As rainbow colored yoga mats are ready to be unfurled across the globe on the International Day of Yoga, here we will let you have a glimpse of the incredible journey that yoga has undertaken over the centuries.
Whether it is any metropolitan city in India or in the U.S., it is common to see people walking around carrying sling bags in beautiful patterns, holding their yoga mats.
Popularity of this, centuries-old mind and body practice, can be gauged by the mushrooming of yoga centers around the world. Yoga today is a billion-dollar industry and several new styles of yoga are introduced each day. Therefore, it has become extremely important to make people understand what actually the ancient science of yoga and its roots are.
A major step towards making yoga a global phenomenon was taken by the United Nations on December 11, 2014, when June 21 was declared the International Day of Yoga. This was made possible due to tireless initiative of Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. This has not only helped in spreading awareness about this ancient practice but has also provided a platform for the institutes, organizations and practitioners that are working towards making yoga a global phenomenon.
United We Stand
The word’ Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj‘ which means ‘to unite’ or ‘join’. Simply stated yoga causes union of individual’s consciousness with universal consciousness, which creates the perfect harmony of body and mind with the nature. It is not just limited to a set of exercises but is a science in itself. It encompasses a subtle process by which the yogi learns to control and focus his energy in one particular direction.
Thousands of years ago, when yoga was incepted, it was practiced by sages and monks. Gradually it became popular among the general masses. Today, it is a global phenomenon. Some of the great practitioners of yoga who made great contributions in popularizing yoga are Swami Sivananda and his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda, B.K.S. Iyenger, Sri Yogendra, T. Krishnamacharya and others.
World Beyond Boundaries
Swami Vivekananda went to America in 1893 and gave his famous speech in Chicago wherein he introduced the Indian tradition and heritage on a global platform.
Later, in 1920 Paramhansa Yogananda went to the U.S.A. and introduced his famous book Autobiography of a Yogi which introduced the concepts of meditation and Kriya Yoga to a global audience.
In 1957, Swami Sivananda visited the U.S.A. again and became one of the most popular Yoga teachers. He laid the foundation of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers which were headquartered in Montreal which rose to become one of the greatest Yoga schools in the world. The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga penned by Swami Vishnudevananda is a great book to get a deeper understanding of Yoga.
B.K.S. Iyenger, too, made remarkable contribution in spreading the principles of Yoga among the Westerners. His teaching technique was focused on body alignment and made use of commonly available props like belts and blocks. In 1966, his book Light on Yoga got published which became extremely popular. By the 70s, spiritual teachings and yoga were spreading like a wildfire in the West.
The UN Contribution
In 2018, the United Nations headquarters in New York is busting with enthusiasts to celebrate the International Day of Yoga. Several lectures on yogic philosophies, yoga asana classes and presentations have been lined by the United Nations. This year, Swami Paramananda, who is the leading Hatha Yoga teacher at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in New York, and also manages the Sivananda Yoga Ranch, will take the Sivananda Yoga session at the UN. On being asked the benefits of practicing yoga, he stated that Yoga enables a person to experience a much deeper and subtle dimension of himself. This space is always positive and peaceful and is completely free from external influences. As a person becomes more and more aware of the treasure within himself, anxiety, jealousy and anger starts diminishing. Practicing yoga on a regular basis not only makes him stronger, healthier, and flexible but also frees him of all other causes of suffering.
What You Seek Is Seeking You
Different people have different stories to tell as to how they came on the path of Yoga. Some people are attracted to it by themselves, others are introduced by others. However, what remains constant is the way Yoga has transformed each life. It has helped people in controlling what goes inside their mind. It not only helped people to get in shape but also aided them in getting rid of their emotional baggage from past. It gave them happiness that was free from any external influence. It helped people in getting rid of their demons and gave a second chance at life.
Tips for Newbies
If you are a newbie at a yoga class, with time, you will realize that yoga has become an indispensable part of your life and is not just confined to your yoga mat. It will touch each and every aspect of your life and fill it with beautiful colors of inner peace and happiness. It is important to be compassionate and patient as you embark on your journey with yoga and one day, you will attain the ultimate bliss. So close your eyes, take deep breaths and just relax.