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About Yoga: an Ancient Art Form Originating in India With Connections to Ayurveda

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‘Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the Lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called Yoga. ’Yoga is an ancient art form originating in India with connections to Ayurveda. The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali circa 200AD held the foundations and yogic philosophy that are still revered till date. The Patanjali categorizes the yogic tree into various component with the two intrinsic ethical component being Yamas and Niyamas. They are be viewed as the primary principle of universal mortality and personal fulfilment. Yamas is the way of thinking towards people and commodity besides oneself whereas Niyamas is how we look upon inside ourself internally.

Yoga is a method by easing the restless mind into calmness and directing the body’s energy into constructive channels by creating a unified balance between the body mind and the spirit. It’s seen as a mighty river that when harnessed in the proper way by dams and canals will construct an expansive reservoir of water. This will then help preventing famine and also contribute liberal power for industry. In comparison our mind when controlled will provide a reservoir of peace and kindle profuse energy for human inspiration. The philosophy of yoga is that it binds the finite with the infinite. Yoga acts as a helping hand in giving assistance to attain a eloquence of the soul thus enabling us to view life in all its wondrous aspects, whether it being pain or pleasure.

On the other hand, branching of Qigong, Tai chi is martial art form from thousands of years ago that is identified as a duality with both polar and complimentary motions shifting from slow and smooth then accompanied with fast and hard. The first recognized written reference of “Tai Chi” appears in Book of Changes through the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC) which is around 3000 years ago. The book holds a profound philosophical outlook of Tai chi reading “in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.” The cultural unification between the ideas presented in the Chinese book of wisdom Tao Te Ching and the Principles of Tai Chi provide a comprehensible coherence between Tai chi and Taoism.

Tai Chi is seen as a means for all and its essential principles are founded through the classical Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which focuses on the natural equilibrium present within all things and the aspiration for living as connected with ones spiritual and physical harmony in accordance with the patterns of nature. In this aspect the principle philosophy behind yoga and Tai chi are one. Tai chi comprises exercises to equally balanced yin and yang, thus making it effective in achieving its goal of mind and body harmony.

While Tai chi and yoga share a philosophical principle they also share the accolade of being effective treatments for relieving pain in association with particular medical conditions and this is due to the shared principle. Though yoga is more based on breathing, exercising and meditating, unlike Tai chi, it still helps in promoting the improvement of physical and mental health which is what Tai chi provides as an end result as well. In Yoga there is a lot of attention paid on the different forms of breathing and it focuses on the chakras within our body, whereas tai chi focuses on moving chi through the meridians. Yoga teaching are grouped in three individual parts, the physical, mental and spiritual aspect. The physical aspect being improved flexibility and balance. The mental aspect is relaxation, peacefulness of the mind and improving posting thinking and indulging in self-acceptance. Tai chi is also known for helping in relaxation, concentration and staying stress free while also boosting stamina and energy. The spiritual aspect advances the understanding of ones feelings, in correlation to their body and environment.

Yoga was initially done as a form of prayer by incorporating exercise and Tai chi had begun with the intention of taking a martial art form into every house hold for a better life. In both these form of exercises the intention was the bring stability to everyone no matter age so they can have a better and improved lifestyle. While yoga focuses more on holding a particular pose, Tai chi is a more fluid art form where the legs are the primary and main aspect of providing balance and carrying the body.The postures and positions held in Tai chi are always in continuous motion in order to make the body in constant unvarying motion. In Tai chi the arms are move slowly and languid in the air, however with yoga the arms and hands provide a lot of stability for the body. Thus both these form help build muscle tone, albeit in different aspects but they do provide a similar end result. The low impact of Tai chi help in the lubrication of the joints, and thus helps people with arthritis while yoga helps people with carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma. Both yoga and tai chi are a practice to help sharpen the mind more than the body.

The Harvard Health Publications website affirms that tai chi helps improve the symptoms of arthritis, high blood pressure and Parkinson’s disease. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that a consistent yoga practice can help in reducing heart rate, lower blood pressure, alleviate physical pain across the entire body, and mitigate depression. When both these are done consistently, they can contribute in improving the quality of life in patients with cancer and certain heart disease. Both disease also help a person feel and look younger while providing relief from anxiety and stress.

A practise introduced thousands of years past, acupuncture is an applied concept that disturbance or obstruction of “qi”, can eventually lead to health issues. Thus an acupuncturists inserts slim needles to fixed acupuncture points said to exist throughout the body to rehabilitate the flow of qi, in order to balance out the body’s energy as well as trigger healing and boost relaxation. The traditional Chinese medicine says that there are more than one thousand acupuncture points present on the body, with each lying on top of an indistinguishable energy channel, which is known as a meridian, and each of the meridian is accompanied with a different organ system. Even-though researchers haven’t completely understood how indistinguishable might function, there have been plenty theories placed foreword. On theory namely is that acupuncture functions by stimulating the release of endorphins, which then interact with receptors in your brain causing a reduced perception of pain. Acupuncture is additionally said to effect the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling bodily functions, as well as the release of chemicals that control blood pressure and flow, decrease inflammation, and pacify the brain.

When going for an acupuncture, the acupuncturist will try to get a full health history, striating by enquiring about your health problems, diet, stress levels, sleep and also some concerning lifestyle habits. They may also ask about how you are feeling, including your inclination towards food, its likes and dislikes, and your reaction to changes in seasons and its temperature. The acupuncturist will also closely examine the appearance of your complexion, tongue color, coating and voice. They will also note your pulse in three different individuals points on each of your wrist, accounting for the strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse. In accordance with Chinese medicine, the health of your organ system and meridians will be evidenced by the tongue and pulse.

An acupuncture will conventionally use between six to fifty needles per treatment and it should be noted that the number of needles does not correlate to the intensity or effectiveness of the treatment. The needles are usually left in place for approximately ten to twenty minutes and sometimes the needles may be twisted for increased effect. The initial visit may last for around sixty minutes with continued typical treatment last for around twenty to thirty minutes, however some session may just be even for just few minutes.

Acupuncturist may also incorporate supplementary techniques during a session including moxibustion, cupping, herbs, electro and laser acupuncture, and ear acupuncture. Moxibustion, also known as “moxa”, requires the use of heated sticks which are made from dried herbs. The sticks are held near the acupuncture needles to warm and fuel the acupuncture points. Cupping uses glass cups that are applied to the skin in order to create a suction effect. The traditional Chinese medicine theory for cupping is the alleviation of stagnation of qi and blood. The Chinese herbs can be given is many forms including teas, pills, and capsules in accordance with specific concerns. Electro acupuncture is when an electrical device is connected to two or four acupuncture needles, creating a very weak electrical stimulus that prompts the acupuncture needles during treatment. Ear acupuncture is used during treatment for helping to stop smoking, weight loss, any addictions and also anxiety.

In comparison to acupuncture, a practice from the traditional Chinese medicine theory, panchakarma or ‘five actions” is also a practice used to rid the body of toxins. Even-though the body has the innate capacity to systemically remove the waste materials and doshas, there are still toxins in the body caused by disease, unhealthy nutrition and ones environment. The body’s internal equilibrium can be tipped over by many factors including hygiene, poor lifestyle choices such as exercising and food intake. Panchakarma also takes into account if the individual has any genetic predisposition or any problems with their digestive enzymes, hormones metabolic co-factors, and so in extension the agni, which moderates the body internal homeostasis and is our digestive energy, becomes chaotic. When the agni in our body is healthy the body will produce an essence call Ojas.

It is seen as a “innermost sap” of the psychophysiology which forms the grounds of our mental and physical strength. In contrast if the agni is weak the body will ama. In Ayurveda the waste material in the body is referred to as the “ama”. Its seen as an extremely repulsive smelling, damaging substance that should be quickly and entirely eradicated from the body. Due to the many aforementioned factors and a combination of these problems will lead to the building up and growth of toxins thus leading to a pathological problem. The purpose of panchakarma, a deep tissue purification process, is to rid the body of excess doshas and thus rectify imbalances. Through using the body many systems and elimination channels such as the sweating glands, colon, bladder, urinary tract, intestines, lungs, and so on, panchakarma is used to rid the body of ama.

Pachakarma is procedure that is administered in a sequential order for a determined amount of time. It includes abhyanga, swedana, lymphatic massage, basti, nasya and well as some other treatments. Unlike Chinese massage, the panchakarma incorporates essential oils. Panchakarma is recommended as a seasonal treatment by Ayurveda so as to maintain and balance the physical and the psychological. As mentioned previously, in respect to the Ayurvedic constitutional type, doshic imbalances and other physical weakness, the treatment is customized but the need for this information gathering is that therapist performing panchakarma will use all or only some parts of the therapies so provide maximum efficiency. It is similar in respect to the principle in acupuncture in that more needles doesn’t necessarily mean better treatment.

The reason that panchakarma requires highly specialized and trained therapists is because whilst panchakarma is an extremely pleasurable and comfortable experience, there are sometimes periods of tenderness due to the extreme release of toxins which were methodically recored by the vaidyas. Thus it is an important prerequisite that there be a well informed expert who supervises the therapy and can recognize these signs accurately of proper and improper execution of panchakarma. The reason behind there being a very effective sense of tranquil and pleasure is because the procedure has shown to form quantifiable brain wave coherence and also lower ones metabolic activity. The principle is that when the body is in a position of complete relaxation, the toxins from both the body and mentally are more easily deeply cleaned out and thus places the body and mind into an intense peacefulness.

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