There are millions of people in the whole of the world are practising Yoga, but there are still millions of people have never heard about Yoga and they are the people who are in need of it. There are so many misconceptions about Yoga. Some people believe that Yoga means to stand on your head or to practice impossible postures by which you can break your limbs. Some believe that Yoga is for sannyasins and sadhus. Some again believe that Yoga means to perform supernatural feats sitting on ice, walking over fire or water, drinking of nitric acid. Well, they all have not understood the meaning of Yoga at all.
Nowadays the world is ruled by one word: tension. Everyone has heard about it and practically everyone is suffering from it. Tensions create disease and unhappiness.
If someone is unhappy, we ask him "Why?" If a person not unhappy, if he is happy, we do not ask him why, because to be happy is the original state, the normal state of every being. To be happy is our birthright. But a mysterious, strange, unknown ignorance disturbs our peace and carries us away from the centre of our being.
Yoga means union. It is a science which gives a reply to the question: How do I come into contact with my inner being?
When a child is stammering, we tell him "You must have more self confidence". The child knows. He knows the truth but he cannot apply it.
How do I overcome diseases? How can I stop the conflicts and frustrations in my own mind? How can I bring union between my thoughts, words and actions? These are the questions that are of utmost importance, because they are in everyone.
Yoga gives the reply to all these questions and they are all in the realm of experience.
Yogasanas make your body healthy, muscular tensions are removed and the functions of organs and glands are being regulated, stimulated and harmonised. They make the body supple and flexible and resistant against diseases and discomforts.
Pranayama are yogic breathing techniques. They relax the nerves and remove mental tensions and worries. As long as we live we will have problems but when there is mental equilibrium they will not disturb us any more.
Meditation teaches us to concentrate the mind and shows us the way to relaxation and peace which are already in you as butter in milk or the tree in the seed.
"Control your mind and be happy" says the yogi. But can you control something which is not in a good condition, which is not pure? That is why yoga begins with purification.
A good labourer uses only well maintained tools and instruments. In the same way, we also have to maintain, to purify our instruments.
Our first instrument is the body. The yogi calls it Annamaya Kosha, it is like a corner of our inner being. How can we purify the body? We have to give it regular exercises. For this yogasanas are excellent, as they give maximum benefit in minimum time.
We also have to give it the right food. Food must be light and easy to digest, and at the same time nourishable. We should also remember that digestion begins in the mouth and that the stomach has no teeth and also that excess of eating and drinking is the result of mental imbalance, of inner tensions. With Yoga we bring this under control.
Our second instrument is the mind, or the manomaya kosha. The manas - the attention, the buddhi - the intellect, the chitta - the memory and the ahamkara - the ego. These are the functional aspects of the mind. Also the mental body should be healthy and balanced. That is why we practice concentration and meditation.
Then comes our third instrument. There is a connection between body and mind which makes it possible that thoughts are converted into actions. That is the nervous system or in yogic terms: the pranamaya kosha. Prana means energy, vital force, breath. Prana is the secret behind all lives, that grows, moves, breathes. Prana is always vibrating. When the vibrations are in equilibrium, sattwic, then our body and mind are peaceful; when the vibrations are agitated or slow, rajasic, then also our body and mind are imbalanced or inert. If, for instance, our way of thinking is negative, then the Prana or connective energy is functioning in an unbalanced way, which has a negative influence on the body. If we are eating hot spicy food, or heavy indigestible food, the pranic vibrations are getting disturbed. They irritate the mind and deprive us from peace and balance. This is yoga philosophy in a nutshell.
Yoga means to remove tensions, to restore inner balance so that we can discover our inner peace and joy, our real Self, our essential Reality.
I think now it is clear who should practice Yoga. Who is living a life full of tension. Who is living under mental and emotional stress and strain. Who is subjected to nervous breakdown.
It is you people who lead Grihastha life and are suffering most and it is therefore that yoga is meant for Grihastha. Yoga has come to rescue mankind from mentally going astray. Yoga is the way to mental peace and eternal freedom.