Date: 20 Jul 2015 09:24:42

Intro: Yog is not limited to being called an art or science but today the ancient Hindu discipline is considered as a technology full of moves to keep you happy and healthy. It is one of the oldest practices to maintain the body and mind in good shapes.

Twenty first June, 2015, will be celebrated as the first ‘World Yoga Day’ unanimously by the world, and we Indians have the proud privilege to be the pioneer of the spiritual science called yoga. Though fundamentalist have linked it with Hindutva, yoga is beyond any cast, religion, gender or any other discrimination.  Infact, it is the life time gift given by our ancient culture. It was initially kept as a secret first because of its powers. Now the door of this knowledge are being opened for everyone’s benefit as we say “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – meaning hereby that everyone in the universe is part of our life and should get happiness and bliss of life. 
 Important to mention is that Yoga is not a religion; it is a way of living whose aim is ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.Man is a physical, mental and spiritual being; yoga helps promote a balanced development of all the three. Other forms of physical exercises, like aerobics, assure only physical well-being. They have little to do with the development of the spiritual or astral body.
Years ago Swami Vivekananda participated in  the first world religious conference held at Chicago and introduced the eternal religion of Hindus to the world,  and today our Prime Minister (Pradhan Sevak)  Narendra Modiji  has  opened the conduits of yogic knowledge to the  world and only because of his efforts today the whole world will be celebrating the World Yoga Day.
When Yoga is adopted as a life style, a person lives his life with awareness and discipline. Yoga is a way of life. It is Abhyasa and Vairagya and understanding the purpose of life and who you are? And what is your purpose in life.
In today’s fast moving world, we are not only living a stressful life, we’re suffering from worries, tensions and stress, which is the basic root of any disease. We call it Adhija Vyadhi. There are two types of stress -U stress which is useful and essential for progress and prosperity.The other one is D stress which is cause of destructions and death.
Pancha Kosa: Five layers of human existence
Hinduism defines man in terms of five Koshas. Kosha (also, Kosa) is referred to as "sheath", one of five (or seven) coverings of the Atman or Self according to Vedantic philosophy. According to the Kosha system in Yogic philosophy, the nature of being human encompasses physical and psychological aspects that function as one holistic system. The Kosha system refers to these different aspects as layers of subjective experience. Layers range from the dense physical body to the more subtle levels of emotions, mind and spirit.
Soul (atman) is wrapped inside five layers (Pancha kosha) of Arishadvarga (the gang of the six internal foes within us). Arishadvarga are considered the 6 inner enemies of a man Arishadvarga - (ari = shatru = enemy) (shad = 6) (varga = classes)
Arishadvarga: are the six passions of mind (vicars): Kama (Lust or desire), Krodh (Rage, anger or hatred), Lobh (Greed), Moh (delusory emotional attachment), Mada or Ahankar (Ego or pride) and Matsarya (envy, jealousy)]. 
Vedic texts mention that human body is only the physical abode of soul. The soul is considered to be enveloped in five (actually it is seven koshas if we go in more details of vedic texts) sheaths which we call as Pancha kosha. The Atman is at the center of the Bliss sheath. 
The soul is enveloped in seven sheaths. Development of all the seven sheaths fully is necessary for man’s complete spiritual evolution. 
Here are the 5 sheaths (Pancha kosha) or 7 sheets (layers of existence) of Human being:
n  Annamay Kosh (Food Sheath) - Outermost of the Pancha koshas: Annamay Kosh is materialistic realization of the Supreme. Living through this layer man identifies himself with a mass of skin, flesh, fat, bones, and filth. This is considered as cage of flesh and blood in terms of spiritual world.
Purification, Refinement and development of annamaya kosha is possible through the methods of: Upavas (fasting), Physical Asanas, Tatvashudhi (Inner Purification) and Tapashcharya (Practice of austerity). Freeing our soul from the attachment and identification with the food sheath (Annamaya kosh) or physical body is the first objective of spirituality.

  • Pranmay Kosh (Vital Air Sheath or the life force)
  • Manomay Kosh (mind as distinctly different from intelligence - Sheath)
  • Vigyanmay Kosh (Intellect Sheath)
  • Aanandmay Kosh (Bliss Sheath - or ceaseless joy not connected with body or mind) - Innermost of the Pancha koshas
  • Chitta Kosh (spiritual wisdom)
  • Sat Kosh (the final state of merging with the Infinite)

In Pranayama there are two types:  Cooling Pranayama – Shitali, Shitakari, Sadant which cools the body so it’s very   helpful in summer and helps body fight any disease caused due to increased heat of the body. 
 Hot pranayama is like Bhrasrika which is fast and energies the body which is good in winter and fights diseases that occur due to cold weather {example: Cold and cough}. Anulom Viloma i.e. Nadishudhi Pranayama is very good for channelizing the prana in 72,000 Nadies which are like our blood vesicles, as Prana flows through it. Nadishudhhi pranayama is very good for all type of diseases; Pranayama strengthens the Pranmay Kosha and any person can do it at any time of day but its more beneficial at sunrise and sunset.
Surynamaskara or Sun Salutation is the chain of various asanas which are very useful for our physical body. It is helpful in fighting many diseases. Suryanamaskar is of two types Dynamic and Slow. Dynamic (10 count) are fast and good in fighting obesity and helps maintain physical fitness. Slow (12 counts) helps fight all type of diseases and you have to practice it minimum 3 times and then can gradually increase the number according to your own capacity. 
Meditation is another important aspect of Yoga for calming down the mind, which decreases anxiety, depression, tension, stress etc. Meditation can be done at any time of the day, and it is also useful in every type of disease. It strengthens the Aanandmay Kosh and Vigyanmay kosh. It helps one achieve bliss and happiness of life.
According to tridosha theory (one of the fundamental theory of Indian medicine), the human body is made by three basic constituents called tridoshas, which are Vata( mechanical functional constituent of the body), Pitta(chemical functional constituent of the body) and Kapha( material functional constituent of the body). Yoga recommends six purification processes to get and keep the equilibrium of these tridoshas. They are called as Shat kriyas (six purification processes).They are

  • Neti-Nasal cleansing.
  • Dhauti-Cleaning of digestive tract, stomach.
  • Nauli- Abdominal massage.
  • Kaphalabhati-Purification of frontal lobes and lungs.
  • Basti-Colon cleaning.
  • Trataka-Blinkless gazing.

These six cleansing processes are excellent practises designed to purify the whole body, and to get good health. 
The ultimate goal of yoga is, however, to help the individual to transcend the self and attain enlightenment. As the Bhagavad-Gita says, “A person is said to have achieved yoga, the union with the Self, when the perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires, and becomes absorbed in the Self alone.”

Vidula Shende(The writer is a consulting yoga therapist & writes regular columns on yogic healing)