What is yoga?

How did ancient traditional Indian practices turn into a modern sport that everyone praises for its benefits on the body and mind?? A question that may come to many minds recently due to the widespread awareness among the public about the importance of movement and the search for the best ways to take care of physical and mental health.

In this article, I will touch on some points that explain how these ancient practices were associated with the new way of life and became an integral part of the sports activity for everyone looking for a healthy balance.

Yoga throughout history The emergence of the philosophy of yoga began in ancient India more than ten thousand years ago, and this philosophy passed through all its ideas and practices in different times and eras, in which the philosophy of yoga flourished three thousand years ago when Sage Patanjali transferred and translated the concepts of ancient philosophy and compiled them in easy and clear books and manuscripts He has even been called the "Father of Modern Yoga".

In his famous manuscript of 196 syllables, Patanjali talks about the physical movements "asna" in only 3 places, and the greatest focus in the manuscript is on explaining the nature of reality and how to achieve inner peace.

In that era, philosophy was mainly concerned with teaching the concepts of how to understand human nature and raise the level of health and quality of life.

In the eleventh century, the practices of yoga philosophy began to mutate and focus on yoga movements, so that the health and strength of the physical body took the largest part in philosophy, coinciding with the progress of human development in urbanization and transportation, the difference in lifestyle in general, and the invention of means that reduce the proportion of physical effort expended in daily life. It led to an imbalance in the innate nature of the body and the emergence of new physical and psychological diseases.

This shift appears in the development of the "Hatha Yoga" style, which is concerned with taking care of the physical body directly, without delving into the philosophy of spirituality. It is the most common type in our modern world, due to its great impact on improving the physical and psychological health of practitioners around the world.

At the beginning of the year 2022, Dr. Rajender Singh of G, G, D, SD College in Chandigarh, India, conducted a scientific study on two equal groups of high school students to compare the effect of practicing yoga and traditional sports on psychological and physiological variables during exam time. .

The first group practiced yoga exercises for 40 minutes a day, and the second group practiced traditional aerobic exercises for the same period of 12 consecutive weeks, in which physiological variables were measured immediately after exercise such as heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure, as well as psychological variables such as nervousness, anger traits, type of Academic personality.

The results were positive and close between the two groups in terms of physiological and psychological changes, but it was seen more clearly and quickly in the first group that practiced yoga.

“Steady and relaxed bodily movement is an asna” (Patangeli Sutra 2.45) For maximum benefit, the yoga practitioner should aim to be in a state of constant stability and comfort at the time of performing the movement exercises, even if the person is upside down. The effect of stability and rest is not limited to the time of performing yoga exercises only, but it will transfer to all the person’s daily activities such as standing, walking, driving a car, etc. The positive psychological effect of yoga exercises will also appear clearly, such as calmness, controlling emotions and anger, reducing stress and improving sleep quality, etc. explained to us in the previous study.

“The mind is the master of the senses, but the soul is the master of the mind” (Swatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika) The real benefit of yoga is that it is a low intensity exercise performed slowly with an emphasis on the breathing pattern which gives profound long-term results in the nervous, muscular and immune systems And the whole body, which naturally leads to a higher mental focus and psychological stability, and the secret to harvesting these benefits lies in patience and continuing to practice physical exercises asna and breathing exercises Pranayama regularly.

In conclusion, we conclude that what was discovered and developed by the ancient philosophers in India in terms of ways to raise the quality of life and improve physical and psychological health is still appropriate for modern man, and that continuing to practice physical exercises and breathing exercises achieves the ultimate goal of yoga, which is balance, harmony and union between mind and body.


written by:

Nervin Nasser Al-Ashram

Sports professional diploma and sports trainer

And the first place winner in the Best Sports Essay Competition presented by Fitness Pioneers


References: Patanjali yoga sutra Hatha yoga pradipika https://www.journalofsports.com/pdf/2022/vol7issue1/PartH/7-2-4-563.pdf