Yoga is the most commonly used term to represent difficult postures or meditation. However the meaning of Yoga is different, Yoga literally means to bind or to attach or simply union. Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philisophy. It was first taught by Shiva (who is often called as the Adi Yogi or the first yogi) some 40,000 years before and it was later co-ordinated and systematized by Patanjali in the book yoga sutras. In the Indian thought, everything is permeated by a supreme universal spirit (paramatma or God) and individual human spirit ( jivatma) is a part of it. Realizing and experiencing this union of paramatma and Jivatma is Yoga in simple terms.
To attain this level, the body and mind should be prepared and Yoga asanas (or the postures) is a tool to raise our body and mind to that standard. The health benefits and the curing ability of Yogasanas are just a byproduct of this process and not the aim of this process. One can literally cure any ailment in the body through yoga asanas, but yogasana should not be done aiming for just physical benefit. The asanas which is commonly misinterpreted as Yoga is actualy the third stage of Yoga.
The 8 stages of Yoga
1) Yama (Universal Moral Values)
2) Niyama (Self Purification by discipline)
3) Asanana (The postures)
4) Pranayama (Rhytmic control of breathings): This should not be practiced before mastering the basic yogasanas.
5) Prathyahara (Withdrawal of mind from senses)
6) Dharana (concentration)
7) Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi ( a state of super-consciousness where the union with paramatma happens)
So before even starting Yogasanas one should practice Yama and Niyama and bring in control of mind, senses and body. The biggest aid to achieve this is through change in food and lifestyle. It is always advisable to have Sattvic Food.
Staying Slim and healthy is not a gift, that is the way we were all created, but unfortunately due to bad habits and poor lifestyle people became obese. Yoga and pranayama helps in weight loss, but that is just a byproduct and not the purpose of doing yoga. We will publish a series of yoga articles to help people stay healthy and slim.