We all are familiar with the term Yoga. Every year June 21, is celebrated as International Yoga Day. Under the initiation of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, the proposal was placed in United Nations (UN) during his address in the opening ceremony of the 69th session of the General Assembly on 11 December 2014. The draft resolution placed by India was endorsed by a record of 175 member states; thus, recognizing June 21 as the International Yoga Day. During an outstanding speech, he said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action … a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature.”
The term Yoga derives from the Sanskrit term “Yog”, which means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. It is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in Indian Subcontinent can be described as a psycho-spiritual discipline that integrates both mental and physical practices with the ultimate goal being spiritual enlightenment. Lord Shiva is considered as the first person to practice Yoga hence, called the “Adi Yogi”. The tradition was passed down to the ancient sages called “Rishis” who were in search of a blissful state. Through the practice of Yoga, the sages were able to attain the samadhi (enlightenment).
The modern-day practice of Yoga is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali which is divided into four chapters called pada i.e., Samadhi, Sadhana, Vibhuti, and Kaivalya; containing 196 sutras. However, Swami Vivekananda was the first person to introduce Yoga to the larger masses outside the Indian subcontinent during his speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, the USA on September 11, 1893. The powerful oration of Vivekananda on the spiritual superiority of Indian religious traditions immediately won him the adoration of the Americans. In the months that followed, the Indian mystic founds ways and means to spread awareness on ancient Indian spirituality in the West and he found Yoga to be the best concept to aid him in the process.
Yoga is being practiced as part of a physical fitness regime, and it is known that asana improves flexibility and strength. Western Yoga is, in large, restricted to the practice of asana. However, it is the narrow definition of Yoga. It’s difficult to define the broad horizon of Yoga as it has evolved but in a nutshell, Yoga, is deeply rooted in spirituality-promoting components, including niyama (self-discipline), pratyahara (detachment from the senses), and dhyana (meditation).
Yoga is a complete tool to attain Samadhi practiced by and passed down from generation to generation. It has numerous physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Some physical benefits include; improves strength, balance, and flexibility, benefits heart health, etc. mental benefits include; helps to manage stress, mean more energy and brighter moods, help to connects a supportive community. In today’s world of stress and hassle where no one is in a state of peace, Yoga can and is one of the mediums of mental and physical well-being.