After United Nations, now the World Health Organization (WHO) is set to endorse yoga. The international public health organization plans to incorporate yoga into universal health care approaches. This would mean that yoga would become part of various public health programmes commissioned by WHO not just in India but in several other countries.
WHO is working with many Indian centres of yoga to device a common and standardized practice of yoga, which can also be part of the curricula of medical practitioners.
"Yoga is used in many settings in which the health challenges are being addressed and it has a very prominent place in the holistic approach through prevention and control of health disorders," said Nata Menabde, executive director, WHO office to the UN.
Menabde said the ancient Vedic gift of India to the world needs to be studied and supported by scientific evidence and then incorporated in to approaches to universal healthcare. "Yoga is a key symbol of the civilization that India is," she said.
WHO is collaborating with researchers in India and abroad to gather scientific evidence of efficacy of yoga in treatment of lifestyle diseases such arthiritis, diabetes, heart diseases, stress, mental disorders etc.
In December last year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted June 21 as The International Day of Yoga. The government has organized a grand celebration of the first ever yoga day with mass demonstrations at Rajpath as well as similar functions in 192 other countries simultaneously.
The headline event will be at the UN headquarters where India's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will be joined by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and several other diplomats.
Apart from WHO, the health ministry is also working with various institutions such as Bangalore based S Vyasa to conduct research and create authentic documentation about the preventive and curative powers of yoga.
WHO is also looking to bring yoga into education of medical practitioners since it is a challenge to standardise yoga practice. Experts feel promoting yoga as a preventive healthcare measure will help reduce disease burden in a major way.
"WHO has been advocating physical exercise as one of the primary preventive measure against non- communicable diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and respiratory diseases, which are increasingly growing in number. Exercise is a must for physical well being," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for south-east Asia. She added, yoga is very much relevant even in current times as it is both a physical activity and an effective way of managing stress.