Yoga is an art and science of human life. It is a useful technique to keep one physically fit and mentally prepared to discover the real nature of consciousness. This quest has been the foundation of all great Yogic teachings and the goal of many great mystics. There is evidence in history that the practice of Yoga dates back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions. Yoga is mentioned in the Rig Veda where sages used to follow and practice Yogic kriya with meditation. Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices and is one of the six Āstika (orthodox) schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. It is the base for effective meditation which is in fact the first step to connect with the inner soul.
It is considered as a form of low-impact exercise and stress-reduction and is estimated to be practiced by 20 million people in the US alone. The US National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database shows that in 1968, seven studies were already published on Yoga. Now, in recent years, there have been over 250 studies which have scientifically described and explained Yoga.
According to a Boston University Health Center report published in 2010, Yoga not only improves cognitive thinking but also helps to fight anxiety and depression. Doing Yoga only three times a week can help to remove toxic cells from the brain and improve positivity thinking. The Ohio State University has also published an article, which reveals that long-term Yoga can help to combat stress in daily life. One of the amazing benefits of Yoga is that it connects one with one's inner-self. The process is meditation. The results can be seen in the form of boosted self-confidence and positive attitude towards life. It makes one more productive at the workplace and improves creativity.
Swami Vivekananda introduced meditation to the West. In his book ‘Raja Yoga’, he widely discussed meditation, its purpose and procedure. He described meditation as a bridge that connects human soul to God. He defined meditation as a state when the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location. Yoga begins with the body, goes to the mind and aims to unravel the inner nature of our being.
Consciousness remains a secret to science, in spite of numerous specialists trying to study, define and explain it. However, one thing is certain. Consciousness is much more than simple awareness or insight, mindfulness or self-awareness or intelligence. An iceberg can be cited as an example to explain consciousness. Less than 10% of most icebergs is above the surface of the water representing the conscious mind comprising of the ego and personality together with sensory impressions, thoughts, feelings, attitudes etc. The significant portion of the iceberg, hidden underneath the surface, represents the unconscious. For many, this unknown part of themselves is a mystery.
If Yoga deals with the mind, why does it begin with the body? Yoga looks at the well-being of the body, mind and spirit. It enhances the complete human experience. Ignorant of our true selves, we derive a false sense of identity from what we have, what we do, or who we are connected with - our possessions, our social roles, how others see us etc. Behind this identity is a deeper identity, what is often called the ‘true self’. This can be thought of as the essence of consciousness. This is why the search to discover the nature of one's own innermost essence is the search for ‘true self’.
Yoga has been practiced all over world. Now millions of practitioners widely claim that Yoga not only has therapeutic values but also helps to connect with the inner self through meditation. A recently published systematic review in the Clinical Journal of Pain, where an evaluation of ten randomised controlled trials found patients with chronic low back experiencing short-term effectiveness from practicing Yoga. The study also found moderate evidence for long-term effectiveness of Yoga for chronic low back pain.
Human clinical research now confirms the value of Yoga in prevention and treatment of various diseases. People who practice Yoga regularly reduce the intensity of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes by improving well-being and reducing anxiety. There are now four clinical studies indicating that practice of Yoga improves the condition of those with bronchial asthma. It also lowers blood pressure by a combined effect of reduced stress and improved blood circulation. Yoga has also been found useful in improving obsessive-compulsive behaviour.
The modern lifestyle ties a person to desktop devices like computer and laptop, reducing physical movements and increasing back pain - even in young children. Just five to ten minutes of Yoga in the morning can help to reduce back pain and improve physical stability.
Yoga can help industrial leaders as well. Practising Yoga can ignite the inner spark and help to tap into resources in order to support and bring out the best in business processes. It helps to develop creativity and nurture the power of intuition. It can help business leaders to ensure team functioning and approach issues compassionately. Employees value leaders who are humane and who do not hide behind their authority. Yoga helps one to think big while focusing on the details – which is a key managerial attribute essential in running large organisations.