On the 11th of December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared the international celebration of a new day – the International Day of Yoga, the 21st of June. Before this, not everybody knew of the booming trend of practicing the ancient Indian discipline.
The West has adopted this part of Indian culture faster than any other facet. The idea of yoga, of reaching a state of enlightenment, captured the imagination and was immediately turned into a fast growing industry. 15 million Americans practice yoga, being sold on the fact that it is a stress-relieving form of exercise that requires no amount of distance-covering movements. This is largely made up of college students and young professionals, who lead high-stress lives and need breathers. The strong belief in the practice of asanas and meditation had led to the development of a billion dollar commercial zone, which includes everything from private yoga studios to yoga mats and outfits.
The supreme modernizing of an ancient, once-private branch of knowledge means the loss of its essence and original meaning.
Yoga is said to have begun with the dawn of civilization as a science with 8 levels, the last one being moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death, thereby being enlightened. It was based on religion, with focus on not just the asanas or poses, but moral teachings and attaining a spiritual goal.
The modern form of yoga, as practiced all over the world now, is only made up of the various asanas and forms of meditation. It has been modified to fit the needs of the people of a new world, where time is less and tensions are aplenty. The different body postures provide relief, and learning the art of concentration brings peace and helps keep tempers at bay.
International Yoga Day brings together people with a common love of an old art form that has benefits to suit each need. Studios, parks, recreational halls – every open space will be filled with enthusiasts of every age, race and size. Yoga is the one discipline based on religion that makes no discrimination; instead, it succeeds in bonding individuals to others, and to themselves.
Happy Yoga Day!