What is Yoga? and its types

What is Yoga?

The word 'Yoga' is derived from Sanskrit root yuj which means 'join' or 'unite'. This may be taken as the union of body, mind and soul, and is used in the literature both as an end as well as means. As an end, yoga signifies 'integration of personality' at the highest level. As means, yoga includes various practices and techniques which are employed to achieve the development of such integration. These practices and techniques are means in the yogic literature and are also referred collectively as yoga

Importance of Yoga

 Good Health is the right of every human being. But this right depends on individual, social and environmental factors. Along with social or environmental factors to a large extent, we can develop a better immune system and a better perception of oneself so that other conditions do not affect us adversely and we can achieve good health. Health is a positive concept. Positive health does not mean merely freedom from disease, but, it also include a jubilant and energetic feeling of well-being with an amount of general resistance and capacity to easily cultivate immunity against specific offending agents. There are many modern and indigenous methods and disciplines that can help us to successfully fight with diseases. For example, the system of yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda, unani, homeopathy and siddha can be quoted among indigenous systems, whereas allopathic system is quoted as the modern and popular medical system. Yoga is one of the most powerful drugless system of treatment. It is having its own concept of wellness which has been scientifically understood and presented by many. Yoga can be adopted as lifestyle for promoting our physical and mental health. Yoga, if introduced at the school level would help to inculcate healthy habits and healthy lifestyle to achieve good health. The aim of yoga thus, at the school level, is to encourage a positive and healthy lifestyle for physical, mental and emotional health of children. Yoga helps in the development of strength, stamina, endurance and high energy at physical level. It also empowers oneself with increased concentration, calm, peace and contentment at mental level leading to inner and outer harmony. 


Yoga – Its History

Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago in India. It has originated from a universal desire towards attaining happiness and getting rid of sufferings. According to yogic lore, Shiva is considered as the founder of Yoga. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Valley Civilisation, dating back to 2700 BC indicates that yoga was prevalent in ancient India. However, systematic reference of yoga is found in Patanjali's Yogadarshna. Maharishi Patanjali systematised the yogic practices. After Patanjali, many sages and yogis contributed to its development and as a result, yoga has now spread all over the World. In this sequence, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with 193 members approved the proposal to celebrate 'June 21' as the 'International Yoga Day'.

Objectives of Yogic Practices 

• To develop a understanding of yogic practices and apply this understanding accordingly in one’s life and living. 
• To develop a healthy habit and lifestyle in children.
• To develop humane values in children. 
• To develop physical, emotional and mental health through yogic activities. 
Image result for yoga

 General Guidelines for Yogic Practices

 Yoga may be introduced from the primary level onwards in informal ways, but formal introduction of yogic exercises should begin only from Class VI. The yoga curriculum must address itself to the children and there should be some hints to them to take up a study of this subject on their own in addition to what is being taught in the class. Yogic activities can be done by all children including children with special needs. However, children with special needs should perform these activities in consultation with yoga experts/yoga teacher as per their capacity. 
• The yogic practices should start with a quiet mood which could be attained by reciting a short prayer. 
• It is essential that body should be prepared by activities such as ankle bending, knee bending, finger movements, hand clenching, wrist bending, wrist rotation, elbow bending, shoulder rotation and eye movement. After this, Surya Namaskara can be practised. 
• Regularity of practice is essential both in the physical and mental aspects of yoga. 
• Patience is an important requirement for yoga. Do not despair if you do not succeed today in doing a certain asana or in following a right principle of conduct. Perseverence in your efforts is needed. Success will come with time. 
• Do not compete but cooperate. A spirit of competition is a definite hindrance on the path of yoga. Competitions feed our ego while yoga helps us to rise above our ego. 
• Yogic practices should be learnt under the guidance of experienced teacher 
• Some yogic practices should be practised on an empty or on a very light stomach. 
• Early morning is the ideal time for yoga practice but it can also be practised in the evening. 
• Yoga should not be practised in hurry or when you are exhausted. 
• Select a well-ventilated, clean and non-disturbing place for your practice. 
• Yogic practices should not be performed on hard surface. A durry, a mat or a blanket can be used for this purpose. 
• Bathing before the practice is good. Use cold or warm water as per the requirement of the individual and season. 
• Clothes should be loose and comfortable while performing the yogic practices. 
• Breathing should be as normal/natural as possible. It is not to be manipulated unless instructed specifically to do so. 
• There are limitations of yogic practices. If you are suffering from any problem or chronic disease, inform your teacher before starting yogic practices . 
• Yogic practices should be adopted on the basis of the principle of progress. At initial stage, easy practices should be adopted. Later on more difficult ones can be practised. Therefore, start with simple yogic practices and gradually proceed to do advance practices. 
• Yogic practices should not be combined with other physical activities in same session. These are two different types of activities and could be separately practised. 
• Yogic practices can be carried on at home once they are properly learnt in the school. 
• Yoga has a broader meaning. Therefore, apart from asana and pranayama, one should practise moral and ethical values in life.
Image result for yoga

Common Yogic Practices

 Yogic texts propound several practices such as yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, shatkarma (cleansing practices), mudra, bandha, dharana, dhyana (meditation). Here, we will discuss those practices which are commonly used.

Yama and Niyama 

These are initial sets of principles that are concerned with our conduct in personal and social life. These are related to ethics and values.


The term asana means sitting in a particular posture, which is comfortable and which could be maintained steadily for long time. Asana gives stability and comfort, both at physical and mental level. There may be variations in the techniques of some of the asanas depending upon the following yoga institutions.
 Asana may broadly be classified into three categories:
(a) Cultural or Corrective asana 
(b) Meditative asana 
(c) Relaxative asana 

Cultural asanas can further be classified into two groups, depending on the effects produced:
 (i) asana that work through and on the spine and visceral organs.
 (ii) asanas that work through the skeletal muscles, ligaments and joints. 

Meditative asanas are those asanas which are aimed at quiet sitting and are used for higher practices in yoga. padmasana, swastikasana, sukhasana and siddhasana can be put in this category.

 Relaxative asanas are those which remove tension and bring about physical as well as mental relaxation. The important asanas in this category are shavasana and makarasana. 

Guidelines for the Practice of Asanas 

• Generally, the asanas are practised in the sequence of standing, sitting, prone-lying and supine-lying position. Though there is other version which follows different sequence. 
• Asanas must not be practised in haste or by applying any sort of undue force and under an urgency. Jerks should be avoided.
 • Asanas should be performed with body and breath awareness. There should be coordination between breath and movement of body-parts. 
• As a general rule, inhale while raising any part of the body and exhale when bending down.
• The practitioner has to follow instructions sincerely with optimal attention. 
• Final position should be attained slowly step-by-step and should be maintained with closed eyes for developing an inward awareness within the body. 
• Final position of asanas must be maintained for as long as one is comfortable. One should maintain the final posture according to one’s own limitations and should not go beyond one's capacity. 
• During maintenance of final position of asana, there should ideally be no tremors or any type of discomfort. 
• An utmost care must be taken in increasing the time for maintaining the asanas. 
• Regular practice is essential. Body starts listening to your command only after a regular and diligent training for a sufficient period of time. If regularity is disturbed due to some reasons, then one should resume the practice within minimum time. 
• In the initial phase, asanas involve de-conditioning and reconditioning processes. Therefore, initially, one may feel little fatigued after the practice but after few days' practice, body and mind get adjusted and one starts experiencing a feeling of well-being and happiness again.


Pranayama consists of the breathing techniques which are related to the control of breath or respiratory process. Pranayama popularly known as ‘yogic breathing’, involves a conscious manipulation of our breathing pattern. The health of the respiratory system depends upon the quality as well as the quantity of air inhaled by the person. It also depend on the rhythm and completeness of the breathing. Through pranayama, a practitioner advantageously works with her/his respiratory, cardiovascular and the nervous system which bring about emotional stability and peace of mind. Pranayama has three phases known as puraka, rechaka and kumbhaka. Puraka is controlled inhalation; rechaka is controlled exhalation and kumbhaka is controlled retention of breath. Initially, the exhalation (Rechaka) may be a little more prolonged in comparison to inhalation (Puraka). Insistence on 1:2 ratio in the beginning may prove counterproductive. As we practice, 1:2 ratio is reached in natural manner.

Guidelines for the Practice of Pranayama 

• Pranayama should be done preferably after the practice of asanas. 
• Breathing in pranayama should be done through the nose only except sheetali and sheetkari. 
• During pranayama, there should not be strain in facial muscles, eyes, ears, neck, shoulders or any other part of the body. 
• During pranayama, eyes should remain closed. 
• In the beginning, one should be aware about the natural flow of the breathing. Make inhalation and exhalation prolonged in a gradual manner. 
• While observing breathing, attend to your abdominal movement which bulges a bit during inhalation and goes in a bit during exhalation. 
• In the beginning stage one should learn to maintain in gradual manner the 1:2 ratio of breathing which means exhalation time should be double the inhalation. However, while practicing pranayama, do not make haste in resorting to any of the above mentioned ideal ratio. 
• Kumbhaka (retention of breath) should not be performed in the initial stage. After a prolonged practice of the 1:2 ratio, one should learn the retention of breath under the guidance of a competent teacher. 
• The ideal ratio according to tradition is 1 (puraka): 4 (kumbhaka): 2 (rechaka). Kumbhaka must not be resorted to unless one has undergone sufficient practice of 1: 2 ratio.


Yogic practice of Pratyahara means withdrawal of senses from sense organs in order to control mind. In pratyahara the awareness about the external surrounding is withdrawn and is taken to inside. Introspection, studying good books are some practices which can help in pratyahara.

Bandha and Mudra 

Bandha and Mudra are the practices involving manipulation of certain semi-voluntary and involuntary muscles in the body. These practices bring about voluntary control and tone up the internal organs

Shatkarma/Kriya (Cleansing Process)

 Shatkarma means six karmas or kriyas. The karma/kriya means 'action'. Shatkarma consists purificatory processes which cleanse the specific organs of the body by detoxifying them. The purification helps to keep the body and mind healthy. There are six cleansing processes described in hatha yogic texts. These are Neti, Dhauti, Basti, Trataka, Nauli and Kapalabhati. These are used to clean the internal organs or systems by using water, air or manipulation of certain organs of the body

 Guidelines for the Practice of Kriyas 

• Kriyas should be done with an empty stomach. Therefore, they should be done preferably in the morning. 
• Kriyas should be performed under supervision of an expert. 
• Each kriya has specific process which should be strictly adhered to. 
• Different things like water, salt, air, manipulation are used for each kriya.


 Meditation is a practice which helps in concentration of the body and mind. In meditation, concentration is focussed for a long time on a single object like tip of the nose, space between eyebrows, etc. It develops a sense of well-being and improves memory and decision making power in the person.

 Guidelines for the Practice of Meditation 

• Practice of asana and pranayama if performed before meditation will help in developing ability to sit in one position for a considerable period of time in meditation. 
• Select a peaceful calm and quiet place for the practice of Meditation. 
• Allow your eyes to get closed gently to enter into an inner awareness. 
 A meditative practice invites many thoughts, memories and emotions may surface on mind. Remain non-reactive to them. 
• As you continue with this process for sometime, you may feel an abstract and a non-specific awareness of the whole body. Now continue with the whole body awareness. In case of any difficulty go back to the breathing awareness. 
• In the beginning it is, generally difficult to observe the breath. If mind wanders, do not feel guilty. Slowly but firmly bring your attention to your breath.

thanks wait next session

No comments