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The 5 Principles of Yoga

Until few decades ago the science of Yoga was considered to be very mysterious and difficult to follow. The five principles of Yoga were summarized by Swami Vishnu Devananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. The purpose was to make the Hatha Yoga philosophy simple and understandable for western students who didnt know the proper meaning and purpose of Yoga.

These five principles of Yoga are to be applied and practiced in daily life in order to get complete benefit from any of them. Classically Yoga is based on 8 principles/ 8 limbs also called Ashtanga yoga. Those 8 principles are summarized into 5 principles for easy understanding and practical application in this era.

Proper Exercise

To develop a healthy and disciplined mind it is necessary to have a healthy and disciplined body.

Asanas are practiced to keep the body fit and disciplined. Asana means steady pose thus a pose to be held for a period of time so the body develops the awareness to handle it and also increase the strength, flexibility and vitality of the spine. The basic Yoga asanas are: Shirshasana, Sarvangasana, Halasana, Setubandhasana, Matsyasana, Pschimottanasana, Purvottanasana, Gomukhasana, Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Kakasana, Trikonasana, Vrikshasana, Tadasana.
The regular practice of these Yoga asanas helps to make the body strong, flexible and energetic. There are 84 classical Yoga asanas which can be practiced by everyone. Shirshasana (Head stand) is considered to be the king of asanas.

Proper Breathing

According to the Yogic philosophy there is direct relation between the breath and the mind. The quality of the breath directly affects the quality of the thoughts and the mind. Most of the people develop the habit of shallow breathing which prevents the proper intake of oxygen and limits the proper usage of lungs. This results in fatigue, headaches, dullness and improper working of internal organs as well as it slows down the self healing capability of the body.

Pranayama consists of systematic and controlled breathing exercises which help to control the mind and regulate proper supply of oxygen to vital organs.

Proper Relaxation

We constantly have tension in our body which most of us can not release even while trying to rest. Due to this tension the body keeps on using energy and we feel tired even after a long period of rest or sleep. It is same as if a car’s engine is on start 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, what will happen to the car? the engine will wear out much sooner. Similarly when the body is constantly holding the tension and can not rest completely it leads to fatigue, illness as well as hinders the self healing capability of the body. In Shavasana we practice to completely let the tension go and let the body relax deeply.

Proper Diet

Vedas say “What you eat is what you are”, the diet directly impacts the quality of your thoughts and physical condition. In order to have clear mind and healthy body it is necessary to have a quality diet. One should include fresh fruits, grains, vegetables etc in his diet and avoid frozen, canned food items.

Yogic diet is primarily lacto vegetarian diet, which consists of fresh vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits, fresh milk, pulses etc. Proper diet not only includes what to eat but also how to eat and when to eat. One should be aware of his nature of the body, weather conditions and the reaction of the body to particular foods to decide for the proper diet for himself.


Meditation is the food for the mind. In order to have clear and balanced mind one should meditate on regular basis. According to vedas, state of Meditation is described as a tranquil state when all the five senses completely shut off. This state comes after the mastery the concentration.

There are many concentration exercises and methods which can help anyone to calm their mind, control their senses and the reactions arising from the continuous thought process. The important thing to remember is that the goal is not to stop the thoughts or reach the thoughtless state

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