Philosophy of Yoga and its Modern Relevance13th February 2020
Yoga philosophy is one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism. Ancient, medieval and most modern literature often refers to the Yoga school of Hinduism simply as Yoga. It is closely related to the Samkhya school of Hinduism. The Yoga school’s systematic studies to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually has influenced all other schools of Indian philosophy. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a key text of the Yoga school of Hinduism.
The epistemology of the Yoga school of Hinduism, like the Sāmkhya school, relies on three of six Pramanas as the means of gaining reliable knowledge. These include Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference) and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources). The metaphysics of Yoga is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school. The universe is conceptualized as composed of two realities in the Samhkya-Yoga schools: Puruṣa (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is considered as a state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakriti in some form, in various permutations and combinations of various elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind. During the state of imbalance or ignorance, one or more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage. The end of this bondage is called liberation, or moksha, by both the Yoga and Samkhya schools of Hinduism. The ethical theory of the Yoga school is based on Yamas and Niyama, as well as elements of the Guṇa theory of Samkhya.
The Yoga school of Hinduism differs from the closely related non-theistic/atheistic Samkhya school by incorporating the concept of a “personal, yet essentially inactive, deity” or “personal god” (Ishvara). While the Samkhya school suggests that jnana (knowledge) is a sufficient means to moksha, the Yoga school suggests that systematic techniques and practice, or personal experimentation, combined with Samkhya’s approach to knowledge, is the path to moksha. Yoga shares several central ideas with the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, with the difference that Yoga philosophy is a form of experimental mysticism, while Advaita Vedanta is a form of monistic personalism. Advaita Vedanta, and other schools of Hinduism, accept, adopt and build upon many of the teachings and techniques of Yoga.
Modern Relevance of Yoga
The modern life tempts us with comfort. And to make our life more comfortable and convenient we pay for it with obesity, hypertension and cardiac problems. Although we have hi-tech medical facilities, we are still leading a stressful, unhealthy and unstable life. In this situation, yoga can bring peace to our body, mind, and soul and add more value to our life. The importance of yoga in modern life is abundant.
Yoga teaches us the knowledge of how to lead a healthy living. It improves our concentration, creativity and sharpens our memory. To maintain a positive physical and mental health, yoga is a must.
In the middle of hustle and bustle of the modern life, our emotional stability declines day by day. But yoga can help to prevent it. So another importance of yoga in modern life can be that yoga improves our muscle strength, stamina and bring immune and mental stability.
Importance of Yoga in Modern Life
(i) Improves concentration and helps to stay focused
The importance of yoga in modern life is endless. One of the best lessons yoga teaches us is to focus on the present. In recent studies, it was found that practicing yoga every day improves our IQ and memory. Everyday our focus and concentration get bombarded by our modern lifestyle in form of cell phones, laptops, TVs and social media. Thankfully yoga can bring our awareness to the present moment and help us to stay focused and improve our concentration.
For the city dwellers, yoga works like magic. Regular practice of yoga can improve the coordination and reaction time and help them with their busy schedule. It also improves their concentration and helps them to be less distracted by their thoughts.
The constant breathing practice of yoga helps to relax and shift the balance from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. And by doing this it lowers the heart rate and breathing and decreases blood pressure.
(ii) Helps to build strength
Yoga plays a vital role when it comes to strengthening your body. Doctors these days suggest their patients perform yoga on a daily basis. For example, for a new mothers, yoga is essential. Yoga helps to strengthen their body and helps them to get back in shape. The reason behind this is, yoga involves a lot of stretching exercises. So even it’s a total body workout, it is a low-impact exercise.
We start losing muscle mass around 40 and by 50 the process only accelerate. If we don’t do anything to exercise our muscles, we will only get weaker and lose independence later in our life. But thanks to yoga, we can prevent this process. Yoga involves a set of exercise where you constantly transition into different positions. By doing this, we challenge our muscles to support the weight of our body and strengthen it. Regular practice of yoga tones the muscles and helps us to look more attractive.
Our busy life makes us go through anxiety, low energy level or even in some cases through depression to balance our work and personal life. In such a case, yoga can bring peace and mindfulness to our life. One of the importance of yoga in modern life is it helps to calm our fluctuating energy level. Yoga is not just an exercise to be lean and thin. It helps us to build strong muscle. And strong muscle does more for us than look good. Doctors now prescribe to practice yoga to prevent back pain and arthritis.
(iii) Improves flexibility & posture
Another importance of yoga in modern life is that it helps us to have a more flexible body and as a result, our life becomes just a bit more manageable. Often we suffer from knee joint pain. It’s because tight hips strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shin bones. Another discomfort occurs due to the inflexibility of muscle is back pain and poor posture. Tight hamstring flattens the lumbar spine and causes back pain. Inflexibility in muscle and connective tissue causes poor posture.