- What is it?
- How do we practice it?
- How does it add value to our lives?
One of the most highly read topics in this world is yoga. It is also one of the least understood. The western world has largely understood yoga an “Asanas” and that too in relation to possessing a healthy physical body. The eastern world where it originated (India) has done no better as it has complicated it for the common man. Most of the explanations have been done by spiritual persons in a manner that relates to ancient scriptures and not in alignment with the needs of the century.
The purpose of this article will be to “demystify” yoga while bringing out its real essence in a simple and scientific way that can be related to the man of today (whether from the East or West.)
Since the topic is vast I would be making the article available in a number of parts. I hope readers will get an understanding of yoga in a manner that would not only make them grasp its essence but also work towards practicing it to make their lives richer.
The Science of yoga
In order to understand Yoga a few basic building blocks need to be understood.
Building Block 1: Prana
Prana is the vital force that sustains not only the body, but also creation at every level. Every tool of yogic science is aimed at awakening and enhancing this vital force. The Sanskrit word Prana is a combination of two syllables, pra and na, and denotes a force in constant motion. Prana exists in sentient beings as the energy that drives every action, voluntary and involuntary, and every thought at every level of mind and body. Scientific research has found prana to be a complex multidimensional energy: a combination of electrical, magnetic, electromagnetic, photonic, ocular, thermal and mental energies.
Prana also exists in the insentient world, causing motion, growth and decay at this level. It is indeed the basis of manifested creation.
The existence of the pranic field has been proven by modern science. It has been found as a vapor of charged particles which can be affected internally by the mind and externally by electric and magnetic fields.
Prana flows through Nadis (channels of energy that are too subtle to be observed by science so far) and is stored in “chakras”, energy vortices.
Prana is inherent to all beings. We are born with a certain quantum of prana, we increase or decrease it through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the thoughts we have, the actions we perform and the kind of life we lead. When we die, the accumulated prana leaves the body.