Benefit from yoga but do it right

IT IS gratifying to note that the International Day of Yoga was celebrated on June 21 all over the world, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself taking to a mat in New Delhi to celebrate the ancient practice ("Modi hails yoga day as 'new era of peace'"; last Monday). The event was a success, with more than 190 countries participating.

Yoga not only helps improve physical well-being, but can also give calmness of mind through exercises like pranayama (breathing exercise) and dhyana (meditation).

It is also reported to be effective in helping to manage problems such as high blood pressure and obesity.

Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, when the sage Patanjali was believed to have devised a system of yogic asanas, or postures, and breathing patterns.

However, in recent times, we find various versions of this ancient practice - combining gymnastics, aerobics and fitness exercises - being touted by their practitioners as different types of "modern yoga".

Pure yoga has to be done at a slow pace, under the strict supervision of yoga masters, as any wrong asanas will bring adverse effects.

To realise the full benefits of yoga, one should combine it with a sensible diet and develop a tension-free lifestyle.

N. Nagesh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2015, with the headline 'Benefit from yoga but do it right'. Print Edition | Subscribe