We witnessed the United Nations commemorating the International Day of Yoga on June 21, 2023, at its headquarters in New York. The event garnered significant participation from the public and UN employees. Indian Americans also assembled in large numbers, possibly influenced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States and the UN. According to media reports, the Yoga Day celebration was highly successful. However, let’s contemplate the following questions:
- Can practicing Yoga for just one day a year have any effect?
- Is it possible for our bodies to develop strength and endurance from just one day of practice?
- Can we attain peace of mind and mental well-being in just one day of practice?
Yoga is typically practiced throughout the week, including Sundays, unlike the gym. Engaging in yoga not only brings relaxation and refreshment but also revitalizes the body, providing a boost of energy. Unlike intense gym workouts, yoga’s gentle nature allows for daily practice without exhaustion. On Sundays, it’s beneficial to switch to Pranayama, focusing on breathing exercises that promote the well-being of the respiratory and digestive systems.
What is Yoga? What does Yoga cover?
Yoga is a practice from ancient India that helps with physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual strength. The origins of Yoga can be traced back to the time before the Common Era (BCE). It is a discipline that aims to bring harmony and balance to the body, mind, and spirit through various techniques and practices.
At its core, yoga is a system of physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation techniques. These practices are designed to promote physical strength, flexibility, and an active lifestyle, as well as cultivate mental focus and emotional well-being.
Yoga covers a wide range of elements, including:
- Asanas: Physical postures or poses that develop flexibility of the body. Asanas are typically practiced in conjunction with controlled breathing.
- Pranayama: Breathing exercises.
- Meditation: A practice of focusing the mind and achieving a state of deep inner calm and clarity.
- Philosophy: Yoga philosophy is rooted in ancient Indian texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
- Ethics and Lifestyle: Yoga encourages an ethical way of living. It promotes principles such as non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), and self-discipline (tapas).
- Mind-Body Connection: Yoga emphasizes the integration of body and mind, recognizing that the two are interconnected.
- Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Let us walk you through a few Yoga asanas/poses:
Surya Namaskara, also known as Sun Salutation, is one of the well-known Yoga asanas. It is usually performed at the beginning of Yoga since it involves stretching all body muscles and acts as a warm-up exercise. It is important to perform each step in conjunction with controlled breathing to feel the full effectiveness of Surya Namaskara.
Traditional Surya Namaskara consists of 12 postures and is performed facing the rising or setting sun hence the name Surya Namaskara. According to Hinduism, Sun is a god who gives light to the whole universe. It is a culture in Hinduism to offer prayers to Sun in the morning.
Vrischik in English is Scorpion hence this pose is also known as Scorpion pose.
Vrischikasana is part of the advanced yoga asana. It requires regular practice, balance and flexibility to perform this asana. Easiest method to achieve scorpion pose is by practicing Shirasasana and Chakrasana. First step is to attain the Shirasasana and then bend legs on the backside.
This pose has various advantages for physical and mental strength.
Shir in English is head hence this pose is also known as head stand.
Chakra in English is wheel hence this pose is also called wheel pose. Other names are half circle pose or bridge pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana.
Also known as Plow pose.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Also known as Setu Bandhasana/Bridge Pose.
Naukasana Yoga Pose
Variation of Shirasasana
Yoga or any other activity needs to be practiced regularly to get its benefits.