To the world going crazy for transformation – transformation towards betterment, transformation towards wellness, International Yoga Day has far-flung implications much of which is yet to be unraveled. Just on the heels of the Global Wellness Day (celebrated every year globally on the 2nd Saturday of June) comes the International Yoga Day, which is being celebrated on 21st June since 2015. The world has accepted the values of Yoga as is evident from the celebrations of this day in more than 170 countries including US, Canada and China.
Why 21st June?
This day is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere (Summer Solstice) and is of special significance in many countries of the world.
Why is Yogaso relevant today?
The harmonious functioning of the mind and body is ceasing every day. The global population today is desperately vying for wellness to gratify its physical, mental and spiritual status to enjoy a prolonged lifewith more of wellness and less of illness.
Fast paced lifestyle, burgeoning stress, the fierce race to overtake others and the constant fear of being pushed down in the life’s ladder have forced a great chunk of the global population to adopt unhealthy and unfriendly practices that are causing more harm than good.
Technological advancements though have added convenience but have also contributed to increasing global epidemics of non-communicable lifestyle ailmentssubstantially raising the healthcare cost.
Today, we experience the following around us:
- Everybody irrespective of age and sex is living a fast paced life.
- Every event in life big or small is being measured on a competitive scale.
- Constant effort to surpass others exists.
- Violent urge for instant gratification.
- Less patience and more intolerance.
- Less fellow feeling and empathy.
- An array of disruptive thoughts and actions.
- Unwillingness in heeding to the situational demands.
- Ignoring signals sent by the body and mind.
- Lesser exploration of self ability.
- More dependence on technology where immediate convenience is creating grounds for more serious inconveniences.
- Lesser availability of healthcare support and assistance.
The cumulative effect of all the above factors is disrupting the harmony of wellbeing factors not only for an individual but also of the society, which is taking a toll on the general wellness of the mankind.
In this perspective, Yoga aims at the union of our physical, mental and spiritual entities. It implies setting up of a perfect harmony where different entities of wellness are uniquely orchestrated to create a quality lifestyle that human beings long for.
The prime objectives of the International Yoga Day can be summarized as follows:
- To create awareness among the global population of the health and wellness benefits of Yoga.
- To make people connect with each other in a community taking some time out of their busy schedule.
- To make people aware of the preventive measures that can be adopted through yoga to reduce the chances of illness.
- To provide relief to the people suffering from extreme stress.
- To show the global population the right path towards the bliss of wellness through healthy and disciplined lifestyle.
- To make people aware of the link between the wellness and nature. It is a very well known fact that disrupting the natural harmony affects the wellness of human beings.
- To promote harmonious existence among the human population and its surroundings through responsible actions and practices.
The seeds of Yoga were planted in India thousands of centuries back, and its formulations were compiled by Sage Patanjali, the most revered sage who lived during the Golden Age of India or Satya Yug. Yoga is not merely a string of physical exercises. It is a practice of mind-body intervention with endless benefits.
Though stretching and contortions constitute a significant part in Yoga but without the mental involvement, the desired outcome is not possible.Realizing the universal appeal of this unique unification of mind and body aiming towards wellness, the United Nations proclaimed 21st June as the International Yoga Day.
The formulations laid by Patanjali are primarily aimed to achieve the desired level of mental tranquility or to instill the desired physical and mental harmony that would help in developing clarity in thoughts and action.
ChittaVritti and Nirodha – Three pillars of Yoga
Chitta= Mind, Vritti= Ripples or waves; impediments to enlightenment, Nirodha = Restraints
Human beings aspire for health, peace, success, inner exploration, joy and love. This can be achieved only when our mind and body act in harmony helping us walk through the life by easing out the struggle to a great extent. Yoga helps in maintaining this harmony.
This is the reason that the practice of Yoga initiates with mental involvement. It teaches moral restraints or self control strictly adhering to basic spiritual practices to overcome the evils of the mind. Food and lifestyle play a great role in setting mental equilibrium, which forms the foundation of the wellbeing of an individual.
Sage Patanjali has clearly described the 8 stages of Yoga popular as Ashtanga Yoga (or Eight Limbed Yoga):
- Yama (moral restraints)
- Niyama (spiritual practices)
- Asana (seat posture with spine erect)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of from the organs of sense and the organs of action)
- Dharana (deep state of concentration)
- Dhyana (directing attention to the subject of meditation)
- Samadhi (complete absorption in super consciousness or divine mind)
Along with the stages, chanting of Mantras or specific words followed by special breathing techniques also form a part of Yoga.
The science behind Yoga:
The contortions listed in Yoga are uniquely conceived to entwine the body and soul in the right balance. Research also confirms that regular practice of these stretches has tangible health benefits.
- As per American Council of Exercise, more than 11 million Americans have found that yoga postures have a soothing and strengthening effect on the mind and body.
- As per a physician and yoga instructor, Yoga helps in thickening of the layers of cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with higher learning and enhances its neuroplasticity.
- Another research indicates that people practicing yoga for years have improved bone densities.
- Research carried out by the universities of Coventry and Raddboud UK reveal that practicing Mind Body intervention techniques like Yoga and meditation reduces the risk of depression and cancer.
The Yoga Magic–Just few minutes a day can transform your life:
Devoting few minutes a day for Yoga can gradually lead you towards overall betterment. This is applicable to all irrespective of sex, age, color and ethnicity. It is the attitude of the person that would lead him/her towards practicing yoga to enjoy the bliss of wellness. Once you realize the benefits, the practice is going to exist forever.
International Yoga Day welcomes the global population to participate in this global event – to initiate a good practice for self benefit as well as for the benefit of the community and the world. If an appreciable percentage of global population understands the long term benefits of Yoga, the planet earth would surely turn into a better place where everyone can live life to its fullest.
Yoga does not always imply practicing complicated postures. Just remain composed for a few minutes with your palms joined near your chest in the praying posture. You are performing the simplest form of Yoga –“Namaskar”.