Significance of International Day of Yoga — Promoting Peace, Harmony and Health
19 Jun 2017 – On 17 September 2014, the Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi had appealed to the UN General Assembly to give special recognition to 21 June (being the longest day in the northern hemisphere). He suggested that this day may be recognised as the International Yoga Day which the UN agreed to on 11 December 2014 with the proposal being supported by 177 member countries of the UN.
Accordingly the first Yoga Day was celebrated in many parts of the world on 21 June 2015.
Yoga is increasingly being practiced in many parts of the world. What is the significance of Yoga in the contemporary world?
Yoga consists of several physical asanas (exercises) and also focusses on deep breathing which helps an individual to acquire peace of mind and purify one’s blood since the breath reaches remote areas of the brain which normal breathing is unable to access. Besides being good for one’s physical health, yoga also offers mental peace, harmony and well-being as its practitioners are realising personally.
There are some exercises of the neck — moving it up and down and sideways which prevents cervical pain and so on . Then there are some asanas that are good for one’s eyesight. These involve moving ones eyeballs sideways, clockwise and anti clockwise. I have personally benefited from these asanas and I have been able to improve my vision — both near and distant.
Mr Modi while speaking to the UN had highlighted some of its principal benefits.
He had stated: ” Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient India’s tradition; it embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; harmony between man and nature …”
In today’s stressful climate and conditions these benefits are important and indispensable. In many advanced countries when a patient suffers from some common ailments, Doctors prescribe drugs and surgery (for cornea replacement or for knee replacement etc) but a yogi (person who does Yoga regularly) can usually avoid the medical route. Yoga helps prevent many common diseases and keeps one’s body in good shape.
There is a distinct type of Yoga called Rajyoga that helps a person to meditate, allows the mind to concentrate and remain composed and helps one to look inwards, to internalise one’s thoughts. It prevents stray thoughts from distracting the mind, helping the person to remain alert and excel in whatever one is interested in — music, panting, mathematics or even in business. It ultimately helps in prevention of mental tension, sleeplessness and even migraine. Rajyoga promotes mental balance, peace and harmony.
Another advantage of Yoga is that it does not require any expensive or elaborate equipment such as gym or a large field. An ordinary mat is sufficient to do the various asanas in open space.
But perhaps it’s best benefit as indicated earlier is during meditation . It helps a person to remain peaceful and avoid stress which is a common condition in today’s life. A person often feels lonely and isolated especially in advanced age, Yoga and meditation helps one to seek spiritual union with the almighty– with the Brahman according to Indian tradition. This way we feel peaceful and in harmony with nature.
One does not need to be a religious person to enjoy the benefits of Yoga. There are of course some non- Indic religionists who find Yoga objectionable for its Hindu focus. But gradually many of these skeptics are coming around to find peace, joy and well being by practicing this ancient system regularly. Yoga is for everyone — for promotion of peace, harmony, health and goodwill for all.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 Jun 2017.
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