International Yoga Day:
- As over 170 countries around the world are celebrating the fifth International Yoga Day on June 21.
- Yoga is today practised in various forms around the world and continuing to grow in popularity.
- The UN recognised that yoga provides a “holistic approach to health and well-being” and also that wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practising yoga would be beneficial for the health of people all over the world.
- As a result, the UN proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga via Resolution 69/131.
Yoga now popular across the world:
- Yoga has become hugely popular all over the globe.
- Schools in some countries, including the US, have introduced yoga as a part of the curriculum for children.
It is an ancient Indian treasure:
- Yoga is essentially an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India possibly around the 5th century BC.
- The word yoga comes from Sanskrit and means “to join” or “unite”.
- International Yoga Day is a good moment to reflect on this treasure of ancient India and a unique part of the world’s intangible heritage.
Yoga represents Balance and Sustainability
“Balance” is at the heart of sustainability:
- As the global community started drafting its development agenda in 2015, it realised that we have been missing a big component of “development”.
- There was a need for balance.
- There was a need to avoid excesses, avoid reckless exploitation of nature, avoid excessive consumption.
- Our individual lifestyles and patterns of global governance needed to be rebooted.
- Sustainability has become the new mantra, and “Balance” is at the heart of sustainability.
Yoga represents this balance:
- “Balance” in all spheres starting with physical well-being is what yoga is all about.
- Yoga is an approach to life that focuses on physical balance, mental equilibrium and working towards a harmonious synthesis of diverse elements including the protection of the environment.
- The Bhagavad Gita makes two important statements:
- “Yoga-sthah kuru karmaani” – Do your duty with a yoga approach
- “Samatvam yoga uchyate” – Balance is the essence of yoga
Theme for the year:
- The theme of the 2019 International Yoga Day is aptly “Climate Action”.
India’s contribution to world health
Changing disease burden across the world:
- The world is making an epidemiological transition and the contribution of most of the major non-communicable disease groups to the total disease burden is increasing.
- In this context, it is important that individuals make healthier choices and follow lifestyle patterns that foster good health.
- Even Harvard Medical School experts have recognised the significantly positive impact on health.
- Yoga’s benefits are slowly being realised the world over.
Yoga comes with health benefits to cope with this:
- Yoga is a combination of four components — postures, breathing practices, deep relaxation, and meditation.
- It can alleviate arthritis pain, reduce the risk of heart disease, relieve migraines and fight osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia.
- A study showed how yoga increased blood vessel flexibility by 69 per cent and even helped shrink arterial blockages without medication.
- It helps to rev up immunity and decrease the need for diabetes medications by as much as 40 per cent.
Yoga is a comprehensive approach to wellness:
- While Yoga also works as an effective workout, it is much more than that.
- It is a comprehensive approach to achieve wellness. It recognises the vital connection between the body and the mind.
- “Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life,” remarked a famous yoga guru.
- It aims for balance and equanimity, peace, poise and grace.
- It is a sublime expression of the quest for excellence, for synthesis and harmony.
It is also about excellence:
- Yoga is not just about health and well-being. It is also about “focusing” and “excelling”.
- As the Bhagavad Gita states, “Yogah karmasu kaushalam”(excellence in your work is yoga).
- This excellence comes as a corollary to “dhyana”(concentration) and “dharana”(retention) along with “yama”(ethical behaviour) and “niyama”(discipline) as a part of the eight-fold approach of yoga as defined by Patanjali, the pioneering exponent of yoga.
- Yoga, therefore, is a way of thinking, a way of behaving, a way of learning and a way of problem-solving.
- Through Yoga, India is contributing to the health and well-being of millions of people across the globe.
- The fact that the UN resolution moved by the Indian government was co-sponsored by a record 177 countries bears testimony to yoga’s universal appeal and India’s readiness to support the cause of global health.
- A few of the important first steps in the efforts to spread the benefits of yoga include:
- Establishment of the first India-China Yoga College at the Yunnan Minzu University in Kunming in China
- The India-Turkmenistan Centre for Yoga and Traditional Medicine in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
GS Paper II: Social Issues