In some of our articles the aim of yogasanas to improve concentration of the mind has been highlighted. The intent is to shed the excess luggage of thoughts that have made mind their permanent abode. The ‘thing’ called mind is a great trickster. It unties the most difficult knots with which one tries to bind it.
It is an expert escapist and tenders innumerable excuses to the one who tries to control it and slips out from one’s fold.
A sincere student of yoga has to make the beginning to train the mind and improve the concentration. When negative tendencies are shed one by one, and positive traits gain the upper hand, the mind has no other alternative but to tread the path of divinity. Specific yogasanas and techniques to improve concentration are prescribed to enable the yoga student to assure smooth sailing in his efforts to reach the desired destination. Some of them are:
- Discipline the mind by asking it to repeat the prescribed mantras.
- For inner development, concentration is advised on laya (certain inner sounds) and a yantra (a geometric design) is used for external concentration.
- Another technique is dharana. Focus on a pre-decided aspect about the body during the practice sessions of asanas.
Just as a division of army to defend the borders of a country against the enemy intrusions and attacks consists of brigades, battalions that specialize in different types of warfare etc. to defend the mind against negativities, many branches of yoga, and mind control exercises have been perfected. But again, the mind has the capacity to beat all these procedures, if not practiced carefully– extremely carefully!
Some of the mind-control branches are kriyas and mudras, hatha yoga asanas, pranayama, jyana yoga procedures etc. The final goal of all these procedures is one and the same—to tune the mind for single-pointed concentration.
One’s lifestyle is also important in efforts to achieve concentration of the mind. “Your food is your grave,” said Bernard Shaw.
The type of food consumed directly affects the concentration of the mind.
The purpose of the disciplined life is to reach the highest level of consciousness. The moral dimension of the human being like not telling lies, the tendency to intentionally harm others, greediness and stealing( overtly or covertly– black marketeering is an indirect form of stealing.) assume importance and must be practiced scrupulously.
Apart from cleanliness, personal qualities of head and heart need special attention. Be a true karmayogi, do all work without motivated desires. Practice contentment and remain self-controlled. Do your work sincerely and diligently.
Be punctual and disciplined.
Balance and discipline are the ornaments of a true yogi. The exercises are meant to reasonably improve your strength but their important purpose is also to evolve you into a calm and serene personality.
Each asana is a carefully designed exercise taking into consideration the development of mental faculties and strengthening of the muscles. The Sages of the yore carefully observed the movements and functioning of the nature and the asana is accordingly designed. It impacts a particular muscle, a nerve centre or a gland keeping in view the overall perspective of the development of body and mind in tandem. No asana is exclusive; they are all inclusive. Some of the modern physical exercise programs have borrowed positive aspects of yoga and it is an encouraging development.