The increasing stress levels has led to people worldwide battling many lifestyle diseases resulting in huge bills on medications and therapies. In a stressed world, Yoga – a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated in India around 6000 years ago – has proved its effectiveness in relieving people of their mental and emotional stress. This ancient science propounds breathing techniques that help in maintaining the overall balance of the body, mind and soul. Due to the tremendous healing properties of yoga, many people are adopting it as part of their wellness regimes. Over the years, Yoga has achieved tremendous popularity across the globe. In order to celebrate the benefits of this ancient science, the International Day of Yoga is celebrated on June 21 since its inception in 2015.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had declared June 21 as the ‘International Day of Yoga’ months after prime minister Narendra Modi proposed this idea during his speech at the UNGA, on September 27, 2014. The theme this year is “Yoga for Climate Action” and the International Day of Yoga is going to be celebrated across the world with a lot of excitement and fun.
“Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that symbolises the union of body and consciousness. Meditation makes the mind fresh and it cleanses and nourishes us from within. Yoga also helps in calming the person, whenever he/she feels overwhelmed or emotionally shut down. Practicing yoga regularly will make our body strong, supple and flexible. A regular yoga practice stretches and tones the muscles and improves the body postures. Most importantly, a few minutes of yoga makes us feel fresh and energetic after a long day of tiring work,” says Rajasthan-based Prashant Tak, founder director of Chaitanya Wellness Yoga Academy that has four branches in Bangalore and specialises in Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Vinyasa yoga along with providing certification courses in yoga.
“Yoga is one of the best ways to calm our disturbed minds and bring ourselves to a place of peace. Practicing yoga is like taking ourselves on a small holiday every day of the week. And the best part is we don’t have to pay for the plane ticket. When we are awake, our mind is constantly thinking about the past griefs and shifts to the worries of the future, causing us to overlook our present moments.
By living in the current moment, we can actually save ourselves from unwanted stress and can relax our mind. Practising yoga trains our mind to pay attention to the body parts and thereby increases awareness. When we live in the present moment, we learn to stay happy and focused,” says Bangalore-based Chandrika Nagaraja, a full-time yoga teacher practising since the past ten years at the Art of Living Foundation, Bangalore.
Yoga aids in weight loss through regular practice, it helps calm down the impulsive tendencies with regard to food. Feeling naturally calm also reduces the urge to binge on junk food as a reaction to stress. Sun salutations, when practised daily, helps in managing weight.
Practising yoga daily strengthens the body’s immunity system and thus cures different diseases. “There are a number of health benefits of practicing yoga other than weight loss. It lowers high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, decreases any tension-related pain, such as headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle, and joint problems. Yoga also increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior and further increases the energy levels of the body,” explains Tak.
Nagaraja goes on to add that disharmony in the mind can manifest as an ailment in the body. Yoga strengthens muscles of the internal organs and increases circulation, all of which helps in the detoxification of the body. It also increases the circulation of the lymphatic system that pushes bacteria and viruses out of the body.
Not only yoga is said to have health-related benefits, but it is also said to improve personal relationships. “It helps improve relationship with your spouse, parents, friends and loved ones. When your mind is relaxed and content, you will be sensitive in your behavior towards others. Yoga and meditation helps in maintaining a happy and positive state of mind, and those effects extend to your ability to listen, be attentive, and show compassion,” explains Nagaraja.
The newer forms of yoga in vogue today are power yoga also traditionally called the Vinyasa yoga and the aerial yoga also called the inverse, or anti-gravity yoga. Power yoga benefits include increased stamina, strength, flexibility, and stress reduction. In this form of yoga, the instructors design their own sequences of asanas, while students synchronise their breath with their movement. In the aerial yoga, asanas can be performed better with the help of aerial silk. This is especially for people who require support while performing the otherwise regular asanas.
The instructors also incorporate props such as chairs, stools and bricks in yoga. “Using props helps people with physical ailments and disabilities or are obese to perform asanas accurately with that extra support,” concludes Tak.