Thursday December 14, 2017

Bhagavad Gita: From despondency to Yoga

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Bhagavad-Gita

By Gaurav Sharma

In the midst of the serpentine armies, the warriors blow their conch-shells. At the grand setting, Arjuna, the finest archer, asks Krishna, his friend and guide to chariot him between the two armies.

Arjuna has an eagle-eye view of the battlefield. Overwhelmed by the stack of relatives and teachers rallying against him, Arjuna is stricken with grief and despondency at the thought of fighting his kith and kin.

Despondency

He lays down his famed Gandiva bow and begins arguing against the futility of war before Krishna. The stage is set for an epic dialogue to quell man’s eternal dilemma, the delusions of mind.

The despondency of Arjuna represents the perpetual conflicts, recurring contradictions and precarious predicaments that each one of us experiences but chooses only to contemplate and introspect when beset with psychological upheavals and mental breakdowns.

The moments of inner turmoil or the moral dilemmas erupting on the screen of the mind, in fact, act as an impetus for traversing the path and the goal of Yoga.

Multitudinal Yoga

The word Yoga is interpreted in myriad ways. The popular conception of Yoga as merely a series of bodily postures, techniques of meditation and art of breath control is rather fallacious.

Yoga means “to unite”, or “to join”. Panini, the 6th Century Sanskrit grammarian says the term Yoga is derived from either of the two roots– Yujir (to yoke) or Yuj samadhu (to concentrate).

According to Ved Vyasa, the first commentator on the Yoga-Sutras, Yoga means Samadhi (concentration). Those who are practicing the art of concentration are said to be yogis or yoginis.

Etymologically, combining or uniting implies the existence of more than one element. In this case, it indicates duality. This is the reason why yoga is most commonly used as a compound word, such as bhakti-yoga, gyana-yoga, raja-yoga, karma-yoga….., pointing towards union through devotion, knowledge, meditation and action respectively.

Some practitioners contend that aforementioned prefixes before yoga connote the substratum of Yoga, a series of progressive steps which form a ladder towards moksha or liberation. Yet, others believe that Yoga, in the compound form, is a means to achieve the ends that are the prefixes of bhakti, gyana and karma.

For moralists, Yoga incorporates ethical concepts directed towards leading a ‘sagely’ introspective life. The Tantriks see it as a way to enter other bodies and the Mahayana Buddhists view it as pure cognition, keen perception and discerning intellect.

According to Vivekananda, (the Vedantin), Yoga assumes a broader concept that includes the aforementioned prefixes (bhakti, gyana, karma..) as a means to achieving the end of Yoga itself. Yoga is both the means and the end. Yoga is the goal of Yoga.

Then there are others who view Yoga as an expansion of consciousness. Paramhamsa Yogananda, the post-Vivekananda yoga-guru used the term kriya-yoga to define the means to attain communion.

Kriya (literally meaning action) represents spontaneous bodily action arising from the flow of energy (kundalini). Kundalini is graphically represented as a coiled-up snake, denoting the tied-up bundle of energy within the human body.

Patanjali (1)
Patanjali in his Kundalini form

Symbolic meaning

The characters of Bhagavad Gita are also symbolic of our daily struggles.

For instance, Arjuna’s unwillingness to fight the battle with his own relatives refers to our own indecisiveness in discerning right from wrong. His doubts and delusions are compared to demons by Krishna. The scathing remark “do not succumb to such degrading impotence”, warns us of the pitfalls of choosing not to act.

Yet, everyday we choose to be a passive observer, a silent watcher of the evils of society that happen right beneath our eyes. Performance of our duties and abiding by our essential nature (Dharma) makes imminent and practical sense, yet we choose to lie in a sea of inactivity.

There is even a psychological underpinning to every character and name in the Gita. When the blind king Dhritarashta inquires from Sanjaya: Tell me Sanjaya, what did the sons of Pandu and my sons do when they assembled on the field of Kurukshetra?, it is an allusion to the fact that our blind mind (Dhritrashtra) should take instructions from the divine insight (Sanjaya)

The mind or manas is under a deluge of sensory activities whereas the Buddhi (intellect) is the doorway to truth. Amidst the opposing forces, the Ego or ahamkara, as represented by grandsire Bhishma is pulled into a tug of war, impeding the journey towards communion.

A vivid analogy describes this field of activity, the tug of war, in its most fulfilling form:

“The body is the chariot pulled by the five horses (sensory organs) towards different sense objects. The mind is the reign of the horses which receives impulses and sends relay from/to the charioteer. Intelligence is the charioteer that controls and guides the horses.”

Uncontrolledsenses
Uncontrolled senses as represented in Kathopanishad

Ensconced behind the web of words and concepts lies a treasure trove of wisdom. The right approach awaits its deciphering, one that defines the goal of life. Further delving into the mysteries of life through Bhagavad Gita’s lens in the next article.

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Indulge in Yoga for a healthy and a good respiratory system

This article gives information on Yoga which is a very beneficial hack for having a good respiratory system

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Yoga good for healthy and respiratory body.
Yoga good for healthy and respiratory body. IANS
  • Akshar explains the benefits of Yoga
  • Yoga being the ultimatum for a good respiratory system

-by Akshar

Smog, the choking threat which has landed the national capital in a pollution emergency, has been the cause of many respiratory problems in children and adults. When your daily commute feels like living on the edge, what are your other outdoor activities supposed to feel like?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is dangerous to breathe when there is too much smog. Smog contains ozone particles, and elevated ozone levels can have a variety of negative effects on your lungs.

While it is advised to stay indoors when the air is toxic outside, a more practical solution would be to establish a habit of cleansing your respiratory organs through Yoga.

If Yoga has been shown to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients, it could definitely do wonders against other respiratory issues. Here are a few asanas you could try to give you relief from chest congestion, respiratory flues and discomfort in breathing.

* Pranayama: This has proved beneficial for those suffering with bronchitis or lung congestion.

How to do it:

1. While performing pranayama one should make sure that his or her back is straight and should concentrate on the breathing.

2. Sahaj Pranayama, which is also called easy breathing, involves breathing a few times deeply.

3. Inhale through the nostrils for five counts and hold the breath for 10 counts.

4. Exhale through the mouth for 10 counts; this has to be repeated 10-12 times.

* Adho Mukha Svanasana: This posture strengthens the chest muscles and expands the lung region, increasing its capacity.

How to do it:

1. From table top position, tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips towards the ceiling.

2. Adjust your hands forward a bit, if necessary, and spread your fingers.

3. Keep your spine long, and your head and neck in line with your spine. Hold for one minute.

* Bhujangasana: This asana opens up the heart and lungs and gives them a good stretch.

How to do it:

1. Lie on your stomach; engage your back muscles in lifting your head and upper torso.

2. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders for support.

3. Open your chest and relax your shoulders away from your ears.

4. Look straight ahead and hold for one minute.

* Sukhasana: This heavy breathing seated position relieves yourself from stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

How to do it:

1. Sit erect, with the feet stretched out towards the front.

2. Now cross the legs in such a way that the knees are wide, shins are crossed, and each foot is placed under the knee. Knees must be bent, and legs should be tucked into the torso.

3. Feet must be relaxed, and the outer edges must rest on the floor while the inner edges must arch on the shins. Look down on your legs, must see a triangle formed by shins that are crossed and both the thighs.

4. Back must be balanced in such a way that the tailbone and the pubic bone are at equal distance from the floor.

5. Place the palms stacked up in your lap. Or you can also lay them on the knees palms up or palms down.

6. Elongate the tailbone, and firm up the shoulders. But make sure the lower back is not arched in such a way that it pokes the lower ribs forward.

* Marjari Asana: This involves deep breathing, which in turn expands the lungs and boosts blood circulation.

How to do it:

1. Begin with Adhomukhi Swanasana

2. Lean forward and place your knees down on your mat

3. Inhale, look up and relax

4. Inhale as you drop your knees

5. While navigating back, shift the body weight from the knees to palms and feet.

(Akshar is founder and course director of Bengaluru’s Akshar Yog. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at akshar@aksharyoga.com) (IANS)

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4 Best Yoga Asanas and Their Benefits

Yoga keeps your mind relaxed and helps you to stay fit and healthy. Try these 4 asanas for an overall good health

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yoga asanas
Yoga Pose.Pixabay
  • Yoga is a combination of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India
  • These 4 yoga asanas will help you to be in shape

“Yoga is the journey of self, through the self, to the self.” – Bhagvat Gita

Weight loss, a strong and flexible body, glowing beautiful skin, peaceful mind, good health – whatever you may be looking for, yoga has it on offer. Yoga is all about stretching our body in different forms and meditation.

Here are 4 best yoga asanas to keep your body toned-

1.Tadasana

Tadasana strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles.It helps to develop good posture and calms down the nervous system.

yoga asana
Tadasana.pixabay

2. Parvatasana

Parvatasana strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs.It tones the spinal nerves and sends the good flow of blood to the spinal region.

yoga asanas
A variation of Parvatasana. For the original asana, you need not raise the leg in the air as depicted here. Pixabay

3. Vakrasana

It is intensely twisted posture which helps in reducing back problems and fat reduction on the belly. It also increases spine blood flow to abdominal.

yoga asanas
Vakrasana, Wikimedia

4. Bhujangasana

It strengthens the spine, chest, shoulders, abdomen and buttocks. It helps in reducing indigestion and acidity problems.

yoga asanas: Bhujangasana
Bhujangasana.wikimedia commons

-prepared by Pragya Mittal of NewsGram| Twitter @PragyaMittal05

 

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Here’s how you can keep up with your fitness this Diwali!

Do you wish to celebrate a celebrate guilt-free Diwali? Read on!

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Diwali
Diwali does not mean you will have to compromise on your health, Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 17, 2017 : Saying no to sweets becomes near impossible around Diwali, making many conscious of their weight, calories and sugar level going up. Be active and restrict to two drinks to enjoy festivities with full fervor.

Here’s how you can keep up with your fitness this Diwali! Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal and Preeti Kakkar, nutritional expert at Credihealth, have listed what people can do to celebrate guilt-free Diwali:

  • Plan your day: If one meal goes for a toss, make sure the rest of the meals are on track. For instance, if you’ve reserved a table for dinner, then make sure your breakfast, lunch and snacks are balanced and healthier.
  • Festival and alcohol: Just restrict to two drinks. Alcohol dehydrates your body. Avoid taking cocktails and aerated drinks too as they give you just extra calories.
  • Be active: Physical activity will keep your metabolism active too. No matter what, engage in at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day. It can be in the form of dance, walk, jogging or yoga. You may find it hard to believe, but Surya Namaskar is the best way to fight exhaustion.
  • Don’t give up on sweets: It would be a crime to cut out the sweets entirely during this season. So, choose the healthier options and watch your portion size. Go for dry fruit, phirni, kheer, dark chocolate and date mithai instead of other sugar-loaded sweets.
  • Hydrate well: Don’t wait for the thirst to strike. Keep hydrating yourself at short intervals. Moreover, it will keep you stay full and energized in the rush of all preparation. (IANS)