New Age Islam
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Current Affairs ( 3 Jul 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Secular Yoga

By Prof. P.S. Bhandari and Updesh Bhandari, New Age Islam

04 July, 2015

(Dedicated to the International Day of Yoga 21st June)

Plato was not a Hindu. Certainly he was not an Indian. But it seems he preached Yoga when he put forward his theory of education for the ideal rulers: “gymnastic for the body and music for the soul. As their age advances let them increase the gymnastic of their soul.” This education is for a healthy mind in a healthy body. It looks like Secular Yoga.

Definition:  Yoga is Modification of mind (‘Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodh’). To become perfect in one’s art is Yoga. To focus on one aim is Yoga. To concentrate on a single problem is Yoga. This is for healthy mind. Yoga postures or exercises are for a healthy body.  In a way all of us are Yogis.

Modification of Yoga: Jainism and Buddhism modified Yoga to suit their faiths.

Islam and Yoga:  Alberuni (973- 1048) a Muslim scholar came to India with Mehmood Ghaznavi in 1017.  He translated Yoga Sutra in Arabic. He avoided what was not acceptable to Islam. But still Yoga was not accepted by Sunni and Shia two major sects of Islam.

Sikhism and Yoga:  Yogi Bhajan Singh Khalsa made Yoga compatible with Sikhism. Yoga turned into a Multi-faith Yoga.

Five Parts of Yoga:  Yoga has been divided into five parts by Swami Sivananda.  1. Relaxation 2 Exercise 3. Breathing  4. Diet and 5. Positive thinking and meditation - Concentration. It is Secular Yoga.

History:  Some scholars claim that Yoga is eternal and older than Vedas. However, historically Yoga postures are found on the seals of Indus Valley (6000+ B.C.) now in Pakistan.  The father of Modern Yoga Patanjali wrote Yoga Sutra and taught at Taxila now in Pakistan. Is it appropriate to say that Yoga is of Pakistani origin. 

Swami Vivekananda (1893) first entered in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. In a way Yoga started in Canada. After Canada Swami Ji went to Chicago USA and addressed the World Religious Conference on (9/11) September 11, 1893 and made Yoga Vedanta famous in USA. He secularized Yoga by saying: All the religions are based on TRUTH.

Swami Vishnu Devananda (1959) was expert in Hatha Yoga. He established his first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Montreal in 1959.  Now it has branches all over the world. Its head office is in Val

Morin 90 km away from Montreal. It has trained more than 30,000 Yoga Teachers and number is increasing every year.

Yogi Harbhajan Singh Khalsa (1968) well known for Kundalini Yoga came to Toronto in 1968 as a Director of Yogic Studies at the University of Toronto.  He organized Yoga classes and established Yoga Centre in Toronto. Later on he moved to USA.  

Thus, three great Yogis taught Yoga in three big cities of Canada. Besides, all the Sages of present time have their branches in Canada.  Patanjali Yogpeeth of Baba Ram Dev Ji and the Art of Living of Swami Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji are among them.

Yoga Day Demand: There has been a demand that UNO should designate a Yoga Day like International Mother Language Day and International Day of Non Violence.

Prime Minister Modi at UNO (27th Sept., 2014) : Addressing  the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014 the Prime Minister of India The Hon. Modi Sahib said that Yoga is “ a holistic approach to health and well-being.” He made a strong plea for an International Yoga Day.

UNO Resolution (Dec. 11, 2014) The UNO General Assembly declared 21st June as International Day of Yoga. The resolution was co-sponsored by 192 countries including 45 Muslim countries. 

Yoga Gharanas:  It clearly indicates that Yoga .has been officially recognized by the over whelming majority of the world countries including Muslim World... One day, like Music Gharanas, there will be Yoga Gharanas teaching Secular Yoga.