The purpose of yoga is to put a smile on your face in spite of all the stress and tension we encounter in our day-to-day lives.
The benefits of yoga are multi-fold. The first is that it improves your health. Yoga provides us tools and techniques to lead a stress-free and tension-free life. Yoga is also the greatest wealth of humankind. What is wealth? The purpose of wealth is to bring happiness and comfort. Yoga is wealth in the sense that it brings absolute comfort.
A violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and a sorrow-free soul is the birth-right of every individual. Parliaments all over the world are striving to achieve this goal of human existence – happiness! We all want happiness for our people and yoga is a way for that much-needed happiness factor in life. We think yoga is some sort of exercise.
In the ’80s and ’90s, when I would tour Europe, yoga was not easily accepted in mainstream society. Today, I am glad that there is an awakening and people have recognised the importance of yoga. The world over, yoga has become synonymous with relaxation, happiness and creativity. Even big companies in their advertisements put people sitting in a yoga position or in meditation pose to depict inner peace.Whether we like it or not, we are all born yogis. You do not need a yoga teacher if you observe a baby. Any baby in the world, from the age of three months to the age of three years, does all the yoga postures. The breathing, the way they sleep, the way they smile, everything is yoga. A baby is a yoga teacher, a yogi. That is how a baby is stress free, there is happiness – it smiles 400 times in a day.
Another important benefit of yoga is that it changes the behaviour of a person because behaviour depends on the stress level in a person. It creates a friendly disposition and a very pleasant atmosphere in people. Yoga helps to improve our vibes. We convey a lot through our presence, even more than our words. Speaking in terms of quantum mechanics, we are all emitting vibes or wavelengths. When communication breaks down, we often say, “Our wavelengths don’t match” because our ability to communicate depends on our ability to receive communication from others. Here, yoga helps us to have that clear mind.
Yoga also helps in developing skills within oneself. The propounder of yoga, Lord Krishna has said in the Bhagwad Gita: “Yoga is skill in action”. Yoga is not just an exercise, it is how skilfully you can communicate and act in any given situation. Innovation, intuition, skills, and better communication: all these are effects of yoga. Yoga always promotes harmony in diversity. The word yoga itself means uniting; uniting all diverse aspects of existence, of life. Now, whether someone is a businessman or a public figure or a private individual, we want peace, we want to smile, to be happy. Happiness is only possible when we look into the root cause of unhappiness. Unhappiness is due to lack of vision, stress and tension. The European Union has been talking a lot about GDH. From GDP, we are moving towards Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH). Here is something that can aid that and be a very useful tool. A large percentage of our population today is suffering from depression. Just popping a Prozac or anti-depressants will not help. We need something that is natural, as natural as our breath, that we can use and elevate our spirit.
The purpose of yoga is to put a smile on your face in spite of all the stress, tension and situations we face in our day-to-day life.
(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be speaking on ‘Yoga: A New Dimension’ at the Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York on June 21, 2015.