Positive health is that state in which all the internal organs of the body function optimally under the intelligent control of the mind. There is an interdependence between body and mind. The Yoga scriptures tell us that the influence of the mind on the body is far more powerful than the influence of the body on the mind. Therefore, mental exercises form the bulk of the Yoga practices, although physical exercises also have a definite place. The physical exercises (asanas) form the third limb of the Yogic path of raja yoga.
Yamas (inoffensiveness or no-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-receiving) and Niyamas (purification, contentment, mortification, study and complete self-surrender to the Lord) form the foundation of the Yoga practice because, without these asanas will not give the desired result.
Hatha Yoga teaches how to keep the physical body in positive health so that the Jiva (individual soul) can reach safely the goal of life, Self-realization. It teaches a natural mode of living. A Yogi should have a thorough knowledge of the physical body and its functioning.
The Yogis believe that the real man is not his body. They know that the immortal “I”, of which each human being is conscious to a greater or lesser degree, is not the body, which it merely occupies and uses. They know well that the body is but as a suit of clothes which the spirit puts on and off from time to time.
The Yogi develops the body knowing it to be but an instrument for the use of the real part of himself, and solely that he may perfect the instrument to the end that it be used in the work of soul growth. The physically motivated person contents himself with mere mechanical movements and exercises for developing the muscles.
The Yogi throws mind into the task, and develops not only the muscles, but every organ, cell and part of his body as well. Not only does he do this, but he obtains control over every part of his body and acquires mastery over the involuntary part of his organism, too.
When man runs contrary to the law of that great intelligence who has created his body, disharmony and disease result.
It is the same intelligence which presides over each and every function of the body. That intelligence, the manifestation of which we call ‘nature’, ‘the life principle’, and similar names, is constantly on the alert to repair damage, heal wounds, knit together broken bones, to throw off harmful materials accumulated in the system and in thousands of ways to keep the machine in good running order. Much of what we call disease is really a beneficent action of nature designed to get rid of poisonous substances which we have allowed to enter and remain in our system.
Health of the Body
Endocrine glands are perhaps the foremost to react and cause functional reactions. It has been found that the endocrine secretions very powerfully affect the nervous system. If these secretions suffer, pathological conditions in different parts of the body are rapidly established.
When the thyroid secretion suffers, the cells of the most distant part of the body slowly begin to undergo a change. The hair begins to grow grey, the nails have a tendency to be brittle, fatty degeneration starts in the arteries, the face tends to be wrinkled, weakness creeps over the brain and many, many other symptoms begin to appear. Yoga aims are to restore the internal secretions to their normality by securing the health of the endocrine glands through Yogic practices.
Balance of Body functions
We have learned from physiology that there are two processes going on in our system: catabolism, or the process of waste, and anabolism, the process of repair. Both these processes put together is called metabolism. When the anabolism (that is, the process of repair) is more active than the catabolism (that is, process of waste), then the body grows.
In a growing child, anabolism is more active and makes up for the waste materials brought by the catabolic process. In a healthy adult, catabolic and anabolic processes balance themselves and thus keep up the body unimpaired. In old age, catabolism takes the upper hand and leads to steady degeneration of the tissues.
Yogic exercises reduce the catabolic activity to its minimum and thus the body is kept in a healthy condition.
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