By Liliane Najm, CYA-RYT 300
Benefits of a regular practice of yoga and meditation
The benefits of a regular and safe practice of yoga and meditation are numerous and include:
The United Nations recognized the widespread appeal of yoga as a powerful way of life and proclaimed on December 11, 2014 that June 21 is the International Day of Yoga.
This highlights the role of yoga in connecting people and bringing the world together.
The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga. (UN website)
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, said:
Yoga has the power to bring the entire humankind together! … It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It 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 in well-being. (Wikipedia)
What urgent issues are facing the world today?
The most urgent issues that the world faces today are climate change and its devastating consequences to all countries; environmental destruction; political upheavals and war; social inequity; and poverty and discrimination.
Canadians have seen extreme weather this winter. It seems that extreme weather is going to be the new norm all over the world. The planet's natural ecosystems and renewing capacity are severely damaged, which endangers the ability of the planet to sustain life. (World Centric, a non-profit organization)
The devastation of wars has amplified political and social upheavals and increased the numbers of refugees to staggering levels. This high number of refugees is putting at risk the countries that host them. Environmental destruction and wars have led to great inequalities. Two-billion people live on less than $2 a day, with no access to necessities like adequate food, water, healthcare, education, housing and hygiene.
Discrimination and poverty go hand in hand. Discrimination brings poverty which results in higher unemployment, long-term unemployment and lower wages. Poverty isolates some people from others most of the time, and poor people risk facing social stigma and discrimination.
How can we yogis contribute to the solution?
We should be realistic about how much change we yogis could make. There is no perfection in this world, and we must learn to live with “as good as it gets”.
Fully-committed individuals are needed to effectively make a change, but the change starts with each one of us. A regular and safe practice of yoga and meditation allows us to be healthy, in touch with reality, and at our best to help others. This regular practice improves focus and concentration, opens the mind and expands creativity to think outside the box and find creative solutions to these issues.
The practice of yoga frees the body from tiredness and the mind from tension. Meditation allows practitioners to penetrate their inner world where creativity can be found.
Finding solutions to problems requires creativity and a new way of thinking. If problems are or have been created by a certain way of thinking, we cannot expect that way of thinking to solve problems it helped create. For yogis, it is a way of thinking based on yoga’s ethical guide to living – the yamas and niyamas – adapted to the modern world.
Many yogic initiatives around the world have already been implemented by individuals and organizations, but the urgency of the situation requires us all to be part of the solution.
Humans have a symbiotic relationship with earth and nature. We could bring change at subtle and concrete levels. Committed yogis and qualified yoga teachers could work,
without getting paid, with underprivileged communities where they are. We could work together to put in place social initiatives aimed at selflessly helping people all over the world. We could implement customized programs and seminars, in collaboration with various non-profit organizations, on yoga and meditation, diet, health and the like.
This, I believe, summarizes the role of yoga in finding solutions to the problems facing the world today.
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