India, June 21: Yoga is not limited to keeping the body fit and agile; it is a lifestyle bridging the gap between body, mind, and soul. It plays an integral role in connecting the majority of the community ethos.
Yoga focuses on holistic development; hence it gained popularity worldwide swiftly. Everyone and anyone can practice it without the bias of gender, age, and geographical location.
The varied yoga postures make the body nimble, and the chanting of the mantra relaxes the body and mind, keeping the body in sync with the universe.
Yoga and Indian Culture
Since the dawn of civilization, Yoga has been an integral part of Indian culture. Yoga originated in India almost 5000 years ago in the northern part of the country during the Indus- Sarasvati civilization.
However, some scholars claim that it dates back to 10,000 years. The first reference of Yoga found a mention in the oldest scripture – Rigveda. The word Yoga finds its nomenclature in the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj‘ meaning ‘to join/ to yoke /to unite. The early writings on Yoga were discovered inscribed on the palm leaves.
It started as an art form based on guru shishya parampara (Teacher- disciple system) and later adapted into many formats to suit the larger population. In the late 1800s and early 1900, Yoga was introduced in western countries when yoga masters began travelling to the west.
The first yoga studio opened in Hollywood by Indira Devi in 1947 continues to run to date. Recognizing Yoga’s popularity, benefits, physical appeal, and global reach, United Nations declared 21 June as The International Yoga Day in 2016.
Initiatives are taken by the Indian government to promote yoga
‘Yoga Se Hoga.’ The Indian government has taken steps to encourage Yoga on various national and international platforms.
● In collaboration with the Central Council of Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN), government hospitals in Haryana and Delhi, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Ayush, have opened 8 Yoga OPD.
● The state government and independent bodies like NGOs are provided with financial aid to promote Yoga.
● Yoga training is made compulsory for police personnel and the Defence Wing Staff to assist them to cope up with their high-stress jobs.
● Various workshops, fairs, and lectures are organized from time to time by tourism abroad to promote Yoga and yogic practices.
● Yoga is made compulsory for the kids in school as part of their curriculum to initiate awareness towards a healthy lifestyle.
● Late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget in 2015, exempted all yoga-related businesses and activities from being taxable to charitable.
● To promote Yoga at the international level, The Ministry of Home Affairs encouraged foreign nationals to visit India on a tourist or e-tourist visa for ‘attending a short-term yoga program.’
Also Read: Yoga therapy for COVID-19 patients
Yoga, the fitness mantra of the celebrities
National and International celebrities swear by Yoga and its benefits. They are constantly promoting Yoga on various social media handles.
International legends like David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, Meghan Markel, Matthew McConaughey, Beyonce have been ardent yoga practitioners.
Back home, celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Akshay Kumar, Malaika Arora Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Shikhar Dhawan, considered the fittest in the industry, practice yoga regularly. They cannot stress enough the holistic well-being achieved by Yoga.
Yoga is popular amongst politicians the world over. Indian Prime minister Mr Narendra Modi practices yoga. He regularly tweets with his pictures about the importance of Yoga.
Whenever I get time, I practice Yoga Nidra once or twice a week. It furthers overall well-being, relaxes the mind, reduces stress and anxiety. You will find many videos of Yoga Nidra on the net. I’m sharing a video each in English and Hindi. (By the Twitter account of PM Narendra Modi)
The Canadian President is a hatha yoga practitioner. In 2013 he posted a picture on Twitter balancing his body on the table with his wrists, known as peacock pose. This post went viral. Trudeau’s wife is a hatha yoga instructor.
The Former British Prime minister and his wife Samantha have been supporting Yoga for years.
Northeast: the yoga connection
The northeastern states of India of late have been opening up to Yoga because of the multiple benefits.
Kiren Rijiju, the Sports Minister of India, from Arunachal Pradesh, advocates yoga. In a statement to the media, Rijiju professed that Yoga presents a massive employment opportunity after being declared a competitive sport.
Pema Khandu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, is the fittest amongst his peer, recently joined the Fit India Movement initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He took to his Twitter account to post a video of him on a treadmill inspiring people to stay fit.
Northeastern states of India house India’s most internationally recognized players like Mary Kom, Baichung Bhutia, L. Sarita Devi, Jayanta Talukdar, K.Sanjita Chanu, to name a few. They all have included Yoga as part of their regular training regimen to have an agile body and sound mind.
This year Mary Kom will join Shilpa Shetty and sports minister of India Kiren Rijiju, in an online event promoting Yoga on International Yoga Day.
In addition to this, the first yoga retreat in Guwahati by Vivekananda Yoga Anusandana Samsthana (Vyasa) collaborates with Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation (SVYASA), has opened its door for the people to spread and promote practical knowledge of Yoga among the people of the northeastern zone.
Yoga is not a physical exercise to tone, sculpt, and build your body. It is an ancient way of life that has existed for thousands of years, designed to free us from obstacles and liberate us from any fear.
We must incorporate Yoga and yogic discipline in our day-to-day life. It shows us the path of physical well-being and mental liberation while keeping us connected to nature.