21 Jun 2020, Amritapuri
– from Amma’s message on International Yoga Day
It has been five years since the United Nations started observing International Yoga Day. During this brief time, yoga as a practice has gained an astonishing amount of acknowledgement and popularity. Most nations have acknowledged that yoga boosts physical health and stimulates emotional and intellectual growth. Similar to Ayurveda, yoga is a priceless boon the world has received from the ancient rishis of Bharat.
The meaning of the word yoga is “coming together” or “joining.” Yoga brings together our body, breath, mind and awareness in the proper way. If we can control our body, we will be able to control our breath. If we can control our breath, we will be able to control our mind. If we can control the mind, we will be able to rise to self-realisation.
This is the way of yoga. It uses gross elements to control subtler elements. Then using these subtle elements, it controls even subtler ones. In this way, it continues to control subtler and subtler elements. Our ancient rishis teach us that by gaining victory over the body, mind and intellect in this way, yoga can help us attain completeness.
Even if one is unable to achieve completeness, yoga still plays a great role in daily life. Perhaps most importantly, it can help keep us in good health. Yoga can help us purify our inner faculties, glands and nerves and promote their smooth functioning.
In everyday life, too, yoga helps to increase our efficiency, health and happiness. In these modern times, when lifestyle diseases and mental illness are on the rise, the relevance of yoga continues to steadily increase. The average human lifespan has increased, aided by new medicines and treatment options. However, our health is declining due to poor lifestyle choices. Good health is not the mere absence of disease; it is the ability to work for long hours without tiring, having mental peace, clear memory and a sharp intellect. Yoga is a practical system through which we can achieve this.
Programs such as International Yoga Day certainly help spread awareness about the benefits of yoga. An overly busy lifestyle, lack of exercise and stress are the curses of today’s society. It is important to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
There is a difference between physical health and mental health. While the body needs exercise and movement to keep fit, the mind needs to remain still. However, in modern society, work requiring the body is decreasing and the thoughts and agitations of the mind are growing. This is harmful to the body and mind. Yoga is a scientific system that helps us increase the efficiency and agility of the body and the mind. Surya Namaskara and other asanas, meditation and pranayama are all part of this. Through pranayama and other asanas, one can balance the body’s prana-sakti and through this, we can improve our health. In addition to this, yoga asanas and meditation relax the body and calm the mind and still its thoughts.
People can choose the technique that suits them best. In these trying times, when coronavirus is threatening the entire world, yoga is even more relevant than ever. It is when humanity’s immunity decreases that such diseases are able to take root in society. Yoga, on the other hand, is a good way to enhance our body’s immunity.
For yoga to be effective and provide us with strong immunity, we also have to follow a proper diet. We don’t need any exercise equipment to practice yoga. If even one person in the home learns yoga, they will be able to teach everyone else in the family. If everyone in the family practices yoga, the health of the entire family will improve. This will not only reduce the family’s medical bills, but it will also make their minds calm and increase their intellectual capacity and memory power. If everyone in the home practices yoga and meditation, the entire atmosphere of the home will be transformed. For this to happen though, the principle behind yoga has to be understood as well. Then, conflicts will decrease. Love and cooperation will increase.
If yoga enters the households of all the families in a village, the entire village will become healthy. Their standard of life will be uplifted. If the real principles behind yoga are understood and practised, we will be able to imbibe many other values as well—for example, patience, forgiveness and forbearance. It will also help us develop the love within us.
There is one more thing that Amma would like to stress. Yoga is not like an ordinary physical exercise routine that you practice for one or two hours a day. It is a comprehensive way of life that gives a high level of importance to dharmic values and principles. Yoga brings success in both material life as well as in spiritual life. Whichever spiritual path you pursue, yoga will definitely help you. Regardless of the country, human nature remains the same. Therefore, the practice of yoga can help one and all, irrespective of nationality or religion.
May we be able to use this priceless wealth bestowed on the human race by the ancient rishis of Bharat in the right way.