The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root ‘yog’ which means to ‘yoke’ or to ‘bind’. In this case, it refers to the practice of binding man to God (Atma to Paramatma). It is the world famous and ancient practice of India that incorporates a wide variety of specialised physical, mental, emotional and spiritual practices. Hatha yoga refers to the physical aspects of Yoga, namely postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Swami Sivananda (1854-1934) developed a classical Hatha Yoga system called Sivananda Yoga which is the best all-round Yoga system I have come across and forms a basis for the ‘Yoga Chi Kung’ system.
The five principles of Yoga are the basis of attaining a healthy body and mind.
*Proper relaxation. By releasing tension in the muscles and putting the whole body at rest, you revitalise your nervous system (overcome ‘enervation’) and achieve inner peace. This relaxed feeling is carried over into all your activities and helps to conserve energy whilst letting go of all your worries and fears.
*Proper exercise. The physical body is designed to move and exercise. Proper exercise is achieved through the various postures of Yoga.
*Proper breathing. This means breathing fully and rhythmically, making use of all the parts of your lungs to increase your oxygen intake. Breathing exercises (pranayama) teaches us how to recharge the body and control the mental state by regulating the flow of life-force (prana).
* Proper diet. A proper diet is one that nourishes both mind and body. It should be well balanced and based on natural foods. Proper diet in Yoga also means eating in moderation and eating only when you actually feel hungry.
* Positive thinking & meditation. Thoughts are to be controlled if the yogi is to achieve success in yoga and in life generally. Banishing damaging/negative thoughts (such as angry responses or worrying) and controlling concentration/visualisation/detachment is achieved through the various yogic meditation techniques.
Extracted from The Five Point Plan by James Cooper.