Amma’s message on Yoga on International Yoga Day
Yoga is the means of awakening the infinite strength within, by training the body, mind and intellect properly, and of realizing one’s full potential. Yoga helps us become more efficient in worldly life. It enhances our health, sense of well-being, and sensitivity to values. For these reasons, the relevance and popularity of yoga, which can combat lifestyle and psychological diseases that are becoming more and more prevalent today, are increasing by the day. Every Indian can take pride in the fact that yoga was born and sprouted in Indian soil.
Many people ask what is so special about yoga compared with other forms of exercise. Any form of exercise confers innumerable benefits to body and mind. However, the benefits that arise from doing yoga far surpass those gained from other kinds of exercise. Most exercises rely on rapid bodily movements to reduce fat and develop muscle. In contrast, yoga aims to relax all parts of the body and to direct the energy of prana (vital force) in the correct directions. It improves the health of all organs, including glands, and alleviates disease. It purifies nerves. It strengthens the mind and boosts one’s power of concentration. It relaxes and strengthens muscles. Yoga is more effective than other exercise regimens in reducing depression and helping to maintain a cheerful disposition.
Unlike other exercises, yoga asanas (postures) are practiced slowly, paying attention to the breathing. At the same time, one must observe every movement of the body with utmost awareness. In this way, one can make the mind serene and foster the experience of meditative stillness. Thus, yoga benefits body and mind equally.
Unlike other exercises, it is not enough to practice yoga for just one or two hours daily. If a person afflicted with a critical illness wants to recover, he must, in addition to taking medicines, follow a particular diet and get sufficient rest and sleep. Likewise, in order to gain the full benefits of yoga, we must lead a disciplined and value-based life. By practicing yoga mindfully, we will be able to do each and every action in life with awareness. In this way, we can bring about positive changes to our thoughts and emotions. Gradually, we can gain more concentration in our meditation and eventually attain Self-realization.
Yoga promotes the message of a healthy life as well as inner and outer purity. It upholds the message of a unity that transcends creed, and ahimsa (non-violence) towards all beings. For these reasons, promoting yoga will foster love and solidarity in society and peace in the world. May humanity be able to attain ever higher physical, mental and spiritual levels of wellness through yoga.