The myriad benefits and growing popularity of yoga

T-Mag Thursday 21/June/2018 15:09 PM
By: Times News Service
The myriad benefits and growing popularity of yoga

There’s usually one thing that people tend to associate with a country — with Australia, it might be kangaroos; with the United States, it could be Trump; with Oman, it is the hospitality and with India, it is yoga. While India is a diverse country with diverse cultures, traditions and practices, the one thing that the people of the nation are unanimously proud of and the one thing that has helped India unite with other countries is yoga.

Yoga when literally translated means union, union of the self and the spirit. It is an ancient practice that originated in India during the Golden Age that embodies a person’s natural state of being and spiritual enlightenment. Most yogis and practitioners have put its spiritual relevance over its religious relevance. Yoga is nothing but an inward journey that helps you discover more about yourself through the simple techniques of breathing and posture, which open up the clogs in the mind and body.

The benefits of yoga are tremendous and have proven to create a wide and deep impact; it has affected a huge number of people very intensely. As a result, this beautiful practice has found itself a day in the calendar where people across the world can commemorate it. June 21 this year marks the 4th International Yoga Day (IDY). More than a practice, it’s about making it a habit and then transcending it as a state of being. Hence, in many schools, yoga is being taught at an early age in order to get young minds and bodies well-versed with the practice. Many hospitals and therapeutic centres have incorporated yoga in their sessions after having realised its benefits on the human mind. Several prominent personalities such as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even Bollywood film actress Shilpa Shetty are ardent advocates of yoga. Hence, the sheer number of followers celebrating this practice on International Yoga Day comes as no surprise.

The Indian Embassy in Muscat will also commemorate the day by hosting a massive yoga event on June 21. Times of Oman’s radio channel T FM, the official media partner for the IDY celebrations announced that the Indian Embassy will be hosting the event at Oman Exhibition and Convention Centre. The event includes a grand yoga session based on a common yoga protocol comprising simple and easy yoga postures, which can be performed by people not familiar with yoga, under the guidance of qualified instructors.

There are different reasons for practicing yoga. While some might opt for yoga as a weight loss option, others use yoga to enhance their beauty. For some, it helps enhance flexibility and for others, it helps calm their minds. “Initially, I was only looking at its physical benefits, but it is no longer an exercise, it is a spiritual journey,” said Vidya Venkatesh, a low-key yoga instructor in Oman.

Yoga has helped transform her life, her personality, and the way she looks at herself and her surroundings. In the many years since she started practising yoga seriously, it has gone from being a mere hobby to a way of life.

There are various traits in a person that yoga can help change or control. For instance, anger, restlessness, overthinking, etc., can all be controlled by practising yoga regularly and in the right way. But consistency and dedication is the key, as it is with most activities. “You will be more aware of your feelings. Your emotions are not going to drastically change overnight. For example, if you are angry, you will feel the emotion coming and it won’t be as prolonged as it would be otherwise,” she explained.

Yoga has tremendous other benefits. Since good health is the key to good skin, hair, and beauty and yoga induces good health, it serves the purpose. Since it is a physical activity, it has the benefits of routine exercise such as keeping you fit, increasing vitality, and improving blood circulation. Most importantly, yoga helps relax the mind and body as yoga and meditation go hand in hand. More than being a physical form of exercise, it is more a spiritual and mental exercise that relies heavily on breathing. Most people practise yoga because of the physical benefits, but after religiously practising it for a fair amount of time, most of them have a change of heart and their reason for pursuing yoga changes drastically. It becomes more of a journey towards self-actualisation and self-reflection.

As the reasons for following and practising yoga maybe varied and diverse, there are more and more people joining the bandwagon after having realised what it means to them and how it has helped them. There are people who have joined institutions such as the Art of Living to do it in an organised fashion, there are some who go to people such as Venkatesh just to learn how to practise yoga and there are still others who follow videos on YouTube and learn the art. Since it is a person’s personal journey, there is no right answer over how to practise yoga. But on days such as June 21, people come together collectively to practice the union of the mind and body by uniting with one another.