Yoga is a system of physical and mental discipline which originated in India long ago. The word is linked to meditative practices in both Buddhism and Hinduism. In the latter, it also refers to an orthodox school of philosophy.

Yoga has many branches like Raja yoga, Karma yoga, jnana yoga, Bhakthi yoga, and Hatha yoga. But when most people talk of yoga in India or abroad, they usually mean Hatha yoga, which consists of certain exercises called ‘asanas’.

It can also include ‘pranayama’, a set of breathing exercises. Yoga is an important system of complementary or alternative therapy. Yoga teachers prescribe specific asanas and breathing exercises for specific diseases. Yoga has beneficial results in treating many diseases like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, obesity, etc.

Yoga also helps maintain one’s youth and vitality. Yoga exercises help to control, purify and coordinate the nervous system. Doing yoga regularly rids the body of toxins, thereby improving general health. It also rids the mind of impure impulses leading to contentment and inner peace.

Meditation is a mental discipline by which one tries to attain a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. It involves focusing one’s attention on a single point of reference. It is an important part of many religions and it is practiced outside religion as well. Meditation may be used for different purposes.

They may include achieving a higher state of consciousness, greater focus, creativity or self-awareness or simple relaxation. Magsaysay award winner and former top police officer, Kiran Bedi, during her stint as IG of Prisons, Tihar jail, introduced classes in transcendental meditation (TM) for prisoners.