The practice of Yoga has been used for centuries to promote a sense of physical and spiritual well-being. Although the origins of Yoga are shrouded in mystery, it is generally accepted to have begun at the dawn of civilization some 5000 years ago. A number of respected scholars have suggested that Yoga grew out of the shamanistic culture of Mehgarh, located in the region now known as Afghanistan. In fact, many facets of Hindu culture have their roots in Mehgarh.
The principle goal of the practice of Yoga is to assist practitioners in the transcendence of the human condition. It was an attempt to discern the order of the cosmos, and to apply those principles to daily living. Yoga has been linked to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, which was one of the oldest and most advanced of the ancient cultures. This civilization also gave birth to some of the oldest scriptures ever discovered in modern times. The Vedas are considered by many as a form of divine revelation, and contain many references to a higher power and to the practice of Yoga.
On the physical plain, Yoga has shown incredible promise in treating and managing many illnesses. The practice of Yoga has a number of physical benefits for practitioners. It facilitates flexibility, and assists in the lubrication of joints, tendons, and ligaments. Many of the poses and positions work to massage the organs, thus stimulating the body’s detoxification process. The physical benefits of Yoga are often considered secondary to the spiritual development. Yoga has the incredible ability to bring into harmony the physical and the spiritual elements of the individual experience.
Meditation also plays a significant role in Yoga. By combining intense meditation with specialized physical exercise, practitioners are able to achieve a unity of body, mind, and soul. The intent is to create a sense of balance and harmony, both internally and externally. The emotional calmness associated with meditation works to reduce stress, which is considered by many as one of the root causes of physical illness. The primary goal of Yoga is to empower the individual to transcend the physical world and to achieve a sense of enlightenment or self-realization. For those interested in understanding and fully realizing the oneness of all things, a commitment to the principles and practice of Yoga will undoubtedly unlock the secrets of the cosmos in all their wondrous glory.