Today is International Day of Yoga. This is a great and thoughtful initiative by the present ruling dispensation considering that Indians are increasingly becoming obese and that a recent report earmarked India as <g data-gr-id="51">the diabetes</g> and heart attack capital of the world. Given this disturbing context more Indians need to do some form of physical activity instead of munching on pizza and watching television. Instead of blindly adopting a western lifestyle wholesale, let’s examine all the glorious insights our ancient Vedic texts have to offer. Yoga does not promise to be the panacea of all ills. In fact, Yoga does not claim to cure any diseases at all. Instead, Yoga encourages one to get off the couch and reduce one’s blood pressure, instead of say watching TV news anchors cry themselves hoarse over the state of the nation. Given this context it was extremely heartening to see Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who practices yoga, joining Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, among thousands who have gathered at a ceremonial road in the heart of the capital to mark the International Yoga Day. For a brief moment, partisan politics was relegated to the background and thousands of people erupted with infectious enthusiasm to celebrate world Yoga day. A trip back in time will tell us that it’s accurate to call T. Krishnamacharya the father of modern yoga. His development of a unique approach to hatha yoga, together with his tireless promotion and exceptional acolytes, led directly to yoga’s increased availability to Western students.
Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) was an Indian yogi and scholar. He received his training in hatha yoga during seven years spent with his guru, <g data-gr-id="52">Ramamohana</g> Brahmacharya, who lived in a remote cave in the Himalayas. A month before he left this life in 1989 at the age of 101, yoga master Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya told author A. G. Mohan about the pillars of Yoga: “Arogya. Ayus. <g data-gr-id="83">tmasakshatkara</g>.” Health, longevity, and a tranquil mind.
In his Yoga Rahasya, Krishnamacharya further wrote to Mohan, “The world is eternally subject to change. We perceive these changes as being favorable or unfavorable, depending on the state of our mind. Thus, we experience happiness and unhappiness. The cause of unhappiness is our bondage to the senses and to external objects. This happens through our mind, because of certain sanskaras (latent impressions) or <g data-gr-id="44">avidya</g> (lack of wisdom) present in it. These can be removed through the practice of yoga.” Yoga can be practiced to maintain or increase health and wellness; as a treatment or therapy; and as a discipline for spiritual practice and personal transformation. Each body is different anatomically and otherwise; when teaching or learning yoga, two primary factors should be considered.
The purpose: why is yoga being studied? Is the goal what the student needs? The person: who is studying? What is their capability, age, level of fitness, the state of health, profession, time they have for practice, the level of acceptance, motivation, beliefs? Are they willing to listen and understand? To teach yoga effectively, Krishnamacharya said teachers must know, how to teach asanas with correct breathing, with or without vinyasa (moving from one position to another in accordance with the inhalation and exhalation of the breath). So on this International Yoga day which coincides with the summer solstice, <g data-gr-id="39">lets</g> all promise ourselves that we will try and lead a healthier lifestyle and live longer and happier as a result of it.