Benefits of Yoga

Yoga

Today being international yoga day, I felt it only necessary to write a couple of lines about yoga and its benefits.

What is yoga?

Yoga is a way of living that aims towards ‘a healthy mind residing in a healthy body’. Contrary to the belief, it is not a religion. Which means that even if you hate Hinduism you can still safely practice yoga. Although just like everything that has originated in this country and been there since millenniums, yoga has its roots in the Hindu culture.

What is the use of yoga?

The benefits of yoga mostly depend on the lifestyle one follows and the kind of asanas one practices. But even after regularly practicing yoga for just a few weeks, here are some of the benefits one may experience:

  1. Improved flexibility
  2. Muscle strength
  3. Better posture
  4. Better blood circulation
  5. Lower stress levels
  6. Relaxed body and mind
  7. Better focus

What are the advantages of yoga?

The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia. The various poses and deep breaths help the heart do its job, increasing blood flow throughout the body, and improving the entire circulatory system. Yoga is also known to relieve stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation. It also sharpens attention and concentration.

Can yoga get you in shape?

While yoga is not an intense workout as running or aerobics would be, but you can still get in shape if you stick to a regular workout schedule.

What is the ultimate purpose of yoga?

The goal of yoga is to help the individual transcend the self and attain enlightenment.

यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते |

नि:स्पृह: सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा ||

Which means, when a perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires and becomes absorbed in the self alone, a person is said to have achieved yoga.

But this is easier said than done and takes years of devotion, practice, dietary restrictions and control over senses to reach such a state. As for the ordinary person, it improves circulation, posture, flexibility, muscle strength, helps relax the body and the mind, brings down stress levels and helps sleep better.

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested United Nations to celebrate June 21 as the International Yoga Day as it is the summer solstice; the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; 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 yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in wellbeing. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” — Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly, September 2014.

If you still haven’t welcomed yoga into your life, it’s never too late.

Circumcision is a Human Rights Violation

Mutiliation

Even in this century many parents believe that getting their child circumcised is not only their religious duty but also a social responsibility. Should this not be the decision of the person who owns the organ? Does performing such a procedure on non-consenting adults (mostly infants) makes this an in-humane act?

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is surgical removal of skin from the very tip of the penis.

Benefits of getting circumcised?

One of the epic benefit that people acclaim about circumcision is that they have a less chance of catching an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). The important thing to remember is that this procedure has questionable safety against protecting an individual from STDs. Also, many people would agree that there are many better things to do in life than being a whore-monger, and having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Dangers of getting circumcised?

Below are the few complications that may arise:

  1. Bleeding, people suffering from haemophilia may even die.
  2. Infection or improper healing.
  3. Blockage of the urethra, the opening where urine leaves the body.
  4. Removal of too much or too little foreskin.

Religion and circumcision

The reason circumcision is performed is because it symbolises faith in God. Although Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs do not get their children circumcised but they are as religious and God fearing as people practicing other faiths, who get their infants circumcised.

While circumcision is primarily done for religious reasons, but this necessary does not make a person a good human being. If that was the case radical Sunni Islamic believers wouldn’t be killing Shias and waging a global war against all non-believers of Islam, or those who do not agree with their Wahhabi and Salafi ideology.

Message

We live in the 21st century where even an animal has rights and culling an animal on the road is not only considered uncouth but is also a punishable offence. While a blanket ban on circumcision would be unnecessary, but circumcising non-consenting adults and infants is also not civilized. Since we neither live in a theocratic society or in the dark ages, religious rituals should not eclipse the fundamental right to bodily integrity.

Little boy meets God

pradeepshrivastava

“Mama! Do you know where God lives?” Raghu asked his mother innocently.

Raghu’s mother, Sandhya, thought for a second and said. “No one knows where God lives. But he visits the park in the neighborhood sometimes on Sunday’s.”

“Today is Sunday!” Raghu spoke excitedly. “Will we be going to the park today?”

Sandhya pretended to think for a moment and said. “Okay. We will go to the park today. Tell your dad to get ready soon.”

“Okay.”

“Wait! When you meet God what are you going to offer him?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll pack pop-corn and sweet lemon juice.”

The three soon got ready and left for the park.

“If God decides to visit the park, he sits on either one of those three benches.” Sandhya said pointing towards the three empty benches.

Raghu started playing around the benches, while Sandhya and Rahul kept an eye on him from a distance.

Soon an old woman, with a slight limp, came and sat on one of the empty bench.

Raghu curiously started looked at her. The old woman observed him and smiled back at him.

Raghu silently sat next to the old woman and started observing the wrinkles on her face, which made her look all the more beautiful.

“Are you hungry?” Raghu asked. “I brought pop-corn and sweet lemon juice for you.”

“How did you know that it is my favourite?”

For the next 30 minutes the two laughed and talked.

“Where are your parents?” The old woman asked.

“There.” Raghu pointed in their direction and they waived back.

“Now go back to them.” The old woman said. She then kissed his forehead and happily left.

With a big smile Raghu returned back to his parents.

“So, did you meet God?” Rahul asked.

“Yes. God is a woman and she has pain in her right knee.” Raghu replied immediately.

When the old woman returned back to her home, there was a big smile on her face.

“You look very happy, met someone special today?” Her son enquired.

“I had pop-corn and sweet lemon juice with God. He is much younger than I thought and has a slight lisp.”

As we Hindus say about God’s presence, Yatra Tatra Sarvatra. Meaning that God is present, here there everywhere.

God is present everywhere. All we need to do is share our happiness and make others smile to feel him.

Dussehra – The victory of good over evil

shri-ram

The word Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit and means “Ravan’s defeat”. It is also known as Vijayadashami and Ayudhapuja.

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Lord Ram and Goddess Sita

According to Hindu religion this is considered to be a very auspicious day. On this day Lord Ram defeated the demon Ravan, who had abducted his wife Goddess Sita. The festival of Dussehra thus signifies the victory of good of evil.

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Ramlila

In many parts of North India there are performances of Ramlila (short version of Ramayan). There are fairs and parades with effigies of demon Ravan, which are burnt during the evening.

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Effigy of Ravan being burnt

Other important stories behind Dussehra

a. Goddess Durga’s victory over Demon Mahishasur

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b. The story of Pandav brothers

The Pandavs (the five sons of King Pandu) and their wife Draupadi lost to the Kauravs in a dice game and were exiled in the forest for twelve years. The Pandav brothers hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before they entered the kingdom of Virat to complete their final year of exile.

After that year, on Vijayadashmi they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshiped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will.

Famous Dussehra celebrations

a. Bastar Dussehra is the unique cultural trait of Chhattisgarh. Celebrated by the local people of the state with sufficient vigor, the festival of Dussehra connotes to the supreme power of goddess Danteswari. During Dussera, the inhabitants of Bastar organizes special worship ceremonies at the Danteswari temple of Jagadalpur.

b. Mysore Dussehra is the state festival of Karnataka, a 10-day festival with the last day being Vijayadashami. The city of Mysore Dussehra has a long tradition of celebrating the festival, attracting a large audience.

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Mysore Dussehra

c. Kullu Dussehra is one of the most famous Dussehra festival celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley. Himachal Pradesh has given Kullu Dussehra festival a status of International festival which attracts tourists in large numbers.

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Kullu Dussehra

References