Professional guidance is essential, especially in correctly understanding and applying fundamental principles. Teachers are very useful especially for beginners in helping them stay on the path and avoid misunderstandings. To clarify the science of yoga and make it accessible to the majority of seekers, Swami Vishnu-devananda extracted its essence and presented it in five universal principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth. These five principles constitute the essence of the teachings of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.
Our physical body is meant to move and exercise. If our lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints, then disease and great discomfort will ensue with time. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.
Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.
Long before the invention of cars, planes, telephones, computers, freeways and other modern triggers of stress, the ancient rishis and yogis devised very powerful techniques of deep relaxation. Many modern stress-management and relaxation methods borrow heavily from this tradition. By relaxing deeply all the muscles we can thoroughly rejuvenate our nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.
4. Proper Diet
Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of the yogic lifestyle.
Here is the most important point of all, we become what we think. Thus, we should exert to entertain positive and creative thoughts as these will contribute to vibrant health and a peaceful, joyful mind. A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practising the teachings of the philosophy of Yoga and Vedanta. The mind can be brought under perfect control by the regular practice of meditation.