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The Five Points of Yoga

What is Yoga? 
Yoga is a complete science of life that originated in India many thousands of years ago.  It is the oldest system of personal development in the world, encompassing body, mind and spirit.

'Yoga' means union of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine and while this refers to a certain state of conciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.

Based on the teachings of Swami SivanandaSwami Vishnudevananda summarized the yoga philosophy in 5 principles or the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand and implement:
  1. Proper Exercise (Asanas) - Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.
  2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama) - Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.
  3. Proper Relaxation - Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.
  4. Proper Diet - Eating simple, healthy and vegetarian foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.
  5. Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana) - These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.

Swami Vishnudevananda elaborated by explaining that
 "...Yoga, the oldest science of life, can teach you to bring stress under control - not only on a physical level, but on mental and spiritual levels too.  The human body can be compared to a car.  There are five things that any automobile needs to run properly, whether it is a Rolls Royce or a rusty old car - lubrication, a cooling system, electric current, fuel and a sensible driver behind the wheel.

In Yoga, the asanas or postures lubricate the body.  They keep the muscles and joints running smoothly, tone all the internal organs and increase circulation without creating fatigue.  The body is cooled by completerelaxation, whilst pranayama or yogic breathing increases prana, the electric current.  Fuel is provided by food, water and the air you breathe.  Lastly you have meditation which stills the mind, the driver of the body. By meditating, you learn to control and ultimately transcend the body - your physical vehicle."
Swami Vishnudevananda from The Sivananda Companion to Yoga

The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta website is a wonderful resource for additional information.

Content reproduced with permission of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre