June 21 has been declared by the United Nations Organisation (UNO) as the International Day of Yoga with the slogan, Yoga for Peace and Harmony”. This declaration is a formal acknowledgement of the universal acceptance and popularity of Yoga all over the world. This declaration can be considered a feather in the cap of India as regards its national and ancient heritage, i.e. Yoga. When institutes/schools and practitioners of Yoga across the country are preparing for celebrating the International Day of Yoga in their own ways following the Common Yoga Protocol laid down by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, let us take a look at the essence and efficacy of Yoga.
Essence of Yoga
Yoga is one of the six (Shad Darsana) aastika or orthodox Indian philosophies which, like the other five philosophies, aims at liberating man ultimately from the miseries and sufferings (dukha) of human existence. It is a Moksha Shastra and hence the final goal of all Yoga practices is Moksha (spiritual freedom) or Kaivalya. On the path towards this goal, all the dimensions of human personality are benefited – these dimensions being social, personal, physical, physiological, mental, psychological, intellectual and spiritual. Hence, the total personality of the human being is developed through Yoga. But this development of the personality is a means to the final goal of Kaivalya and not an end in itself. To put it differently, personality development or physical and mental health are by products on the path of Yoga and not the ultimate purpose of Yoga practices. Hence, being attracted to Yoga for making the body beautiful or fit or getting health benefits or relief from ailments (which is what is happening today) may be under-utilising the potential of Yoga, if not misusing Yoga. It has to be recognised that the true spirit of yoga lies in its preventive aspect rather than its therapeutic aspect. Yoga, as practised in ancient times, is a lifestyle and not a style of life.
Efficacy of Yoga
Yoga practices yield unimaginable positive effects and without any adverse effects. They cater towards both, health and healing, in the empirical world. There is hardly any other discipline or regimen which caters to nourishing the total personality of the human being as Yoga does. Practicing of Yogic principles, which is the same as ‘being Yogic, renders one conflict-free in society. It makes the body beautiful, fit and healthy. Mind becomes peaceful and calm and intellectually sharper. With increasing awareness levels resulting from practising Yoga, an individual is unburdened from his heavy conditioning and rigid habit patterns. He is able to take more from the moment and ultimately more from life.
Realisation of Essence and Efficacy of Yoga
The most significant condition for realizing the essence of Yoga and enjoying the efficacy of its practices is that the practitioner needs to practice (abhyasa) Yoga for prolonged period with perseverance, without any break and with full faith and respect towards it.
Contribution of Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham to Yoga
KJ Somaiyas Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham (BSP) is slowly but surely making its presence felt in the firmament of Yoga. It is an institute to reckon with when it comes to its contribution to promoting Yoga as a field of study. It initiates an individual into Yoga with its certificate course and PG Diploma course and sustaining the interest of the adherent encourages the pursuing of its BA and MA in Yoga Shastra degree courses. It is one of the few institutes which offer Ph.D in Yoga.
The strength of BSP is that it generates Yoga sadhakas who are not only well-versed in the physical practices of Yoga but who are also thoroughly knowledgeable in the theoretical and philosophical aspects.
The author is Dr. N Ganesh Rao from KJ Somaiyas Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham (BSP).