What Is The Main Purpose Of Yoga: Yoga’s Origins And Science
Yogis have different views and ways. Some do yoga for the physical aspects, and some are doing it for their mental health. As a beginner, we already have our answers to the question, “what is the main purpose of yoga?” This question, if simplified, is asking why I need yoga.
As a yogi myself, I started practicing to benefit from the physical aspects. It was to help me be more flexible and have a healthy body in the process. I also saw yoga as a graceful practice. But that’s me, and yoga has been a practice for a long time.
But wanting to know the purpose of yoga brings us back to its originator. Let’s dive deep as we talk about the history of yoga and how it came to fruition.
The History Of Yoga
Yoga started from ancient wisdom passed on from generation to generation. The supreme science of life was what they called it during these times. History tells us that yoga originated in India over thousands of years ago. The first-ever records about yoga was around 200 BC and discovered in Yogastura of Patanjali.
Yoga is a system of mental and physical practices by the Indus Valley Civilization in South Asia. They practiced knowledge to complete a network of physical, psychological, and spiritual development. It was a philosophy that passed on from master to student.
The system consisted of the eightfold path of Ashtanga yoga. Surprisingly, they all answer the question, what is the main purpose of yoga?
- Yama -Yama talks about society and successful living.
- Niyama - Niyama is a technique for purifying the self.
- Asaana - It talks about posture techniques for both physical and mental balance.
- Pranayama - These are breathing techniques.
- Pratihara - Talks about shutting off the senses to free the mind.
- Dharana - Techniques to help you focus and concentrate.
- Dhyana - Techniques for a mental calmness.
- Samadhi - Advance meditation technique applied after regular practice.
What is the main purpose of yoga for ancient people? Well, they believed that we could harness energy in the body by focusing on the spine. The chakra that flows within us can unlock the different levels that connect with the endocrine glands in our brains. When the power reaches the highest center, it can regulate the secretion of hormones. This process is responsible for the calm effects that yoga brings when you are stressed and worrisome. Even simple breathing techniques can do wonders for the body.
For them, this answered the question of what is the main purpose of yoga.
The traditional practice of yoga is more rigorous. Some even say the practice is a lifelong devotion to the art. But contemporary teachers have formulated their techniques. They are contributing to further knowledge about yoga.
- Bhakti yoga talks about the path of devotion.
- Gyana yoga talks about the path of knowledge.
- Raja yoga talks about the path of wisdom to self-realization and enlightenment.
- Karma yoga is the path of action.
There are a lot of emerging yoga schools that have simplified the techniques of yoga as well. To make them more accessible for people to do and practice. Kriya Yoga and Kundalini Yoga are perfect examples of simplified yoga, which is very popular in the west.
- Kriya Yoga
Kriya yoga’s founder Paramahansa Yogananda is involved in the Self-Realization Fellowship in the United States. The word Kriya means to do, to act, and to react. Its belief centers on the full oxygenation of the blood. The oxygen then is converted into a life current that rejuvenates the central nervous system. These, in turn, will prevent the decay of tissue and enhance the evolution of the mind.
- Kundalini Yoga
In kundalini yoga, the technique is in meditation. To enter the pituitary and the hypothalamus glands and to control them. There are also breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, and various muscular strain reduction techniques to enhance the lungs, balance, and core strength of an individual.
The Different Health Benefits Of Yoga
There is a lot of benefits you get from various techniques in yoga. Yoga improves the body's flexibility and core strength. It also promotes mental stimulation to focus, concentrate, and relax better. This system of yoga has help aid several ailments like heart disease, depression, anxiety, and asthma. It has also been an alternative therapy to stop smoking cigarettes and substance abuse like alcohol.
Let’s focus on the two health benefits of yoga in the physical and mental health of a person:
- It improves the body's flexibility and balance.
- Improves digestion.
- Relaxes the muscle and enhances overall strength.
- It improves cardiovascular endurance.
- Increases abdominal strength.
- Increases the energy levels of the body.
- Improves metabolism.
- Enhances the immune system.
- It helps in weight control.
- Relieve stress.
- Lower anxiety level.
- Stimulate intellectual enhancement.
- Gives calmness and tranquility.
- Prevents stress.
- Improve focus and concentration.
- It gives life meaning and purpose.
It is reported that 36 million Americans are practicing yoga. Just remember that yoga has its benefits, but yoga without the proper instruction can leave you with a sprain, torn muscles, and severe injuries. So it is best to be cautious when practicing yoga, especially when you do it daily.
Many people wonder about the purpose of yoga. As a yogi myself, I stop and think about the countless hours I’ve invested in yoga. I believe the goal of yoga is for a much deeper spiritual growth and a calmer mood. But at the end of the day, we all have our perspectives. I hope this article has shed some light on answering the question, What is the main purpose of yoga? It was good to know the history of yoga and know how the practice evolved truly. So we can formulate our conclusions as to what yoga means, especially to you. Namaste.