Push for yoga

The discipline needs to be promoted as a non-sectarian wellness initiative

Marking the second International Yoga Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done well to highlight the non-sectarian character of yoga. Emphasising that yoga wasn’t religious in nature, he asserted that the traditional practice was even meant for atheists. Moreover, he described yoga as an instrument that provided health assurance with zero spending. A mass movement that promotes yoga can be one way of following the dictum that prevention of ill health is better than cure. The discipline can and should be used to tackle lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Promoting yoga as a wellness discipline rather than as a religious practice is the key to popularising it even more, even if it leaves Hindutva proponents dissastisfied. There’s no denying that yoga has spread far and wide across the globe. This is precisely why 177 countries had supported the UN resolution proclaiming June 21 as International Day of Yoga. But in order to sustain this momentum yoga can’t be reduced to a ritualistic practice. India and WHO have recently signed an agreement to integrate yoga into allopathic medicine and primary health services. Many more such initiatives need to be facilitated.
At the national level, yoga can be a tool to promote physical well-being in schools and colleges. This in turn can help the country save crores of rupees that are lost to early onset of illnesses among people. But yoga cannot become a mass movement if any of it is made mandatory and forcibly pushed down the throats of people, schools or colleges. Not only will it be reduced to an empty and meaningless ritual, yoga should only be taught by trained practitioners and under proper supervision, else yogic asanas can lead to injuries.

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