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Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi urged the world community to adopt an International Day of Yoga. 2018

What is Yoga?
th While addressing the 69 session of United Nations General
Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014, the Honorable Prime
Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi urged the world community to
adopt an International Day of Yoga.
"Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition. It embodies
unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment;
harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health
and well-being. Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of
oneness with ourselves, the world and Nature. By changing our
lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us to deal with
climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga
Day," Shri Modi said.
On December 11, 2014, the 193 member UNGA approved the
proposal by consensus with a record 177 co-sponsoring countries a
resolution to establish 21 June as "International Day of Yoga". In its
resolution, the UNGA recognised that Yoga provides a holistic
approach to health and well-being and wider dissemination of
information about the benefits of practicing Yoga for the health of the
world population. Yoga also brings harmony in all walks of life and
thus, is known for disease prevention, health promotion and
management of many lifestyle-related disorders. This booklet
intends to give a brief overview about Yoga and Yogic practices to
orient one towards comprehensive health for an individual and the
Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle
science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.

It is an art and science for healthy living. The word "Yoga" is derived
from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning "to join", "to yoke" or "to unite".
According to Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads to the union
of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. According
to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a
manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences
this oneness of existence is said to be "in Yoga" and is termed as a yogi
who has attained a state of freedom, referred to as mukti, nirvāna,
kaivalya or moksha.
"Yoga" also refers to an inner science comprising of a variety of
methods through which human beings can achieve union between
the body and mind to attain self-realisation. The aim of Yoga practice
(sādhana) is to overcome all kinds of sufferings that lead to a sense of
freedom in every walk of life with holistic health, happiness and
The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before
the first religion or belief systems were born. According to Yogic lore,
Shiva has seen as the first yogi or ādiyogi and the first guru or ādiguru.
Several thousand years ago, on the banks of lake Kantisarovar in the
Himalayas, ādiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the
legendary saptarishis or "seven sages". These sages carried this
powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia,
the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interestingly,
modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels
found between ancient cultures across the globe.However, it was in
India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the
saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this
culture around a core Yogic way of life.
Yoga is widely considered as an "immortal cultural outcome" of the
Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – dating back to 2700 BC – and has

proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual uplift of
humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati
Valley Civilisation with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga
sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and
idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. The presence
of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic
heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of
Mahabharata including Bhagawadgita and Ramayana, theistic
traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions. Though Yoga
was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi
Patanjali systematised and codified the then existing Yogic practices,
its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali's Yoga
After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly for
the preservation and development of the field through well-
documented practices and literature. Yoga has spread all over the
world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to
the present date. Today, everybody has conviction about Yoga
practices towards the prevention of disease, maintenance and
promotion of health. Millions and millions of people across the globe
have benefitted by the practice of Yoga and the practice of Yoga is
blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day.
Yoga works on the level of one's body, mind, emotion and energy. This
has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma Yoga where
we utilise the body; Jnāna Yoga where we utilise the mind; Bhakti
Yoga where we utilise the emotion and Kriya Yoga where we utilise
the energy. Each system of Yoga we practice falls within the gamut of
one or more of these categories.
Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors. Only a
guru (teacher) can advocate the appropriate combination of the four

undamental paths as is necessary for each seeker. "All ancient
commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under
the direction of a guru."
The different philosophies, traditions, li neages and guru-shishya
paramparas of Yoga led to the emergence of different traditional
schools. These include Jnāna Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga,
Pātanjala Yoga, Kunḍ ạ lini Yoga, Haṭha Yoga, Dhyāna Yoga, Mantra
Yoga, Laya Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Jain Yoga, Bouddha Yoga etc. Each school
has its own approach and practices that lead to the ultimate aim and
objectives of Yoga.
The widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana,
Prānāyāma, Pratyāhara, Dhārana, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhas and
Mudras, Shatkarmas, Yuktāhāra, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma etc.
Yamas are restraints and Niyamas are observances. These are
considered to be pre-requisites for further Yogic practices. Āsanas,
capable of bringing about stability of body and mind, "kuryat-tad-
asanam-sthairyam", involve adopting various psycho-physical body
patterns and giving one an ability to maintain a body position (a
stable awareness of one's structural existence) for a considerable
length of time.
Prānāyāma consists of developing awareness of one's breathing
followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital
basis of one's existence. It helps in developing awareness of one's
mind and helps to establish control over the mind. In the initial
stages, this is done by developing awareness of the "flow of in-breath
and out-breath" (svāsa-prasvāsa) through nostrils, mouth and other
body openings, its internal and external pathways and destinations.
Later, this phenomenon is modified, through regulated, controlled

and monitored inhalation (svāsa) leading to the awareness of the
body space getting filled (puraka), the space(s) remaining in a filled
state (kumbhaka) and it getting emptied (rechaka) during regulated,
controlled and monitored exhalation (prasvāsa).
Pratyāhara indicates dissociation of one's consciousness
(withdrawal) from the sense organs which connect with the external
objects. Dhārana indicates broad based field of attention (inside the
body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration.
Dhyāna (meditation) is contemplation (focussed attention inside the
body and mind) and Samādhi (integration).
Bandhas and Mudras are practices associated with Prānāyāma. They
are viewed as the higher yogic practices that mainly adopt certain
physical gestures along with control over respiration. This further
facilitates control over mind and paves way for higher Yogic
attainment. However, practice of dhyāna, which moves one towards
self-realisation and leads one to transcendence, is considered the
essence of Yoga Sādhana.
Śaṭkarmas are detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature
and help to remove the toxins accumulated in the body. Yuktāhāra
advocates appropriate food and food habits for healthy living.

·Śauca means cleanliness - an important prerequisite for
Yogic practice. It includes cleanliness of surroundings, body
and mind. ·Yogic practice should be performed in a calm and quiet
atmosphere with a relaxed body and mind. ·Yogic practice should be done on an empty stomach or light
stomach. Consume small amount of honey in lukewarm
water if you feel weak. ·Bladder and bowels should be empty before starting Yogic
practices. ·A mattress, Yoga mat, durrie or folded blanket should be
used for the practice. ·Light and comfortable cotton clothes are preferred to
facilitate easy movement of the body. ·Yoga should not be performed in state of exhaustion, illness,
in a hurry or in acute stress conditions. ·In case of chronic disease/ pain/ cardiac problems, a
physician or a Yoga therapist should be consulted prior to
performing Yogic practices. ·Yoga experts should be consulted before doing Yogic
practices during pregnancy and menstruation.

·Practice sessions should start with a prayer or invocation
as it creates a conducive environment to relax the mind. ·Yogic practices shall be performed slowly, in a relaxed
manner, with awareness of the body and breath. ·Do not hold the breath unless it is specially mentioned to do
so during the practice. ·Breathing should be always through the nostrils unless
instructedotherwise. ·Do not hold body tightly, or jerk the body at any point of
time. ·Perform the practices according to your own capacity. ·It takes some time to get good results, so persistent and
regular practice is very essential. ·There are contra-indications/ limitations for each Yoga
practice and such contra-indications should always be kept
in mind. ·Yoga session should end with meditation/ deep silence /
Śhānti paṭha.
·Bath may be taken only after20-30 minutes of practice. ·Food may be consumed only after 20-30 minutes of

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