Stress is not always a silent killer. It can easily disturb daily activities, create destructive behavior, and can be detrimental to our physical health, such as increasing the risk of heart attacks. Psychologists and other medical professionals continually point out that stress can complicate nearly any mental or physical condition. Even “good” stress, such as the added responsibility of getting a promotion at work, can have an adverse effect on the physiology of the human body.
So, what can be done to reduce stress in our daily lives? Those who are unfamiliar with the practice meditation, often think it belongs only to the realm of hippies. However, recent studies have shown that meditation does, in fact, help improve the mental and physical health of the practitioner. Medical professionals have performed M.R.I brain scans before and after meditation, which have proven an increase in the gray matter of the brain associated with learning and memory. It has also shown there is a reduction in the areas associated with stress and anxiety.
Of course, Yogi masters have always believed meditation is crucial to the wellbeing of the spirit, mind and body. Raja yoga is a form of yoga that concentrates on the mind and meditation. Although it is often considered obscure, it does incorporate all eight steps associated with Pantanjali's Yoga, which was first comprised from ancient yoga practices around 2,000 years ago.
The beginning of raja yoga began before written texts even existed. The term “raja” translates into “king” and is indicative of the power of the mind. This spiritual path has been used for thousands of years by rishis, or seers, to unite the mind, body and spirit on an enlightened journey with the final goal of becoming one with the ultimate consciousness.
This style of yoga may concentrate on stilling the mind and freeing the conscious. It centers around meditation and the preparation for delving in the self. However, there are other practical applications of using yoga that can be measured with medical technology. Yoga helps the physical form by increasing blood circulation, stimulating the glands, stretching and strengthening muscular tissues and other direct physical effects.
Psychologically, meditation helps with emotional upheavals and encourages harmony with the self. In addition to these benefits, the raja style of yoga also helps improve memory and concentration. With the number of benefits yoga is known for producing, it isn't a wonder why millions practice this ancient art everyday.