At this year’s celebration of the International Day of Yoga, health benefits which are accrued from the practice have been highlighted as a way of encouraging more Liberians and other nationals to get involved with the ancient practice. While the actual day is observed annually on June 21, this year’s Yoga
Day was celebrated on Sunday, June 26, at an Indian worship center in Monrovia.
After leading practitioners, for most of whom it was their first time participating in yoga, Ms. Sofia Ali, a yoga trainer working in Liberia with an international organization, listed the benefits of yoga to include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality and maintaining a balanced metabolism.
Other benefits gained from practicing yoga, according to the yogi, include weight reduction, improvement in cardio and circulatory health, improved athletic performance, protection from injury; as well as boosts in one’s immune system functionality, breathing techniques, pain easement and spine protections, among others.
“I have just been doing yoga for the last eight years not a very long time but I have come to realize very immense benefits from it,” Ms. Ali said, urging everyone to do it for their own health.
The yoga trainer was the one who could really bend her body at length as most of the first-time yogis watched in bewilderment of her body’s flexibility.
Our Health Correspondent, who also participated in the celebration, took part in the stretches basic exercises. At some point Ms. Ali asked everyone to just lie down on their backs, with eyes closed and told to take their minds off things around them.
Before Ms. Ali had started the training, the Honorary Indian Consul General to Liberia, Upjit Singh Sachdeva, had earlier encouraged Liberians to begin practicing yoga. Mr. Sachdeva (commonly known in Liberia as Jeety), also urged his fellow Indians, who don’t do yoga, to also get involved.
He provided a brief history of how the International Day of Yoga came about. He firstly began by saying what yoga is: “The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning ‘to join’, ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’.”
According to Yogic scriptures, the practice of yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness.
He further stated that yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science for healthy living.
Jeety, who is also a renowned businessman in Liberia, also stated that the science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. “Several thousand years ago, on the banks of Lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary saptarishis or seven sages.”
Touching on the International Day of Yoga itself, the Honorary Indian Consul General said that the declaration of the Day was prompted by an address to the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014 by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, in which he urged the world body to adopt an International Day of Yoga.
“On December 11, 2014, the 193-member UN General Assembly approved the proposal by consensus, with a record 177 co-sponsoring countries, including Liberia, and adopted a Resolution to establish 21st June of each year as International Day of Yoga.”
“In its Resolution declaring 21st June of each year International Day of Yoga, the UN General Assembly recognizes that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being and encourages the wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing Yoga for the health of the world population.
Yoga also brings harmony in all walks of life and thus, is known for disease prevention, health promotion and management of many lifestyle-related disorders.”