World Yoga Day June 21 – Rejuvenating the body and soul

The World Yoga Day June 21 – Rejuvenating the body and soul, In this occasion India will celebrate International Day of Yoga 21 June to highlight the importance, relevance and usefulness of this ancient Indian technique to the overall benefit of mankind.

World Yoga Day June 21

On December 11, 2014, the 193 member UN General Assembly approved observation of June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’ by consensus with a record 177 countries co-sponsoring the resolution.

It is a great opportunity for all of us to explore ways and means of propagating this knowledge through multiple strategies.

Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma Yoga where we utilise the body; Jnāna Yoga where we utilise the mind; Bhakti Yoga where we utilise the emotion and Kriya Yoga where we utilise the energy (breath or pran).

Each system of Yoga we practice falls within the gamut of one or more of these categories.

Yoga sadhanas

The widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prānāyāma, Pratyāhara, Dhārana, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Shatkarmas, Yuktāhāra, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma etc. Yamas are restraints and Niyamas are observances. These are considered to be pre-requisites for further Yogic practices.

Āsanas, capable of bringing about stability of body and mind, “kuryat-tadasanam-sthairyam”, involve adopting various psycho-physical body patterns and giving one an ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length of time.

Prānāyāma consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind. In the initial stages, this is done by developing awareness of the “flow of in-breath and out-breath” (svāsa-prasvāsa) through nostrils, mouth and other body openings, its internal and external pathways and destinations.

General guidelines for Yoga practice

A Yoga practitioner should follow the guiding principles while  performing

Yogic practices:

  • Cleanliness – includes cleanliness of surroundings,  body and mind.
  • Yogic practice should be performed in a calm and quiet atmosphere with a relaxed body and mind.
  • Yogic practice should be done on an empty stomach or light stomach. Consume small amount of honey in lukewarm water if you feel weak.
  • Bladder and bowels should be empty before starting Yogic practices.
  • A mattress, Yoga mat should be used for the practice.
  • Light and comfortable cotton clothes are preferred to facilitate easy movement of the body.
  • Yoga should not be performed in state of exhaustion, illness, in a hurry or in acute stress conditions.
  • In case of chronic disease/ pain/ cardiac problems, a physician or a Yoga therapist should be consulted prior to performing Yogic practices.
  • Yoga experts should be consulted before doing Yogic practices during pregnancy and menstruation.
  • Breathing should be always through the nostrils unless instructed otherwise.
  • Do not hold body tightly, or jerk the body at any point of time.
  • It takes some time to get good results, so persistent and regular practice is very essential.
  • Yoga session should end with meditation/ deep silence / Śhānti paṭha.
  • Bath may be taken only after20-30 minutes of practice.
  • Food may be consumed only after 20-30 minutes of practice.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is essentially a path to liberation from all bondage. However, medical research in recent years has uncovered many physical and mental benefits that Yoga offers, corroborating the experiences of millions of practitioners. A small sampling of research shows that Yoga is beneficial for physical fitness, musculoskeletal functioning and cardio-vascular health.

It is beneficial in the management of diabetes, respiratory disorders, hypertension, hypotension and many life style related disorders. Yoga helps to reduce depression, fatigue, anxiety disorders and stress. Yoga regulates menopausal symptoms. In essence, Yoga is a process of creating a body and mind that are stepping-stones, not hurdles, to an exuberant and fulfilling life.

The benefits of Yoga in physical and mental well being of the people have been quite established. Incorporating Yoga in to the curriculum of medical education is a much needed intervention. In the context of increasing life-style related health problems, and rising cost of curative treatment, the conventional curriculum guided by Western medicine is no more compatible.

Even considering the amount of stress generated among medical and health professionals, Yoga appears to be the only ray of hope for facing the enormous challenges. Every medical college should therefore seriously think in terms of introducing Yoga for the faculty as well as students for disease prevention and health promotion. Some can specialize in therapeutic uses of Yoga.

To conclude, Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being and wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing Yoga for the health of the world population. Yoga also brings harmony in all walks of life and thus, is known for disease prevention, health promotion and management of many lifestyle-related disorders.

Thoughts on Yoga

I have been doing yoga since 2011 and have benefited immensely from it. Yoga not only gave me strength and flexibility, but also allowed me to improve my focus and overcome my attention deficit, which most people in our generation have due to constant distractions by technology.

There are two things that make me happy about this–I want people world over to realise and benefit from yoga. It’s beyond religion or mere exercise. Yoga is India’s biggest ‘cultural export’ giving us huge soft power internationally- Allu Sirish, yoga practitioner.

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