When sage Patanjali coined The Yoga Sutras, he wouldn't have realised that yoga will one day become India's biggest export to the West. And that the world will be observing an International Yoga Day sometime. On June 21, 2015, the first International Yoga Day was celebrated with 35,985 people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and and dignitaries from 84 nations, performing 21 asanas at Rajpath in New Delhi. The tradition has not just continued but went on to being celebrated in different parts of the world. The health benefits of this ancient practice are now known to be much more than just physical.
Take for instance Nivedita Joshi, for whom yoga brought back the life she had lost all hope for. Joshi was still in her teens when she was stricken by slip disc-cervical spondylosis, rendering her virtually bedridden and an invalid for eight long and painful years. Joshi lost the ability to move her hands and legs.
She had lost all hope in life till met Yogacharya BKS Iyengar (Guruji) at his yoga institute in Pune in 1996. Doctors had told me that I will never ever live a normal life again and that a spinal surgery was my last option. It was disheartening for someone as young as me to accept it. After trying all modern treatments available in the country without success, my parents took me to meet Guruji in Pune. He diagnosed my problem without even looking at my MRI reports. That's when I surrendered myself to his knowledge and experience, and there was no looking back thereafter, says the yoga expert.Yogacharya BKS Iyengar took Joshi under his wings and admitted her into the medical class, with two sessions per week and she slowly started feeling more alive and active. The scientist in her was amazed and enamoured by Yogacharya BKS Iyengar's repertoire of knowledge, experience and wisdom, especially considering his lack of so called formal modern education. Slowly her body started responding to the practice and sessions. Seeing potential in her, Joshi's mentor started simultaneously training her while healing her. Today, Joshi is not just cured but also gives hope to many such students with Iyengar Yogakshema, the first Iyengar Centre in New Delhi.
Just like Joshi, there are many who swear by the magic of yoga for health and how it can change lives. Artistic yoga guru Bharat Thakur says, Yoga will ensure three hormones including gaba, dopamine and serotonin will be in abundance in the body. These manage your sleep cycles well and increase overall happiness levels. Thakur's artistic yoga programme is all about dividing students into different groups according to requirements.
In artistic yoga, we introduce the concept of teaching different things every day of the week endurance training, flexibility training, balance, agility and so on all five elements of fitness. That's what artistic yoga is all about, he says.
And while the physical benefits of yoga are umpteen, it is a well known fact that its implications are a lot on the mind as well. Says yoga guru Grand Master Akshar, Yoga brings physical health through asanas and pranayama techniques. It also helps one cope with the many pressures of the mind through dhyaan or meditation techniques. It is ideal as a complete health package for man, having lost none of its potency over time.
According to him, the five asanas which are very important to be practised every day for a healthy life include Padmasana, Paschimottanasana, Sirshasana, Naukasana and Chakrasana. On the other hand, health guru Mickey Mehta swears by tadasan, pachimauttanasana, chakrasana with supervision and support, dhanurasana and pavan muktasana. He says, These five asanas are absolutely the key asanas also coupled with breathing and coupled with pranayam one can be in the state of invincible health. Speaking how yoga aids overall well-being, Mehta adds, It triggers all the healing processes of the body by improving their functions, aligning them, relaxing them, calming them, soothing and most importantly detoxifying and cleansing them.
Yoga especially has become more relevant than ever in today's day and age because the over-exposure to technology has increased stress levels. And that's when this ancient practice comes to the rescue of tired minds and bodies. Sarvesh Shashi, founder, Sarva Yoga, says, Today when depression, anxiety, and mental demons are spoken about very casually, yoga brings in the tools that help one overcome them. Shashi met his yoga guru at the age of 17, who, through the practice challenged him and helped me defeat the 3 As (arrogance, anger, and attitude). He says, Yoga helped me change my life, inspired me to enable people to recognise its importance and the wonders it can do to transform lives. Shashi recommends these five asanas for holistic wellbeing standing side bend, cat-cow pose, happy baby pose, squat pose and the windshield wiper pose.
The very intention of yoga itself is to change or redirect lives towards goodness, perfection and fulfilment. It has all
the knowledge and tools to help each and every practitioner become the best version of themselves, a complete human being in all perspectives. This all-encompassing and holistic approach of yoga ensures that an individual is benefited and changed in all ways towards goodness and happiness. Life will not be the same once the yoga practitioner becomes a yogi, the transformation is a beautiful gift, says Grand Master Akshar.