This International Yoga Day, Yogis would be happy to see their toil finally finding the light of the day. Half a decade ago, people were averse to the idea of Yoga and had little or no confidence of its healing powers. Things, however, have changed with time and so have ideas. People not only in India, but worldwide understand its importance now and how beneficial is it for the mind and the body.
Nevertheless, it picked up as a trend in India last year when PM Narendra Modi himself led a team of Yoga practitioners at India Gate to promote the practice. However, there is a large pocket in the country that now understands what Yoga can do their psyche and health.
Visit any Yoga Center and you would know what we mean. From software engineers to homemakers, everyone wants a break from everyday life and think about the self. "It is a practice that re-discovers the self. It calms the mind and keeps you fit," says Nayantara, a journalist by profession and a Yoga practitioner.
"My job required me to be aggressive and that affected my family life too. I was restless, suspicious and irritated always, which led to familial discord. I could not take 'NO' for an answer and had difficulty in anger management. Yoga changed me," she further added.
Nayantara is not the only beneficiery here. Satish, a software engineer, had issues with his weight and there was a lot of stress in office. Erratic working hours and frequent travelling took a toll on his health and he was diagnosed with blood sugar at the tender age of 24. "Hell broke loose when the doctor said that I have to reduce stress to keep it in control," he said.
"A friend advised me to join Yoga classes. I thought it was easier than exercising in the gym, less of sweat (he laughs). But I was proved wrong. Each of the asanas engaged the entire body, which means leaning the flabby areas. Moreover, I was explained that Yoga is not merely to reduce weight, since it is not directly connected to losing weight. It enhances the metabolism in such a way that it controls hunger, thus reducing food intake," he further added.
Yoga and social service
While physical benefits from the practice are innumerable, it also has a social contribution. Proves Chaitanya Wellness Studio in Kaggadaspura. Apart from organising several events across the month of JUne, the studio went a step ahead and performed Yoga with the physically disabled. Plantation programs formed other part of the schedule.
"Yoga teaches you to accept your being and bring happiness within. Once there is happiness and peace within, you would not hesitate to spread it around you. Community work is an integral part of Yoga. Unless you bring happiness to others, Yoga is incomplete," said Dr Prashant Tak, who heads the studio. His wife Shreya Tak is also a popular teacher here.
Her perception of the practice is no different than her husband's. "My mind is at peace and Yoga has helped me retain that peace and apply that at home and work. I tell my students that the sense of wellbeing should come from within. And there is no better way to know yourself than Yoga. It brings determnation, patience, perseverence and peace."
108 sun salutations
Sr Faculty member at Art of Living Yoga and Meditation Center- Yashoda Mayi says, "Yoga is ingrained in us since birth. Observe a child and you would know what it does is nothing but Mudra Pranayam. Today's daily life stress has only one remedy-Yoga. There are in all 700 Yoga postures and if you do even 10-15 of them everyday, your life will transform."
Like many Yoga studios, the Art of Living is also organising 108 sun salutations today, which is conducted four times every year during season changes. This helps in regulating all the 6 chakras in the body and regulate the cycles of the body, increasing immunity. "Sun Salutation basically is a prayer to the Sun and complete submission to it and the universe. With every body movement, the breath is regulated and so is the mind. It engages the entire body," said Mayi.
Speaking on the difficulty of integration of Yoga in everyday life, she said,"the main problem these days is we are forgetting our Gurukul tradition and integrating something that is not our's. Yoga requires persistence, but that is rare these days. People only come to Yoga for fast results for obesity. But Yoga is not just about losing weight, it is also about losing the ego and other vices that come in the way of our daily lives."
Art of Living is organising 108 Suryanamaskara in the evening for working people today. And on Sunday, there will be a Satsang between 10 am to 5pm, which also includes talk about homeopathy.
Yoga above religion
Mayi had a very insightful thing to say when we asked about the interconnection between Yoga and religion. She said, "Yoga is beyond religion. Since when did a doctor start treating his/her patients according to religion? Yoga is a healer and it heals the body. Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims do not have different bodies. Why do you think it is getting popular worldwide. Yoga can unite nations and religion divides them. Which one will you choose?"
She further added, "I have Muslim students too who are practicing even after their marriage. They have found help with the practice and see no religious barrier in it. I believe the problem lies with the community heads, who are half informed about this practice. They should first be taught what exactly Yoga is so that they can guide the mass."
At the end of all the interviews, we realised that Yoga is truely beyond religion, caste or creed. Otherwise, how is it that this particular day is celebrated worldwide, united in a Yogic way?