Photo Source: Government of Sikkim, Facebook

Gangtok, June 21: According to Dr. Ishwar V. Basavaraddi whose paper on “Yoga: Its Origin, History and Development” has been published on the Ministry of External Affairs, the word ‘Yoga’ is derived from “the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’.

As per Yogic scriptures, the practise of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, Man & Nature.”

As old as the practice is, International Yoga Day, however, is quite young, its inception being June 21, 2015, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his United Nations address voiced the idea of making June 21 annually as the ‘International Yoga Day’ since the date is also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

The United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga by the resolution 69/131. Prime minister Narendra Modi in his address at the United Nations said:

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.

It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

In the year of its inception, the Reserve Bank of India also issued a 10 rupees commemorative coin to mark the International Yoga Day. On the first occasion of the celebration, 35,985 people, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and notable dignitaries from 84 countries, performed 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in India’s capital New Delhi, which became the largest yoga class ever held, and with the largest number of participating countries.

Since then, before 2020 the occasion was celebrated usually in a similarly large gathering of people doing yoga, worldwide and in India as well as in Sikkim where usually people gathered at Paljor Stadium early in the morning and practising yoga, this year the celebrations and the theme are a bit different than the norm.

The theme of this year is ‘Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family’. Experts around the world weighed in towards people practising self-isolation and social distancing.

International Yoga Day
Photo Source: Government of Sikkim, Facebook

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to maintain normalcy during trying times, along with the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) launched a video blogging contest ‘My Life, My Yoga’, to encourage people to celebrate the occasion in their homes.

According to the State government’s IPR Report, on the occasion of 6th International Day of Yoga, National Service Scheme (NSS) Cell, Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, (SYA) Government of Sikkim organised an online Yoga session today with the theme “Yoga at home, Yoga with family”.

The session was chaired by the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, K. N. Lepcha and attended by Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs Department Kuber Bhandari, officials of the Sports Department, programme coordinators, programme officers and NSS volunteers. During his speech, Minister K.N. Lepcha urged the NSS volunteers and other participants to make yoga as a daily habit during this pandemic to stay strong and fit.

Sikkim Chronicle spoke to a few yogi and yoginis to better understand the theme and significance of the occasion during such a time of a pandemic. 

Vashistha Pradhan from Darjeeling, who has been meditating and practising Hatha yoga and Kriya yoga since the age of 9, says, “Yoga and meditation have been two of the most instrumental things that have always kept me sane and centred. Emotions can be a friend and a foe, spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation teach us to go beyond it and have a more concrete orientation within ourselves and it has done the same for me.”

On celebrating the occasion during a pandemic, he states that the virus has forced him to be creative and look within the walls of his own house and that it has made him innovative with his workouts since he does various forms of movement practices such as parkour and HIIT besides Hatha Yoga. He also says that this year’s celebration wasn’t much different than the other years “as spiritual practices are deeply personal practices so although there is a feeling of communion as the entire world is participating, it’s still a solo path to your peace of mind.”

Manisha Bhat, an avid yogini who has been practising Vinyasa yoga on and off since she was in class 4, says that Yoga, along with helping with flexibility and general physical health, has also given her peace as she only focuses on the present and what she’s doing, hence by default, it keeps all other thoughts at bay – this comes handy when being confined in one place tends to make people think of things one would have never thought before, adding,

“The pandemic has made my workout better because working out alone by choosing the asanas I want to, I have started listening to my body more. The celebration, wasn’t any different from any other year’s or days, to be honest. In class last year, I think we ended the session with a prayer that wishes the wellbeing of everyone in the world and that’s the only thing missing from this year.”

Another yogi, Kely, an artist and storyteller, says that yoga helped him recover from a life-endangering disease called Wilson’s Disease, an inherited disorder in which excessive amounts of copper accumulate in the body, particularly in the liver, brain, and eyes.

After doctors told him that he might not survive, he began practising Hatha Yoga and things got better. He adds that it has also helped him recover from mental illness. He only wishes he had discovered this form of treatment earlier.

Read more related articles:

Sikkimese yogi shares her experience after successful quarantine in Bhutan

Lockdown and the Internet – does overconsumption of data affect mental health?

Ayurveda for longevity

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