By : Mrinalini Kumari
The most appropriate method to attain optimum health naturally is the system and science of Yoga. Yoga is not only a series of physical postures or meditative practices. It is a lifestyle which can be lived by everyone, not necessarily those who are sannyasins, sadhus or renunciates. It is a form of understanding, of realizing our interactions in life, trying to improve them, trying to understand the needs of the body, the needs of the mind and also the needs of the spirit. This is the concept of a yogic lifestyle: living according to the laws of the body and the laws of nature.
Lifestyle is the keyword for well-being. From the yogic perspective, health does not just mean a disease free body. This ancient science believes in a holistic approach to health of which the body, mind and spirit are integral and interdependent parts. Yoga claims to endow perfect physical, mental and social wellbeing even under stressful conditions. Thus the yogic meaning of wellbeing is more than just psychological. It means physical fitness, mental agility and spiritual verve. This psychosomatic spiritual approach emphasizes that we cannot think of sound health by only caring for one or two components of body, mind and ignoring the other. This results in an imbalance due to which harmony of personality is lost and the person suffers from psychological and psychosomatic problems. The rise in mental health problems in developed societies of the world is mainly due to ignoring the spiritual dimension of health and living an individualistic lifestyle.
So, Yogic lifestyle aims at the evolution of mind. It talks of the journey from gross to most subtle. This is conceived in yogic literature as the journey from Annamaya kosha to Anandamaya kosha.
Yogic management of the Koshas
According to yoga there are the five dimensions of existence into which all the other experiences fall, which may be physical or emotional, which may be in the realm of energy or the mind. In order to deal with each kosha, yoga has presented different techniques.
The first dimension is the material body, annamaya kosha. Anna means 'food', 'manifest matter'; maya means 'full of'. Annamaya kosha consists of our gross physical body.
To harmonize and experience optimum health in the different energies and functions of the physical body the
Annamaya kosha, yoga says practise Asana, Pranayama and the Shatkarmas which can help to purify and detoxify the body.
The next layer of experience is pranamaya kosha, movement of the pranic force directing our physical and mental activities. This movement happens through nadis or channels, conductors of energy which are controlled by the six charkas.
To deal with energy system, Pranamaya kosha, yoga says practice the techniques of Pranayama, Pranavidya, Chakra Shuddhi, Kriya and Kundalini, which will help to channel the flow of energy throughout the system, to stimulate and awaken the prana.
After pranamaya kosha, we come to manomaya kosha, the dimension of mental awareness. This mental dimension is composed of two qualities, manas and buddhi. Manas is the rational, linear, sequential, thoughtful mind. Buddhi is the quality of discrimination which comes after knowledge, after the removal or the absence of ignorance.
To manage the activities and balance the agitations of Manomaya kosha, yoga says practise Pratyahara, Dharana, Mantra, Yantra and Mandala, SWAN Meditations.
From here we come to vijnanamaya kosha. 'Jnana' means 'wisdom', 'knowledge'; the prefix 'vi' is a confirmation of the intensity of knowledge which is derived not only from the experiences and memories which we have gained in this lifetime, but also in past lives. There is a storehouse of knowledge in every one of us, but we are not educated to experience that inner wisdom.
Vijnanamaya kosha has the aspects of chitta and ahamkara associated with it. Chitta means the ability to know, to become the observer of what is actually happening, to be able to live a reality and not speculate or fantasize about it. Ahamkara is the ego aspect, in the real not the gross sense, knowledge of 'I', becoming aware of the identity of the self. This understanding comes when we work with vijnanamaya kosha.
To experience the power and force of Vijnanamaya kosha, practise Dhyana, Laya yoga and Nada yoga.
Once we have realized the power of vijnanamaya kosha we move into the experience of anandamaya kosha, the dimension of bliss,
To experience the state of Anandamaya kosha strive to attain the experience of Samadhi, to awaken Kundalini. It is around these concepts of managing different dimensions of human experience and existence that the entire system of yoga evolved.
Managing the mind
Yoga says that there are certain methods to extricate yourself from the sticky side of the mind. In order to again harmonize and balance yourself, you need to develop certain qualities and aspects of your nature, beginning with the ability to release the tensions through the process of relaxation. Relaxation is a systematic approach to letting go of the accumulated blockages, not only in the mind but also in the body. After you are able to relax physically, mentally and emotionally, you are instructed through yoga to develop
personal awareness, sajagta, in order to witness yourself interacting with the world, society, family, and with your own limitations, ambitions and aspirations. Awareness is the result of leading a yogic lifestyle. Afterwards, with awareness, you have to develop a
sense of positivism towards yourself. When positive expressions are developed through the practices of reflection, concentration and introspection, which in common language is known as meditation, then you, are able to harmonize the inner personality.
We need to realize that there are ways to regulate our lifestyle. Regulation of lifestyle is the keyword here for the well-being of the human personality