Friday, August 6, 2021
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Benefits of Yoga
The Yoga Way

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

The benefits of yoga are multi-fold. The first is that it improves your health. Yoga provides us tools and techniques to lead a stress-free and tension-free life. Yoga is also the greatest wealth of humankind. What is wealth? The purpose of wealth is to bring happiness and comfort. Yoga is wealth in the sense that it brings absolute comfort. A violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and a sorrow-free soul is the birth-right of every individual. Parliaments all over the world are striving to achieve this goal of human existence - happiness! We all want happiness for our people and yoga is a way for that much-needed happiness factor in life. We think yoga is some sort of exercise. In the '80s and '90s, when I would tour Europe, yoga was not easily accepted in mainstream society. Today, I am glad that there is an awakening and people have recognised the importance of yoga. The world over, yoga has become synonymous with relaxation, happiness and creativity. Even big companies in their advertisements put people sitting in a yoga position or in meditation pose to depict inner peace. Whether we like it or not, we are all born yogis. You do not need a yoga teacher if you observe a baby. Any baby in the world, from the age of 3 months to the age of 3 years, does all the yoga postures. The breathing, the way they sleep, the way they smile, everything is yoga. A baby is a yoga teacher, a yogi. That is how a baby is stress free, there is happiness - it smiles 400 times in a day. Another important benefit of yoga is that it changes the behaviour of a person because behaviour depends on the stress level in a person. It creates a friendly disposition and a very pleasant atmosphere in people. Yoga helps to improve our vibes. We convey a lot through our presence, even more than our words. Speaking in terms of quantum mechanics, we are all emitting vibes or wavelengths. When communication breaks down, we often say 'Our wavelengths don't match' because our ability to communicate depends on our ability to receive communication from others. Here, yoga helps us to have that clear mind. Yoga also helps in developing skills within oneself. The propounder of yoga, Lord Krishna has said in the Bhagwad Geeta - ‘Yoga is skill in action.’ Yoga is not just an exercise, it is how skilfully you can communicate and act in any given situation. Innovation, intuition, skills, and better communication: all these are effects of yoga. Yoga always promotes harmony in diversity. The word yoga itself means uniting; uniting all diverse aspects of existence, of life. Now, whether someone is a businessman or a public figure or a private individual, we want peace, we want to smile, to be happy. Happiness is only possible when we look into the root cause of unhappiness. Unhappiness is due to lack of vision, stress and tension. The European Union has been talking a lot about GDH. From GDP, we are moving towards Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH). Here is something that can aid that and be a very useful tool. A large percentage of our population today is suffering from depression. Just popping a Prozac or anti-depressants will not help. We need something that is natural, as natural as our breath, that we can use and elevate our spirit. The purpose of yoga is to put a smile on you in spite of all the stress, tensions, and situations we face in our day-to-day life. (605 words)

The Yoga Way

1. Yoga is universal world around?

Breathing is universal, exercises are universal and the consciousness is universal. If you observe a child from the age of 3 months to 3 years, he does all the Yogasanas, so Yoga is a universal thing, definitely.

2. Is Yoga Hindu, do you think Yoga is getting appropriated by the Hindutva brigade with the announcing of the World Yoga Day

Nobody can deny that Yoga has been the part of the ancient Sanatana Dharma, it has been developed in this country, and it’s an ancient knowledge, wisdom. Bhagavat Geeta and Patanjali Yoga Sutras, are taken as the main authority in Yoga. All the Yogic scriptures are from the Hindu traditions, Sanatana Dharma but it does not restrict. For example, musical instruments belong to our traditions, similarly Ayurveda – the Ayurvedic medicines and herbs are ancient. You can’t say that because it is from Hindu traditions so it won’t work for others- No. Though its roots are in Hinduism, still, its nature is universal. Yoga does not demand change

3.Will World Yoga Day help?
It can remove the prejudice in the minds of people which has been there for quite some time.
It will
unite people on a platform of wellbeing , health , mental peace .

Should PM Modi take credit for Yoga and making it a universal phenomenon?

Yoga is making itself popular because of its effectiveness. Yoga is already a universal phenomenon. People in every part of the world are doing Yoga in big numbers. Big corporations are advertising Yoga postures to indicate relaxation or clarity or peace of mind. So, this being the case, there is nothing wrong in India claiming its heritage and feeling proud about it.

The word yoga means different things to different people. Some say it is asanas, some believe it is the spiritual path and some talk about the health benefits. So what according is yoga?

Yoga is not just a physical exercise or asanas. Yoga is a complete science. It unites the body, mind , spirit and the universe. Yoga brings that much needed peace in every individual. It also makes a big difference in one’s behaviour, thought pattern and attitude. I would say yoga is almost indispensible. If you want to be sane, sensitive, sensible ,strong and intuitive you have to follow yoga.

Sometimes people talk about the mystic element of yoga? What is that mystic element?

If mysticism is explained it no longer remains mysticism. It is something to be experienced. Mysticism is something that keeps life alive and fills you with love and energy which lasts for lifetimes.

Is meditation a part of yoga?
Meditation is definitely a part of yoga. Yoga has to be meditative, else it will just become an exercise, gymnastics.

In the Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna has said ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam’. What does that mean?

This means ‘yoga is skill in action’. Yoga and skill are synonymous; if you are skillful it means somewhere you have followed the principle of yoga. And if you are doing yoga, pranayama, meditation, and following all the yama niyamas you will definitely acquire skill in your action.

What is that skill that makes a person a yogi?

The skill is to see how you keep your spirit uplifted, your energy not drained and yet your job gets done. This comes only by yoga. Usually when you do some work you tend to drain yourself. And by the time the fruit of action comes you are so exhausted that you are unable to enjoy it. So yoga is that skill which keeps your spirit alive, your energy high and yet brings you achievement.

You say yoga is not about exercise. This is a contrasting picture of yoga as the world knows it. So what is it all about?

No doubt, postures and exercises are part of yoga. But it should not be limited or misunderstood as just exercise. It is a holistic development, expression and connection of human life. Every baby is a yogi. A baby exhibits all the qualities of a yogi - its postures, breathing pattern, perceptual ability, sharpness and the ability to stay in the present moment.

Is meditation enough? Do we really need asanas? If yes, why?

If one is aged or sick or not used to exercising, then one doesn’t need to do physical postures. They can do some breathing exercises and meditation. Meditation is the real substance. It is like a soul and everything is else is like dressing on it. You can’t have a body without a soul and you can’t have a soul without a body. Patanjali has spoken about the eight limbs of yoga. And limbs develop simultaneously, not one after another. In a womb a baby does not develop the legs first and then develop the arms or head. All the limbs get developed simultaneously. So all the 8 limbs of yoga go together.

There seems to be a fear among some sections that yogic practices will lead them away from their religion and faith. Is yoga against religion?

Is technology against any religion? Yoga is a technology, a technique which will enable you to be more energetic, happier, and more compassionate.

If a religion does not advocate freedom of thinking and freedom of spirit, then it is doing injustice to humanity and its own followers. The purpose and goal of all faith is to bring peace, love, freedom and a sense of belongingness, brotherhood and sisterhood to the whole planet. And Yoga is the technology to achieve these goals of faiths. Though yoga was conceived in the ancient Sanathana Dharma tradition (ancient Hindu Vedic culture), it doesn’t limit itself to a set of ideology or theories. It opens its avenues to every person in the world for betterment of life.

Can yoga become a tool for building a diplomatic relationship for India?

Yoga, though born in India, belongs to entire humanity. You cannot limit any knowledge on this planet to geography. If you limit the knowledge to a geographical condition then it is not universal, it loses its magnanimity and dignity. I would say yoga belongs to the people of the planet. Definitely, since it is born in India, the country should take pride in yoga and in bringing out these invaluable streams of knowledge. At the same time I would say people everywhere in the world should own it as their own. The ancient thought is ‘Vasudaiva kutumabakam’ which means ‘The whole world is one family’. So when we consider the whole world as one family then anything that belongs to any one member of the family belongs to the whole family. So, although Yoga is a very integral part of Indian culture tradition and history, it belongs to the whole planet.

The whole commercialisation of yoga is making it lose its original purpose, which is spirituality.

Commercialisation has to do with people and not with yoga. Wherever there are people and there are arrangements to be done, commerce becomes a part of it. But if yoga is denied to people because they do not have money, I would say that is wrong.

#Quotes by Sri Sri on Yoga

1. “Like a flower bud, human life has the potential to blossom fully. Blossoming of human potential to fullness is yoga.”
2. “Yoga brings the knowledge, passion and action together.”
3. “Yoga is a study of life, study of your body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, and ego; study of your inner faculties.”
4. “Withdraw your senses from the object to its source, then the union happens, then the yoga happens.”
5. “Peace is our very nature, and yoga leads you to inner peace.”
6. “The purpose of yoga is to stop suffering even before it arises.”
7. “Yoga is not just weight-loss program, it is a science to make you feel lighter. You lose mental stuff of anger, jealousy, hatred, greed, etc.”
8. “One of the rules of yoga is to cultivate the practice of being happy.”
9. “The wisdom of Yoga transforms one from arrogance to self-confidence; meekness to humility; from dependence to a realization of interdependence.”
Like eating pizza or chowmein doesn’t make one Italian or Chinese, doing yogaisn’t going to make one Indian or Hindu. When we accept cuisines, fashion, music and technologies from every part of the world as a sign of progressive thinking, why not wisdom of yoga from India.

#Few Words/phrases we can be used:
1. Timelessness of yoga
2. Universality of yoga
3. Yoga is age-old and yet ever-new.
4. It is a holistic way of life that integrates all elements to make a prayerful discipline uniting the body, mind and soul.

5.Yoga has today become synonymous with relaxation, happiness, or a creative mind.

6. The world is embracing it as a skill to enhance the quality of life.

USP of Art of living Yoga:

Along with the series of simple, yet effective yoga postures and breathing techniques, a greater emphasis is placed on the inner experience of meditation, for the well-being of mind and other hidden elements of human existence.

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