Rationalism plays a crucial role in establishing a strong foundation for any subject, ensuring functionality, safety, and efficiency. However, it’s important to acknowledge that some individuals may perceive rationalism as potentially limiting the boundless creativity and expression within that subject.
Despite rational minds occasionally questioning and challenging the practice of yoga, it is precisely due to this rational inquiry that yoga has earned its widespread popularity today. Rational minds have contributed to refining and validating the benefits of yoga, making it a valuable tool for personal growth and well-being.
In essence, while rationalism holds significant value in fostering critical thinking and gaining a deeper understanding of the world, it should not be regarded as the sole authority. Embracing humility and recognizing the inherent limitations of reason can lead to a more well-rounded and open-minded approach to knowledge and understanding.
Swami Vivekanand about yoga
In July 1895, Swami Vivekananda’s book, “Raja Yoga,” made a significant impact in religious circles. By presenting evidence, he dispelled misconceptions surrounding yoga, clarifying that it is neither magic, witchcraft, occultism, nor asceticism. Instead, he portrayed yoga as a scientific and practical approach to empowering the body, mind, and soul.
In his book, Swami Vivekananda emphasized that yoga is a disciplined and systematic practice aimed at harmonizing physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life. He provided a rational and logical perspective on the principles and techniques of yoga, highlighting its transformative potential for individuals seeking holistic growth and self-realization.
The publication of “Raja Yoga” marked a turning point, helping to demystify yoga and promote its acceptance as a profound system of personal development and spiritual awakening, appreciated not only in religious circles but by a broader audience seeking knowledge and self-improvement.
Swami Kuvalayananda about yoga
Born as Jagannatha Ganesh Gune on August 30th, 1883, in Dabhoi, Vadodara District, Gujarat, Kuvalayanandaji pursued higher education after completing his matriculation in 1903. A rational thinker, he sought factual evidence for everything he encountered. It was only after experiencing the positive impact of yoga on his own health that he recognized its benefits.
Upon becoming the disciple of sage Madhavadasji and receiving training in āsana and prānāyāma, Kuvalayananda began to reimagine the principles of physical education and fitness. For him, yoga possessed inherent scientific qualities, yet he felt the need for scientific analysis to validate its relevance in the modern context. As the director of physical education and sports in the Bombay Presidency, Kuvalayananda conducted laboratory research on the physiological effects of āsana and prānāyāma. Drawing from this research, he devised a ‘scientific’ regimen of individual and mass drill āsanas.
His pioneering efforts led to conducting his first experiment in Vadodara, where he sought to establish the scientific validity and effectiveness of yoga as a valuable tool for physical fitness and overall well-being.
Scientific facts about the benefits of yoga:
Stress Reduction: Numerous studies have demonstrated that regular yoga practice can reduce the levels of stress hormones like cortisol, leading to decreased anxiety and improved overall mental well-being.
Physical Flexibility: Research has shown that consistent yoga practice can increase flexibility and range of motion in muscles and joints, promoting better mobility and reducing the risk of injuries.
Improved Balance and Stability: Yoga postures and balance exercises can enhance proprioception and coordination, resulting in improved balance and reduced risk of falls, particularly in older adults.
Cardiovascular Health: Some forms of yoga, such as Vinyasa or Power Yoga, involve dynamic movements that can provide cardiovascular benefits by increasing heart rate and circulation.
Lower Blood Pressure: Several studies have found that yoga can help reduce blood pressure levels, which is beneficial for those dealing with hypertension
Enhanced Respiratory Function: Breathing techniques (pranayama) in yoga can positively impact lung function, leading to improved respiratory health.
Pain Management: Yoga has been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, and migraines, through relaxation and muscle tension release.
Immune System Boost: The stress-reducing effects of yoga can have positive implications for the immune system, promoting overall well-being and helping the body defend against illnesses.
Ghandhiji about yoga
In his commentary on the Bhagwad Gita, Gandhiji highlighted that the path of Bhakti Yoga is relatively more accessible compared to Dhyana Yoga. He explained that the Dhyana Yogi, while meditating on the Absolute Being, can only rely on their own spiritual and moral resources. Unless the process of catharsis is perfected, their efforts might seem endless. On the other hand, the bhakta, with unwavering devotion, surrenders to the Supreme despite their weaknesses and imperfections, and experiences a profound transformation, finding themselves uplifted even from the lowest state.
Beyond this, numerous correspondences from Gandhiji to Swami Kuvalayananda reveal how he utilized yoga as a healing tool to address his deteriorating health.
Paramhansa Yogananda about Yoga
Yogananda holds the distinction of being the pioneering Indian teacher to establish his presence in America, setting a remarkable precedent. Additionally, he became the first prominent Indian to receive an invitation to the White House, where he was hosted by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927. His early acclaim and profound impact led the Los Angeles Times to recognize him as “the 20th century’s first superstar guru.” Yogananda’s significant achievements and influence have left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire and touch lives worldwide.
To him the world’s various religions are based more or less on the beliefs of man. But the true basis of religion should be a science that all devotees may apply in order to reach our one Father-God. Yoga is that science. The practice of a science of religion is imperative.
International Day of Yoga
Acknowledging the universal appeal of yoga, the United Nations, on 11 December 2014, officially designated 21 June as the International Day of Yoga through resolution 69/131.
This significant day aims to create global awareness about the numerous benefits of practicing yoga.The proposal to establish the International Day of Yoga was initiated by India and received overwhelming support from a record-breaking 175 member states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the proposal during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly. In his address, he emphasized the invaluable gift of yoga from ancient traditions, highlighting its essence as a practice that unifies mind and body, thought and action. Yoga’s holistic approach contributes to our overall health and well-being, providing a pathway to discover a sense of oneness within ourselves, the world, and nature. Beyond being mere physical exercise, yoga offers a transformative journey of self-discovery and connection with the larger universe.
It is the efforts of rational minds that today there are many scientific case studies and theories to accept the benefits of yoga. Yoga has gained significant attention from the scientific community, and research has been conducted to understand its effects on various aspects of human health and well-being.
Mental Clarity and Focus: Mindfulness practices in yoga have been associated with enhanced mental clarity, improved attention span, and increased cognitive performance.
Emotional Regulation: Studies suggest that yoga can aid in emotional regulation and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by promoting self-awareness and a sense of inner peace.
It’s important to note that the physical benefits of yoga may vary from person to person, and it’s always recommended to practice under the guidance of a qualified instructor, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.