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Yoga as a way of life

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Prof. Dr. Gobinda Chandra Das :
This 21st the world observes International Day of Yoga, a celebration of the unity between an enlightened spirit and a healthy body. Calling for adoption of the Day at the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had emphasised that by changing our lifestyle through this ancient Indian tradition, we could fight current challenges like climate change. He clarified that "yoga is not about excercise, but to discover the sense of oneness with the self and the world".
Popularising yoga becomes essential at this stage when human life has been completely taken over by materialism. Today, a 'bhogi' lifestyle that thrives on rapid consumption and greed, and pursues pleasure and power, had become the natural way to be. Such has been the race to accumulate resources that we have broken natual laws and trespassed all the boundaries. We can see the climax of it all in the form of deteriorating public health, global warming, massive arms sales, corruption and unprecendented rise in sexual violence.
Our present-day predicament is rooted in the adulteration of our inner world and prioritising of matter over mind. The solution lies is reversing this trend and adopting a yogi lifestyle, which is based on ancient wisdom and a holistic worldview.
Yoga means Union - that of the soul and the Supreme Soul, spirit and matter, thought and action, man and nature. A yogi lifestyle implies discipline, commitment, character building, the art of giving and coexistennce. It is a value-based approce that is founed on respect for the self, others and the natural world. A yogi enjoys health, commitment and happiness because he is not a 'bhogi' who lusts for more. As he is not ruled by his desires, he is able to keep diseases at bay.
The 'bhogi' lifestyle is consumption-driven. It appeals to our senses and is centred on accumulation and spending resources. It measures man with power, so it goes against our spiritual progress. The yogi lifestyle, on the other hand, places spirit over body. It is all about adding value to our existence, putting to best use of our gifts and talents, and binding us together as one family.
The yogi lifestyle is generally percieved as dry and difficult, one that may involve renunciation, toil and restraint. On the contrary, it is one where we make our onward journey much easier by making the right choices. By renouncing that which is not useful or goes against our innate purity, we save ourselves from being trapped by our own choices. As our being becomes free from the netative dictates of its physical and subtle faculties, there is experience of inner freedom and the unleashing of latent creativity. We become aligned with universal laws and so do not have to chase health and and happiness, but experience them naturally.
The International Day of Yoga attempts to propose to people such a harmonious way of living so that our world could be significantly impacted in more ways than one. Observing this Day once a year is good to spread awareness and initiate people into a new lifestyle. It is meant to draw attention to something important that was lost over time. However, we should not be content with this.
The Day of Yoga is not just about excercising for a day, but should serve as the beginning of a bigger change. It should inspire a way of life that stays with us forever.
Our aim must be to tap into the full potential of yoga and make significant difference within and outside.
Yoga is a spiritual science that must be promoted in places of learining, work, retreat and rest. It can also be added to streams such as midicine and art. But most importantly, it sholuld become an integralpart of our culture. This Yoga Day let's keep this broader vision in front of us and together work towards it all through the year and continue thereafter.

(Prof. Dr. Gobinda Chandra Das is the Director of Holistic Health Care Centre).

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