For self and society: International Yoga Day, 2024

This year marks an important milestone as we celebrate the 10th edition of International Yoga Day in Ghana and worldwide.

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Yoga has become a global movement promoting health and well-being. 

In Ghana, a series of events were organised by the High Commission of India this month in collaboration with Yoga centres and local authorities in different parts of the country, including Ho, Kumasi and Tamale, besides Accra.

These events witnessed active involvement of diverse sections of society in public places, schools, universities and rehabilitation centres, aimed at spreading awareness of the multifaceted benefits of Yoga.

The High Commission of India celebrated the signature event in Accra on the lawns of Osu Castle on June 22, 2024, with the participation of political dignitaries, members of diplomatic corps, UN staff and Yoga enthusiasts from various walks of life.

Yoga, a timeless treasure from ancient Indian culture, is a unique practice that goes beyond physical exercise.

It offers a path to discovering the true essence of life. The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj,’ which means ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite.’ It symbolises the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness, signifying a perfect balance between the mind and body, man and nature.  

Practice

The practice of Yoga transcends geographical boundaries, making it a universal heritage of humanity.  Recognising Yoga’s global appeal, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus on December 11, 2014, at India’s initiative, declaring June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.

The theme for International Day of Yoga celebration this year was ‘Yoga for Self and Society.’ For society at large, Yoga brings harmony among communities and nature, thereby creating an interconnected tapestry of well-being for individuals around the world.

It serves as a bridge between individuals and society. The practice of Yoga is not only limited to asanas (physical postures), which are the most popular - but also includes pranayama (breathing) and dhyana (meditation).

By integrating these three aspects, Yoga harmonises the body, mind, and spirit. Asanas are a preparatory process that helps the body sustain higher energy levels.

The process begins with the body, then the breath, the mind and the inner self. Yoga cultivates inner peace, clarity of thought and resilience, creating a solid foundation for well-being.

The therapeutic benefits of Yoga extend to reducing stress, improving cardiovascular health, boosting immunity and fostering mental well-being.

Ayurveda

Complementing Yoga is Ayurveda, the world’s oldest healing system. The emphasis of Ayurveda on holistic health, disease prevention, and individualised treatments resonates deeply with a global audience. Ayurveda’s personalised approach to wellness has gained international recognition.

Towards harnessing its full potential, a dedicated Ministry of AYUSH was set up in India in 2014 with a vision of reviving the profound knowledge of our ancient systems of medicine and ensuring their optimal development and holistic health care.  

The Ministry of AYUSH has also entered into an Agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support the integration of evidence-based Traditional and Complementary Medicine in national health systems, biodiversity conservation, and the sustainability of medicinal plants.

There are good prospects for cooperation between India and Ghana in areas of complementary medicine, and we are exploring ways to strengthen this partnership. 

Health

In today’s fast-paced world, where stress, sedentary lifestyles, and the relentless pursuit of quick fixes dominate our well-being, we must realise that our health is not a commodity. 
Health is priceless, and there is a pressing need for comprehensive well-being. A growing trend is visible toward back-to-basics, mindfulness, and a sustainable way of life.

The Indian heritage of Yoga and Ayurveda hold the key to unlocking a healthier and more balanced world.

Prime Minister Modi has poignantly said, “India would contribute to this healthy trend with new ideas, some rooted in traditional knowledge, and others in 21st-century innovation, as a Vishwabandhu, a friend to the world, for greater global good”. 

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It is heartening to see that people in Ghana are increasingly embracing Yoga.

The writer is High Commissioner of India to Ghana.

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