In these current times, more and more people are learning and practicing yoga regularly as it is not costly, has many benefits and no side effects. Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, harmony between human beings and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being. Yoga has evolved as an alternative system of medicine and has become increasingly popular.
The 193 member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on December 11, 2014, approved by unanimity a resolution establishing June 21st as ‘International Day of Yoga’. The declaration came following a call for the adoption of 21st June as ‘International Day of Yoga’ (IDY) by the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi ji during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27th, 2014. In suggesting June 21st, which is the summer Solstice, as the ‘International Day of Yoga’, PM Narendra Modi had said that the date is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world. The Solstice is considered to be a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.
Global leaders from more than 175 countries including the USA supported the resolution. It had the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of this type. We know that we are in a state of dramatic change when we witness so many world leaders encouraging people everywhere to awaken to the benefits of yoga and to raise the world’s consciousness to truly make the world a better place.
Now six year’s later, you might be contemplating what kind of yoga to practice and to know if it is the right fit for you. The word Yoga itself means “union”. It refers to the union of individual consciousness, the soul, with the Universal Consciousness, often referred to as God. With the modern day emphasis on physical health and fitness, many people think of yoga only as physical exercises – asanas or postures – but these are only surface aspects. Yoga is a deeper practice and exercise which helps revitalize both the body and the soul.
There are many paths of Yoga that lead in various ways toward this spiritual goal. They include:
Hatha Yoga – a system of physical postures whose higher purpose is to purify the body rendering it fit for meditation.
Bhakti Yoga – all-surrending devotion through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything.
Karma Yoga – selfless service to others without attachment to the result.
Gyana Yoga – the path of wisdom which focuses on the awakening of the intellect (opening the third eye).
Mantra Yoga – the repetion of certain universal sounds representing a particular aspect of spirit i.e. Om Shanti – I am a peaceful soul.
Raja Yoga – the royal or highest path of Yoga, which combines the essence of all the Yoga’s and demonstrates connecting with God through the practice of meditation. In addition to knowing how to stand on your head, you also learn how to use your head!
Throughout the world around the date of the 21 of June, over 100 countries annually hold public programs. Representatives from the UN and prominent personalities including government ministers grace the occasion and give the message of the benefits of Yoga. These programs are attracting thousands of participants.
The publication Funny Times recently had a humorous and imaginative article for Yoga aspirants which I couldn’t resist sharing with you. A new airline is encouraging aspirants to practice Yoga while inflight. Here is their economy class Yoga offering which includes an instruction manual illustrating asanas to practice while seated for this flight.
…..“Unlike other airlines, we do not provide entertainment such as music or movies. Instead, if you check the seat pocket in front of you, you will find a handy one page guide to inflight meditation including your own personal mantra and these four illustrated asanas for practicing whilst inflight.
. . . Take this opportunity to overcome any fears such as heights, cramped space and flying, and seek to achieve a calm and luminous mind.
…….Always remember life is the journey and not the destination and basically wherever this plane lands, all airports are one. We can promise you a safe arrival somewhere, although it may not always be your hoped for destination. Namaste!”
Yvonne Chirya Risely