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Four pillars of Yoga for holistic health

Four pillars of Yoga for holistic health

Every human is unique; therefore it is necessary for each of us to find out for ourselves how we can live a healthy life and maintain good health. Health is wealth. We should make choices in life keeping in mind our age, our limitations and our behaviour with others. Ultimately we are social animals and are dependent on each other for everything, directly or indirectly. Yet, since we are so very different from each other, we have to take extreme care of how we deal with others.

Four fundamentals that take care of maintaining good health include- Achar, my behaviour/conduct with others should love, caring and cordial at all times. More important is Vichar, my way of thinking – we can make an attempt to always be positive or neutral in that order. We at The Yoga Institute have pioneered many techniques example- Pratipaksha Bhava that helps to convert our negative thoughts into positive and if we are unable to be positive then we should try to be neutral, but never to allow anything negative to disturb our balanced state of mind.

Four fundamental pillars both on and off Yoga mat makes Yoga as a way of living. Let’s make an effort to absorb the four pillars in our daily lives

  •  Ahar (Diet) – What we eat, how much we eat and how we eat. Sattvic diet advocated by Yogis help infuse positivity and good health.
  •  Vihar (Recreation) – Our rest / recreation time, our routines including Niyamas. (Shauca:/Cleanliness every day you make an effort to keep yourself clean both internally as well as externally. Santosha/ Contentment: Practice being a content and joyful person daily for the benefit of others. Tapas/ Discipline: Tapas means fire. It is our burning desire and dedication to the practice of yoga. Swadhyaya: Study of the Self: Continual work on one’s self to become a better person is driven by daily yogic practices and study of yogic scripture, text and philosophy. Ishvara Pranidhana: Devotion to God: Be grateful every single day for your life. Have faith in your yoga practice.) The niyamas are methods of refining your personal health and happiness.
  •  Achar(Conduct) – Our conduct with the external world – which is in fact is the first step of the 8-fold path i.e.Yamas – Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation in seeking pleasures), Aparigraha (non-stealing) and
  •  Vichar (Thoughts) – our goals in life, our school of thought.

We have to take care of all the four pillars equally to be able to maintain a healthy and happy life. If even one of them is ignored then we shall bear pain, disease and suffering to some intensity. This thought has been reiterated not only in the Yoga Sutras but in Ayurveda and the Bhagwad Gita as well.

There are a variety of new researches happening and I recently read that 4 cups of coffee a day can reduce one’s life span by half. We had a French visitor once who was a coffee addict and mentally very disturbed as well. The point is that we have to live holistically, maintaining a balance of all the four pillars as shared above. If we give more importance to any one of them or just one of them, then it will lead to an imbalance which will be very painful to us. We should always understand and keep in mind the purpose behind doing any action. If we forget the purpose then the action will create problems.

I’d like to illustrate with an example. Two brothers with their families lived together. The elder wife was an academic and literary personality and the younger wife was a homemaker. Over a period of time, the younger lady felt wronged since the elder lady wouldn’t contribute to the housework. This created ill health for the younger lady and she happened to visit The Yoga Institute. We suggested she speak to the elder lady and request her to contribute too. The elder lady happily agreed and they divided the work amongst themselves. Each would become responsible for the home on alternate days. In due course, the elder lady would work as per her ways which the younger lady didn’t approve of. The problem instead of getting resolved created even more tension and ill-health for the younger one. The point is that we should accept others as they are, if we want things to be a certain way then we should do it ourselves instead of expecting others to work as per our methods. I explained to the younger lady that if she is happy with a clean and organized home then she has to do it herself and hard work never harms in any way. Either be relaxed / happy with the way things are, or do it yourself. Gradually, she understood the four pillars and reduced her need for perfectionism slowly.

Your subordinates will not work the way you do, therefore do not make efforts to change others, the efforts should be directed towards accepting others as they are and being happy with them, the efforts should be directed towards improving oneself only. I will receive only what I give. We have to maintain a level head in our conduct with others at all times, else we will be unhappy. Let’s try to be a little selfless and avoid being materialistic and self-centered with our needs. Let’s work towards sharing happiness and joy in the society we live in. Let’s work towards achieving a balance of all the four pillars in our lives.” This is the secret of having not just good health but leading a completely balanced life with happiness and fulfillment.

  • Dr. Hansaji J Yogendra
    Dr. Hansaji J Yogendra
    Director –The Yoga Institute

    Dr. Hansaji Yogendra is an Indian yoga guru, author and researcher and TV personality. She is director of Mumbai based The Yoga Institute, a government recognized non-profit organization and the oldest organized yoga center in the world, founded in 1918. She has conducted several seminars and lecture tours in India and in Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and USA

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