Yoga is the means of realizing the infinite potential within by properly training and integrating body, mind, and intellect. Yoga helps us become more efficient in day-to-day life as well. It enhances our health, our sense of well-being, and our sensitivity to universal values. Indeed, in these times of lifestyle diseases and tension, yoga is a real boon to humankind, says Mata Amritanandamayi in her message on International Yoga Day.
It is for these reasons that the relevance and popularity of yoga increases day by day. Every Indian can take pride in the fact that yoga originated and sprouted from Indian soil. Many people ask what is so special about yoga compared to other forms of exercise. All forms of exercise confer innumerable benefits to body and mind. However, the benefits of yoga far surpass those gained by other forms of exercise. Most exercises rely on rapid body movement to reduce fat and build muscle. In contrast, yoga aims to relax all parts of the body and properly channel prana, the vital energy. It improves the health of all our organs and glands and alleviates disease. It purifies our nerves, strengthens our mind, and boosts our power of concentration. It also relaxes and strengthens the muscles. Yoga is more effective than any other exercise for reducing depression and maintaining a cheerful disposition.
Unlike other exercises, yoga asanas are practiced slowly in synchronization with proper breathing. At the same time, one must observe every movement of the body with utmost awareness. In this way, one can make the mind serene and foster the experience of meditative stillness. In fact, relaxation, proper channelling of vital energy, and awareness are the three pillars of yoga.
Unlike with other exercises, it is not enough to just practice yoga one or two hours a day. Ultimately, it should become a way of life. If a person afflicted with a critical illness wants to recover, he must take medicines. But he must also follow a diet and get enough rest and sleep. Likewise, to gain the full benefit of yoga, he must lead a disciplined life rooted in universal values. By practicing yoga mindfully, we will eventually be able to do every action in life with awareness.
In this way, we can bring about positive changes to our thoughts and emotions. Gradually, we gain more concentration in our meditation, and eventually we attain Self-realization.
Yoga promotes the message of a healthy life as well as inner and outer purity. It upholds the message of ahimsa or nonviolence towards all beings, and a unity that transcends all barriers. For these reasons, promoting yoga will foster love, solidarity, and peace in the world.
May humanity attain ever higher physical, mental, and spiritual levels of wellness through yoga.