How India Celebrated International Yoga Day 2016

The second International day of Yoga was celebrated on a massive scale throughout the country. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi led by example as he himself practiced yoga in Chandigarh along with a large number of officials from the defence and paramilitary sectors. He termed Yoga as a form of health assurance and said that practising it regularly helps keep diseases and physical ailments at bay. The President, Pranab Mukherjee also advised the people of this country to embrace yoga as it leads to a better coordination between the mind and the body. While the Prime Minister practised Yoga at Chandigarh, in the rest of the country, senior ministers took up the challenge and led the celebrations. While the 2015 yoga day can be considered a success, this year’s celebration was even better, with a larger number of people opting for the exercise. International participation in the event also exceeded expectations.

Yoga is a mental, physical, and spiritual practice which originated several years ago in India. The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Yoga Day on 11th December 2014, after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed it at the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014. Yoga also imparts numerous health and spiritual benefits to its practitioners. There are many forms of yoga, but Raj yoga and Hatha yoga are the most known and practised. The benefits of yoga have been found out to be numerous and there are yoga gurus and practitioners based all around the world. In some cases Yoga has been seen to prove beneficial for incurable diseases like cancer. Practitioners also report mental clarity and improvements in concentration levels after performing this exercise. While earlier practising Yoga was confined just to India and a few neighbouring countries, recently a vast interest is being shown in this exercise from the West.

Evidence has indicated that Yoga was born in India about 5000 years ago. Depending on the goals and practices there have been numerous schools and teachers of Yoga in this country. Maharishi Patanjali known as ‘father of yoga’ is one of the oldest teachers of yoga. He had compiled a book on yoga that contained 196 yoga sutras or aphorisms. This book was widely translated and followed in India. After a few centuries the Yoga sutras of Patanjali fell into relative obscurity until interest in it was revived by the efforts of Swami Vivekananda and others.

After Patanjli, Adi Shankaracharya taught a fifteenfold Raja Yoga in his short work Aparokshanubhuti. His fifteenfold Yoga combines Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga, which is quite advanced. Jnana Yoga is based upon deep thought, inquiry, and observation. Jnana yoga is also the background of Raja Yoga.

Yoga was propagated by Swami Vivekananda to the west, where it rose in popularity quickly. Other famous Indian yogis include Sri Aurobindo, Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Swami Kuvalayananda, Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Chidananda Saraswati, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, B.K. S. Iyengar, Swami Rama, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Sri Sri Ravishankar. Currently the most well-known and followed teacher of Yoga is Swami Ramdev of the Patanjali Yog Peeth, who also played an important and vital role in the international Yoga day celebrations.

Also, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, known as ‘Father of Modern Yoga,’ and Swami Sivananda, who was a proponent of Yoga, contributed a lot to spread benefits and importance of yoga. Krishnamacharya is creator of vinyasa and credited for Hatha Yoga revival. His yoga has spread through Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Sivananda taught the Yoga of Trinity (Trimurti Yoga), a combination of Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Master Yoga. He also penned over 200 books on several topics including Yoga and Vedanta. Later, his disciple Vishnudevananda propaganted the yoga form ‘Sivananda Yoga,’ which is now spread in many parts of the world.

We are privileged to have such great Yoga gurus who contributed in propagating Yoga, and made the world understand the vast benefits of yoga. They showed that Yoga alone is the lone solution to attain peace, prosperity and happiness. It is not just sufficient to practice yoga asanas, you need to follow some regulations while practicing yoga to receive its full benefits.

While there were some scattered incidents of boycotting, the international Yoga day celebrations in India was considered to be a great success. Eminent personalities led thousands of people in mass demonstrations of the exercise in different areas of this country. The international Yoga day also enjoys the unique privilege of being co-sponsored by 175 nations at the United Nations General Assembly. The day also saw many new records being written in the Limca and Guinness books for the largest Yoga classes. The day also saw large scale participation internationally with the number of practitioners supposed to be in the millions.

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