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Yoga Is A Way Of Life – Not An Exercise For An Hour

Among the many methods of preserving health in Ayurveda, the discipline of yoga as expounded by Patanjali is of central importance. Unlike what is being sold as yoga by the New Age gurus, original yoga has eight limbs. It includes rules for day-to-day living (including diet), the art and ethics of living, regulation of breath (pranayama), detached outlook towards life, yogic postures for ease of practicing the next steps of dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation), and the ultimate realization of the impermanence of life (and the immortality of Consciousness) to make us fearless even in the face of death. Thus defined, yoga becomes a way of life and is not confined to just a few contortions of the body for an hour or so daily.

Another distinctive feature of the philosophy of Ayurveda is the concept that every disease begins in our thoughts (consciousness) and grows in the body. In addition, genetic contributions are very clearly understood. The concept is holistic and not reductionist. Humans are part of the universal Consciousness; the environment, and even the stars, are supposed to have a role in human health.

In contrast, modern medicine has only started grappling with the role played by the mind in serious
illnesses. Quantum physics does seem to be going into the realm of human consciousness. Moreover, recent studies of patients revived after cardiac arrest or those undergoing brain surgeries, and also the findings of molecular biology, point to the possibility of human consciousness (mind) extending beyond the brain into every single human cell. This pervasiveness of consciousness has been the hallmark of Ayurvedic thinking.