In these times when humanity’s physical and mental health are so depleted, yoga can be of immense help. Due to advances in technology, most people need not labour as they did in the old days. This lack of activity has increased diseases. Moreover, due to stress and countless desires, the human mind is totally agitated. In these circumstances, yoga can help bring back our physical health and improve our mental peace.
There is one major difference between physical and mental health. The more we move the physical body, the more our physical health will improve. But it is the opposite with mental health—the more we can make the mind still, the greater our mental health. But today we see that the physical work is decreasing and mental thoughts and discomfort are increasing. Such a lifestyle is harmful for both the body and the mind.
Through its various disciplines, yoga makes our body and mind more efficient. Disciplines such as pranayama [breath control] and asanas [yogic stretches and postures] create and regulate a proper flow of life-energy, as well as improve our overall health. Meditation reduces the number of thoughts and stills our minds.
Practicing yoga and meditation from childhood itself will help children acquire the skills to observe, master and control their inner world. Currently no one is learning how to control their thoughts or how to still their mind. This is like knowing how to press the accelerator but not how to turn or stop the car. This will create accidents. It is said in Japan they use robots to bathe people living in senior citizens’ homes. Imagine what would happen if these robots could not stop? Well, that is our current state.
Once a king asked a holy man, “Can you tell me what religion is, in one sentence?”
The holy man said, “No need for a sentence. I can tell you in one word: silence.”
The king asked, “How can one attain silence?”
The king asked, “What is meditation?”
The holy man said, “Silence.”
Silence of the mind is meditation.
Yoga is the technique to raise our awareness of silence by controlling physical movements and mental thoughts and emotions. When one does yoga postures, breathing must be done properly. Then it benefits the body and mind alike. Meditation helps make us more relaxed and gain more concentration. The goal of yoga is to fully express the positive energies dormant within us.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi