Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Impact of Yoga on Subjective Well Being and Stress: A Pre and Post Analysis

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Impact of Yoga on Subjective Well Being and Stress: A Pre and Post Analysis

Article excerpt

Living in the present world is akin to living in a world of chaos, miseries, confusion and rush hours. Everybody is racing with time; an average man is constantly facing emotional, physical and psychological upheavals, which in turn takes a heavy toll on individual's well-being, as mankind has always tried to attain peace and happiness along with the ongoing process of development. The urgency of getting an ideal method of attaining mental peace has become great in view of the tremendous increase in the stres s and strain of life especially in urban areas. Everyone tries to adapt oneself in the situation. One of the ways to reduce stress is practice of yoga exercises.

Yoga exercises help a person to maintain physical and mental fitness as they are conscious about their health and well-being. Breathing exercises Kapal Bhati and Brahmri have been reported to be helpful in fighting illnesses e.g. hypertension, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression etc. and also in reducing distress (Prasad et al., 2005 ; Mamtani & Mamtani, 2005).

Yoga

Yoga originated in ancient India and is one of the longest surviving philosophical systems in the world. Patanjali in 200 BC developed system of yoga defining yoga as a control of the fluctuation of mind stuff (chitta) (Udupa et al., 1977).

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word 'Yuj' meaning yoke or union. It is a spiritual practice that uses the breath and mind to energize and balance the whole person. Shekhawat and Mishra (2008) defined Yoga as science of mental control. It not only helps individual to control one's mental state, but also to improve one's personality and behavior.

Types of Yoga

As the different connections between the mind and body were explored, various branches of yoga developed. Some of these are as follows:

* Astanga or Power Yoga: Modem day variations of yoga developed for peop le who prefer a physically demanding workout.

* Bhakti Yoga: The goal of this form of yoga is to take all of the love in ones heart and direct it to God. By worshipping God, the person who practices all life is encouraged to be sacrificial and to treat others generously.

* Bikram Yoga: A series of 26 asanas (postures) practiced in a room that is 105 degrees in order to warm and stretch the muscles, ligaments and tendons and to detoxify the body through sweating.

* Hatha Yoga: Emphasis is placed on the physical postures or exercise known as asanas, with the goal of balancing the opposites in one's life.

* Jnana Yoga: Emphasize on deep contemplation. Practitioner seeks Jnana or wisdom through meditation. The goal of this form of yoga is to be one with God.

* Karma Yoga: Based on the philosophy that "yesterdays actions determine today's circumstances." Practitioner of Karma Yoga believes that by making today's action positive, individual hope they can improve tomorrow's circumstances for both themselves as well as for others.

* Raja Yoga: Known in Indian as "the royal (raj) road to reintegration." The goal of this type of yoga is to blend the four layers of self: The body, the individual consciousness, the individual sub consciousness, and the universal and infinite consciousness, Raja Yoga, being most concerned with the mind and spirit, places its emphasis on meditation.

Studies done by Gupta et al. (2006) suggest that short duration yoga, meditation and lifestyle intervention program positively modifies the individual's subjective well-being and anxiety levels. Psychological stress is an important risk factor for many diseases and thus practice of yoga and preksha meditation may be valuable in terms of basic prevention. Khan (2007) reported that the physical activity and/or yoga exercise is an important indicator of well-being. It is outlined that regular body-work is preventive and/or corrective measure to help and keep our body-mind and spirit healthy. It fosters physical, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. …

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