East to West: Yoga inspires world to fitness

KATHMANDU: The practice of 'Yoga' which originated in the eastern part of the world, gradually spread to the west and across the globe, leading to declaration of International Day of Yoga on June 21.

Recognising its universal appeal, on December 11, 2014, United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga (or Yoga Day) by resolution 69/131.

United Nations describes yoga as an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice; the word yoga is derived from Sanskrit, meaning to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness. It further states that the International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practising yoga. The theme for the 2018 celebration is 'Yoga for Peace.'

Yoga, over a period of years, has continued to grow in popularity. But to reflect on its origin, it has been speculated that yoga dates back to pre-Vedic times and the practice is mentioned in Rig-Veda, one of the four Vedas, the sacred text of Hinduism. Yoga comprises various elements such as physical exercises, breathing exercises, and meditation, which encompass fitness for body, mind and spirit, giving the practice a multi-dimensional character.

Yoga practitioner and instructor at Gaushala-based Arogya Ashram, Ramesh Gautam, said yoga helps in counteracting physical and psychological health issues faced by people. "Yoga strengthens the anatomy, increases resistance power and immunity in a person. By focusing more on anatomy rather than only physical fitness, it increases the overall well-being of a person."

He further added that he was physically stronger when he was a practising athelete and used to train for four hours a day. "It is not the same now, and that is where yoga comes in my life; it guides me into physical fitness in an easy manner. My physical fitness of playing days is today maintained through yoga."

The Fourth International Day of Yoga is being celebrated nationally and internationally today with much enthusiasm to promote physical and psychological health.