By Zile Singh
Yoga is an art of living. A yogic life is an ideal life. Yogis have excelled in the art of life. It is for all, high and low, rich and poor. For you and for me. “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali, the Author of the Yoga Sutras.
The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning “to join” or “to yoke” or “to unite”. Thus, it is joining or establishing a harmony between your body, mind and soul, yoking your inner emotional-self and ultimately uniting with the universal consciousness. One who experiences the oneness with universal existence is said to be “in Yoga” and is termed as a Yogi who has attained a state of freedom, nirvana or moksha. Yoga does not advocate escaping worldly life for the life of a parasite or recluse but living a wholesome life by doing required duties and benefiting himself and the society at large by the fruits of one’s duties. Yoga is a way of life, without undue craving or aversion to his day-to-day chores. A Yogi is one who dwells in the present moment with his mindfulness and consciousness. In sum, a yogic life is an ideal life of “Now”.
On December 11, 2014, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approved a Resolution by consensus with a record 177 co-sponsoring countries to adopt June 21st as “International Day of Yoga”. India, the land of yoga, was the main sponsor of the Resolution. The UNGA recognised that Yoga is a useful approach to health and well-being for all, including many with lifestyle related disorders. The main fundamentals of Yoga are Karma Yoga (Asanas) where we use the body; Jnana Yoga, where we exercise the mind; Bhakti Yoga, where we deal with emotions and Kriya Yoga, where we utilise the subtle energy of the body to reach a heightened sense of being.
In Karma Yoga there are different Sadhnas like Yam, Niyam, Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyan, Samadhi, Bandhas, Mudras, Satkarmas, Yuktahara, Mantra-Jap, Yukta-Karma etc.
More broadly, all countries around the globe would benefit from the acceptance and practice of yoga. India, the land of yoga and the yogis is no exception to this. When there is a breakdown in values and ideals, when there is a creeping paralysis of fear and suspicion everywhere, when people no longer feel secure, there is an urgent need for Yoga. Yoga, in its right perspective, can strengthen democratic ideals and advance the cause of world unity and peace. In fact, Yoga is not a symbolic return to the methods and ways of life of the Ancient Ages.
On the contrary, it is seeking to explore the innermost urge of human beings – a desire for knowledge and to live in a secular and inclusive atmosphere cobbled with a scientific temper. Yoga is the positive method to wipe out negative human emotions like, hate, anger, jealousy, lust, ego, attachment and delusion. It promotes love, mutual understanding, compassion, selflessness, non-attachment and a clear perception of oneness with the whole universe. In addition to its physical benefits, Yoga enhances mental awareness, mindfulness and universal consciousness. It talks about the development of a free spirit in place of orthodox and unfounded rigid ideologies. It impresses upon the multi-faceted development of society at large. Not only that, but it does not talk about a society populated by a different kind of human being who had lived under a mythical and compartmentalised social system. Yoga has that reservoir of power that gives us in modern times the strength to mould the very face of humanity at large; casting aside the racial, religious, caste and political considerations.
In a true yogic perspective, Socrates said, “I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world.” Even the Preamble of the United Nations Charter mentions, inter-alia “… To establish conditions under which justice and respect for law and the pledged word can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends To practice tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbours and To unite our strength to maintain international peace and security …” The UN Preamble thus reflects the basic ideas of yoga to mitigate human chaos. For a yogi, the world is his abode.
In one of his messages on the occasion of International Yoga Day, the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi observed, “… Yoga goes beyond being a set of physical exercises. In fact, physical fitness is a by-product of Yoga. Yoga teaches us how to lead a balanced life. It is the key to a balanced mind, healthy body, noble thoughts and connects us to our inner self. In a time when destructive forces are desperately trying to make their presence felt and divide the world, it is Yoga that can bring the world together …”
Finally, “Yoga is a simple science. It is neither theistic nor atheistic. Patanjali really is superb, a miracle of a man. He never denies, he never assumes”. – Osho