-Hisila Yami

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means unifying. And unifying is an infectious word when it comes to spreading humanism!

Especially in the year 2022 when the theme for International Day of Yoga has been chosen as ‘Yoga for humanity’!

In the USA when Donald Trump started losing his sense of balance as a President, many yoga communities got together for activism to fight against the anti-racial energy that was being mobilized by the rightists. Many yoga communities came together to calm down the republicans with their anti-racist feelings, to let go of their feelings, especially after the electoral defeat of Republicans. 

Yoga is particularly popular with the disadvantaged Dalits, women, and particularly the gays, lesbians, and LGBT communities as they have to come to terms with their bodies, their mindset, and their surroundings which are generally hostile to them. It helps them to have a sense of balance, and flexibility in their life. Yoga offers them the solitude or group exercise they are comfortable with. It is important to note that they have been told to hate, shame, and at best ignore their body. Since the body is linked to mental health shaming naming and hate will hurt their mental health too. 

Yoga gives dignity to the body; it gives calmness to mental health thus balancing both body and mind and inculcating a holistic approach to life. It is a best friend to a lone person. Amongst the couple, it increases bonds between them when practiced together. It gives a sense of wholesome, self-healing, and self-respect. 

Let us not forget that we are animals, animals whose hands were freed from the ground to stand erect, to see from distance, to use our hands to throw stones, and to sharpen stones to aim at the desired game. Animals need toning exercise; in fact, they do yoga unconsciously when they wake up to prepare themselves for their survival. When we became human beings with our consciousness, we became so mind-centric that we started forgetting we are originally animals. So, we became more and more sedentary forgetting or ignoring exercising our body, face and instinct. On the other end, we started becoming so mechanical and materialist that we stopped hearing the sound of the vibration of energy within our body making us emotionless like a machine. It has stopped you to listen to the sound and vibration of nature around you. Particularly in today’s digitalized world which is minimizing and almost replacing physical, mental, and emotional mobility with electronic gadgets Yoga is rescuing humankind by bringing a state of balance between physical, mental, and energy within our body. It teaches you to come to terms with yourself first, before syncing with other elements of life. It teaches you to live in the presence before thinking of the past and the present. 

The best part of Yoga is that it is not divorced from everyday life. It does not demand rigorous exercise. In simple terms, it seeks movement of all parts with mindfulness like oiling each cog of a machine, like massaging each part of the brain through the regular movement of all parts of the body. It has the element of meditation which keeps one’s mind alert and awake even in a rest position. It is so general without any shed of specialty or exclusiveness or confinement that it can be practiced anywhere within the room, outside the room, practiced by anyone, alone or in a group. It can be practiced anywhere anytime and at any juncture of your life. Similarly, it is very inclusive. People who are Revolutionary or evolutionary, people with special needs, and people in special circumstances (like in jail) can be taught Yoga! It is useful for sports people to digital-savvy people, from politicians to idealists, from secular to religious people, from healthy to those who are terminally ill.

Name it, Yoga does not say it cannot be practiced by anyone, any place, and at any juncture of life.

In the ‘prevention is better than cure’ mode, Yoga helps us to harmonize with our surroundings. it is both physical and mental toning. It mitigates cravings discouraging wasteful consumption. It induces one to oxidate your surroundings unconsciously making your green environment friendly. Its non-violence approach leads to dialogue friendly community and also animal friendly. It not only helps to tone humanity but also helps in toning the world to make it more self-caring and sustainable.

Swami Vivekananda should be thanked for propagating Yoga to the Western world. From Ashram, caves, and the mystic world it has moved to the masses and the scientific modern world. It is amalgaming eastern values with western values making it an ever-expanding phenomenon. However, one must not overemphasize its physical exercise least it gets reduced to the commercialized health spa and its spiritual journey must not be emphasized to the level that it becomes a religious mystic ritual.

Yoga not only denotes physical, and mental but energy balance, in totality it also denotes awakening, self-healing, and self-transforming. It keeps your external and inner well-being intact keeping rhythm balanced. Yoga is thriving in the world because it originated in a free democratic country. Many self-healing postures and positions practiced in some countries are not getting the same kind of space in the world because they originated in closed-door countries. 

No wonder the UN body has recognized it by making 21st June as International Day of Yoga.

Yoga is almost becoming indispensable in the growing urbanized, digitalized, and sedentary world. Hence let us celebrate Yoga by inculcating its practice in our daily life, making us truly wholesome.

Hisila Yami is a Nepali politician, former minister and an architect. She is also the author of People’s War and Women’s Liberation in Nepal. She graduated from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi, India, in 1982 and completed her master’s from Newcastle University, UK, in 1995.