The International yoga day has been celebrated annually on 21 June since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.
The theme for International Yoga Day 2020 is Yoga for Health –Yoga at Home. According to the United Nations, while social distancing measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have shut down yoga studios, practitioners have turned to home practice and online resources.
International Yoga Day idea
The idea of an International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on 27 September 2014 and suggested the date of 21 June, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.
On 11 December 2014, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in the United Nations General Assembly. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States who sponsored the text, which was adopted without a vote. This initiative found support from many global leaders. A total of 177 nations co-sponsored the resolution, which is the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature.
The Ministry of AYUSH made the necessary arrangements in India. 35,985 people, including PM Modi and dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi.
The largest yoga class ever held, and with the largest number, 84 of participating nationalities. Similar days have been held in cities in India and around the world each year since then.
Yoga is an Art and Science of healthy living. Yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline that concentrates on subtle science that focuses on achieving harmony between an individual’s mind and body. The word Yoga first appeared in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda and is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means to join or unite. According to the Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads an individual to the union of consciousness with that of universal Consciousness. It eventually leads to a great harmony between the human mind and body, man & nature.
History of Yoga
The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras, and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests. The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization. The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religions or belief systems were born. In the yogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru or Adi Guru.
Adiyogi refers to “the first yogi” or Shiva as the originator of yoga.
Thousand years ago, on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his
Adiyogi – Lord Shiva
profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis or “seven sages”. The sages carried this powerful yogic science to different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marveled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe. However, it was in India that the yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who traveled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.
Spread of Yoga
In the 3rd Century BCE, the word “yoga” became common in other religions like Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist writings.
In Mahayana Buddhism, the practice of yoga for both spiritual and meditative use was known as Yogachara which consisted of eight significant steps of meditation called “insight”.
In the 5th century, yoga was meant for meditation and religious use, but not as a form of workout.
The concept became even more established among the Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus.
The first versions of yoga were meant for spiritual practices and revolved around several core values.
The first core value analyzed an individual’s perception and cognitive state while understanding the cause of suffering and eventually using meditation to solve the issue.
The second core value focused on boosting consciousness.
The third was used as a way of achieving transcendence.
The fourth value was full of mystery because it used Yoga to penetrate into other people’s bodies and act supernaturally.
Surprisingly, the practice of Yoga was widely promoted by powerful families, institutions, and activities until India attained its independence in 1947. Today, Yoga is practiced worldwide by millions of people in many forms and variations.
Major types of yoga
1. Vinyasa yoga
Vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and, in this case, yoga postures.
Vinyasa yoga is often considered the most athletic yoga style.
Vinyasa was adapted from Ashtanga yoga in the 1980s.
vinyasa flows such as ashtanga, power yoga, and prana.
2. Hatha yoga
The Sanskrit term “Hatha” is an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. In the West, hatha yoga simply refers to all the other styles of yoga (ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.) that are grounded in physical practice.
There are other branches of yoga such as kriya, raja, and karma yoga that are separate from the physical-based yoga practice.
Physical-based yoga is the most popular and has numerous styles.
3. Iyengar yoga
Iyengar yoga was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar and focuses on alignment as well as detailed and precise movements. In an Iyengar class, students perform a variety of postures while controlling the breath.
4. Kundalini yoga
Kundalini yoga practice is equal parts spiritual and physical. This style is all about releasing the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine.
5. Ashtanga yoga
In Sanskrit, Ashtanga is translated as an “Eight Limb path.” In Mysore, India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace—if you see Mysore-led ashtanga, it’s expected of you to know the series. Vinyasa yoga stems from ashtanga as the flowing style linking breath to movement.
6. Bikram yoga
Bikram yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury and features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room—typically set to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. Many studios that were formerly Bikram now practice hot yoga, in an effort to disassociate with the founder.
7. Yin yoga
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. Yin can also be a meditative yoga practice that helps you find inner peace.
8. Restorative yoga
Restorative yoga focuses on winding down after a long day and relaxing your mind. At its core, this style focuses on body relaxation. Restorative yoga also helps to cleanse and free your mind.
9. Prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga is carefully adapted for “moms to be” and is tailored to women in all trimesters. Many have said that prenatal is one of the best types of exercise for expectant moms because of the pelvic floor work, focus on breathing, and bonding with the growing baby; prenatal yoga also helps mothers prepare for labor and delivery.
10. Anusara yoga
Anusara yoga is a version of hatha yoga, most similar to vinyasa in that it focuses on alignment, but with more focus on the mind-body-heart connection. It was founded by John Friend who created a unique system called the Universal Principals of Alignment.
11. Jivamukti yoga
Jivamukti yoga was founded in 1984 by Sharon Ganon and David Life. Jivamukti is mainly vinyasa-flow-style classes infused with Hindu spiritual teachings. At its core, this style emphasizes a connection to Earth as a living being, so most Jivamukti devotees follow their vegetarian philosophy.
Physical benefits of yoga include:
Increased muscle strength and tone.
Improved respiration, energy, and vitality.
Maintaining a balanced metabolism.
Cardio and circulatory health.
Improved athletic performance.
Protection from injury.
Yoga gurus that have played a major role in making yoga
Swami Sivananda. Master Sivananda
B K S Iyengar
K Pattabhi Jois
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Baba Ram Dev
# The first thirtanakara of Jainism Rishaba, Ikshvaku is the founder of yoga. According to Vaishnava texts Krishna is a source of yoga and he taught Rishaba, according to Shaivites, Shiva is a source of yoga and he taught Rishaba.
# Krishnamacharya “the father of modern yoga,” Krishnamacharya is widely regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century.
# Swami Vivekananda was the first Person to Bring Yoga to America. “In America is the place, the people, the opportunity for everything new,” wrote Swami Vivekananda before he left India in 1893
# Rishikesh, the World Capital of Yoga, has been one of India’s holiest and most spiritual centers for thousands of years. Rishikesh is a magical city on the blue banks of the holy Ganges river and nestled under the gaze of the mystical Himalayas.
# Yoga is mentioned in the Rigveda and also referenced in the Upanishads
# Although yoga is not a religion in itself, it is connected to religion, and stems historically from Hinduism, but also to Jainism and Buddhism. Both Buddhists and Hindus chant the sacred mantra ‘Om’ during their meditation.
# Mirra Alfassa (21 February 1878 – 17 November 1973), known to her followers as The Mother, was a spiritual guru, an occultist and a collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, who considered her to be of equal yogic stature to him and called her by the name “The Mother“.
Inputs from: Wikipedia, Ministry of AYUSH, doyou, replenishliving
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