Swami Vishnu Devananda mentions two aspects (physical and spiritual) of Yoga science in his classic book: “The Illustrated Book of Yoga.” Paul Jerard has often mentioned four Yogic aspects (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), which also mirror our planes of existence. Yogic science is an infinite subject and that is why we love to study it so much.
While different styles of Yogic methodology have evolved over the years, Yogic science stays the same. We may not have time to practice like ancient Yogis, but we can incorporate Yogic practices and philosophy as a spiritual discipline into our busy lives.
The Philosophy behind Yogic Science
It’s easy to cite platitudes about the mind, body, and spirit, but how does the mystical tradition really affect us? From the Vedic teachings in ancient India to 21st century research, evidence shows that Yoga changes the way we think, feel, and act. It makes us happier, healthier, and better-adjusted, but that doesn’t explain the science behind the art.
In “The Heart and Science of Yoga,” author Leonard Perlmutter says that Yoga provides “a blueprint for peace, happiness, and freedom from fear.” Simply put, Yogic techniques change our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, the mechanisms responsible for our “fight or flight” stress responses.
The Sympathetic Nervous System
This system works well when we need the energy to react to dangerous situations. In today’s hectic society, though, we are constantly on the alert, and our panic buttons get stuck by what we perceive as threats. Our adrenal systems kick out stress hormones, and our bodies go into overdrive. Our mind races, our heart beats faster, and our blood pressure rises. Soon, it affects our mental, physical, and emotional health.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Yoga boosts levels of hormones that make us feel good and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. By slowing the heart, lowering the blood pressure, and increasing circulation, the parasympathetic nervous system restores balance and calms us down when we get upset.
Yogic Science and the Brain
Research shows that Yoga literally changes the way the brain works. Yogic postures can be considered meditation, but they also prepare the body for deep relaxation, or Yogic sleep. A regular Yoga training session reduces negative thinking, raises awareness, and increases compassion.
The Key to Wisdom
Yoga improves our physical health, but it also connects our subconscious minds to our actions. When we become aware of our physical bodies, our thoughts, and the world around us, we make better decisions and worry less. We live our lives with tolerance and understanding instead of fear and negativity. Yogic methods help us become our authentic selves.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Do you want to become a certified yoga instructor? See our selection of affordable yoga teacher certification programs.