Yoga…More than Just a Stretch
In this essay we will explore community health and how health care practices and biological and, social practices contribute to good health. Good health is not just the absence of disease; it's an investment in a lifestyle that includes healthy choices obtained through intelligent life choices. Good health is a product like any other. Good health is the product of being actively involved in your own well being. We will also look at the biological and social aspects of good health and how it relates to yoga. In the beginning I found myself wondering what yoga was really about. I initially had enrolled in this class to help me relive some of the stress involved with everyday life. I also knew I wanted to improve my overall health. However I did not want to devote all of my time going to the gym. I was under the assumption that yoga was just about bending and stretching. Yoga is not just about exercise it is way more to the story of yoga than this.
To fully understand yoga let’s look at the origin of the word "yoga" it’s related to the English word "yoke." It can mean to join or yoke together or to bring under a yoke, to harness or control. According to Farhi, yoga is a technique or a discipline that leads to union with a great supernatural force or spirit. It has been described as "the yoking of all the powers of body, mind and soul to the divine. (Farhi5) The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice. 1. Universal laws of Nature (Yama) - non violence, truthfulness, integrity, divine conduct, and non attachment - “When we are established in non attachment, the nature & purpose of existence is understood."2. How to Live in Harmony (Niyama) - simplicity, contentment, purification, refinement, and surrender to the Divine - "From contentment, unsurpassed happiness is gained."3. Postures (Asana) - "The physical postures should be steady and comfortable."4. Breathing Exercises (Pranayama) - "Next comes the breathing exercises, which increase the life energy."5. Mastery of the Senses (Pratyahara) - "Once senses naturally withdraw inwards, mastery follows."6. Concentration (Dharana) - "Dharana is when the attention is held focused on an object."7. Meditation (Dhyana) - "Dhyana is when awareness flows evenly toward the point of attention." See more on the mind. 8. Enlightenment (Samadhi) - "Here, unbounded awareness flows toward the object, & the light of supreme knowledge dawns." These eight stages described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are referred to as "limbs" rather than steps, as although we can see them as naturally progressing in the above order, they must be combined for the yoga practice to be a complete experience. It is said that upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another. Each is part of a focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine. Because we are all uniquely individual a person can emphasize one branch and then move on to another as they round out their understanding. I want to examine the Universal Laws of Nature (Yamas) - non violence, truthfulness, integrity, divine conduct, and non-attachment and, how it plays a major factor in the African American communities. “Ahimsa is usually translated as nonviolence, but this percept goes far beyond the limited sense of killing others”. (Farhi) According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the term non-violent means lack of violence the doctrine, policy, or practice of rejecting violence in favor of peaceful tactics as a means of gaining political objectives. I think that there is a correlation of disconnect in the community. In many Chicago communities public school have increased violence, but this current rise in violence in Chicago has been attributed to a law that was just