By DR BHUSHAN KUMAR UPADHYAYA
Yoga has become a buzzword in the modern world. According to the survey conducted by theYoga Alliance and Yoga Journal,Yoga practitioners worldwide are estimated to be 300 million or more. According to the report of this journal, the number of Americans practisingYoga increased by large numbers from 20.4 to 36 million between 2012 to 2016. The popularity of Yoga indicates the physical, mental and spiritual benefits, the practitioners of Yoga derive from it. Yoga emerged in India thousands of years ago as the spiritual means to self-realisation. Although it was originally spiritual in nature, the perusal of ancient yoga texts reveals that body and mind were given utmost importance in the Yoga system. It is emphatically propounded in allYoga scriptures that only a purified body and mind will lead to spiritual awakening. That's why the Asanas occupy a key position in the whole scheme of Yogic science. SimilarlyYama and Niyama are the means to purify the mind.Yama includes truth, nonviolence,nonstealing, sexual continence or abstinence and no hoarding. Niyama consists of cleanliness, contentment, penance, self study and surrender to the higher forces of divinity.Yama is the social injunction, while Niyama is self observance. Many people are of the opinion that in the modern age , it is not possible to follow these instructions.
But most of theYama have even today legal sanction in the society like not to steal, not to commit violence, not to hoard, not to tell untruth, etc. Similarly, Niyama is the best instrument of robust mental health and wellness. The fringe practice of Yoga brings some physical and mental benefits. ButYoga has the potential to provide the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of human beings. In the 17 th verse of chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Geeta Lord Krishna prescribes four conditions forYoga to alleviate suffering. The first is the Yukta- Ahara, proper food. The importance of balanced food cannot be overemphasised. It is the backbone of overall well being. The second essential is the Yukta- Vihara, proper pastime and recreation. It is our practical experience that our recreational activities have a deep impact upon our psychophysiological health.
The third condition is Yukta- Karma, proper conduct. Karma or our conduct shapes our life forces. So their propriety determines our overall well being. The fourth condition is Yukta- Swapna Avabodha – proper dream and awakening. Most of the scholars describe this part of the verse as sleep and awakening. But the Geeta being a highly philosophical text, will not use the word Swapna for sleep. The word Swapna means dream not sleep. The most used Sanskrit word for sleep is Nidra. So this Swapna and Awabodha refers to Vichara or thoughts which arise only during dream and awakening. So we need proper thoughts as the fourth condition. Thus, the diet, pastime, conduct and thoughts which are all proper ensure a fulfilling life with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.This formula of the Geeta seems to be a very practical and rational guide to overall well being.Yoga literally means union. Hence when all these aspects of human life are enjoined properly, Yoga alleviates suffering.
(The writer is DG Police & CG, Homeguards, Maharashtra)