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Benefits of Yoga, According to Ayurveda

INTRODUCTION

In Bhagavad Gita, the word yoga is used to express a sense of divine power and glory

Definitions of Yoga

According to Patanjali Yogasutra:

योगश्चितवृत्तिनिरोधः । (प.यो.सू. १/२)

  • Chitta=Mind, Consciousness, Awareness
  • Vritti= Thought waves, Activities, Changes
  • Nirodha= Control, Regulation, Mastery, Coordination

Yoga refers to consciously controlling or mastering the activities of the mind. The thoughts, feelings, emotions (good or bad) occurring continuously in the mind are known as Vrittis, which should be controlled by Yoga.

According to Bhagavad Gita:

  • Yoga is the state of equanimity in gain or loss. When the mind is detached from the material world it maintains a desire free state. A desire free mind will not be influenced with gain or loss, win or defeat and pleasure or misery.
  • Yoga is the dexterity in action. Actions concerned with physical, mental or intellectual levels should be performed with full adeptness and skill.
  • Yoga is disunion or negation of union of the self with sorrow.

The Four Paths of Yoga

  1. Karma Yoga(path of action)
  2. Bhakti Yoga (path of devotion)
  3. Raja Yoga(royal path)
  4. Gyana Yoga (philosophical path)

Raja Yoga is also known as Astanga Yoga (Eight steps of Yoga), because it is organized in eight parts:

  1. Yama (Selfcontrol)
  2. Niyama (Discipline)
  3. Asana (Physical exercises)
  4. Pranayama (Breath exercises)
  5. Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the senses)
  6. Dharana (Concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (Complete Realization)

The eight steps of Raja Yoga provide systematic instruction to attain inner peace, clarity, self-control and realization.

Yama

  • Ahimsa-non violence
  • Satya-truthfullness
  • Asteya-non stelling
  • Bhramacharya-pure way of life
  • Aparigraha-non accumulation of possessions

Niyama

  • Shaucha-purity
  • Santosha-contentment
  • Tapa-selfcontrol,self discipline
  • Savdhyaya-study of holy scriptures
  • Ishvara pranidhana-devotion of god

Asana

Standing Postures

Ardha Katichakrasana

Ardha means half, Kati means waist, and Chakra means wheel. In this posture, a semicircle is formed by lateral bending at the waist.

  • Practice:

Stand with legs together. During the exercise keep the knees straight. Inhale raise the right arm till the biceps touches the ear, palm facing inwards. Slowly bend the body to the left at the waist as far as possible while keeping both soles steady on the floor.


Maintain the posture for some time with normal breathing. Return back to erect standing posture and relax the hand. Repeat the same on the other side.

  • Benefits: Enhances flexibility & digestive power. Reduces stiffness of the back and legs. Lateral thoracic muscles are trenched, lung capacity increases and excess fat around the wait reduces.

Padahastasana

Practice:

  • Stand with legs together. During the exercise keep the knees straight.
  • Inhale deeply. Raise the hands above the head. Palms facing forward.
  • Exhaling bend forward slowly until palms rest on the floor next to the feet and the forehead touches the knees.
  • Inhaling slowly come upright again.
  • Exhaling slowly lower the hands sideways of the body.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the abdominal organs. Eliminates possibilities of abdominal bloating, constipation, indigestion, and other gastric problems. Provides flexibility of the spine and makes it resilient and straight.

Ardha Chakrasana

Ardha means half, Chakra means circle. This posture appears like a half circle. It flexes the body backwards from the waist region.

Practice:

Stand with legs together. During the exercise keep the knees straight. Stand erect,support the back at the waist with the palms and exhale. Inhale bend backwards from lumber region with the neck fully extended. Remain in this posture for some time. Return to erect standing posture.

  • Benefits:Relieves lower back ache. Stimulates blood circulation and spinal nerve.

Trikonasana

Practice:

  • Inhaling raise the arms sideways to shoulder height.
  • Exhaling bend the upper body to the right until the right hand touches the ankle. Extend the arm straight up and move the arm over the head until the upper arm touches the ear. Remain a short time in this position.
  • Inhaling slowly come upright.
  • Exhaling return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on other side

Benefits: Balances the nervous system, promotes flexibility of the spine, opens and stretches the muscles along the side of the body. Stretches the muscles at the back of the thighs and increases leg stability. Deepens the breath and guides it into the sides of the lungs. To relieve constipation, drink 1-2 cups of lightly salted, lukewarm water before the exercise.

Sitting Postures

Svastikasana (Auspicious pose)

Practice:

Sit with legs straight. Spread both the legs. Bend the left leg at the knee and place the sole on the inner side of the right thigh. Bend the right leg at the knee and place its foot in between the thigh and the calf of the left leg. Keep the back straight and place the hands on the knees.

  • Benefits: Strengthens the finger joints and wrists, promotes mobility of the shoulders and hips, while strengthening muscles of the chest and back. Improves a rounded back and sideways curvature of the spine. Facilitates deeper breathing. Stimulates kidney function, activates bladder and the digestive system, and also counters diabetes.

Padmasana

Practice:

  • Sit with the legs straight. Bend the right leg and place the right foot on the left thigh so that the heel is as close to the body as possible. Bend the left leg and place the left foot in the same way on the right thigh.
  • Relax legs and hips and also the upper body, arms and shoulders.

  • Rest the hands in Chin Mudra on the knees. Close the eyes and remain motionless in this position.Concentrate on the relaxation of the whole body and the breath.
  • Benefits: Padmasana is the best sitting posture for meditation. It has a balancing influence on all Chakras.

Vajrasana(Sitting on the Heels)

Practice:

  • Come up onto the knees (knee stand). The legs are together. The big toes touch each other, the heels point slightly outwards. Tilt the upper body forward and then sit back between the heels. The trunk is upright. Place the hands on the thighs.

Benefits: Vajrasana calms and harmonises body and mind. This position also stimulates digestion therefore it is recommended to sit in Vajrasana for about 5-10 minutes after a meal.

Bhadrasana

Practice:

  • Sit with legs straight. Bend the knees and place the soles of the feet together. Hold the toes with the hands and pull the feet as close as possible to the body. Relax the hips and without forcing encourage the knees towards the floor Return to the starting position.
  • Benefits: Good preparation for meditation posture. Relaxes and improves blood supply to the hips. Awakens the Kundalini Shakti.

Shashankasana

Practice:

  • Sit in Vajrasana with hands on the thighs. The upper body is straight and relaxed.
  • Inhaling raise both arms above the head.
  • Exhaling keep the back straight and bend upper body and arms forward from the hips, until arms and forehead touch the floor. The buttocks remain on the heels.
  • Breathing normally remain in this position for a while. Relax the whole body, especially the shoulders, neck and back.
  • Inhaling keep the back straight and raise the upper body and arms.
  • Exhaling return to the starting position.Practice the exercise 3 times in total. Remain bending forward for some time and consciously perceive the movement of the breath on the spine.
  • Benefits: Improves blood supply to the head and therefore nourishes the eyes and all brain functions. Helps to relieve fatigue and promotes concentration. Anxiety and depression are relieved due to its calming effect. The whole spine and muscles of the back relax in this position and the breath deepens into the back of the lungs.

Ushtrasana

Practice:

  • With this variation the legs are slightly further apart.
  • Inhaling straighten the arms to the front and come up onto the knees.
  • Exhaling bend backwards and take hold of the heels with the hands so that the fingers point inwards. Bend the elbows and bend backwards as far as possible. Try to reach the floor with the head. The elbows should not touch the floor. Breathing normally remain in this position as long as you feel comfortable.
  • Inhaling come back up onto the knees with arms to the front.
  • Exhaling return to the starting position.
  • Benefits: Stimulates digestive function. Beneficial for female reproductive organs a d is of benefit when practiced during menstruation. During pregnancy, only Variations A and B should be practiced. The Asana strengthens the thigh, hip and back muscles, while stretching abdominal muscles and hip flexors.

Pashchimottanasana

Practice:

  • Sit with the legs straight. The hands rest on the thighs.
  • Inhaling keep the arms straight and raise them above the head.
  • Exhaling, keep the back straight, bend forward from the hips as far as possible and hold the toes. Knees remain straight. Try
  • to bring the head forward to touch the knees.
  • Breathing normally hold this position.
  • Inhaling bring the body upright keeping the arms straight.
  • Exhaling place the hands on the thighs.
  • Benefits: Stimulates the Manipura Chakra and life energy. Increases blood supply in the back. Stretches the muscles of the back and along the back of the legs. Activates kidney and pancreas function and aids in achieving a slim figure.

Suptavajrasana

Practice:

  • Sit in Vajrasana with heels pointing outwards and big toes touching. The body is upright, hands rest on the thighs. Relax the whole body.
  • Breathing normally place the hands on the floor beside the buttocks. Bend the elbows and slowly lean the body back until the elbows rest on the floor. Lower the head backward until the top of the head touches the floor. Bring palms together in front of the chest and hold the posture.
  • Breathing is relaxed and slightly deeper than normal, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
  • With the help of the elbows slowly return to the starting position.

Benefits:Increases flexibility of the spine and hips stretches the thigh muscles. Strengthens the lungs and is helpful for asthma and bronchitis.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Practice:

  • Sit with the legs straight and relax the whole body. Place the sole of the right foot flat on the floor on the outside of the left knee. Bend the left leg and lay the left heel beside the right buttock. Both buttocks remain on the floor. The back is upright and

relaxed.

  • Bring the left arm to the outside of the right knee and grasp the right ankle.
  • Turn the upper body as far as possible to the right, place the right arm across theback and look over the right shoulder.
  • Breathing normally remain for a few minutes in this position and relax the whole body.
  • Slowly return to the starting position. Practice the exercise to the other side. Initially, practice the Asana three times holding each repetition briefly. After practicing this way for some time begin to extend the practice by holding the posture for a few minutes with normal breathing.

Benefits: Promotes mobility of the spine and hips. The twist aids release of tension from the deep layers of muscle in the back. The breath is also deepened in this position. Function of the kidneys and pancreas is stimulated and the ability to concentrate is improved

Siddhasana (Pose of the Adept)

Practice:

  • Sit with the legs straight. Bend the right leg and place the foot very close to the body on the floor. Now bend the left leg and place the left foot on top of the right calf. The sole of the foot touches the right thigh. Pull the toes of the right foot up between the thigh and the calf of the left leg and the toes of the left foot down between the thigh and the calf of the right leg. If it is difficult to keep the body upright or the knees do not rest on the floor, then sit on a cushion, at the appropriate height.

Benefits: Siddhasana quietens the mind, has a balancing effect on the Nadis (nerves) and activates the spiritual energy of the Chakras. Therefore, this sitting posture is well suited to the practice of Pranayama and Meditation.

Supine Postures

Pavana Muktasana

Practice:

  • Lie relaxed on the back.
  • Inhale deeply.
  • Exhaling bend the right knee, holding it with
  • both hands, pull it as close as possible to the body. The left leg remains relaxed on the floor.
  • Inhaling place the arms beside the body, straighten the right leg and return it to the floor. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
  • Benefits:Stretches the muscles of the lower back and hips; helpful for constipation, flatulence and other digestive problems and relieves fatigue.Improves blood supply to the lower abdominal organs and helps relieve menstrual problems. Stretches the back and hip muscles and encourages healthy digestion.


Sarvangasana

Practice:

  • Lie on the back.
  • Inhaling raise the legs (straight or bent), buttocks and upper body

from the floor. Support the back with the hands. Slowly extend the legs and back fully upright until the weight of the body rests on the neck, shoulders and upper arms. The chin touches the chest. Back and legs come as close as possible to a vertical line. Breathing normally remain in this position for 1-5 minutes.

  • Exhaling lower the legs, bring the knees towards the head and slowly return to the starting position.

Benefits:Stimulates the Vishuddhi Chakra. Aids detoxification of the body and calms the mind. Regulates function of the thyroid gland and all related organs. The inverted posture of the body stimulates blood supply, thus revitalising all cells of the body. Encourages venous return and is especially good for swollen legs.

Matsyasana

Practice:

  • In the chosen starting position place the hands behind the body on the floor. Now slowly lean back, place one elbow after the other on the floor and arch the back until the top of the head touches the floor. The spine is evenly extended. If sitting in Padmasana hold the toes with the hands, otherwise bring the palms together in front of the chest.
  • Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Hold the position as long as comfortable. Using the elbows for support slowly return to the starting position. Initially, practice the Asana three times holding each repetition briefly. After practicing this way for some time begin to extend the practice by holding the posture for a few minutes with normal breathing.

Benefits:Strengthens the respiratory system and is beneficial for asthma, bronchitis and chronic throat problems. Stimulates kidney function and activates the thyroid gland. Stimulates and balances the Vishuddhi Chakra.

Halasana

Practice:

  • Lie on the back. The arms lie beside the body with the palms facing up.
  • Inhaling raise the legs, buttocks and upper body into Sarvangasana.
  • Exhaling, keep the legs straight and lower them behind the head. The tips of the toes touch the floor and the chin touches the chest.
  • Breathing normally hold the posture as long as comfortable.
  • Inhaling raise both legs up into Sarvangasana.
  • Exhaling slowly return to the starting position.

Benefits:Beneficial for the pancreas and digestive system and is therefore recommended for people with diabetes. Activates the Vishuddhi Chakra and Manipura Chakra. Encourages flexibility of the back and stretches the muscles along the back of thelegs.

  • Chakrasana
  • Practice:
  • Lie on the back with arms beside the body. Bend the knees and place the feet close
  • to the buttocks on the floor. >Raise the arms above the head and place the palms on
  • the floor close to the shoulders. The fingers point towards the body and elbows point
  • up. >Lift the entire body high so that only the hands and feet are on the floor. Look
  • towards the floor. >Breathing normally hold the position and then return to the
  • starting position

Benefits:Develops flexibility of the spine and increases one’s sense of wellbeing. The extension of the front of the body stimulates and balances internal organs and the entire glandular system. This Asana strengthens the muscles of the back, arms legs. Encourages good posture and is especially beneficial for people who sit a lot. Helpful for menstrual problems.

  • Shavasana/ Anandasana / Shantasana
  • Practice:
  • Lie comfortably on the back. The feet fall loosely away from each other. The arms lie
  • relaxed beside the body with the palms facing up. If necessary, place a pillow under
  • the head or the knees to ensure neck and lower back are comfortable. Close the eyes
  • and relax the eyelids. Feel the whole body from the toes to the head. > Guide the
  • attention to each part of the body, and gradually and consciously relax the whole
  • body. Feel a sense of inner quiet and peace. > If it is more comfortable, relax by lying
  • on the abdomen

Benefits:Brings physical and mental relaxation. Relaxation is an important prerequisite for the optimal performance and benefits of the Yoga exercises. Therefore, Anandasana is practiced at the beginning and end of each exercise session, as well as

between the exercises.

  • Setubandhasana / Skandharasana
  • Practice:
  • Lie on the back with arms beside the body. Bend the legs, take hold of the ankles or
  • heels with the hands and place the soles of the feet on the floor. >Inhaling raise the
  • hips and back as high as possible. Body weight rests on the feet, shoulders and the
  • back of the head. >Holding the breath remain in this position for as long as
  • comfortable. >Exhaling return to the starting position.

Benefits:Strengthens the muscles of the back, pelvis, hips and legs and stretches the hip flexors. Improves disorders of female reproductive function. Regulates low blood pressure.

Prone Postures

Bhujangasana

Practice:

  • Lie on the abdomen, rest the chin on the floor and place the hands beside the body in line with the armpits. The feet are extended.
  • Inhaling press the hips to the floor and lift the upper body with the help of the hands. Tilt the head back slightly and look up. The spine is evenly arched and the shoulders are pressed down and back.
  • Holding the breath remain in this position as long as comfortable. Exhaling slowly return to the starting position. Initially, practice the Asana three times holding each repetition briefly. After practicing this way for some time begin to extend the practice by holding the posture for a few minutes with normal breathing.

Benefits:Balances the Svadhishthana Chakra. Soothes anger and a violent temper. Is beneficial for kidney and liver function. This Asana is especially

recommended for anyone who has a profession where they are sitting. Prevents back problems.

Shalabhasana

Practice:

  • Lying on the abdomen place the chin on the floor or, if it is more comfortable, turn the head to the side and lay one cheek on the floor.
  • Place the arms under the abdomen. The hands are under the thighs with palms facing down.
  • Inhaling press the palms against the floor, keep the legs straight and raise them as high as possible. Holding the breath remain in this position as long as comfortable. Exhaling return to the starting position.
  • Initially, practice the Asana three times holding each repetition briefly. After practicing this way for some time begin to extend the practice by holding the posture for a few minutes with normal breathing.

Benefits:Balances the Manipura Chakra. Develops self-confidence and invigorates the body. Is beneficial for depression. The internal organs are stimulated and the body’s acid base balance is regulated. Kidney function is stimulated. The leg, pelvic and back muscles are strengthened. Encourages good posture and a slim figure.

Dhanurasana

Practice:

  • Lie on the abdomen with the arms beside the body. The chin rests on the floor and feet are flat on the floor.
  • Inhaling bend both legs and take hold of the ankles with the hands. Raise the head, upper body and thighs and look up. The body is now like a tensed bow. The body weight rests on the abdomen.
  • Holding the breath remain in this position for as long as comfortable.
  • Exhaling return to the starting position. Initially, practice the Asana three times holding each repetition briefly. After practicing this way for some time begin to extend the practice by holding the posture for a few minutes with normal breathing.

Benefits: Has a very relaxing and balancing effect upon body and mind. Is especially beneficial for relaxing the spine, hips and knees. Relaxes the digestive system. Deepens the breath and promotes concentration.

Surya Namaskara

Practice:

1. Stand with legs together and concentrate on the whole body.

2. Bring palms together in front of the chest.

3. Inhaling keep arms parallel and raise them above the head. Palms face the front. Look up.

4. Exhaling bend forward until the palms or fingers touch the floor beside the feet, or as far as possible. The knees remain straight.

5. Inhaling take a long step backwards with the left leg and place the knee on the floor. The toes of the left foot are tucked under. The right foot remains between the hands with the sole of the foot flat on the floor. Look up

6. Exhaling bring the right foot back beside the left, raise the buttocks and straighten the legs. Look towards the navel. The soles of both feet stay flat on the floor. The body weight is equally distributed between the hands and feet. Hips are raised so the body looks like a mountain. Holding the breath bring the knees, chin and chest to the floor. The toes are tucked under and hips are lifted from the floor. Concentrate on the whole body. Arms are bent with elbows tucked in and hands under shoulders.

7. Inhaling press the hips to the floor and lift the trunk upright (Bhujangasana). The feet lie flat along the floor and hands are under the shoulders.

8. Exhaling, tuck the toes under and raise the buttocks high, straighten the legs and look towards the navel. The soles of both feet stay flat on the floor. The body’s weight is equally distributed between hands and feet.

9. Inhaling bring the left leg forward with a large step. Lower the right knee to the floor and tuck the toes of the right foot under. The left foot is between the hands. The sole of the foot is flat on the floor. Look up.

10. Exhaling place the right foot beside the left and straighten the legs. The upper body hangs down, the palms or fingers touch the floor. Knees remain straight.

11. Inhaling keep both arms parallel, raise them above the head and look up.

12. Exhaling lower the hands into prayer position at chest level and return to the starting position.

These 12 positions form one round. In the next round, step the right leg back in Position 4 and forward in Position 9. Alternate the legs in each round.

Benefits: , Stimulates circulation, improves physical fitness, the ability to concentrate, mental stability and spiritual development.

Yoga Prayojana

The soul resides in a physical form, which is a slave to so many impressions and

tendencies; but once the physical body and the mind are purified through Yoga, the

individual becomes free of disease and experiences unity with the Supreme Soul.

Ayurveda Yoga Sambandha

Ayurveda and Yoga are two very similar paths sharing a close relationship. Both these sciences, which have their origin in the Vedic texts, are concerned with physical and mental health.

Both Ayurveda & Yoga give holistic approaches for living life at its fullest. These two sciences have a common understanding that the health of an individual is dependent on the health and balance of the mind.

Yoga prepares the body and mind of the individual for eventual liberation and enlightenment. Ayurveda describes various ways to prevent and cure disease of the body and mind.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of natural and holistic medicine. It uses the inherent principles of nature to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual’s body and mind in perfect equilibrium. It uses various techniques such as Dinacharya,

Ritucharya, Shamana & Shodhana Karma, Pathya ahara & vihara, Mantra chikitsa, etc.

Yoga uses various techniques such as Asana, Pranayama, Dhyana, Mantra, Shatkarma, Pathya ahara & vihara, etc. to harmonize the body, mind & soul.

19 posts

About author
Deep Thacker is an BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery) Undergraduate in Rajiv Gandhi University of Health sciences. Deep has published many articles on health and aims to provide the public with the information they need to know for their health decisions.
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