21 Aug Hour 10 History and benefits of asanas
History of Asanas
The first indication of body culture in Yoga is to be traced through the word Asana (posture) and Pranayama (the regulation, conservation and control of bioenergy). But, since we are concerned primarily with postures, let us go to its origins. This involves not only how posture training came to be regarded as a physical requisite for Yoga, but also how its later development aided the most comprehensive evolution of hygieology, namely physical training, hygiene, social medicine and therapeutics.
Asana is recognised by Yoga as the primal requisite for the development of the physical, moral, mental or spiritual aspects of a man’s personality. The relevance of this description is becoming more and more evident each day with the emphasis being laid in recent times by medical science on the need for correct posture as an aid to physical as well as mental well-being.
The history of body posture, however, goes back.even earlier than the days of Patanjali for, after all, he merely systematized all the information which had been handed down by previous generations. There are various references in the Vedas, Brahrnanas, Aral]yakas and the earlier Upanisads, which indicate that the practices must have already been in existence prior to their being noted in these textual references.
It must be understood that ancient Yogins had the time and patience necessary to investigate fully and personally the varied influences of these postures on individual beings. They must have also further scrutinised their relative merits by analytical comparisons and thus formulated, after years of research, a complete course of posture training best suited to students of self-culture. Such few early postures, mostly meditative poses, in turn passed through a series of modifications and additions before the whole system of physical education was finally perfected by the early students of scientific Yoga, the Harhayogins,
In the evolution of Asana and its synthesis, besides the original prayer and meditative poses, certain other postures have also been included, which have been found to be definitely useful in the development of the physical and meditative aspects of the individual’s personality.To their static usefulness have been added a series of dynamic variations with a view to enlarging their scope of application and also to meeting the varied requirements of all classes of students. The influence of Asanas on many vital physiologic functions has been tested on thousands of students and patients for long.
IMITATION OF ‘BIRDS AND ANIMALS
Asanas imitate the shapes of the bow, plants, reptiles, fish, birds animals
|LORD OF BIRDS||GARUASANA|
|STRETCHING THE BOW||AKARADHANURASANA|
SHRI YOGENDRAJI’S VIEW ON BENEFITS OF ASANA
Seventy years ago, late Shri Yogendraji pioneered a movement to popularise Yoga. He had been trained in the traditional way under the guidance of Paramahamsa Madhavdasji (1798-1921). Shri Yogendraji then worked closely with medical scientists and doctors and leading hospitals in the United States to scientifically corroborate the techniques and principles of Yoga which he then advocated. His teachings, therefore, are based on traditional knowledge corroborated by modern medical science and personal observations of the effects of Yoga on various healthy and sick Individuals.
Physical education rightly applied contributes enormously to the perfect harmony and efficiency of nutrition of the body and elimination of its waste contents. The flow of blood throughout the body and especially through the lungs during exercise permits more oxygen to be taken into the blood and .more carbondioxide to be excreted Both these biologic circumstances are definitely favourable to the general health, .rhythrn and activity of the body.
What Yoga regards as of greater significance is the effect of physical training on the nervous system. In Yoga, the physical body merely serves as an instrument of education for the mind, and the nervous system, therefore, assumes paramount importance. The exercises for anterior contraction and posterior stretching, and the lateral twists of the spine, offer the best means for maximum stretching and relaxing of the opposing pairs of muscles and also for the natural adjustment of the vertebrae. These exercises help in enlarging the vertebral foramina which relieves the pressure on the spinal nerves and aids circulation. They also maintain a balance and give tone to the three inter-related nervous systems, stimulate regeneration of Nissl’s granules and promote osmosis through the medium of the plasma. The capillaries and the end-organs can thus sustain their normal tone. All the Yoga exercises and processes characteristically aim at control, purification and coordination of the nervous system rather than at muscular display and strength. As such, Yoga urges towards poise and control of the body and the mind through non-violent and non-fatiguing methods of physical education.