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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 34-38

A practical approach for total well-being based on ancient yogic knowledge


Division of Yoga-Spirituality, S-VYASA, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission28-Jun-2019
Date of Acceptance16-Sep-2019
Date of Web Publication17-Oct-2019

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Rajesha Halekote Karisetty
Division of Yoga-Spirituality, S-VYASA Yoga University, Vivekananada Road, Kallubalu Post, Anekal Taluk, Bengaluru - 560 083, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijny.ijoyppp_10_19

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  Abstract 


Yoga is becoming very popular across the globe. We need to understand the holistic approach of Yoga in the light of ancient scriptures to explore one's own nature. Yoga is not mere physical exercises and postures; rather it is a lifestyle. If we examine the current trend, starting from childhood to old age, all are undergoing a drastic change in lifestyle due to rapid technological advancement which is leading to pain, misery, and diseases. We have to examine and understand the perfect way of life in real sense as discussed in various ancient scriptures, where emphasis is given on following a systematic routine in accordance with nature. The concept of total health and well-being is the real Vedantic insight which has been originally stated in many of ancient scriptures of India. There are hundreds of efforts being made all over the globe with different ideologies in interpreting Yoga based on their own understanding. This study is aimed at the conceptual understanding of Yoga as lifestyle in day-to-day living as propounded in our ancient scriptures.

Keywords: Ancient scriptures, health, right understanding, well-being, yoga life-style


How to cite this article:
Karisetty RH, Bhat RG. A practical approach for total well-being based on ancient yogic knowledge. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol 2019;7:34-8

How to cite this URL:
Karisetty RH, Bhat RG. A practical approach for total well-being based on ancient yogic knowledge. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Nov 20];7:34-8. Available from: http://www.ijoyppp.org/text.asp?2019/7/2/34/269475




  Introduction Top


Ancient concepts and realistic understanding of the ideal yoga lifestyle for total well-being are well expounded by ancient scriptures with practical and holistic approach. The insight portrayed in traditional sources such as Kaöhopaniñat, Bhagavad Gitä, Haöhayoga Pradépikä, Pataïjali Yogasütra, and Yoga Väsiñöha, which are considered as authentic yoga texts. Meanwhile, we have äyurvedik texts such as Suçåtasaàhitä and carakasaàhitä as ancient roots for yoga way of life and well-being along the lines of modern scientific understanding. The insight of ideal lifestyle is cemented with the daily routine by great seers of ancient times.

There is a need to understand and implement a holistic approach of Yoga lifestyle to maintain health and well-being as the whole globe is in alarming condition as far as noncommunicable disorders are concerned. Although science and technology are growing day by day with new innovations to increase the standard of living, we are failing to maintain health due to imbalance in need and greed. With this background, we need to understand the concept of Yoga lifestyle as guided by ancient scriptures and great yoga masters with their natural and eco-friendly living.

Insight for right understanding

As far as the right understanding is concerned, we have to follow some guidelines and methodology where it will not lead to any bias or misunderstanding. For valid apprehension, an ancient text TarkaSaìgraha which gives a comprehensive understanding of nyäya (logic/methodical reasoning) and vaiçeñika (material science) states;



yathärthanubhavaçcaturvidhaùpratyakñänumityup

amitiçäbdabhedät| (Ta. Sa. Section 3-21)


The methodology for valid apprehension is four-fold: perception, inference, analytical knowledge, and testimony.[1] Any concept which is examined under these four means is accepted to be valid statement for executing in a day-to-day life. With this background, ancient scriptures speak about the yoga way of life with practical approach guided by vedantic insight.

Understanding from Upaniñats

Kaöhopaniñat, one of the major upaniñats has very well portrayed the concept of yoga as Adhyätma yoga (the journey within). It is very easy to implement a natural and yogic lifestyle if one understands the underlying factor of this concept.



adhyätmayogädhigamenadevaàmatv

ädhéroharñaçokaujahäti || 1.2.11||

The objective of practicing Adhyätma yoga is very well summed up here. A wise by experiencing the blissful nature within, which is attained through meditation on the self, abandons both pleasure and sorrow. Meditation on self is possible when one is able to maintain the equilibrium of mind by withdrawing all sense organs.[2] A further statement supports the intended outcome of yoga;



täàyogamitimanyantesthirämindriyadhäraëäm | Ka. Up. 2.3.11|

That alone is understood to be yoga which reduces the intensity of sensual energies and brings them to a state of steadiness. As a result, one will be free from committing blunders by being aware of all activities for a successful life journey.[3]

A practical Insight for Yoga lifestyle from Bhagavad Gita

The real concept of yoga lies in bringing a moderation in various aspects in our lifestyle such as food, recreation, activities, and sleep. This is nothing but an eco-friendly life.



yuktähäravihärasya yuktaceñöasya karmasu |

yuktasvapnävabodhasya yogo bhavati duùkhahä || 6-17||

He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working, and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. Food: When pure food is consumed, our understanding becomes absolutely discriminative in the right path. Due to higher understanding, mental reflections will be pure. The memory will be very strong when one has a proper understanding; due to the strong memory, one is released from all worldly bondages. (Ch. Up. 7.26.2) Recreation: Those additional activities apart from our daily activities that are meant to rejuvenate our inner self should be moderate in nature. Recreational activities are the one that the mind tends to involve in excess indiscriminately. Activities: Our daily activities from dawn to dusk should also be moderate. By all means, it should avoid bad actions. Good deeds constructively strengthen a person. Sleep: Sleep should also be moderate both in quantity and quality. Not sleeping enough and excessively sleeping, both harm our system, and also quality of sleep should be good, with proportionately balanced dream and deep state sleep.

This concept of moderate lifestyle is mentioned across different traditional texts. Although we have different terminologies called Veda, Vedänta, yajïa, and Yoga, the spirit of all these is one and the same, and as far as lifestyle is concerned they all unequivocally voice moderation.

The concept of total well-being

Well-being is not just limited to healthy state of the physical body, but it is beyond the body as human existence has five layers. According to taittiréya upaniñat, the very existence of the physical body (annamayakoça) is supported by the vital force/breath energy (präëamayakoça), mind (manomayakoça), the intellect (vijïänamayakoça), and blissful layer. (änandamayakoça).[4] In this modern age, the concept of health and well-being is well accepted by the World Health Organization, and it defines health as “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”[5] The uniqueness of this statement is not yet amended since 1948. Physical and mental well-being can be well connected with the first three layers of existence whereas the fourth and fifth layer is very well-connected with social and spiritual well-being. Hence, it makes sense that the well-being as expounded by Upanishads is surely a holistic approach of ideal lifestyle.

Insights from äyurveda

This statement of health and well-being is very well understood with more clarity by one of the ayurvedic texts suçåtasaàhitä, which states as follows:



samadoñaùsamägniçca samadhätumalakriyäù

prasannätmenindriyamanäù svasthaù ityabhidhéyate || Su. Sam. ||

The hymn/verse conveys the unique understanding of well-being where all three doña/humors (väta-air, pitta-fire, and kapha-water) are in balance; whose appetite and digestive fire are in balanced state with cellular metabolism comprising of complete digestion, absorption, and assimilation; the functions of seven dhätus (tissues) with quality and quantity are normal; whose mala/metabolic wastes and toxins (sweat, urine, and feces) are properly and timely excreted; the sensory and motor organs with an efficiency of the right perception and strength; the undisturbed mind, the ätma (soul) also in a pleasant/blissful state, (unconditionally happy and devoid of stress) such a person is named as having overall well-being or Svasthaù.[6]

This verse is explained further with modern anatomical and physiological understanding.

Sama Doçaù

Three doña/humors; väta, pitta, and kapha are three functions that regulate all physiological, psychological, and spiritual facets of a person. The etymology of the word “doña” is defined as “doñyati iti doçaù,” meaning that which contaminates is called “doshah.” The imbalance of humors causes disease in the body. Väta or the air element governs breathing, movements, discharges, impulses, and the human senses. Pitta or the fire element deals with hunger, thirst, digestion, excretion, temperature, and circulation. It also corresponds to strength, energy, youth, intelligence, and executive abilities. The kapha or the water element controls the stability, lubrication, movements, body luster, digestive tract, glands, and fluids of the body. Other factors such as defect in the dhätu (body tissues), toxins, and waste materials are the result of imbalance in the doñas.[7]

The [Table 1] showing the functionalities of sub doñas/humors which are responsible for the physiological, psychological, and spiritual traits are enlisted below.[8]
Table 1: Influence of vãta, pitta, and kapha in regulation of physiological, psychological, and spiritual facets

Click here to view


Samägni (digestive fire)

Referred to as body metabolism which comprise of the functions such as digestion, absorption, and assimilation. This digestive fire is mainly responsible for converting assimilated food into dhätus (body tissues).[9]

Samadhätu

(the right composition of body tissues within the range)


There are seven tissues which makes the physiology of the body named as rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mäàsa (muscle), asthi (bones), majja (bone marrow), meda (fat) and śukra (Semen and Ova). If we look at these body tissues, the abnormalities and imbalances are the root cause for many kinds of diseases. Thus, the physiological health is perfectly maintained by the balance of these body tissues.[10]

Malakriyäù(excretory functions)

As far as perfect health is concerned, a lot of emphases is given on excretion of metabolic wastes and toxins (sweat, urine, and feces) which keep the body away from diseases.

Prasannätmenindriyamanäù

(pleasant state of soul, mind and sense organs)

It is well assumed that proper excretory functions ensure good health and increases the lifespan. The importance of social well-being is very much stressed by äyurveda, which can be achieved only being holistic in nature with contented spirit, senses, and mind. It describes the methods of maintaining the ideal lifestyle for people of all ages.[6]

Moderation is the master key for well-being

A perfect state of health and well-being which is devoid of destructive pains such as diseases (physical-somatic) and miseries (mental-psychosomatic) is achieved when we strictly stick to the natural way of lifestyle which is followed by moderation in food, recreation (walking, traveling, etc.,) or activities without exertion and sleep-wake up at regular disciplined time says Bhagavad- Gita (B.G 6.17). On the contrary, if moderation is lost such as meger food or overeating and wakeful even at late night or one who sleep less will have quick deterioration in one's own life span. One can be very active with full of positive energy for discharging one's own duties with full awareness without any exertion if proper food and sleep is maintained moderately.[10] Further Bhagavad Gita says, pain, grief, and diseases are caused by food which is bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry, and burning. The food which are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure leads to sleep, sloth, and inadvertence.[11] Even modern scientific evidence prove that overeating is an early alarming sign of added psychological distress or is a compromised psychological health.[12] Most of the adolescents do not undergo the recommended amount of sleep, resulting in significant daytime sleepiness. Inadequate sleep and drowsiness impact all areas of youthful functioning, including academic, emotional and social, which emphasizes the importance of evaluating sleepy adolescents.[13]

Importance of Brahma Muhurta for better health and well-being

Getting up early in the morning is utmost important as per experienced seers, and it is insisted in ancient scriptures. According to prätaùsüktaà of ågveda, one who exposes to the nature early in the morning will be charged with positive and vital energy for better health, wealth, and well-being with full of consciousness and force.[14] One of the studies also supports the improved attention and memory of early rising.[15]

Key practices for health and well-being

Although Bhagavad Géta and Upaniñat give a broader and philosophical understanding, the practical implications are discussed in Haöhayoga texts, Pataïjali Yoga Sütra, and Yoga Väsiñöha. The six cleansing practices – ñaökarma, äsanas, different breathing techniques, and präëäyäma are the main practices for physiological and psychological well-being. One of the Haöhayoga texts Gheraëda Samhitä says purification, firmness, steadiness, patience, lightness, inner perception, and noninvolvement are the seven practices to make the body and mind free from disease and disorder.[16] Shiva Samhita proclaims präëäyäma increases life energy, gives strength, nourishment, makes the body full of energy, destroys all diseases, and gives health.[17]Maharñi Pataïjali directs the practice of one-pointedness principle or truth that leads to overcome pain and miseries. Furthermore, different methods are recommended for the tranquility of mind.[18] The concept of disease and its root causes are well discussed in Yoga Väsiñöha. Eating inappropriate food which is räjasik and tämasik, an occupation which is at unsuitable places, conduct of affairs in unsuitable time, and association with unscrupulous people and by the diminution or overfilling of the system causes diseases by directly influencing the energy channels either by blocking the energy flow or may lead to abnormal flow. Psychological and physiological health is achieved by calming down the mind. If the physiological health is still not corrected on removal of mental dualities, one can resort to auspicious methods of employing suitable materials and mantras/or sacred words and through following the advice of science of healing or medical treatment.[19]

Dinacarya and åtucarya

Maintaining one's health depends on following the principles elaborated according to äyurveda texts. Svasthavåtta is an integral part and parcel of äyurveda which primarily emphasizes on Dinacarya, åtucarya, and Sadvåtta. A daily routine (Dinacarya) is absolutely necessary to bring essential change in body, mind, and consciousness. It also regularizes a person's circadian rhythm (biological clock), helps digestion, absorption, and assimilation and leads to peace, happiness, and longevity. Seasonal change (åtucarya) is very evident in the environment we live in. We witness various changes in bio-life around us with change in season. Human being too a part of the same ecology; the body is greatly influenced by the external environment. If the body is unable to adopt itself to stressors due to changes in specific traits of seasons, it may lead to imbalance of constituents which in turn may render the body highly susceptible to one or other kinds of disorders. Sadvåtta refers to good personal and social behavior which gives a healthy long-life and happiness. Hence, the implementation of these life principles prevents diseases and preserves health.

Time is an essential factor which advocates regulation of day-to-day activities in a systematic manner. Early waking up is described in classical texts as Brahma Muhurta. This enables an individual to get sufficient time to practice the entire Dinacarya schedule without hindrances and lapse.[20] A systematic schedule is absolutely necessary to bring essential change in body, mind, and consciousness. A daily schedule helps to establish balance in one's constitution also as it regularizes a person's biological clock which involves digestion, absorption, and assimilation, and makes self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity. Getting up early in the morning, elimination, cleaning of senses, apply oil to the head and body (abhyanga), bathing, exercises, lunch, dinner, and bedtime are all an integral part of daily routine. A human being is part of the ecological system who is greatly influenced by external environment. Hence, one should be following these instructions to maintain body-mind-spirit health.[21]

If one is undisciplined against nature with a sedentary lifestyle, the health consequences and mechanism of diseases are explained by Yoga Väsiñöha as follows:



durannämyavahäreëa durdeçäkramaëena ca|

duñkäla vyavahäreëa durjanäsaìgadoñataù||31||

kñéëatvät vä'tipürëatvät näòénäà randhrasantatau|

präëe vidhuratäà yäte vyädhiù dehe pravartate||32||

Eating unhealthy food which is räjasik and tämasik, occupation at inappropriate places, conduct of activities at unsuitable times and association with wrong people, overfilling the stomach cause diseases by directly blocking bioenergy flow in the energy channels.

Health-related consequences of an inappropriate and a sedentary lifestyle have been extensively reported in the scientific literature. For instance, a study reported that students aged 14–17 years who routinely engage in eating junk food, overeating, and lack physical activity are found to be more obese. They tend to develop a higher risk for various serious diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, liver diseases, infertility, hypertension, arthritis, and cancer.[22]


  Conclusion Top


As we are part and parcel of ecological system, we cannot negate and break the natural laws. If we set our day-to-day activities in accordance with the seasonal changes as recommended by great yoga masters and scriptures, surely one can achieve health, happiness, and peace. As the goal of human life is to establish happiness in oneself which is devoid of miseries and diseases, one must follow the holistic approach for physiobiological well-being with improved quality of lifestyle.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Baba B. Yogasutra Patanjali. Varanasi: Motilal Banarsidass; 2005. p. 16-20.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
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Bharati J. Essence of Yoga Vasishta. Madras: Samata Books; 1985. p. 262-3.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
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Samagandi DK, Samagandi DJ. Appraisal Essay on Sacred Clip: Brahma Muhurtha. J Ayush 2013;1:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
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Sharma M, Majumdar PK. Occupational lifestyle diseases: An emerging issue. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2009;13:109-12.  Back to cited text no. 22
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  



 
 
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