From being an ancient art form to a multi-billion dollar business today, Yoga is one of the six orthodox philosophical schools of Hinduism, which teaches us how to live a peaceful and healthy life. These include six systems (shad-darśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. The ultimate goal of Yoga is Moksha, as suggested by the literal meaning of Yoga(योग), which is ‘Union’ with the Supreme.
There are four paths or types of yoga: Ashtanga Yoga (the eight components of yoga), Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Gyaan yoga. Traditional yoga systems that include breathing exercises and asanas or postures, chants, and meditation, which helps reduce stress and improve immunity along with lung functions is called Ashtanga yoga. This is the Yoga form that is more celebrated and practiced world-wide and is the focus of International Day of Yoga.
The eight parts of Ashtanga Yoga are discussed in brief below:
- Yama – restraints or ethics of behaviour
- Niyama – observances
- Āsana – physical postures
- Prāṇāyāma – control of the prana (breath)
- Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
- Dhāraṇa – concentration
- Dhyāna – meditation
- Samādhi – absorption
Bhagavad Gita, in its 6th chapter gives a brief overview of Ashtanga Yoga. The other forms i.e. Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Gyaan yoga are discussed at great length in Bhagavad Gita. These are spiritual rather than physical postures and can be considered as the next steps after Ashtanga Yoga.
In 2006, Baba Ramdev along with Acharya Balkrishna established Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Among various activities, the yoga classes which were held in the campus were broadcasted live on television and in no time it gained a lot of popularity. With around 15 lakh students in Patanjali Yogpeeth, it is one of the largest yoga institutes in India, and possibly in the whole world. Baba Ramdev played a big role in teaching and spreading yoga not only in India but around the world.
In the West, the art form started getting more attention, when in the US in 1998, Madonna went on the Oprah Winfrey show and announced that she was done with the gym and had become a convert to yoga. In the interview, Madonna spoke of the spiritual and mental benefits of her yoga practice and how it was a metaphor for life. Yoga, in the US, was estimated to be a $27 billion market in 2014, with more and more Americans started turning to the ancient fitness regimen for health benefits.
On 27 September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, keeping in mind the rising popularity of yoga and to show India’s soft power, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, proposed the idea of practicing ‘Yoga Day’.
“Yoga … embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement. “It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature.” ( 27 September 2014)
In less than three months the UN General Assembly on December 10, 2014 adopted an India-led resolution declaring 21 June as “International Day of Yoga”, recognizing that it “provides a holistic approach to health and well-being.” The first International Yoga Day was celebrated on June 21, 2015.
Today the Ayush Ministry estimates the Indian wellness market at ₹49,000 crore, $88bn worldwide and expected to reach $215bn by 2025. This high in the market is indeed the result of unparalleled benefits of practicing yoga, which is priceless!
Benefits of Yoga
The benefits of performing yoga are many. Practicing yoga on a regular basis does not only improve fitness but also prevents stress and helps in controlling Diabetes and High BP. Asanas such as Halasana (Plow Pose), Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana (Bridge Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Fish Pose) prevents Diabetes and High BP and greatly improves flexibility of the body. A well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists keeps your disks supple, and as a result protects our spinal health.
Halasana(Plow Pose) Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana(Bridge Pose)
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Fish Pose)
Highlights of International Day of Yoga 2021
The United Nations theme for Yoga Day 2021 is “Yoga for Well-Being” and how the practice of yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual.
The Yoga Day celebration by the union Government was an online event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his television address, marking the seventh International Yoga Day on Monday morning, said, “Today, when the whole world is combating the coronavirus disease pandemic, yoga remains a ray of hope.” PM Modi also said that India, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), will launch the M-Yoga application, which will have many videos of yoga training based on Common Yoga Protocol available in different languages of the world. This will help us in making the ”One World, One Health” motto successful, he said. A live Yoga session broadcast on Doordarshan (DD) National, DD News followed the PM’s Address.
Many other Union Ministers performed yoga in socially distanced Yoga events. President Kovind also shared his photo of performing Yoga at the Rashtrapati bhavan.
Yog Guru Ramdev along with Acharya Balkrishna were seen performing yoga at Niramayam Yoggram Village in Haridwar.
There is no doubt that Yoga, the art of Adiyogi (also known as Shiva) has great potential for both, our outer and inner well-being. This was the reason this science was developed and was given to the Seven Sages (Sapta Rishi) to spread this knowledge for the benefit of man, the scriptures say. There are plenty of articles that document personal experiences online, where people narrate how regular yoga practice has clearly changed their lives. Modern yoga has taken various forms such as Bikram Yoga, Power Yoga, Hatha Yoga etc. This may be as a result of marketing because they are mostly similar to each other. The link will guide you to the Ministry of Ayush website with Common Yoga Protocol videos available in various languages which will help you to practice yoga to lead a healthy life. Yoga is indeed an ancient solution to many modern problems.
Paras Madhuram Jasrasaria