What is yoga? Is it merely some body movement or a well defined science. Yoga is considered as a cultural outcome of Indus Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. Yoga has proved itself catering to both material and spiritual enhancement of humanity.

The aim of Yoga is Self-realization, and overcome all kinds of sufferings leading to the state of liberation or freedom. Yoga also refers to an inner science comprising of a variety of methods through which human beings can realize this union and achieve mastery over their destiny.

But what is yoga? What does this word means? Let’s know about it.

What is yoga?

The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’. The practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be in yoga, and is termed as a yogi. Yoga governs a perfect harmony between the mind and the body, the man & the nature.

Yoga is commonly understood as a therapy or exercise system for health and fitness. While physical and mental health are natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching.

Why you should do yoga?

In medical system (any Allopathy, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, etc.), the emphasis is on medicine. That is you take in the prescribed medicine and that medicine acts on your body system. Your effort is almost nil.

But in Yoga it is you and your efforts that make you disease free. You perform yoga for a certain time period and see the result.

So, if you can invest efforts in your body, Yoga is for you (along with its countless health benefits). Moreover, yoga is completely free of cost.

Differences between yoga and exercises


Yoga asana

Exercises involve repetition of certain movements aimed at building a certain group of muscles, thereby increasing the muscle weight and improving strength of those body parts

In yoga asana, the muscles receive minimum nutrition/ oxygen and the organs receive more.

Most exercises increase your breath rate and heart rate

In yoga the respiration rate and heart rate falls.

You consume more oxygen during exercises than when you are doing your daily routine activities.

In the practice of yoga, the oxygen consumption is reduced.

In exercise the body temperature and metabolic rate tend to rise.

In Yoga, the body temperature and metabolic rate drops.

Exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.

Yoga stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Yoga develops inner awareness.

Health benefits of yoga

Now, you know what is yoga and the differences between your regular exercises and yoga. So, you would definitely like to know the health benefits of yoga also.

Patanjali is considered the father of yoga. He organized the practice of yoga into an “eight limbed path” containing the steps and stages towards obtaining Samadhi or enlightenment. The names themselves explain the benefits and these are —

Yama [moral codes]Niyama [self-purification and study]Asana [posture]Pranayama [breath control]Pratyahara [sense control]Dharana [concentration]Dhyana [meditation]Samadhi [absorption into the Universal]

  • Yam,  means control. These are restraints for Proper Conduct as given in the Holy Veda. They are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals.
  • Niyama –The practice of Niyama helps us maintain a positive environment in which to grow, and gives us the self-discipline and inner-strength necessary to progress along the path of yoga.
  • Asanas A posture that seems firm and comfortable is your asana. It is capable of bringing about stability of body and mind for a considerable length and period of time as well.
  • Pranayama consists in developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind.
  • Pratyhara literally means  “control of ahara,” or gaining mastery over external influences. It indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness from the sense organs which helps one to remain connected with the external objects.
  • Dharana- It refers to concentration of the mind. Dharana involves fixing the mind on a particular object – either external (such as an image or deity) or internal (such as a chakra).
  • Dhyana (Meditation) is a constant and effortless flow of awareness of a point, object or a center. Dhyana help in self-realization leading to transcendence.
  • Samadhi – integration. It is a meditative aspect of yoga. In Samadhi, the mind becomes still. It is a state of being totally aware of the present moment; a one-pointedness of mind.