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India celebrated International Yoga Day with great fervour with the Prime Minister himself joining people in doing yoga on June 21
India celebrated International Yoga Day with great fervour with the Prime Minister himself joining people in doing yoga on June 21

Rediscovering Yoga

[By Narendra Kaushik]

When Vikalp Singh, a farmer in Nawada Village of Greater Noida, would walk to nearby City Park in the wee hours of the morning to carry out his routine of physical exercises last summer, he would not find many people out. But since last month he has noticed a big increase in the number of people who leave bed early in the morning.

Singh, who is on the wrong side of 50s, now finds people stretching their limbs on pavements, on roundabouts and in parks.

Vikalp Singh doing yoga| Photo: Narendra Kaushik

Vikalp Singh doing yoga| Photo: Narendra Kaushik

The promotion and celebration of International Yoga Day has definitely given a leg up to the number of people doing yoga in my village. The number of women, in particular, has gone up tremendously,”

Singh claims, drawing his hands in front and back.

Kanti Prakash Gupta, a retired teacher doing breathing exercises in the next lawn, endorses Singh.

Kanti Prakash Gupta | Photo: Narendra Kaushik

Kanti Prakash Gupta | Photo: Narendra Kaushik

There is at least an increase of two to four per cent in number of people doing yoga here in last one month. Human beings have intellect,”

Gupta, who stays with his son in Alpha 1, claims.

Originally from Mavana in Meerut, Gupta says yoga helps him in controlling his asthma. He has been practicing yoga since 2002 when he attended a week-long Baba Ramdev’s yoga camp back home in Mavana.

Praveen Kumar Sharma, a tent house owner in Delta 1 Sector of Greater Noida, too is sure Yoga Day celebration has added to the awareness about health.

Praveen Sharma| Photo: Narendra Kaushik

Praveen Sharma| Photo: Narendra Kaushik

“I definitely see more people on roads and in parks in morning now. Yoga publicity has made a difference,”

Sharma who never misses his hour-long morning stroll, asserts.

Yoga growth

Ishwara N Acharya, Director of Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY), a prominent yoga institute in the national capital, corroborates the trio.

There is a 20 per cent increase in our yoga batches. Earlier 400 people attended Yoga classes at our place while now that number has gone up to 600,”

Acharya avers.

Yoga Wellness Centres

Acharya expects further build up once states start taking advantage of the National Ayush Mission which proposes Yoga Wellness Centres in every district of the country and Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN), an autonomous body under Department of Ayush, sets up Yoga Research Institutes-cum-hospitals at seven places including one each in Jhajjar (Haryana), Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

“In next two years, we will have 15 such institutes-cum-hospitals,”

Acharya informs.

MDNIY, which runs yoga courses in affiliation with Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, has begun a special three-and-a-half-month long certificate course for Paramilitary personnel.

Yoga instructor banna hai

Ripu Daman Singh, Principal of Vadodara-based Morarji Desai Institute of Yogic Sciences (MDIYS), is sure International Yoga Day celebration has sensitized people about the benefits of doing yoga. MDIYS observed International Yoga Day by organizing yoga class for around 4,000 people.

MDNIYS trains close to 350 people including about 60 BNYS (Bachelor of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences) students in Yoga daily.  The awareness about Yoga has also fuelled the demand for the BNYS course.

“We get more admission inquiries now. More students want to become Yoga instructors,”

Singh adds. MDIYS, affiliated with Gujarat Ayurveda University, admits 20 students for the five-and-a-half-year long (one year of internship) course every year.

Singh demands central regulation for BNYS students on the pattern of MBBS. He wants appointment of a Naturopath in every district of the country.

We have only 17 colleges and 10,000 BNYS doctors,”

he regrets.

Singh feels introduction of regular yoga classes in schools and colleges could take care of incidence of anemia among girls in Gujarat.

A survey among 2000 adolescent girls in Vadodara in 2012 found that 75 per cent of them were anemic with their haemoglobin levels below 12. The survey forced UNICEF (United Nations International Children Education Fund) India to distribute iron tablets to over 64,500 girls across 410 schools for over a year and a half.

Sustained promotion

Aklavya Bohra, Director, Indian Institute of Yoga & Naturopathy Sciences (IIYNS), Jaipur, wants no let up in promotion of yoga by Narendra Modi Government. He has reasons for it. The number of yoga students in each batch in his institute, which went up from 50 to 80 during the run up to the International Yoga Day, has gone down to 50 again.

“There was a big craze during the Yoga Day promotion. But it is subsiding now. Why cannot the Government continue with at least the advertisement featuring Amitabh Bachchan,”

Bohra points out.

IIYNS, affiliated to Akhil Bharatiya Prakritak Chikitsa Parishad, a registered body which aims at promoting naturopathy, conducts six month long certificate course, one year diploma course and a three-and-a-half-year long course in yoga and naturopathy.

Uma Shankar Sharma, a naturopath in Kailash Institute of Naturopathy, Ayurveda and Yoga in Greater Noida, who supervises training of general yoga for positive promotion of health and specialized yoga to cure various diseases, says yoga awareness has doubled strength of batches of his Yoga students.

“Earlier we had 20 in general Yoga batch. Now the number has shot up to 40,”

he says.

An alumnus of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore, Sharma has patients coming from as far as Ghaziabad.

What is Yoga

Divyaratna Institute of Yoga and Life Sciences, Orissa

Divyaratna Institute of Yoga and Life Sciences, Orissa

Though definition wise Yoga aims at mystical union of self with universal consciousness but in general it is associated with stretching, controlled breathing and other physical exercises which help in overall fitness.

Upanishads describes five layers of existence of human being called Panchakoshas as Annamaya Kosha, Pranmaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Anandmaya Kosha and Vijnanamaya Kosha. Broadly all yogic postures are performed while standing, sitting, supine or prone.

Yoga, it seems, means different things to different people.

For Vikalp Singh, yoga is about doing some basic exercises of hands, toes, neck and back.

“I do not do too much except wringing my hands, rolling my toes in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions and bending my vertebrae.

Kanti Prakash Gupta believes Yoga is all about breathing in and out.

“I do anulom vilom,kapalbathi and stomach butterfly exercise,”

he claims. Praveen Sharma, on the other hand, does brisk walking swinging his hands back and forth.

Naturopath Uma Shankar Sharma classifies yoga into two categories – general yoga for positive promotion of health and specialised yoga to treat diseases of individuals.

yoga posture

Modi Government wishes to use yoga to build India’s soft power

In the first, the physical instructor teaches basic yogic exercises to a group of trainers while in the second, he helps individual student do particular postures which would eliminate a certain illness.

Yoga uprising

It is apparent that declaration of International Yoga Day by United Nations General Assembly and mega celebration on June 21 by Narendra Modi Government has increased awareness about what has been as old in India as the hills.

Modi Government wishes to use yoga to build India’s soft power. Coupled with meditation, the attempt would be to build on the mystical and spiritual India which has thrived in the Himalayas and appealed to the materialistic west for ages.

This would also help Modi strengthen his hold over Hindutva, his core constituency. To say that yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism would be like denying the obvious. Yoga has always flourished with in the four walls of yogic ashrams belonging to Hindu gurus. It is no surprise that  even the present resurge has coincided with the rise of Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar.

The awareness about yoga could lead to a proportional increase in daily shakhas (morning gathering) of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the parental body of the BJP.

There are already reports that one year rule of the saffron party has brought about increase in attendance in shakhas where a prayer to mother India and the saffron flag is followed by yoga sessions.

Heritage next

Meditation is considered next stage of yoga as both yoga and meditation have existed in India for tens of thousands of years. Meditation gurus in the country hope that India will claim meditation as second heritage after yoga.

“It may take three to four years more,”

says Om Talwar, who has for long been promoting Vipassana meditation.  Vipassana, a meditation technique which helps one see things as they are, was rediscovered by Gautama, the Buddha.

Vipassana international meditation centre hyderabad | Credits: Ixigo

Vipassana international meditation centre hyderabad | Credits: Ixigo

India celebrated International Yoga Day with great fervour with the Prime Minister himself joining people in doing yoga on June 21. The country set two new Guinness World Records with most individuals (35985 participants) and individuals from the largest number of nationalities (84) performing yoga on the day on Rajpath (stretch between the president house and India Gate).

Earlier in December last year United Nations General Assembly adopted an India-led resolution to observe International Yoga Day on June 21 every year.

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