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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 125-126

Revamping yoga into Indian lifestyle

1 Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication16-Jul-2015

Correspondence Address:
Praveen Kulkarni
Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.160860

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni P, Vishwanath P, Kumar SD. Revamping yoga into Indian lifestyle. Int J Health Allied Sci 2015;4:125-6

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni P, Vishwanath P, Kumar SD. Revamping yoga into Indian lifestyle. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Dec 10];4:125-6. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2015/4/3/125/160860

"Here is, in truth, the whole secret of yoga, the science of the soul. The active turnings, the strident vibrations, of selfishness, lust and hate are to be stilled by meditation, by letting heart and mind dwell in spiritual life, by lifting up the heart to the strong, silent life above, which rests in the stillness of eternal love, and needs no harsh vibration to convince it of true being."

-Patañjali, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The Book of the Spiritual Man

Yoga (from the Sanskrit word meaning "yoking" or "joining") is "the means or technique for transforming consciousness and attaining liberation (moksha) from karma and rebirth (samsara)." It is "a practice by means of which a spiritual seeker strives to control nature to make the soul fit for union with the oversoul (the true self or Atman-Brahman or 'God') and to attain union with God and, thus, the liberation of the soul from the rounds of rebirth and death." Yoga is popularly understood to be a program of physical exercises (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama). [1]

Yoga has a history of almost 3000 years. Ancient Indian scriptures like Vedas and Upanishads make mention of various types of yoga and pranayama. The Bhagavad Gita (most popular Indian spiritual text of Mahabharatha) describes the importance of yoga in day-to-day life. Patanjali was the one who systematized yoga and brought in the concepts of various rules and regulations in yoga practice in his text called Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Since then, the method of yoga underwent several modifications and re-modifications over a period of time. [2]

Swami Vivekananda, who narrated the concept that "West has ample to learn from East as much as East craves to learns from West" introduced the concept of yoga to the western world. In his historic speech at World Parliament of Religions in Chicago (1893), he urged the western communities to adopt the concept of yoga for mental peace and harmony. In the 1950s, "an almost faddish burst of interest in hatha yoga" occurred in the USA. During the decade, yoga spread through health and beauty salons. Indian teachers immigrated to the USA during this period, founding centers and publishing books that helped to popularize the movement. In the 1950s and 1960s, several important books were published on yogic techniques and then in 1970s, yoga rapidly expanded, with the founding of numerous yoga centers and professional associations. [1]

This was the phase of transition from the much practiced drug-based allopathic approach to the natural yogic approach in the western countries. At the same time, there was a paradoxical shift in eastern countries like India where people started giving more emphasis on allopathic therapeutic approaches due to their much attractive quick healing actions. Thus, there was gradual deterioration of yoga culture from the Indian lifestyle. The people who were practicing yoga were considered traditional fads and supporters of communal ideology. These individuals who were regularly practicing and teaching yoga remained as unsupported and unidentified. Even though these practitioners successfully transmitted their knowledge and skills to their familial generations and a small group of people in closed communities, they failed to institutionalize yoga as a science. On the other hand, scientifically methodical, curious, and explorative western societies started generating evidence of benefit from these yogic exercises through series of researches and scientific publications.

Building up of positive evidence of yoga on health and wellness attracted people from various countries across the globe to incorporate this into their preventive, curative, and rehabilitative therapeutic techniques. This was basically due to increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases which are otherwise called as lifestyle diseases. Yoga has evolved as a most effective weapon in prevention, control, and treatment of these long-term incurable scourges. Thus, yoga was considered to be an integral part of holistic approach to health and was classified by the National Institutes of Health as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

After a long phase of inattentiveness and negligence toward yoga, the eastern world, especially India, finally opened its eyes and started looking at the beneficial effects of it through the evidence generated by western countries. This is an irony in itself as the science which has evolved in its own soil has been reinvented with the efforts from western world. Now there is a growing interest of Indian youth on yoga and naturopathy. The effort of Indian government in establishing the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) adds to this interest.

India is facing the triple burden of health problems, which are communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, and mother and child health related problems. This is a rampant epidemiological transition from communicable to non-communicable diseases. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cerebrovascular accidents, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, mental health problems, and substance abuse are becoming common in India. Addressing these conditions needs a holistic approach of preventive, promotive, curative, and rehabilitative initiatives. Hence, yoga fits into all these modes of interventions and has shown a greater impact on these illnesses.

Yoga in its pure form has shown benefit at each spectrum of human health and well-being. There is ample evidence that yoga helps in reduction and maintenance of blood pressure in hypertensives, controlling blood sugar levels and avoiding complications in diabetics, reducing the initiation and progression of cancers, reducing stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression, control over substance abuse, bringing down chances of myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accidents, improving fertility, reducing the complications of child birth, controlling hyperlipidemia and thus obesity-related complications, preventing and controlling metabolic syndrome, increasing the sense of well-being, keeping the body physically fit, improving neurohormonal efficiency, and treating problems associated with respiratory system through breathing exercises (pranayama).

Yoga, thus, remains the most relevant option to India than any time in the past, because this is based on the concept of holistic health care which is the need of the hour. Considering India's proposal of observing World Yoga Day on June 21 st of every year by the UN assembly clearly shows the popularity of yoga as a life and behavior science and its relevance to the problems of current world. There is a clear need to revamp yoga into the lifestyle of Indians through an array of interventions to control current health problems and prevent the problems of future.

Revamping of yoga into Indian lifestyle can be achieved by encouraging teaching and practicing yoga, increasing research and innovations in yogic science by budding scientists, incorporating yoga into curriculum from the most basic levels of schooling, establishing centers of excellence in yogic sciences, establishment of various national and international level associations of yogic scientists for creating knowledge pools, spreading awareness among people regarding benefits of yoga through information, education, communication strategies, capacity building of indigenous yoga teachers, and utilizing them for advocacy purposes. These strategies will not only increase the practice of yoga across the country, but also encourage further spread of information regarding yoga to the future generation.

In conclusion, Yogic science born in India, brought up in western countries, and gradually getting re-popularized in our country needs a special thrust through stronger political and administrative commitments so that it becomes an integral part of every Indian's lifestyle. Yoga is the mere answer to various unanswered questions of present and future generation. This is a high time to revamp and reinvent the ways of adopting yoga into our lifestyles.

  References Top

Sengupta P. Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Prev Med 2012;3:444-58.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga 2011;4:49-54.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


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