Yoga for wellness
The author is the director of the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre at the Embassy of India in Seoul.
Yoga, which originated in India essentially as a spiritual discipline is getting popular as an art and science of healthy living, in the Republic of Korea. Over the years, numerous Yoga Pilates and studios have flourished in the city. In last few years, Yoga enthusiasts have grown in numbers are they are also taking recourse to wellness centres and resorts during holidays. Given the popularity of Yoga over the years, many Koreans are opting for Yoga as a profession and getting specialized training as Yoga instructors.
Today, as the importance of Yoga in every aspect of life is realized, more students and practitioners of Yoga are looking for deeper understanding and philosophical bases of Yoga and its practices. Millions of people across the globe have been benefited by Yogic activities and it is becoming more vibrant with each passing day. Numerous people in India and across the globe practice it every day.
In recent times, as the world is engulfed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Yoga is of even greater relevance. The practice of yoga leads to ‘physical and mental wellbeing’. During these unprecedented times of pandemic, when the whole of humanity is under anxiety, ‘Yogic way of life’ can help everyone sail through and stay healthy and happy in a positive state of mind by following “health-building and stress relieving aspects of Yoga.”
In its endeavour to promote Yoga and its health benefits, Indian Cultural Centre at Seoul has been organising ‘International Day of Yoga’ since 2015. Every year International Day of Yoga (IDY) was organised along with thousands of yoga enthusiasts and practitioners gathering at COEX Square, Seoul Plaza and Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul as well as in other cities like Busan and Gwangju.
In these challenging times of global pandemic and restrictions on social gathering, the Cultural Centre in 2020 organised the 6th IDY celebrations online, where participants joined from the comforts of our homes, under the theme of “Yoga from Home, Yoga with Family.”
To mark the 7th International Day of Yoga in 2021, the Cultural Centre has organised a series of Yoga related events in different cities across Korea with local partners following Covid-19 protocols and all other guidelines of the government during pandemic. Yoga sessions for children and youth have been organised in various schools and Universities in Seoul and Busan. The Cultural Centre also partnered with Gandong-gu, Seoul, Gimhae City administration and Nami Island for a Special Yoga Day demonstration and cultural performances. These series of yoga sessions organised across Korea will provide participants a unique opportunity to discover various aspects of India's age-old approach to well-being.
Along with physical and breathing exercises, Yoga also prescribes healthy way of eating and food habits, invariably covered by another vedic concept — ‘Ayurveda’. Yoga and Ayurveda are complementary practices that offer us transformative tools for fostering greater health and vitality.
Since its inception, the Cultural Centre has been providing regular classes for Yoga and Meditation. It also promotes Yoga and Ayurveda related information in Republic of Korea by conducting regular classes for Yoga and Special lectures and Workshops on Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic principles added to our Yoga practices can create a deeper, richer experience. It puts emphasis on “good health and prevention and treatment of illness through lifestyle practices and the use of herbal remedies.” — mostly by way of traditional body massage, meditation, yoga, and dietary adjustments. Ayurveda focuses on complete synergy between our relationship with community, nature, and the environment making it as a fundamental part of our daily lives.
Yoga and Ayurveda are corresponding systems of alternative therapy with enhanced focus on health, spirituality, and well-being. On the one hand, Yoga seeks to unite body, mind, and spirit through meditation, breath control and physical exercises, Ayurveda on the other, seeks to cure and prevent disease by harmonising our life with the rhythms of nature. This integrative science of healing bonds us with nature along with respecting the limits of our ecosystem.
Recognizing its universal appeal, the United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in December 2014. The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga. The World Health Organization has also recognized Yoga as a traditional medicine. Yoga, as a mind-body discipline, has been added to the intangible cultural heritage list by Unesco in 2016. A large number of institutions and yoga enthusiasts around the world are working tirelessly towards promotion of this invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition — focusing on the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the mankind.