Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
Yoga has evolved as a philosophical system over thousands of years. Today it is practised around the world. It retains its appeal and continues to spread far and wide, simply because it ‘works’, for its practitioners.
Recognizing the universal appeal of Yoga, the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 adopted Resolution 69/131 that proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga, which aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practising yoga for the individual and the society at large.
The proposal was introduced by Indian PM Narendra Modi in his address before the General Assembly, in which 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 the nature.”
In view of the global pandemic, the focus for this year’s celebrations is not only ‘Yoga for Health’ but also ‘Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family’. People across the world are being encouraged to do Yoga from home and follow online demonstrations. Online digital platforms are being used to spread awareness about Yoga.
Yoga helps us experience the interconnectedness of all creation, a fundamental truth that modern science is discovering only now. Through this interconnectedness, Yoga helps tune our inner selves with our surroundings, our fellow human beings and nature.
Therefore, it helps contribute not only to personal physical and mental wellbeing but also to the wellbeing of the larger society living in harmony with nature.
Traditional systems of knowledge, including the natural healing traditions such as Yoga and Ayurveda, a plant-based treatment system that also originated in India,are now our collective global heritage.
The ever growing popularity of Yoga across countries, especially among the younger generation, shows the inner longing among all peoples to strive for something better, to overcome various stresses and to achieve greater balance in a contemporary world where this is becoming increasingly difficult.
Yoga and Ayurveda are no strangers to Mauritius. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture (IGCIC) in Phoenix has facilities for learning Yoga, which are being availed of by a large number of Mauritians. The IGCIC also held online Yoga classes during the recent curfew period here. There are also a large number of other institutions, which are active in teaching and promoting Yoga.
There is a growing recognition that both Yoga and Ayurveda systems help improvestrength, fitness and energy levels and boosting individual immunity to meet with the challenges of various diseasesthat affect physical and mental health.
Yoga aims to unite and, therefore, it is fitting that the global community through the United Nations has recognized the role that the wisdom of this ancient scientific tradition can play in building more peaceful, equitable, prosperous and harmonious world, a goal that we all cherish and should strive for.
* Published in print edition on 23 June 2020