Yoga for healthy body, healthy mind

Yoga for healthy body, healthy mind

The 5000-year old body of knowledge had gone global decades ago. June 21 marks the first United Nations-recognised International Day of Yoga. Here’s a primer and what to expect tomorrow.

Published: Sun 21 Jun 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:52 PM

What is Yoga?

An ancient Indian practice known to transform the physical, mental and spiritual state of a human being

For Whom?

Yoga works for everyone from people engaged in desk jobs to professional cyclists to runners to people looking for weight loss to housewives to students.


Practitioners have experienced relief from chronic illnesses and have observed behavioural changes. they have reported a healthy, happier living with reduced anxiety, increased tolerance and mindfulness

6 purifications

The first stage of  yoga discipline is six purifications, which are

> Dhauti, cleansing the stomach by swallowing a strip of cloth

> Basti, “yogic enema,” effected by sucking water into the colon

> Neti , cleaning of the nasal passages with water and/or cloth

> Trataka, which involves concentrating on a single point such as a small object, black dot or candle flame. It is a way of developing concentration, strengthening the eyes

>  Nauli or laulik, forcibly moving the rectus abdominus muscles in a circular motion

> Kapalabhati , forcefully expelling air through the nose

 What to expect tomorrow

The first International Day of Yoga will be observed on June 21 in 170 countries, including the UAE. About 15,000 people are likely to participate in various events. This includes participants from Indian schools, local universities, the diplomatic community and local government. Mary Kom, the five-time world amateur boxing champion, will participate in the event organised by Indian Consulate General in Dubai AG Mohan, yoga guru of Swasth Yoga and Ayurveda, along with Maryam Ovissi, a US national and yoga teacher, and Rishiji Nitya Pragyaji of the Art of Living.

The main event in Dubai will be held at Al Wasl Sports Club grounds from 8pm onwards. The programme will begin with an introduction to yoga as a sport. The event will launch a ‘Dubai Yoga’ initiative. A coffee table book on Dubai Yoga is being produced, highlighting various aspects of Yoga as well as activities of various yoga schools in the UAE. For more details log on to

What experts say

Yoga has a holistic approach to good health—physical, mental, social and spiritual. Our body produces a large amount of metabolic waste every day.  Yoga helps  to cleanse toxins in our body and improve the oxygen intake, level of hemoglobin, and entire systems in the body. You just need air and water to practise yoga, which cures a lot of diseases. I have not taken any medicine for the past 15 years. With one hour’s yoga daily, you can improve your efficiency at your workplace. as well.

It is best to practise yoga after accessing your body well. For people who suffer from certain lifestyle diseases, certain yoga practices won’t be beneficial. Practising yoga without the proper guidance of a qualified master might even be harmful to you. That is why I teach my patients and those who come to me to learn yoga a focused version called ‘Ayur Yoga’. This is totally based on Pathanjali yoga. One should teach yoga based on each individual’s physical condition and ailments.

The eight stages

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means  eight limbs. These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

1. Yama
(yama, originally meant “bridle” or “rein.” )

The first limb, yama, deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behaviour and how we conduct ourselves in life. Yamas are universal practices that relate best to what we know as the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The five yamas are:

Ahimsa: non-violence

Satya: truthfulness

Asteya: non-stealing

Brahmacharya: continence

Aparigraha: non-covetousness

 2. Niyama

Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending prayers saying grace before meals, developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.

The five niyamas are:

Saucha: cleanliness
Samtosa: contentment
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: study of the scriptures
and of one’s self

Isvara pranidhana: prioritise your thoughts

 3. Asana

The postures practised in yoga. Through the practice of asanas, we develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both of which are necessary for meditation.

 4. Pranayama

Breath control. Consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognising the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. As implied by the literal translation of pranayama, “life force extension”.

 5. Pratyahara

Withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves.

6. Dharana

Concentration. Having relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself.

7. Dhyana
Meditation or contemplation, the seventh stage. At this stage, the mind has been quieted, and in the stillness it produces few or no thoughts at all.

8. Samadhi

A state of ecstasy. The meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the self altogether. With this realisation comes ence of bliss and being at one with the universe. What patanjali has described as the completion of the yogic path is what, deep down, all human beings aspire to: peace. It can only be experienced.

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