International Yoga Day celebrated vibrantly

21 June 2023, Amritapuri
Today, participants ranging from five to ninety years old gathered to celebrate International Yoga Day with enthusiasm and joy. The event saw a diverse group of participants, including international enthusiasts, coming together in harmony to embrace the benefits of yoga.

Amma graced the occasion by joining the session and partaking in the exercises. She championed a healthy lifestyle and emphasized the positive impact of yoga on overall health.

Further amplifying the significance of the day, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Indian Traditional Sciences requested a special message from Amma for their program scheduled at The House of Commons Committee, London.

In her thoughtful message, Amma elaborated on the transformative power of yoga enlightening perspective to the global celebration of Yoga Day. In that message amma said:

“Yoga is a priceless boon the world has received from the ancient sages of Bharat (India). The word yoga means ‘coming together’ or ‘joining.’ Thus, yoga means bringing 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 can control our mind. Such holistic progress is the aim of yoga.

“Yoga can help us purify our internal organs, glands and nerves and promote their smooth functioning. Scientists have proven that the average person uses only a fraction of his physical and mental capabilities during his lifetime. However, through yoga one can further awaken and develop those abilities.Yoga is the path to awakening our infinite potential and realising our inherent completeness, through the proper adjustment of the body, mind and intellect.

“In these modern times, when lifestyle diseases and mental illness are on the rise, the relevance of yoga continues to steadily increase. Other exercise systems aim to reduce the fat in the body and to tone our muscles through fast movement. However, yoga channels our prāṇa-śakti [life force] in the right direction, promoting overall health, including that of our internal organs, helping them to function better. It purifies our nervous system and helps our mind and body relax. It increases health and mitigates disease. Additionally, it increases our mental strength and focus. It makes our muscles supple and strong. Yoga is more effective than any other exercise at reducing depression and maintaining cheerfulness.

“There is a difference between physical health and mental health. Physical health improves with exercise and movement. On the other hand, the mind requires stillness to be healthy. For example, if we are unable to sleep for a few days, we can start to feel our mental stability being compromised. When we sleep, it is without awareness, and it certainly relaxes our mind and body. But yoga is done with awareness, and is more relaxing than sleep for our body and mind, as well as for the clarity of intellect.

“Yoga can be practised by children as well as the elderly. However, until the age of 14, only a limited number of āsanas should be prescribed. It is best to learn these yoga āsanas from an experienced teacher. Your heart rhythm and blood pressure should also be taken into consideration when practising certain āsanas; depending on these certain āsanas should be avoided.

“Yoga is not like an ordinary physical exercise routine you practice for one or two hours a day. It is a comprehensive way of life that gives a high level of importance to values and spiritual principles.

“One does not become a yogi simply by being able to bend down and touch one’s toes. To become a yogi, we should be able to touch the hearts of people around us with our love and compassion. Just as one looks at a mirror to beautify oneself, one should be able to awaken and rise to a state where one can see love and beauty in others as well. It is only when one gains this attitude that one becomes a true yogi. This was the example set by the ancient sages.

“Just as when our left hand is in pain, our right hand automatically massages it, we will be able to see others’ suffering as our suffering and others’ joy as our joy. We will be able to awaken and raise our minds to that state. If our finger pokes our eye accidentally, don’t we comfort both the eye as well as the finger? We are able to be patient with both. Such patience is born in us with proper yoga.

“The yogi will become like a magnet, attracting everything and everyone. He will become a shining gem. Although we all possess that inherent capability, we are currently like grimy diamonds, rendered lustreless due to oil and dirt. We see ourselves like fake diamonds. Through the process of yogic practice, the priceless nature of the original diamond can be revealed and become beneficial for others as well.

“Science and spirituality—or yoga—are like the two wings of a bird. We need both. Yoga will help us bring harmony not merely into our individual life, nor merely into society, but into the entire world.”

Amma concluded by saying that “May we be able to use this priceless wealth bestowed on humanity by the ancient sages of Bhārat (India) in the right way. May the practice of yoga bring about better solidarity and cooperation between the peoples of the world. May the grace of the divine bless us all to achieve this.”