Wellness through the lens of Yoga

This guide is handy when you want to start Yoga from scratch. All those seasonal weight gain and depression can be withered away. Say namaste…!

Himani Shokhand
Himani Shokhand
Himani Shokhand is the Senior Yoga Consultant at Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga in Delhi.

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Neelam Singh

Yoga is basically a boon for the welfare of humanity. It is an old and ancient training that includes both physical and mental involvement of human beings. Everyone wants to live happy and healthy. Positive health is the key factor for leading a meaningful life filled with happiness and inner harmony. Yoga is regarded as a holistic approach to health that not only increases flexibility, strength, and stamina but also fosters self-awareness, emotional stability, and peace of mind. The purpose of Yoga is to be a preventive as well as curative system of the body, mind, and spirit.

Meaning of Yoga

The Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ comes from the root yuj (to join), or yoke (to bind together or to concentrate). Yoga is a means of uniting or a method of discipline: to join the body to the mind and together join to the self (soul), or the union between the individual self and the transcendental self. The word Yoga means ‘union’, that is, the union of cosmic consciousness with one’s own personal consciousness. Yoga helps a person grow from ‘I’ to ‘We’, that is, from being self-centred to a global human being. The ‘union’ could also mean, for a psychiatrist, the unification of thought and effect as well as mind and body, which may have therapeutic value in both illness and wellness domains.

What Wellness means?

Wellness is a process of achieving the full potential to enhance the higher quality of life experiences. It is relevant in the reduction of the stress and the risk factors of the disorders leading to illness. It ensures the positive health conditions through the multi-dimensional approaches based on the sustainable principles and practices.

Wellness is a process that is ongoing and never static. It is a way of life oriented towards an optimal health and well-being that integrates the individual’s body, mind and spirit so as to live life more fully. Yoga is made up of those elements and aspects of science and spirituality which have a direct bearing on the integrated growth and fulfillment of the human being at all levels – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Here are some key points that define the meaning of wellness:

  • Holistic Well-being: Wellness involves the integration of multiple dimensions of health, recognizing that one’s physical health is in connection with mental, emotional, and social well-being.
  • Balance and Harmony: It focuses on achieving a balance and harmony among different aspects of life, aiming for a state where an individual feels healthy, fulfilled, and content.
  • Proactive Approach: Wellness encourages individuals to take proactive steps towards maintaining and improving their health, rather than solely addressing health issues when they arise.
  • Lifestyle Choices: It involves making conscious choices and adopting healthy behaviors in areas such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep, social connections, and personal development.
  • Quality of Life: Wellness is about enhancing the quality of life by fostering positive habits, attitudes, and practices that contribute to a sense of well-being and vitality.
  • Self Responsibility: It emphasizes an individual’s responsibility for their own health and well-being, encouraging self-awareness and self-care practices.
  • Personal Growth and Development: Wellness is also linked with personal growth, self-fulfillment, and a sense of purpose, allowing individuals to live a meaningful and satisfying life.

The preceding points are the key factors in order to bring wellness and Yoga provides a pathway for an individual to explore and cultivate their well-being in all dimensions.

Importance of Hatha Yoga in Wellness

Initially, the discipline of Hatha Yoga was developed as a means for meditation: preparing the body and the nervous system for stillness. The word ‘Hatha’ can be divided into two words: Ha (sun) and tha (moon). The common interpretation of Hatha yoga is a union of the pairs of opposites. Hatha yoga, the Yoga of activity, addresses the body and mind and requires discipline and effort. It is through Hatha Yoga that most Westerners gets the exposure to the philosophy. Many people believe that this is Yoga and are unaware of the totality of Yoga as a philosophy of life.

Importance of Ashtang Yoga in Wellness

The principles and practices of Ashtanga Yoga of sage Patanjali is a great contribution to lead a happy life. Patanjali suggests that ethics (yama and niyama) is the way to cleanse the mind, body, and spirit. He emphasizes a more psychological approach to healing and self-realization. The body’s organs and systems are to be cleansed first through asanas (postures) and pranayama (controlling the breath). Physical strength and stamina developed by asanas and pranayama allow the mind to remain calm and bring the harmonious balance between body and mind.

Relationship  between Yoga & Wellness

The concept of Yoga and wellness is closer to the concept of body and mind health, happiness, life satisfaction and actualization of one’s full potential. In fact, it is the subjective feeling of contentment, satisfaction with life experience and one’s role in the world of work, sense of achievement and utility. There is always a need for maintaining wellness in human life.


The holistic approach of Yoga is well established and it brings harmony and peace in all walks of life. Wellness is concerned with its six different dimensions, namely: physical, emotional (mental), intellectual, social, environmental, and spiritual health. Through the practice of Yoga, these dimensions could be in the right kind of harmony so that one will achieve a sense of well-being.

Following are some of these Yoga practices that work for wellness:

  1. Cleansing Practices: These practices are also called Shodhana Kriyas which helps to clean the accumulated toxins from the human body and generates a sense of lightness.
  1. Yogasana:  स्थिर सुखम् आसनम् which means steadiness in the body is called Asana. Yogasana practices steadies the entire body through different physical postures without any strain. With the regular practice of Asana, it brings the mind steady as well. Physical balance and a sense of ease with oneself enhance emotional balance and enable all physiological processes to occur in a healthy manner.
  1. Pranayama: It helps to improve control over autonomic respiratory mechanisms through breathing patterns that generate energy and enhance emotional stability. The mind and emotions are related to our breathing process and hence the slowing down of the breathing process influences autonomic functioning, metabolic processes as well as emotional responses. It helps to integrate body movements with the breath and develop psychosomatic harmony which is very much important for maintaining the state of well-being. There is a unity that develops between body and mind through the practice of Yoga.
  1. Dharna: It helps to concentrate the mind and enhance the flow of energy systematically in different parts of the human body. Therefore, it creates a balance between body and mind and a sense of well being.
  1. Dhyana: Meditation brings calmness in the internal environment (mind state) through the contemplative practices that, in turn, develops synchronization in homeostatic mechanisms in the human body.

Wellness and its Four Dimensions

Yoga is all about balance or  ‘Samatvam at all levels of being. Yoga enhances self confidence and internal healing capacities through the cultivation of right attitudes towards life and moral ethical living through Yama-Niyama and various Yogic psychological principles. Faith, self confidence and inner strength are the most essential tools to maintain the discipline for wellness.

Today, everybody is living a stressful life and facing multiple lifestyle related disorders which may affect both mentally and physically. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain the balance between body and mind. It is not necessary that if an individual is physically fit and free from illness, he/she/they has complete wellness. Stress free life and happiness are the essential tools for complete wellness. There are many dimensions of wellness that are essential for attaining overall wellness and a happy life as follows.

  1. Physical Wellness: It is related to our body and physical health. A person is considered to be physically healthy if he/she/they maintains a healthy diet, gets enough sleep and does regular exercise. Yogasana and ‘Cleansing’ practices (Shatkarma) helps to regulate all the physiological systems of the Human Body. These practices make our body physically fit and healthy.  
  1. Emotional Wellness: Psychological or emotional wellness is related to one’s mental health, feelings, beliefs and emotions. Yoga is not only beneficial for physical fitness but also plays a significant role in promoting emotional wellness. The mind-body connection inherent in Yoga practices can positively impact various aspects of mental and emotional well-being. Psychological wellness plays a vital role in successfully dealing with stress, depression and frustration. It helps to find solutions to encourage positive feelings, enthusiasm and a healthy attitude towards life. For instance, Om Mantra Chanting and Meditation (Dhyana) practice enhance the cognitive ability, bring positivity in thoughts and reduce Stress level.
  1. Social Wellness: Yoga plays a significant role in maintaining healthy connections and interpersonal relationships. This dimension encourages people to interact, engage and maintain relationships with people and develop strong networks and friendships. Social wellness also increases motivation, sense of belongingness, productivity, efficiency and collaboration. Yama and Niyama practices make a person develop good intra- and interpersonal relationships.
  2. Spiritual Wellness: Yoga has deep roots in spiritual traditions and philosophy. It is often considered a holistic practice that addresses not only physical and mental well-being but also spiritual wellness. Yoga encourages self-reflection and introspection, providing individuals with the opportunity to connect with their inner selves. This connection can lead to a greater understanding of personal values, purpose, and a sense of inner peace. The spiritual aspect of Yoga can be interpreted and practiced in various ways, depending on individual beliefs and preferences. Some people may integrate Yoga into their existing spiritual traditions, while others may approach it from a more secular perspective. Regardless of the approach, Yoga practices are the true essence of spiritual well being.


In the era of digitisation and automation, maintaining positive wellness is a crucial aspect of an individual’s life. To perform effectively in the current environment and maintain wellness, Yoga has emerged as an essential facet in our lives. The practice of Yoga can significantly enhance wellness and help us cope with the challenges in life. This can help to achieve ultimate happiness, fulfillment, life satisfaction and overall wellness in our lives.

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