Heartfulness proposes meditation on the heart with an aim of attaining subtler levels of consciousness. The heart is not merely a pump for blood circulation – its role goes far beyond that. References in ancient Indian literature on Yoga, especially that from Sages like Patanjali,…
At the outset, I offer you a special heartfelt greeting on the occasion of the just concluded 6th International Day of Yoga (IDY), celebrated worldwide on 21st June 2020.
We have all had a most amazing IDY2020 with the whole world of Yoga coming together in a spirit of unity, all online! Yoga is the cultural heritage of India and one of the best gifts India has shared with the entire world in the spirit of “VASUDAIVA KUDUMBHAKAM”, One World-One Family!
The spirit of Yoga seems to have only gotten stronger during the COVID19 pandemic and worldwide so many are taking up the practice of Yoga to manage their stresses and maintain their holistic health.
The themes for this year suggested by the Ministry of AYUSH were “Yoga @Home” and “Yoga with Family” and it is estimated that millions joined together on that day to practice Yoga at home and with their loved ones. The Government of India initiated many new programs during this time motivating practitioners to upload their images and videos on the social wall of the Yoga portal, Ministry of AYUSH. They were welcomed to participate in many online contests such as the video Vlogging contest (My Life-My Yoga) organized by the CCRYN, Ministry of AYUSH, and ICCR.
This time of crisis seems to have enabled many to explore the multifaceted aspects of Yoga and the Honourable Prime Minister in his 65th Mann ki Baath program on 31st may 2020 said that “Yoga has assumed importance across the world and people who were not aware of it have also started learning it. During the corona crisis, people in Hollywood to Haridwar have become conscious of the benefits of Yoga. Sitting at their homes, people are learning about Yog. Yoga is good for community, immunity and unity”. He further added that in times of corona crisis, its importance has increased as Yoga is mainly about strengthening the respiratory and immune system.
All member organizations of Indian Yoga Association were proactive during this time and so many events were held online with hundreds of webinars, talks, gatherings, cultural performances, discussions, talk shows and satsangas put up by the premier traditions of Yoga both in India and abroad. Ministry of AYUSH organized a series of online events with special appearances by the most eminent Yoga Gurus of Bharat online sharing their heartfelt and most potent blessings with all Yoga enthusiasts.
I have personally seen the immense interest generated this year online and ICYER at Ananda Ashram has organized nonstop online sessions during the times of the lockdown and these continued in full swing during the IDY celebrations with more than a dozen specialized events happening with international participation.
Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV), where I work as Director CYTER has been proactive in celebrating IDY every year and this year organized the popular 3-day International Webinar on “Role of Yoga in times of COVID-19” from 18-21 June 2020. This was organized by CYTER of SBV in collaboration with the Indian Yoga Association, ICYER at Ananda Ashram as well as Loyola Marymount University (USA), Om Yoga Studio (UK), Himalayan Yoga Tradition and Smart Safe Yoga (USA). More than 350 participants from 21 countries attended the online deliberations.
It is pertinent to remember at this time, the history of the IDY as the idea of such a commemoration was first proposed by our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji, during his historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly, on 27th September 2014.
He stated: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga
Day.” India’s proposal received broad support from all Member States and a total of 177 nations
co-sponsored the resolution, which is the highest number of cosponsors ever for any UNGA resolution of such nature.
We must become aware of another pandemic that COVID-19 has brought in its wake, that of Fear Psychosis. Everyone everywhere is scared to death and this is further aggravated and worsened by an unrelenting onslaught of negative news from the media. Social media has shown how it can really worsen such apprehensions and turn them into mass fear psychosis, minute by minute.
Stress, fear and negative emotions are known to weaken our immune system while Yoga
(including meditation), mindfulness, positive emotions, and relaxation strengthen it. The limbic system plays a major role in triggering such emotional upheaval that then results in a weakening of the immune function.
This is where IDY 2020 remind us of the great role Yoga can play as it is very effective for prevention as well as management of all stress-related disorders. We need to refocus on our own salutogenesis (Swastha), our own inherent capacity and ability to be responsible for our health and happiness. We must move from pathogenesis, the focus on disease that worsens fear, towards salutogenesis, the focus on health that strengthens all our systems! Yoga empowers us, and enables us to take charge of our own life, thus promoting holistic health for each and every one of us.
Knowledge of inexpensive, effective and easily administrable Yogic techniques will go a long way in helping us achieve the goal of the World Health Organization to provide “physical, mental, spiritual and social health” for all sections of human society.
Every day is indeed a “Day of Yoga”, but the IDY truly gives us an opportunity to reset our priorities!
Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani(Editor-in-Chief)