Basic Yogic Points
One of the world's Yoga masters, Swami Vishnu Devananda, Founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, was a world authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga. Swamiji was also known as the "Flying Swami" for the different peace missions he accomplished around the world.
Swamiji summed up the basic essence of the science of yoga into the following five basic points with the belief that westerners could use these principles to attain physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth.
1. Exercise (Asanas)
The modern lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints. Because of insufficient muscle length (flexibility) and muscle strength our bodies develop disease and discomfort over time. Our physical body is meant to move and find freedom through exercise. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind, and spiritual life.
2. Breathing (Pranayama)
Most people do not utilize their lungs' optimum capacity. Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow, and rhythmic. They increase vitality and mental clarity, while eliminating stress and tension.
3. Relaxation (Savasana)
Because of our fast-paced live styles in which we are constantly barraged with external stimuli, we are continually switching our bodies into the classic "fight or flight" syndrome. Stressful situations arise and we tense up, but even after these situations pass, we continue to carry the stress and tension. Over time, this has a tremendously negative cumulative effect. Yogis of yore devised very powerful techniques of deep relaxation that can be employed to help us deal with this very modern problem. Through the deep relaxation of all muscles in the body, the yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.
4. Diet (Fresh, Local, Home Cooked, Organic)
Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. Experiment with what you eat. Listen to your body and check in with yourself everyday to determine what makes you feel most healthy and most energetic. Let yourself be the judge of what works best for your particular body's constitution. Listen and feel; notice your habits. Feed yourself what you need! This sensitivity is integral to a happy and healthy life.
5. Positive Thinking & Meditation (Dhyana)
We become what we think. What sort of thoughts and beliefs do you want to have running through your cell tissues? Yoga gives us the opportunity to move through residual emotions so that we can release what no longer servers our being. Yoga teaches us to discern between the voices of conditioning and the voice of your spirit. We learn to cultivate positive and creative thoughts which contribute to vibrant health and a peaceful, joyful mind.