Yoga transforms the physical body. Forbearance (Yama), which includes veracity and chastity; religious observance, which includes internal and external purity; posture and pranayama play an important role in this transformation. Regular practice of Yoga keeps the physical and mental organs active and maintains their natural condition. Needless to say that natural functioning of organs is the main mantra for a healthy living. The life dependent on artificial organs cannot be stable. Over medication, especially allopathic medicines finish the chances of rejuvenation of physical organs in their natural form leaving aside their sensitivity. A medicine taken to cure a particular disease, gives rise to a new disease. These physical diseases finally give birth to mental diseases.
Different yogic processes like posture, pranayama, devotion, mudras, bandhas, Shatkarma etc. are used in order to purify the blood, vital life energy, nerves, glands etc. All the diseases and disorders are removed from the body totally. The life including proper diet, sleep, celibacy is always enjoyable and healthy. The philosophers of Yoga have included forbearance and religious observance as the two primary branches of Ashtanga Yoga, and are actually the basis of a healthy society and people. Forbearance, which includes not doing injury to living things, not veracity, avoidance of theft, chastity and non-acceptance of gifts is helpful in all round development and building a good civilized society.
Religious observance which includes external and internal purity, cheerfulness or contentment, austerity, chanting Vedic hymns, devoted reliance on the lord are determinants of personal progress. It should not be understood that non-violence and other acts of forbearance have no purpose in personal progress. Ultimately, acceptance of people’s disciplined and civilized life is acceptance and discipline of the society. Non-violence and other forbearance except celibacy are with reference to the society whereas, religious observance are with reference to individual. Saint Patanjali has called forbearance as the greatest religious vow on the basis of this aspect. The meaning is very clear that the people inquisitive of learning Yoga should not be impatient in following non-violence and other acts of forbearance in the name of place, period and condition. However, the suitable place, period and condition could be necessary with respect to external and internal purity, austerity and chanting Vedic hymns etc. The word ‘austerity’ used with respect to religious observances has been elaborated in great detail in Indian literature.
Saint Patanjali has given a very brief note on the form of yoga in the form of Kriya yoga. Austerity is also an important part of this Kriya Yoga along with chanting of Vedic hymns and devoted reliance on the lord. It has been mentioned clearly that austerity is the developed form of physical and mental energy and consciousness not just exploitation of physical organs. According to Patanjali, tolerating confusion is austerity, energy at physical level and logical thinking at mental level give a person the ability to tolerate confusion. Indian sages have recognized these confusions at physical and mental levels in the form of hunger-thirst, cold-hot, happiness- unhappiness, loss-gain, fame-defame, victory-defeat etc. The continuous widening of the ability of tolerating confusion is patience, which is known as the basis quality of personal, family, social, political, religious and spiritual life of the individual. Lord Krishna further elaborates austerity. He included the factors of forbearance and religious observances under austerity and declared it as physical, verbal and mental. Actually, luxurious life full of pretense deteriorates the moral values of a person. A person habituated to leading a comfortable life cannot imagine leading a life without these comforts. The person feels handicapped in the absence of comforts even if he is a fully able person. This attitude makes a person diseased. At this point the nature appears like an enemy. Austerity is an invitation to forbid luxurious and comfortable life style and live in proximity with nature.
Posture or asana is a popular branch of Yoga to maintain the physical balance. Saint Patanjali is very generous and simple while defining asana. According to him, stable and comfortable position is asana. Different writers have different opinions with respect to number of asana and the most interesting is the one given in Dhyanbindupanishadkar. According to it, the number of postures is equal to the number of species of life. It is necessary to strengthen the muscles and nerves in order to keep the body healthy. Posture and exercise strengthen the muscles and nerves. Exercise plays a very important role in supplying the nourishment to different parts of the body obtained through food. Absence of exercise gives rise to imbalanced body. Posture and light exercises strengthen our respiratory system. The therapists are using different yogasana in the successful treatment of various diseases. Different diseases occurring in stomach, neck, spine and knees are cured with popular asanas. Yoga is fully capable of transforming the physical body.