Among the 64 types of Yoga, only four types are practiced by the laymen. They are,
- Hatha Yoga- Yoga Asana (exercises) and Pranayama (breathing)
- Raja Yoga- Meditation
- Laya Yoga- Praising and merging with the supreme consciousness
- Manthra Yoga- Incantation
Among the four forms of aforementioned Yoga, Hatha Yoga is associated with the wellness of the physical body. Hatha Yoga is practiced mainly to attain a healthy and well-balanced physique. The Yoga Asanas- physical exercises and Pranayama- breathing are included in the Hatha Yoga.
Asana means the posture and to maintain the correct posture while engaging in Yoga is of vital importance in order to sustain the physical and psychological equilibrium of the body. The Yoga Asanas are different from present day physical exercises, acrobatics or gymnastics. The modern exercises are designed to improve the physical appearance of the body whereas the purpose of Yoga Asanas extends beyond the beautifying or the conditioning of outer context of the body but also good health and the inner wellbeing. Practice of Yoga helps achieving agility, vitality, equilibrium and the endurance.
Many commercial places of physical exercise require sophisticated and expensive equipment and spacious physical space whereas Yoga Asanas can be practiced with no cost to achieve the expected physique and good health. What you require is a well-ventilated and a calm place along with the determination of performing yoga. The body does not need any support of any automated or manual machine to condition it. The Yoga Asanas had been developed and designed by the ancient Indian sages when there were no such machinery available and they had identified that the limbs of the human body can provide the weight and the counter weight needed to perform the exercises without the support of any instrument.
The sages had developed Yoga Asanas to exercise and work out every muscle, nerve and the gland of the body. The Yoga Asanas help maintain a conditioned body which has flexibility without being muscle-bound and keep the body free of illnesses, ailments and discomforts. One will not experience fatigue and the nervous system will be soothed.
Many people are today afflicted with various types of communicable as well as non- communicable diseases while others have splendid physiques. Those who posses sound physique and have great control over their bodies lack the sound mental health and the control over mind, intellect and the self. When a person loses the harmony between his physical body and his mind, he is in a state of disharmony and their personality is not balanced.
Ancient Yogis practiced Yoga to remain healthy and conquer the diseases for the purpose of accommodating their soul. Without a good and healthy body, it is difficult to retain a healthy soul. Performing of Yoga can help a Yogi achieve a good physical health and then the healthy mind. One does not need to work hard to achieve a healthy state of mind like he strives to achieve success in life. Healthy mind and the body are considered a complete equilibrium of the body and mind. Ancient Yogis have practiced Yoga Asana to be free from physical ailments and mental distractions and melancholy.
Ancient Yogis had also believed that in order to please the Divine Spirit, the physical body should be treated as a temple that houses the Divine Spirit. Therefore the physical body should be kept in good condition and treated well. Ancient Yogis had a belief that the God dwells within oneself and it is known as the Antharathma (the inner self).
Although some sects of religions teach that the mortification is the path to liberation, Yogis believe that the cherishing of the body and the mind is a way of attaining divine consciousness. Ancient sages had a belief that a strong body free from suffering is the requirement to achieve the liberation. It is mentioned in Mundakopanishad ,one of the scriptures of Hinduism that, a vigorous and a sturdy body and a well- guided mind to achieving the Self to purify it.
The Yoga Asanas are developed and designed in harmony with the nature and most of the Asanas depict the natural objects such as rocks, trees, flowers and the animals. Vrukshasana is the posture of a tree, Padmasana is that of the lotus; Thadasana- the posture of rock. Yogasanas were adopted by the postures of animals such as scorpion (Vrushchikasana), locust (Salabasana), fish (Mathsyasana), tortoise (Kurmasana), frog (Mandukasana), crocodile (nakrasana), cock (kukkutasana), heron (Bakasana), peacock (Mayurasana), swan (Hamsasana), camel (Ustrasana), lion (Simhasana), serpent (Bhujangasana) etc.
When a Yogi is performing Yoga Asanas, his body assumes the various forms of animals and natural objects which exercise all parts of the body. With the constant practice of Yoga, one can not only achieve good health but also can eliminate the negative aspects of the life to achieve a holistic improvement.