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Yoga culture beyond India

Yoga has its roots in India. But the practice has transgressed boundaries and has been embraced by people across cultures, religions. The two-day International Conference on ‘Yoga for Public Health’ at Kala Academy concluded yesterday in Panaji. On the sidelines NT BUZZ caught up with foreign delegates to understand how they have adopted yoga in their lifestyle


For over 5000 years yoga has been an integral part of India’s culture and ethos. Though the concept originated here, people from across the world have understood the benefits of the practice. They are additionally trying to add various innovations to the practice. Today, yoga is not only seen as an exercise, but also as a healing therapy to tackle several diseases and lifestyle problems emerging from modern lifestyles.

Toronto-based yoga teacher, Julia Arbuckle tells about how schools there are incorporating yoga in their curriculum to tackle the increasing number of mental health related problems. She says: “I have been teaching yoga in high school since 2005. We are trying to make the mindfulness technique a popular practice among students. In this technique they are taught to gain control over their mind and to draw their attention to what is happening around them in the present scenario.” She believes that this practice is much needed in the curriculum as youngsters today are more prone to lifestyle-related problems associated with social media addiction and others vices.

Comparing India and Toronto through yoga, Julia who is also part of the Art of Living and Sri Sri Yoga elaborates: “In India, discussions are about public health and yoga, whereas it is not same back home. In Toronto yoga is mostly for those who can afford it. It is quite an expensive activity and costs around 18 to 25 dollars which is beyond the reach of common man. In order to practice you need to learn and though there are yoga studios at popular places it is for the richer ones.”

Heartfulness consultant, Stanislas Lajugie has travelled across various countries like China, Turkey, Slovia and others and has studied how the countries have adopted the practices of yoga. Being in China for six years Stanislas has observed their culture and lifestyle which is more inclined towards stress. He says: “Through yoga one can achieve a proper understanding of life. In China, people are busy with their careers and life but their culture is tailored in such a manner that there is a link between the earth and sky. The body is in between and therefore, people are paying more attention to this form.”

He elaborates that people have been able to see a positive change in their lives due to yoga and this change is what they seek and thus many adopt it.

Yoga does not discriminate on any grounds and welcomes people of all genders and age groups. Yoga master and naturopath, Nina Lazic from Serbia has noticed that though yoga is being practiced in different parts of Serbia for over 30 to 40 years and has gained popularity in last few years it is however the women who are more into it. “Men in Serbia do not have much interest in yoga. It’s not only restricted to physical health but also involves mental health; it is something that the men need to look into,” she says.

As there are several problems arising due to work culture and people don’t have time to pay attention themselves, in Serbia yoga is used to tackle such issues. Nina advises that beginners and learners seek proper training and learn from the right professional trainers, as there are many who lack proper knowledge and understanding of the culture.

Delegate from the Embassy of India in Peru, Monica Cussianovich finds yoga an important alternative for health issues. She says that most of the problems in humans start with the mind and there is a need to control the mindset. “With the help of yoga and its various techniques one can gain control on their mind. If one is able to gain control then they will be able to reason out things. We often get too worked up thinking about various things, there is a need to control the thoughts and this is one way through which we can attain peace of mind and curb the occurrences of disease,” says Monica.

National specialist in community physical activity from Cuba, Tania Garcia speaks of how the concept does not only deal with mind and body, but also talks of one’s connect with the environment and nature. “It is indeed a powerful technique that connects you to the other world and it should be understood by people and at the same time used in their day-to-day life,” she says.

The event was organised by Ministry of AYUSH, government of India and more than 500 delegates from 50 different countries took part. The 10 sessions discussed various benefits of yoga in public health including women’s health, preventive medicine, geriatric healthcare, cardiac rehabilitation, paediatric care, occupational, mental health among others.

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