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Yoga Goes Global

The true health and well-being benefits of the ancient Indian exercise is diluted due to bad teachers who believe in ‘one size fits all’ approach

1/30/2015 5:01:35 PM
written By : Ashali Varma Print

The 21st of June will now be International Yoga Day. For the United Nations to achieve this is less than three months is not only unprecedented but also a stunning soft-power success for India. When Narendra Modi spoke about yoga at the UN General Assembly is September, there were the usual critics in India who thought it was out of place in a speech meant for world leaders. They were proved wrong once again. Modi said that “yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.” 

In suggesting June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, Modi said as the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere and as the Summer Solstice it has special significance in many parts of the world. The Indian Ambassador to the United Nations followed through with a proposal and 175 nations joined in as co-sponsors – the highest ever for any resolution in the 193 member states of the UN. This proves that India has really arrived on the global scene thanks to Prime Minister Modi!

However on a note of caution, after trying my best to learn yoga taught by foreigners abroad, I was shocked and  troubled by the disparities in the various centres of yoga that are proliferating all over US and Europe. From the very popular Hot Yoga popularised by Bikram Choudhry, which has 24 postures and only two breathing exercises to self-styled yoga teachers who have done a quick course in India and think they are experts. Hot yoga is more like a sweat exercises as it is done in a room with the temperature at 40° Celsius and the humidity also at 40. It can be quite detrimental to the health but is a way to lose weight fast. It has nothing whatsoever of combining mind and body and creating a sense of oneness with the world and nature. Pranayama, which means the breathe of life and has several breathing exercises, which end with meditation is hardly given any importance and is actually the one of the most critical aspects of yoga.

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