Yoga for Humanity

International Yoga Day JUNE 21

Dr Neena Sharma
Yoga – A Sanskrit word meaning union is a holistic health medicine that forms integral part of AYUSH. AYUSH is an acronym of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homeopathy. They are seven indigenous Indian systems of medicine (ISM) prevalent and practiced in India and some neighbouring Asian countries with few exceptions in developed countries. They are based on medical philosophies and represent a way of healthy living. Off late among the seven indigenous system, there is greater emphasis on Yoga.
History: – It is a five-thousand-year-old ancient, spiritual, self-discipline method for integrating the human spirit with mind. Yoga is first mentioned in Rigveda and is referred in a number of Upanishads. The most comprehensive text on Yoga appeared around 200 B.C. as Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, a renowned Yoga teacher and Hindu Philosopher.
The branch of Yoga that encompasses physical Postures and Asanas is Hatha Yoga which differs from the traditional yoga that focusses on meditation and release of worldly attachments. Swami Vivekananda popularized adaptation of Yoga without Asanas to the Western mainstream in the late 19th and early 20th century. Later Hatha Yoga was popularized by Gurus from India. Yoga is a rich treasure of physical and mental techniques to achieve highest potential, experience enduring health and happiness and improve the quality of life.
Six branches of Yoga are :
• Hatha Yoga: It is a physical and mental branch that encompasses Asanas, Breathing Techniques, Surya namaskar and Kriyas.
• Raja Yoga: This branch aims at perfection of mind and involves meditation and strict adherence to disciplinary steps called Ashtanga or Eight limbs of Yoga. The eight limbs are Yama, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
• Karma Yoga: This is a path of service that aims to create a future free from negativity and selfishness.
• Bhakti Yoga: This aims to establish the path of devotion, a positive way to channel emotions and cultivate acceptance and tolerance.
• Jnana Yoga: This branch of yoga is about wisdom, the path of the scholar, and developing the intellect through study.
• Tantra Yoga: This is the pathway of ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship.
Yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen the body, focus the mind and relax the spirit. Yoga’s gentle movements are a big reason why it is so popular. Yoga involves the exercise of all types of muscles of the body. The associated internal pressure such as intrathoracic and intrabdominal pressure changes form the basis of yoga system of health.
Yoga asanas cover the entire human anatomy from the top of head to the tip of the toes. Yogic practices such as Yogasanas, Pranayama, Dhyana, (meditation), cleansing and relaxation practices are known to modulate the physiological response to stressors. The Asanas make the body strong and flexible; pranayama regulates the purification of internal system and organs. The energy that is generated through the physical practices is used in meditation for stability, peace and calm. Yoga builds perfect harmony between mind and body, man and nature, individual consciousness and universal consciousness. Yoga can help to reduce stress, increase concentration and awareness, gain strength and stamina, improve balance, stability and posture. Yoga can improve conditions like high blood pressure, poor blood circulation, arthritis, osteoporosis, low back pain, headache stress and depression.
Studies conducted revealed that 1 hour per day of yogic practices for a period of 6 months leads to increase in parasympathetic activities and autonomic stability. Several studies have shown efficacy of Yogic practices in management of Non-communicable Diseases like hypertension, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Asthma, Sleep Disorder, Depression, Diabetes, Obesity etc.
Requirements for Yoga
Yoga should be performed on exercise mat, well ventilated room in peaceful surroundings, at day break time. All exercises should be performed slowly, gently smoothly and not to the point of exhaustion as it has predisposition to cause musculoskeletal injury, arrhythmia, fluctuations of blood pressure, in weak and physically unfit individuals. In fact, the yogic practices should be learned first with the help of yoga therapist and then performed
Basic yoga methods can be divided into
• Asanas or body posture
• Pranayama or breathing exercises
• Meditation and voluntary concentration of thoughts
• Deep relaxation
Asanas means posture and involves adoption and maintenance of a particular posture of body for a set period of time that is steady and comfortable. The asanas begin with Surya Namaskar followed by series of asanas like Padamasana ,Dhanurasana, Vajrasana, Bhujangasana, Halasana, Pawanmuktasana, Shavasana, Shalabhasana, Padahastasana, Trikonasana, Vrikshasana, Paschimottanasana, Mayurasana and Shirshasana.
It is the science of proper breathing as breath is the main source of nourishment for all cells of body. Pranayama is control of inspiration and expiration. The regular practice of pranayama increases chest wall expansion and almost all lung functions. The various form of Pranayama are Ujjayi Pranayama, Anuloma Viloma, Suryabhedi Pranayama, Kapalbhati Pranayama, Bramhari (chanting the OM especially the long mmm) and Bhastrika (breathing pattern resembles blowing of bellows).
Meditation is a practice in which an individual focuses the mind on a particular thought, to train attention and awareness so as to achieve a mentally clear emotional state. One form of meditation is Transcendental meditation that involves focussing on a specific mantra by repeating it during meditation. The end result of meditation is increasing calmness, physical and mental relaxation and improved psychological balance.
Deep Relaxation
It is traditionally the peak of every yoga session characterised by 10-20 minutes of complete silence and immobility. It allows the body to absorb all the benefits of previous asanas, pranayama and meditation.
A Common Yoga protocol was developed by a team of leading Yoga experts/Gurus that is widely performed on the International Day of Yoga i.e., 21st of June every year. The idea of international Yoga Day was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 27,2014 during his speech at UN General Assembly where a resolution to establish June 21 as International Yoga Day was introduced. The resolution was supported by 177 nations. June 21 also called Summer Solstice being the longest day of the year was chosen to celebrate the International Yoga Day. Twenty and ten minute modules are recommended for children, adults, youths and elderly population to be repeated twice a day. The Common Yoga protocol training modules are available in Ministry of Ayush’s Yoga Portal. The Union Ministry of Ayush has “Yoga for Humanity “as the theme for the International Day of Yoga 2022 to portray how Yoga served humanity in alleviating the suffering during COVID-19. Focusing on the theme, the Ministry has designed special programmes for the specially-abled and the transgender population and women and children. Human values that are integral to yoga education in schools will also be in focus.
The upcoming eighth edition of International Day of Yoga 2022 will be organized in Mysuru, Karnataka. There will be an innovative programme called ‘Guardian Ring’ that will showcase the movement of sun and people from different countries with participation in performing Yoga. The relay yoga will be streamed live on Doordarshan. With India also celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 iconic national sites will also showcase the mass Yoga demonstration while respective states will organise similar programmes at 75 important locations, according to their choice. Yoga is a practice that brings joy, health and peace from within and it deepens a sense of continuous connection between an individual’s inner consciousness and the external world. Yoga is a way to make oneself physically, mentally and spiritually sound. Maintain the beauty of your soul and body by learning Yoga.