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Is Yoga only for the Yogis?

A holistic approach

These days most people feel that their lives are spinning out of control as they struggle to keep up with the pace of modern living. It's not considered abnormal to have a heart condition at 35 and blood pressure checks are routine. Everybody says that stress, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy living in general are the culprits. In a quick-fix world people look for quick-fix solutions that usually treat the symptoms, rarely the cause. Aerobic classes, crash diets, weight loss clinics, going on the wagon, cutting down on smoking, how much does it help in the ultimate analysis? It's time we considered a more holistic approach. 

What is yoga?

This is where yoga comes in. Yoga means union. In the words of Godfrey Devereaux, student and teacher of yoga, "it means union of the individual with the universal, the self with other, inner with outer, finite with infinite." The practice of yoga aims at unifying the human body and mind with the ultimate aim of creating a mental state of deep meditation and concentration. In a state of perfect harmony of the human mind and body and other states of consciousness, an individual may achieve spiritual union with the universal reality, or God. 

Some of the main goals defined 

Samadhi: "It is the ultimate state of consciousness - In it there is neither suffering, nor attachment, nor illusion. There is only the bliss of freedom from limitation and identification of the finite self with the infinite reality."

Moksha: It means liberation. "Free from illusion we become one with the entire universe."

Kaivalya: It means aloneness. "When one has become one with God, one with the whole of existence, there is no other, and so one is alone."

How does it help?

You're probably thinking, that's all right, but how does all this spirituality help solve my daily problems? While you may not be concerned about reaching the highest goal of self-realization, you may reap many benefits on the road to this goal. One of the most obvious benefits at the most basic level, is physical fitness and better health. On the spiritual level, you'll have greater peace of mind, tolerance, compassion and higher energy levels. Yoga trains you to draw on your latent sources of strength and energy, which, in turn help you to cope with the stresses of daily living. 

Yoga is not a key to a perfect world because there is no such thing as a perfect world. So if you're expecting that yoga will make all your troubles vanish by magic, you will be sorely disappointed. Your boss will still not give you a raise, your children will continue to drive you round the bend, there will never be enough money or enough time to do the things you want to do-Life will go on as before. 

Some things change, some stay the same

While your problems won't go away, what will change is your ability to deal with them. You will learn to live with your limitations and accept your troubles. Yoga teaches you to handle even your negative emotions in a creative and positive fashion. You will not be consumed by fleeting, though strong emotions like anger, fear, or sadness. You will simply experience them and express them in some positive way. You will not repress emotions that will lead to internal conflict. You will see situations from a broader perspective making it easier for you to deal with them with equanimity. 

But for all of you living on the fast track, remember that this is not going to happen overnight. To achieve these higher states of consciousness is no child's play. It's going to take a lot of time and effort, but it's worth it.

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