India is the birthplace of yoga, however, the Pew Research Centre Survey found, most Indians do not practice yoga, with only about a third of Indian adults (35%) saying they have practiced yoga at least once.
Yoga is one of India’s best exports, so why does its population not practice it more? Yoga is a relatively cheap and accessible form of well-being, and it is available to all, irrespective of age, gender, health, flexibility and other demographics.
A healthy population has a better prospect for growth, and this is why it is important for India to embrace its roots.
Increasingly, we are leading a more sedentary lifestyle plugged into electronic devices, with convenience fast food and fast fixes leading to a lack of physical activity. A fast-paced lifestyle has given us many luxuries but it’s also increased our levels of anxiety, overwhelming our minds with endless thoughts and messages. Yoga can provide a welcome relief from the day to day mental, physical and emotional demands of modern life, helping us to be more self-aware, and with the ability to concentrate on what truly matters. Yoga does not have physical barriers to access like other sports – as long as someone can take a breath, they can participate.
Technology may have made our world more connected, yet the modern person may feel lonelier and more disconnected than ever.
Yoga has a way to make individuals feel as if they belong. Practising yoga allows a person’s physicality, emotionality and spiritually to work in harmony. Yoga is a way of life that creates its own community. Yoga should always make you feel like you belong. Yoga is good for Indian society as a whole, as it induces infectious positivity.
It’s not all about the poses!
In the west, asana, the physical postural practice of yoga is often seen as what represents yoga. The asana practice is only one small aspect of yoga. Spiritual attainment is just as important.
The intention of yoga in India is much more focused on how to become in control of physicality through asana and then go beyond the physical, mastering the causal body (the mental.) Ultimately, the aspirant yoga student should experience higher states of consciousness where eventually unity with everything is achieved. This is why the practice of yoga is often explained as a practice which looks at mind, body and spirit.
It’s also important to highlight that Yoga can be accessed through many different paths. These include, but not limited to; meditation, devotional practices like prayer, ceremony and karma yoga.
India should harness and promote this distinct difference between the West’s obsession with asana. India’s spiritual and more in-depth study of yoga, is what makes its yoga practice more thorough and complete. Not only is this beneficial for India’s yoga practitioners, but this completeness in practice, is what will encourage an Indian yoga tourism, which will benefit its society economically.
About the author
Davin Jones is based in the UK and teaches internationally on retreats, teacher training and workshops. He is a 500 E-RYT teacher. His teachings are based in the traditions of Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga.
His social media handles are:
Instagram – @davjonesyoga
YouTube – @davjonesyoga