Yoga: India’s contribution to the World

By  |  0 Comments

Yoga is one of India’s greatest – and definitely most lucrative – exports to the world at large. From being practiced by sadhus and mahatmas with a few disciples in the lush, green forest to becoming a multi-billion dollar industry( $ 27 billion to be more precise) , yoga has come a long way. We all know at least one person who is totally into yoga and just cannot stop raving about its health and mental benefits and how energized they feel all day. But as a famous yoga guru once said, “If you value yoga and the traditions it comes from, it’s a good problem to have.” And its true too. Everyday we read about this disease, that infection, some other pandemic and how all these things can be avoided/cured/alleviated by taking up yoga. and we livein thevery birthplace of Yoga – the million dollar question is how many of us actually take the time out to sit and practice our asanas? Even though its innumerable advantages have been proven time and again by the most credible research organizations in the world. Why? Are we, like so many other home grown things, ashamed of it? Have we, as Indians, become totally incapable of accepting and loving and appreciating anything which is ‘Made In India’? I can guarantee that had Yoga been an American ideology, not only would it have been marketed better by them, it would also have had a greater and a more indelible impact on our minds. that’s because we seem to put everything foreign, especially American, on a pedestal and undermining the very quality and significance of all things Indian. So lets start by going through the most important points about Yoga and re-aquainting ourselves with this beautiful, healthy lifestyle.

1. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which roughly translates into ‘to integrate or combine.’

2. Yoga isn’t just twisting and turning into weird poses :

Yes, you do have to twist your body in a way that may seem unnatural at first,  but there is more to it than what meets the eye. Yoga is an entire knowledgebase in itself which is more than 5000 years old. Yoga is about harmony – through various breathing techniques, asanas and of course meditation we seek to harmonize our mind and our breath.

3. There isn’t just one style of Yoga :

Many different approaches to yoga exist. The word approach is used here as the path may vary but the final destination is the same  i.e. healthy mind and body. Bikram Yoga, Hatha Yoga,  Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Iyenger Yoga,  Restorative Yoga, Prenatal Yoga… the list is pretty long. Amusingly, the only time a type of yoga becomes known is when a celebrity claims to be doing it.

4. Yoga isn’t Hindu :

Pick up history books and you’ll see that many religions had a tradition of Yoga like Buddhism and Jainism, apart from Hinduism. The Yoga we practice today is an amalgamation of all these traditions and is completely secular to say the least.

5. Yoga reached the West only in the late 19th century

Swami Vivekananda was one of the first people to carry across to the West the tradition of Yoga along with other aspects of the Indian culture. Though the reception was mixed in the beginning, by the 1960’s it had completely taken over the American consciousness.