing.
Yoga provides us with a set of guidelines and tools to help us deal with ourselves and with the world around us. It provides a framework for managing our inner needs and desires, and when applied to communities and societies, can be a toolkit for sustainable living and global change.
A “yogic lifestyle” is not only a powerful instrument to tackle climate change through changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, but also a path to wellness that will somehow make us better individuals in thought, action, knowledge and devotion”.
The AYUSH Ministry, which oversees the standardisation of yoga on behalf of the government, adds further flourish by asserting that yoga is a practical discipline that develops one’s inherent power to achieve a balanced life that can be freed of stress, pain and disease.
The positive effects of yoga on mind and body gives benefits to health and well-being, and by changing lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help to deal with climate change too.
Yoga has proven beneficial in treating mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorders and generalized anxiety disorders. Yoga classes in the workplace have helped to reduce back pain, reduce sickness absences and increase the productivity of employees. Yoga postures can go a long way in improving the practitioner’s mental and physical health and boosting self-esteem and happiness through their positive benefits on the nervous system.
Yogic exercises and breathing techniques have proven beneficial in reducing stress , promoting well-being, helping to alleviate childhood trauma and many more. The benefits of yoga for personal health and wellbeing have been observed among many social groups.
Environmental issues like climate change are becoming an increasingly important component of overall quality of life and health all over the globe. Natural disasters; such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes take a heavy toll on the mental health of the people involved, giving rise to anxiety, depression, aggression, irritability, sleeplessness and excessive vigilance. This climate change affects human health adversely in many ways from thermal stress, extreme weather events to infectious diseases and hunger prevalence. The direct, indirect and social dynamic effects of climate change on health and wellbeing produce the following health impacts: cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, undernutrition, mental illness, allergies, injuries and poisoning. Yoga provides the tools to properly explore and direct prana in our body, mind and breath, as well as connect to the environment. By practicing the awareness of prana, we may start noticing an energy shift around us.
To restore our dharmic (right, supportive, reciprocal) relationship with nature, what is needed is soul restoration and awakening of our interconnection to the cosmos and one another. By soul restoration, we mean restoring our conscious connection to the Self as indwelling unchanging Supreme Consciousness and as the creative emanation of that reality as the body, mind, and cosmos. The Samkhya philosophy that informs practices in the yoga tradition offers us a cosmology map showing how everything in nature is composed of the five elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, space. The 5 elements of nature are known in Sanskrit as the pancha-bhutas. They represent the physical and energetic qualities of the human body and of the physical world. When they are in harmony, we experience peace and good health. When they are out of balance, we can experience suffering and unhappiness. The awareness and understanding of these laws of nature allows us to bring them into a state of equilibrium through our yoga and meditation practices. Our body and mind are composed of the same elements.
The journey to consciousness begins at Prithivi, the Earth element, the Mulaadhar chakra located at the end point of the spine. The Water element is associated with the second chakra Swadhishthana , located between the belly button and pubic bone. The Fire element is associated with the Manipura or 3rd chakra is located at the solar plexus. The Air element is associated with the Anahata or 4th chakra, located at the center of the heart. The Ether or space element is associated with the Vishuddhi or 5th chakra, located in the throat.
Overall, it can be concluded that balance of all the 5 elements is very important for a healthy well-being and lifestyle. It has also been observed that ethical restraints and observance can also be followed for achieving the goals. If one has good health and keeps positive attitude socially and professionally, can achieve all the goals in the life. Health plays a very important role in life. There is a saying called “Eat just to live, Live not just to eat”. If one understands the meaning of this quote, can attain good health which will help in achieving success. Yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the author. The Mooknayak is not responsible for the accuracy, integrity, practicability, and completeness of any information contained in this article. All the information in this article has been presented as it is. None of the information or facts or views expressed in this article are those of The Mooknayak, and The Mooknayak is not responsible for them in any way.
You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.