Regular practice of asanas helps to keep our body fit, controls cholesterol level, reduces weight; normalizes blood pressure and improves heart performance. Physical fitness thus achieved leads to reduction of physical stress and greater vitality. Asanas harmonize our pranic ability and mental energy flow by clearing any blockages in the subtle body; leading to mental equilibrium and calmness. They make the mind strong thus enabling our human body to suffer pain and unhappiness stoically and with fortitude.
The practices of pranayamas helps to manipulate our energies. Most of us breathe incorrectly (only thoracically not using our abdomen, thereby utilizing only half our lung capacity). pranayama is a technique where in it re-educates our breathing process, helps to release tensions and develop a relaxed state of mind. It balances our nervous system reducing the need for sleep and encourage creative thinking. Further it increases the amount of oxygen to our brain, thereby improving mental clarity, alertness and physical well being.
It is a wonderful relaxation meditation, done while lying on our back in Savasan. It relaxes the whole of our physiological/psychological system, thus completely rejuvenating the body/mind complex. A relaxed mind allows us to relate better to people and things around us, giving us a sense of well being. A tense body/mind is the cause of most diseases.
Regular practice of asanas, pranayama and yoga nidra can help such diverse ailments as diabetes, blood pressure, digestive disorders, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, varicose veins and heart conditions. Laboratory tests have proved yogi's ability to consciously control autonomic or involuntary functions, such as temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure. Research into the effects of yogic practices on HIV is currently underway with promising results.
According to medical scientists, yoga therapy is successful because of the balance created in the nervous and endocrine systems which directly influences all the other systems and organs of the body. Today there can be no longer be any doubt of yoga's effectiveness as both a curative and preventive medicine. The very essence of yoga is tied up the faculties of mental peace, improved concentration or with power, relaxed state of living, good relationship and harmony with people.
The teachings of yoga have been extended to prisons also, in order to reform the criminal minds, to make them more relaxed, to reduce their stress and anxiety levels, to reduce their aggressiveness and eventually to make the prisoners a responsible citizens of society. Here the main reason for practicing it is to give them the mental fitness to overcome the psychological problems during their encounters in battlefront -- in desert areas and in high altitude areas.
Through the practice of yoga, one develops awareness of the inter-relation between the emotional, mental and physical levels, and how a disturbance in any one of these affects the others. Gradually this awareness leads to an understanding of the more subtle areas of existence. The ultimate goal of yoga is to expand your consciousness, to open your eyes to vast number of things around you, of which at present you are unaware.