Yoga Day: For Health

June 21, 2023 / Blog

It has been nine years since the United Nations declared the 21st of June to be the International Day of Yoga. A matter of great pride for all Indians, as it showcases not only the benefits of one of our most ancient streams of knowledge but also its eternal relevance.

Yoga, meaning ‘to unite’, is a path to unite the individual with the universal. “Vasudaiva kutumbakam” the theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga aligns itself very beautifully with the unity concept of yoga.

The practice of Yoga brings about a harmony between the body and mind. Exercising, stretching, breathing exercises and meditation are some of the well-known aspects of yoga. When we practice asanas, we are extending the limitations the body has developed. When we practice pranayama, the breathing is regulated and the emotions calm down, which reduces the reactionary tendencies. Finally, when the practice of meditation is taken up the thought process undergoes a transformation which will lead to an enhanced state of living.

It is the body that we identify ourselves most with. The body thus becomes the obvious starting point of yoga, bringing back awareness to the body. The practice of asana helps in balancing the structure of the body maintaining the correct alignment improving circulation and metabolism. When performed with regularity and awareness, they bring about an enhancement in strength, flexibility and endurance. If asana practice is overdone it may lead to destabilization of the body, where the natural alignment of the bones may be altered and the core tension of the muscles may be lost.

Pranayama is the practice of conscious and regulated breathing. It is the energy that runs our life and its improper flow is a sign of illness. The consistent practice of pranayama soothes the nervous system and reduces the mental disturbances. It brings about a state of mind which is clear and focused, preparing it for the future states of dharana(concentration), dhyana(meditation) and samadhi(absorption).

Meditation begins with introspection becoming reflection resulting in samadhi (total absorption). It is a journey within oneself which reveals what is best for the meditator. This state of samadhi is what is given by Sage Patanjali as the definition of Yoga, which is “Cessation of mental activities”. The practice of meditation brings the mind from its states of agitation, distraction, dullness to that of focus and awareness.

Yoga is a journey so deep into ourselves that it mines out the diamonds within. Each individual will be able to perform at their best and reach the pinnacle of life. One’s own sense of wellbeing will not be limited but will soon radiate to others thus creating not only personal transformation but also transformation in society. Peace and harmony will reign not only within oneself but throughout the world and become a living manifestation of “vasudaiva kutumbakam”.

B.N. Nagendra
Yoga Instructor

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