Yoga is not just exercise routine only. Yoga is an ancient philosophy that believes in pure consciousness as the ultimate reality, shrouded by duality of mind and body (Prusha and Prakriti). Yoga helps to balance the mind and body, taking the individual self closer to universal life force emanating from the supreme self. The significance of yoga is not in exercise but in meditation. Yoga is stepping stone towards self realization. Thus it is not just twisting or stretching the body to perform certain asanas or postures but to balance the mind and body for attainment of prime knowledge and wisdom.
Meditation is the most important factor in all these. Meditation requires stringent self discipline, deep concentration and complicated breathing exercises, which in turn is possible only when one is in perfect state of health. If you have a medical condition, chronic disease or extreme stress, to sit in meditation for an extended period will not be possible or effective. Thus a strong healthy physique is of prime necessity for meditation or concentration.
In Astangya yoga (Eight stage Yoga), the first two stages are ethical preparation, Yama or restraint and abstinent and Niyama or discipline. The next two stages are physical preparations. Asana or physical postures. The aim is to make the physical body flexible and balanced. And pranayama or breathing control. The purpose of these being control of respiratory rhythm inducing relaxation. The fifth stage is Pratyahara or withdrawal of senses from outward objects. The next three stages are mind centered. Dharana or deep concentration on one object. Dhyana or uninterrupted contemplation of the object of meditation. The final stage is Samadhi, the highest level of achievement and the goal of yoga. In this state the mind will be full of bliss and there will be a realization of oneness with the Absolute.
The practice of yoga is geared towards improving the physical and mental state of an individual and as such has rapidly grown in popularity. The spiritual benefits distinguish yoga from other gym type exercises. To get the most out of yoga practice, all parts of the body has to be in prime stage, including the brain.
Yoga/meditation is capable of reaping innumerable benefits such as increased balance, flexibility, improved cardiovascular activity and stronger core. This physical activity done regularly can heighten spirituality. For example, deep concentration on balancing acts can induce a deeper level of oneness within one’s own self. Yoga is a tool that can accelerate your natural capacity for physical and emotional healing. The mind is the driving force behind all kinds of healing.
The main stream science including quantum physics and biology have come up with evidence that led to the confusion that each human being has a super natural soul. The soul is energy. In Christianity the soul is often referred as the inner divinity. Today philosophers and scientists are coming closer in accepting Soul and its survival after death of the body. The soul is the source of clear guidance and through meditation we develop the power of making crucial decisions. The ego centered personality remains confined to its own needs. On death, the soul merges with the universal consciousness.