“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the 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,“ Narendra Modi in his address to the United Nations on 27 Sep 2014. 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.
India can promote Yoga creatively and meaningfully both domestically and internationally. With India putting itself on the world map with its ‘Make In India’ projects, Foreign Policy and Defense capabilities – Yoga can reinforce the soft power of India. We see how the West has appropriated Yoga and turned it into “Aerobics”. Repackaged our cultural and traditional heritage and commercialized it as one of its own. It is thus time to not only reclaim what is rightfully ours but also take it to the world as Bharat’s gift to mankind.
To that end, it is essential that Yoga is taken up as a wellness program by the government and for that, it needs to go beyond just celebrating ‘International Yoga Day”.
Yoga in schools and colleges:
Yoga should be taught in schools and colleges across India. This will be an invaluable gift to students. Studies in the USA have shown how Yoga, when taught to children has had dramatic effects on their well-being. Children in India are currently being denied their heritage by way of an education system where they spend 15-18 years and never taught Yoga.
The world of today is way more complex and competitive. Children are subject to a huge amount of pressure, stress and distractions simply because the world is a very different place. Imagine an army that has powerful weapons yet sends its soldiers to war without ammunition. We’re doing that to our children in India by depriving them of Yoga in our education system.
Teaching Yoga in schools and colleges will help our children to develop physical fitness and inner strength. We look upon just our demographic of a young population as a strength. Imagine how much stronger we will be as a nation when our youth are strengthened and empowered with the knowledge and practice of Yoga.
While schools have sports day drills with pompoms and props, Yoga would be an invaluable addition that goes beyond ‘Physical Training’ to holistic development.
Yoga at airports :
We are now traveling a lot – for work and leisure. Travel tends to mean a disruption in one’s schedule of exercise and meditation. It need not be so.
All Indian airports should have a meditation room where people can practice Meditation / Yoga / Pranayama in a quiet, serene and secure space This will help those who already practice it to continue even when travelling. It would inspire other travellers to explore Yoga / Meditation.
As per an Economic Times news report, last year 100 million passengers travelled domestically within India. Global air travel data indicates 4 billion passengers in 2017. These are staggering numbers that would only grow in the years ahead.
Bigger airports like Mumbai / Delhi should have larger spaces for this where trained teacher and videos for basic yoga can be made available.
The government of India can take up spaces in international airports – especially those that are vibrant transit hubs like Singapore, Frankfurt, Dubai, London, Qatar etc. Passengers often have long transits at these airports. GOI can take up spaces that can be managed by organizations like Art of Living / Isha Foundation, or any other institution where there can be an introduction to Yoga by way of videos, live classes by a trained instructor. This would be the best way to showcase India while making a positive difference miles away in a foreign land. It would also be the FIRST case of a marketing initiative that makes a positive impact as opposed to merely being communication that a person passively receives. There may be a nominal fee for some of the services which would make this (to some extent) a revenue-generating initiative.
Organizations like Isha Foundation / Art of Living have an international Footprint. They would be able to arrange for trained yoga teachers in various locations. A common curriculum can be evolved so that irrespective of which org manages the space – the structure and content would be largely common.
A yoga/meditation room at all Indian and most international airports is a need and a solution towards
- a calmer, healthier world
- establishing the soft power of India very emphatically
- showcasing the wisdom of Hindu culture
We increasingly see Spa facilities and wellness centres spring up at various Airports across the world. This can be an invaluable addition to the wellness services at Airports.
It is time that India reclaims her heritage and shows it off to the world like it should. Yoga and Meditation make an excellent starting point.
(This article was written by Savitha Rao)