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Report: International Yoga Day

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The 21st of June was declared as The International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. Since 2015, this day has been marked with spiritual practices worldwide. Due to the Corona virus pandemic, this prestigious event was hosted online this year by several institutions.

At the Divine Life Society of S.A. Yoga Camp on Sunday, 20 June 2021, a special message on this important day was delivered by our youth. A few excerpts from this message are included below:

Sri Swami Sivananda was a unique visionary who was able to cater for modern society's spiritual and secular needs. Seeing the potential of Yoga to alleviate the imbalance and distress of life in modern society, he took Yoga from the secret realms of mysticism into practice for daily life, giving it to one and all, be it spiritual seeker, student, westerner, postman, milkman, traveller, beggar, businessman, housewife or thief. His simple yet potent practices are intended for the cultivation of virtues, the betterment of character and the development of personality and self. Sri Swami Sivananda taught a synthesis of practical Vedanta and integrated Yoga, as a means to obtain excellence in life. The Divine Master gave the world "Integral Yoga" or "the Yoga of Synthesis".

The chapter entitled "Sivananda's Integral Yoga" in Yoga Lessons for Children, Volume 9, states, "While having a leaning towards a particular Yoga, one is not prevented from practising a little of other Yogas also. In this respect the Master is very clear. He says that an individual is dominated by his head, hand and heart. So, one who wishes to progress in Yoga should have a harmonious development of one's personality. The head should be developed by study of the sacred scriptures, the heart by developing devotion to the Lord, and the hand by engaging oneself in keen and loving service. This harmonious combination is termed the 'Yoga of Synthesis' or 'Integral Yoga'".

Let us expand a little further to fully understand what exactly these concepts mean. Translated simply and into practical terms, our Master's teachings find expression in the form of his eight-fold path of Yoga: serve, love, give, purify, be good, do good, meditate, realise. This is a potent and unique road-map for all spiritual seekers, directed towards the positive, creative expression of Yoga in external life for the betterment of all aspects of life and humanity. Let us therefore attempt to practise Swami Sivananda's "Integral Yoga", a synthesis of the body, mind and soul. The essence of this Integral Yoga is best summed up in His own words, "Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls every aspect of the human nature. Yoga shows you the way".

We offer this difficult period in the world's history to our Divine Master and Pujya Swami Sahajananda and pray that their divine lessons will mould our characters and lives in their image. May they bless all with fortitude of mind, body and soul, to follow their teachings diligently to the very end!

The institution known as United Consciousness co-ordinated this programme from Saturday, 19 June, to Monday, 21 June 2021. Their objective is to promote self-transformation using Yoga as a medium. "If you transform yourself, you affect the consciousness of the rest of the world", is their principal doctrine. More than 50 countries around the globe were invited to participate and share their views on various aspects of Yoga. Divine Life Society of South Africa was represented by Professor Poobhalan Pillay on Saturday, 19 June 2021. Professor Pillay spoke on Pranayama, the Science of Breath-Control. His talk was based on an article written by Sri Swami Sivananda (taken from the Wisdom of Sivananda Series). We reproduce the article below:

"Pranayama is an exact science. It is the fourth Anga or limb of Ashtanga Yoga. It is the regulation of breath or control of Prana. Pranayama steadies the mind, augments the gastric fire, energises digestion, invigorates the nerves, destroys Rajas, destroys all diseases, removes all laziness, makes the body light and healthy and awakens Kundalini.

"Pranayama should be practised when the stomach is empty. Be regular in your practice. Do not take bath immediately after the practice. Do not practise Kumbhaka or retention of breath in the beginning. Have only slow and mild Puraka (inhalation) and Rechaka (exhalation). Do not strain the breath beyond your capacity. Keep the ratio for Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka as 1:4:2. Exhale very, very slowly.

"Sit on Padma, Siddha or Sukha Asana. Keep the head, neck and trunk in a straight line. Inhale slowly through the left nostril and retain the breath according to the ratio, then exhale slowly through the right nostril. This is half the process of Pranayama. Then inhale through the right nostril, retain and exhale through the left nostril. Do not retain the breath for more than one or two minutes.

"Do ten or twenty Pranayamas according to your capacity. Do not fatigue yourself. Increase the number gradually. You can go up to 16:64:32. This is Sukhapurvaka or easy comfortable Pranayama.

"Practise Sitali in summer. This will purify your blood and cool the system too. Practise Bhastrika in winter. This will cure asthma and consumption. Repeat 'Om' or 'Rama' mentally during the practice. Observe Brahmacharya and diet-control. You will derive maximum benefits and will quickly purify the Nadis or nerves.

"Prana and mind are intimately related to each other. If you control Prana, the mind will also be controlled. If you control the mind, the Prana will be automatically controlled. Prana is related to mind, and through it to the will and through the will to the individual soul and through individual soul to the Supreme Soul.

"Start the practice this very second in right earnest. Control the breath and calm the mind. Steady the breath and enter Samadhi. Restrain the breath and lengthen the life. Subdue the breath and become a Yogi, a dynamo of power, peace, bliss and happiness".

Divine Life Society of S.A.'s publication Yoga for Health by Sri Swami Sivananda is an excellent treatise on Yoga practices, covering Hatha Yoga, Pranayama, and the Yoga of Meditation. The material for this book was sourced from the Science of Yoga Series by Sri Swami Sivananda, which is a comprehensive work on all aspects of Yoga. Both these publications are available via our Web shop (click on one of the links below).




Last modified on Tuesday, 22 June 2021 10:14
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