NEW DELHI, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Yoga is one of India's crowning glories, and today, Indians understand yoga as their unique and valuable cultural resource. It has become multivalent and a popular practice, thanks to a wave of revival in political and social circles.
On June 21 when the world twisted a knuckle and bent a knee to salute yoga, countrymen themselves dedicated a part of their busy everyday lives to the ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has played a significant role in reviving the traditional yoga not only within the country but also across the world. He was instrumental towards pursuing the United Nations to mark June 21 every year as the International Yoga Day.
Even at the World Economic Forum in Davos early this year, Modi took a team of yoga experts who conducted meditative and sweat-out sessions for top company leaders from all over the world. It was said that top industry leaders followed the sessions with great enthusiasm. This resurgence of interest in yoga has made it one of the world's most famous fitness regimes, whether followed hot or cold.
Yoga might be India's greatest cultural export, but brand India itself is encouraging more yogapreneurs every year. Teachers from India are said to be travelling across the world making yoga universal. Most believe that yoga is not an exercise but a thought.
"Beyond exercise and health, yoga is about life, self-awareness and a connect with your soul. I tell my students to not fear yoga or expect a lot from it. Beyond the concerns of toning and losing weight, I expect my students to understand their consciousness in today's technologically driven world," said Rama Rathore, a yoga teacher in Delhi.
Yoga is a spiritual exercise that operates in the public domain, giving people of different tribes, ethnicities, race and gender a scope to adopt and adapt.
"Yoga is the ultimate expression of life. Breath is the most beautiful gift and yoga makes people realize that. Humans live in a time where they are stressed like never before. Thus, they are employing various methods to de-stress like travelling, dancing, hiking but making yoga part of every day comes naturally to human beings. It is a logical solution to present-day miseries," said Bhawna Mori, another yoga teacher based in south Delhi.
The biggest expression of resurgence of yoga came from Indians themselves. As per experts, there is a new wave of interest in yoga by people from all age groups in the country, leading to it being reclaimed and re-owned as their own.
"I work in corporate. Hectic hours and stressful schedule apart, life seemed to have lost its meaning until I started practising yoga a year ago. I still have the same job and same schedule, but the peace and mental well-being I experience now is only because of yoga. I have reached this stage after trying many new-age forms of discipline and day-to-day relief but nothing worked. Who knew I would find peace in something I could just do in my backyard, free of cost?" said Pravin Rai, a 46-year-old techie based in Gurgaon, a wealthy suburb of Delhi.
The harmony yoga brings is not just mental but social and spiritual. "My children moved out long ago and my wife and I were left onto ourselves when we started practising yoga twice a day at a park near our house. Initially it was difficult but now I am sleeping better, spending more time with my spouse and also other people like me in the park. Yoga seems to have brought all of us together in harmony," said octogenarian Mohan Singh in Delhi.
Meanwhile, experts are also making yoga a cultural branding asset.
From teaching, to apparel and mats, Indian entrepreneurs are rediscovering the power of yoga in manifold ways. For global markets that see yoga as a fitness trend, it has been modernized and made more fun and lively.
"Yoga has now become a vital holistic fitness regime for all," said Jaya Raman, a corporate executive base in Gurgaon.
Yoga is thus everywhere in India now. From beaches to parks and from roads to boardrooms, yoga is enjoying a spike in popularity like never before. Gym chains have adapted to the changing needs of their customers and now offer regular yoga classes.
New-age studios engage the metrosexual urbanite for whom fitness is an important lifestyle aspect. Proactive trainers are also taking yoga all the way home to their clients.