The post-Corona world is full of geopolitical dilemmas. A large part from Europe to West Asia is heading towards destruction. Some of these political decisions may be due to polarisation, while another may be the general rise of promiscuity. It all reflects a life that is fraught with its own challenges, including depression, anxiety, greed and myriad physical and mental ailments.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In this way, yoga can bring us all together to learn and improve. In 2020, as the world was reeling under the coronavirus pandemic, Harvard Medical School described in an article how yoga and meditation can help one stay calm in a stressful environment. Yoga helps increase the level of a chemical in the brain called gamamino butyric acid (GABA). This has been linked to improved mood and decreased anxiety. Researchers around the world now agree that yoga plays an important role in improving quality of life by reducing symptoms of depression, boosting immunity, improving heart function, and correcting sleep patterns.
The importance of yoga has also been discussed in Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta. In the second chapter of the Gita, Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to do his work through yoga. Here yoga is defined as the same mindset under all circumstances. Yoga means allowing the qualities of ‘Godness’ to enter one’s mind through ‘spirituality’. This is self-realization. It has the ability to merge one’s mind with the soul. Incidentally, Buddhism also talks about patience, self-control, tolerance and understanding. The benefits of yoga make a person better.
We must understand that a healthy mind is central to a harmonious community. Promoting ‘Yoga for Mind’ can help us achieve a Karma Yogi community, where every member performs his duties with equanimity under all circumstances. Additionally, yoga awakens creativity. Such a community would form the basis of a peaceful world. In a sense, yoga has the potential to be a source of revolution, which brings us out of our miseries. Yoga not only heals the mind but also heals the body. Yoga helps in relieving back pain and reducing the symptoms of arthritis. For fitness enthusiasts, yoga helps increase strength, balance and flexibility.
Recently the Global Center for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) has been started. It is a collaboration between WHO and the Government of India, which will enhance research in traditional medicines and practices, including yoga. The Yoga Certification Board (YCB) has been established with the objective of bringing synergy, quality and uniformity in the knowledge and skills of Yoga professionals across the world through certification programmes. The vision and mission of Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga under the Ministry of AYUSH is to establish ‘Health, Harmony and Happiness for all through Yoga’.
The Ministry of AYUSH aims to make yoga global through International Yoga Day 2022. The day is a unique attempt to promote the sanctity of Yoga, which transcends political boundaries, barriers of caste, religion, gender and class. Promoting yoga is also linked with sustainable development. A calm and harmonious world sometimes seems like an impossible goal. However, we can ensure our contribution towards self-improvement by making a conscious effort towards the collective good. Using yoga as a tool for self-improvement would be a step towards a compassionate world.
(The author is Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways and AYUSH)
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.