Yoga Day 2019: 'To perform every action artfully is yoga'; from BKS Iyengar to Swami Vivekananda, here's how stalwarts described ancient practice

Yoga, a traditional practice which aims at bringing together physical and mental well-being, has got global recognition in recent times. In 2015, the United Nations unanimously declared 21 June to be International Day of Yoga.

Here is a look at how prominent people have described the benefits of yoga.

BKS Iyengar

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, popularly known as BKS Iyengar, was the founder of the style of modern yoga known as "Iyengar Yoga" is often referred to as "the father of modern yoga".

 Yoga Day 2019: To perform every action artfully is yoga; from BKS Iyengar to Swami Vivekananda, heres how stalwarts described ancient practice

Iyengar authored many books on yoga practice and philosophy including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Light on Life.

Later, when a scooter accident dislocated his spine, he began exploring the use of props to help disabled people practice yoga.

Some of his important sayings include those to do with the importance of yoga in cultivating the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life.

"The only difference between now and the early days is that in the early days I was like all other youngsters. I was tempted to do the asana one after the other. Today, I stay in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana or in Kapotasana for quite a length of time. At this age I clearly understand the sutra, sthira, sukham, asanam in its total sense. Now, I see in each asana, the perfect freshness and firmness of body, the alert, steadiness of intelligence and the sweet, benevolence of the self. I see whether I can enjoy sthira and sukha in a long stay in Kapotasana. Can I be sthira and sukha in Dwi Pāda Viparita Dandasana?

Swami Vivekananda

If one had to trace yoga’s journey in the West, we would have to start from 11 September, 1893, when Swami Vivekananda made his famous speech at Chicago in the Parliament of religions. The oratory skills of Vivekananda on Indian religious traditions, immediately won him accolades.

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In the months that followed, Vivekananda found ways to spread awareness on ancient Indian spirituality in the West and he found yoga to be the best aid.

After the death of his teacher, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda travelled far and wide within India to collect financial backing for spreading the message of Hindu reform and social upliftment. In his hope to stretch his efforts further, he travelled to the United States in 1893 where he delivered his famous speech.

Vivekananda is known to have said, "Meditation can turn fools into sages but unfortunately, fools never meditate."

Swami Kripalu

Swami Kripalu, a yogi with an inquisitive mind, had explored every facet of the traditional practice. During his lifetime, he generated a large body of teachings that fall into two major categories – a universal set of teachings encouraging everyone to cultivate personal health, well-being, and a virtuous character; and a set of teachings for serious aspirants desiring to study yoga.

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One of the most important teachings of Swami Kripalu is that spirituality can never be a "one-size-fits-all" endeavor. This respect for the individual lies at the core of Kripalu’s approach to helping people discover and pursue their unique expression of life.

He had said, "Truly, the wise proclaim that love is the only path … and the only scripture."

TKV Desikachar

Born in 1938, TKV Desikachar was the son of the great yoga master Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Although as a child, Desikachar found hatha yoga boring, he began formal training with his father in his 20s, shortly after completing his BSc in engineering. Drawing on his father's teachings, Desikachar went on to develop Viniyoga, a highly individualised approach to yoga that nurtures the practice to each student's specific physical condition, emotional state, age, cultural background, and interests.

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In 1976, he founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, a yoga center in Chennai. In addition to offering teacher training and individual instruction in asana, Pranayama, meditation, yoga philosophy, and Vedic chanting, Yoga Mandiram has also pioneered research into the impact of yoga on people suffering from schizophrenia, diabetes, asthma, and depression.

"Yoga is basically a program for the spine at every level—physical, respiratory, mental, and spiritual," said Desikachar.

Rabindranath Tagore

The author of Gitanjali and a Nobel laureate in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore's poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial while, his prose "elegant".

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Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is regarded as an outstanding creative artist of the modern Indian subcontinent.

"The meaning of our self is not to be found in its separateness from God and others but, in the ceaseless realisation of yoga, of union," Tagore said.

Updated Date: Jun 21, 2019 07:49:36 IST