YOGA – AN ESSENTIAL PART OF OUR CULTURE.
June 21 is celebrated as International Yoga Day since 2015. The idea of Yoga Day was
proposed by India in 2014 and it received worldwide acclamation. Yoga is unique gift of
India to the world with aim of harmonious development of physical, mental, emotional and
spiritual dimensions of an individual. Presently it has received wider acceptance as
effective means of managing stress induced disorders like insomnia, anxiety, depression
and hypertension. Regular yogic practices result in controlling heart diseases, and
improving concentration, mental performance, thermoregulatory system, and flexibility of
body. They also enhance the overall well-being of an individual. Therefore yoga practice
should be followed as way of daily life than confining it to be a one day event.
Usually, a layman identifies yoga with asana-physical postures, and pranayam-breathing
exercises. But yoga is wider in its scope and meaning. The Sanskrit word Yoga means to
yoke, join or unite with Supreme Consciousness. Rishi Patanjali talks about systematic steps for
uniting the individual consciousness with Universal consciousness through eight steps.
These are Yama (five abstentions like non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and
non-possessiveness), Niyama (five observances like purity or cleanliness of body-mind
the mechanism, contentment, austerity, self-study, and contemplation of God), Asana (seating
posture), Pranayama (breathing exercises), Pratyahara (withdrawal of sense organs from
external world), Dharana (focusing attention on a single object), Dhayana (intense
contemplation) and Samadhi (integration of individual consciousness with universal
Bhagavad Gita talks about Karam-yoga-path of selfless action or Nishkam Karma, Jnan Yoga-
path of knowledge and Bhakti yoga-path of devotion or faith as means to unite with
Supreme Consciousness. The path of Karam Yoga advocates performing one’s cherished
duties without attachment to enjoying the fruits of action and with the spirit of offering to the
Lord. The Jnan Yoga-path of knowledge talks about understanding oneself with a sense of
discrimination and detachment. Unless the illusory nature of ever-changing and transient
world and authority of Lord are realized, running after sense objects and pleasures will not
cease. The Bhakti Yoga- the path of devotion and faith- lies in perceiving the Divine in all.
As Yoga originated in India, it becomes the moral duty of every Indian citizen to reap its
benefits and proactively adapt it in their routine life and culture. How great and glorious
Indian civilization has been that we have forgotten! Yoga has been hailed as the science of
the inner world with experimentations in the laboratory of the human body by great Rishis.
Because of its inherent benefits as witnessed in the empirical world, medical practitioners are
recommending it to improve muscles and metabolism. Therefore the practice of Yoga should
not be confined to the celebration of International Yoga Day with yogic exercises but should be
adopted as a way to lead a healthy, harmonious, and happy life.
Author: Varinder Kumar