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There’s More to Yoga than Physical Fitness

Yoga for mental health

Physical health and Mental health are the basic requirements to enjoy life and have peace. A lot of people think of Yoga as a way to lead a physically healthier lifestyle. Yoga does fulfill its promise of helping you keep healthy and fit. There are numerous scientific studies that validate it. However, there’s much more to Yoga than physical fitness alone.

The ancient sage Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras over 2 centuries ago and defined the main goal of Yoga as stilling the changing states of mind. Yoga asanas are one of the limbs of Yoga. They are meant to keep us physically fit so that we can concentrate and meditate. It’s difficult for a sick body to meditate.

In the eight limbs of Yoga, Yoga asanas are followed by Pranayama (breath control), which ultimately helps you with higher stages of concentration and meditation. Yoga asanas are largely a part of what is also known as Hatha Yoga. There is a lot of scientific evidence of the health benefits of Hatha Yoga.

According to the Sankhya philosophy, Yoga fundamentally helps increase the Sattva component in us. The nature around us (including our own mind) is made of 3 Gunas (qualities). These are Sattva (lucidity), Rajas (action), and Tamas (inertia). When the Sattva is predominant, the qualities of lucidity, tranquility, wisdom, discrimination, detachment, happiness, and peacefulness manifest. When Rajas is predominant, passion, energetic endeavor, attachment, and creativity activity manifest in us. The least favorable of all Gunas is Tamas. When Tamas is predominant, stillness, ignorance, delusion, lethargy, sleep, and disinterest manifest. Any time we are lethargic or don’t want to act it’s the Tamas Guna playing a predominant role inside us. Yoga maximizes the proportion of the Sattva Guna of the mind and correspondingly decreases Rajas, and Tamas Guna.

The actual benefits of Yoga appear when you integrate Yoga asanas with pranayama (breath control) and meditation. It calms the mind, and according to the Sankhya philosophy increases the Sattva Guna.

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Eight Limbs of Yoga
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