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Friday, July 30, 2021

How yoga helps both the mind and body stay healthy

Sri M writes: Yoga has much to offer even to those who are not interested in the spiritual and metaphysical.

Written by Sri M |
Updated: June 21, 2021 9:19:09 am
Yoga Day celebrations at a camp in Chandigarh (Express photo/Kamleshwar Singh)

Given that June 21 is the International Day of Yoga, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly, it would be in order to take a look at the science of yoga.

Yoga is one of the treasures that has been given to the world by this ancient land called Bharat — India.

As early as the Upanishadic times — at least a thousand years ago — the science of yoga was taught and practised by the sages.

Defined as the science of bringing together the human and divine from the Sanskrit word yuj, essentially, yoga is the training of the body and mind to stay healthy and tranquil and, eventually for those who are ready to go all the way, recognise the divine element within the core of one’s consciousness. This is the state called “samadhi”.

Now, reserving the state of samadhi for those rare ones who wish to spiritually evolve, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that even for those who are not interested in the spiritual and metaphysical, yoga has much to offer in terms of good physical health and mental health.

A few years ago, the WHO defined mind health and mental well-being as an integral part of sound health in human beings — an idea which the yogis have believed in for thousands of years.

Personally, I started the practice of yoga asanas and pranayama at the age of 10 and I have stayed healthy, physically and mentally fit in over seven decades of my journey of life.

This brings us to the present phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, which we are still passing through, though, there are clear signs that the wave is slowly and surely curving downwards.

From the time the pandemic began, I have used internet channels, reached out to hundreds of people and taught the science of yoga, especially pranayama or the right way of breathing and yogic techniques to boost one’s immunity and prevent infection. I can vouch for the fact that those who did get infected and practised yoga certainly managed their condition better than those who didn’t. Asanas and pranayama for the body and simple meditation to tackle fear and depression. These were the key factors.

Today, yoga is an international buzzword. From Timbuktu to Hollywood, yoga is practised with enthusiasm.

Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on whose proposal the United Nations in 2015 declared June 21, which marks the summer solstice (the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere), the International Yoga Day and made the world realise and experience the prowess of the ancient Indian science of holistic well-being.

The interest in yoga in India and across the world has grown in Himalayan proportions since the Narendra Modi government came to power. The stupendous efforts made by Prime Minister Modi, who himself is a regular practitioner of yoga, in boosting the awareness of the ancient science of yoga has made it popular among the masses.

The interest in yoga has grown in leaps and bounds. It has become a global trend. And I am sure seeing the positive results of yogic practice, its popularity will grow further.

Thanks once again to Narendra Modi for his exemplary effort in promoting yoga which actually is promoting health and well-being, a fundamental right of every citizen.

Enjoy good health and happiness on this International Day of Yoga.

This column first appeared in the print edition on June 21, 2021 under the title ‘The right to wellbeing.’ The writer is founder, Satsang Foundation. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2020

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