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The need for a campaign for Yoga and its benefits

Here is an insight into the benefits of Yoga and the need to emphasize upon it for the betterment of society.

Feature 28 Jan 2016, 18:17 IST
The Indian Prime Minister performing Yoga on the International Yoga Day.

21st June 2015 was a proud day for the believers and followers of Yoga and its principles. First International Yoga Day was celebrated all across the globe Dubai, Singapore, Nairobi, London, New York, Tokyo amongst other places.

Thanks to Indian Prime Minister who not only made this possible but also worked relentlessly to make it a United Nations endorsed global event. His style of ‘Lead by example' is exemplary.

We cannot deny that Yoga is on the roll. CNN in 2015 published the list of 'Best jobs in America' and Yoga instructor was ranked number 10(unbelievable) with an average salary of $62,700) with growth potential of 13%. In The United Kingdom, on an average a yoga instructor charges £7-10/hour (per head for groups) and £20-25/hour for individual session.

Yoga in London

All this hype is awesome, however, when you ask a traditional yoga practitioner or a yogi, he/she would tell you that yogic lifestyle is all about evolving self in various aspects : union (of your body, mind and spirit),  character, health, life of people around you etc.

To meet such yogis and practitioners, I decided to travel down to Rishikesh (a city located at the foothills of Himalayan Mountain). I had a very good time and meeting some very learned swamis and yogis. My most exciting meetup was with a Yoga team- yes you read it right- Yoga team of Bareilly (district from Uttar Pradesh, India).  This team of 10 young girls (age 18-21 years) who are full time students of yoga from Sahu Ram Swaroop Mahila University.

I was sleeping on my train birth of a sleeper class coach when I heard great words of wisdom. These girls and their teacher Mr.Daya Shankar were discussing about which yoga asana and Kriya(exercise) can cure ability of pancreas to increase insulin levels when somebody who is suffering from diabetes Type I. 

I curiously requested them, if I could join the conversation and they obliged by welcoming me. The discussion covered several topics like how a heart blockage from the arteries can be removed through yoga with scientific facts and logic. We also discussed Pranayamas (breathing technique), Asanas (postures) and Kriyas which can help lower the blood pressure, cholesterol, weight etc. They also discussed about mental health and peace which is a very big subject across the globe and WHO (world health organisation).

I was curious to know the challenges faced by these girls while pursuing yoga as their full time career. Some of the challenges they faced were as mentioned:

  1. Yoga is still not considered as an important field and full time yoga study is looked down as compared to engineering or medical.
  2. Many of these students have found great physical and mental benefits however with respect to employment perspective, they are not quite sure where they will land up with a degree in Yoga.

The real fun lies in taking action and not complaining and thus we all decided to form a solution framework which could be shared with the Government of India. Here is the gist of our framework:

1) Include Yoga as a compulsory subject in the school Syllabus 

The good news is that it has been initiated by Mrs. Smriti Irani (Education Minister) but we feel that it could be improved with better reach across the country and a comprehensive syllabus. How would a child know that he or she is good at yoga and not just in solving a trigonometry equation? How can we put the seeds of good physical and mental health in the foundation years of a child? Yoga is the answer. Let’s give equal importance to yoga as we give to engineering and medical science and educate the masses on the benefits of yoga while taking care of the religious sentiments.

2) A comprehensive research and district level campaign

We all concluded that a comprehensive scientific research should be done at district level involving 5 types of patient category (say asthma, heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes type 2 and high blood pressure) for Group 1 which is treated by allopathic medicine and Group 2 getting treated by yoga. Improvements and side effects should be measured and presented to layman/public in simple local language. India has 22 official languages.

3) Investment in Yoga Tourism and Branding

Various campaigns at national, state, district, and of course, separately for international level, needs to be created and executed. Yoga tourism, retreats etc. should be showcased at trade shows across the globe. Yoga meets should be organised in prominent global cities like New York, London etc.

4) Create More Yoga Training and Treatment Centres (at least 1 in every city)

 Government should allocate funds to create such centres where people who are pursuing a Diploma in Yoga or Bachelors in Yoga are employed. World-class specialised sports centres should be opened where top athletes /sportsman are trained on yoga and meditation to enhance their performance on the game i.e. tennis, badminton, running, wrestling etc.

5) Recognition for Good Teachers

Teacher or Guru is the most important aspect in yoga teachings. Government should motivate and recognize the efforts of people like Mr.Daya Shankar and many others who are effortlessly working for the benefit of their students. Give them awards (national/state and district level), have local yoga events etc.

6) Create more International Exchange Programs with Foreign Universities

These opportunities will bridge the gap in understanding how we can merge medical and yogic science. 

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