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Commercialization of yoga: Boon or bane?

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New Delhi: Thousands of participants performs Yoga during a full dress rehearsal for the International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi on June 19, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
Thousands of participants performs Yoga during a full dress rehearsal for the International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi on June 19, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: From the tranquil environs of a forest or mountains, yoga is now increasingly moving to air-conditioned enclosures within homes, fitness centres or attractive resorts. While commercialization has surged the popularity of yoga, glamourising it to suit modern taste, this has also taken away the authenticity of the age-old discipline, say experts.

Nupur Sikka, director of Ganga Kinare, a riverside boutique hotel in Rishikesh – a city touted as ‘World Capital of Yoga’ and home to many ashrams and spiritual gurus – feels that “commercialization has both positive and negative impact”.

“We really need to treasure the traditional yoga style and maintain its authenticity rather than mixing up different styles of yoga,” Sikka told IANS.

The origins of yoga – which helps in physical and mental well-being – have been speculated to date to pre-Vedic Indian traditions. Later, yoga gurus from India introduced the discipline to the west. It is estimated that 250 million people around the world practice yoga, over 20 million of them in the US.

It has evolved into forms like hot yoga, power yoga, Ashtanga yoga and more.

Now, with the world ready to celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21 – proposed to the UN by by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accepted with acclamation – experts hope its popularity gets a further boost.

“The affirmation coming from one of the highest offices in the country surely helps people shed their cynicism and develop an honest inquisitiveness. The fact that Modi himself is a trained yoga practitioner has further helped in promoting yoga,” Manisha Kharbanda, a 28-year-old practitioner and proponent of yoga for almost two decades, told IANS.

Kharbanda, who founded BrahmYog, a Patiala-based initiative committed to spread the benefits of yoga, stressed that “yoga is an education and commercialization of any type of education is not good”.

There are some, like IT training company Koenig Solutions, who give free yoga classes not only to their employees, but also to underprivileged children.

On the flipside, a major benefit of the commercialization of yoga has been the increased accessibility of the practice to the masses. Today, yoga is being offered in more venues, in more styles and of course more teachers, but Kharbanda believes that to keep a check on ensuring the promotion of authentic yoga, certification of yoga teacher from right institute must be a prerequisite.

“The idea of certifying yoga teachers through the ministry of AYUSH will be a welcome step and will ensure that people learn yoga the way it was evolved by our forefathers,” added Kharbanda, who holds four batches of yoga classes everyday.

Also, with the burgeoning popularity of yoga among the young and old alike, it has created space for multiple training centres.

Bikram Yoga, an international chain, has opened its first franchisee in India. For a monthly membership of Rs.6,000 exclusive of taxes or an annual membership of Rs.50,000 plus tax, it is attracting customers.

“Till now, 50-plus people have joined the classes in a period of one month while over 150 have taken a trial and have liked it. Many are eager to join. We have members from various age-groups ranging from 13 to 70,” Bikram Yoga owner Pallavi Aggarwal told IANS.

The fact that yoga is turning out to be a huge business globally is also proven by the variety of designer apparel and practice mats available in the market. And it’s only poised for growth.

“The interest of yoga in western countries is much more than India. In fact, yoga in the west has already taken off… It has much to do with government’s initiative because that is a force which guides people in a certain way,” Navneet, assistant general manager, Kairali Yoga at Kairali Ayurvedic Group, told IANS.

-IANS

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Yoga a Boon for Breast Cancer Survivors

The more the women in the study practised yoga, the better their results

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Yoga a Boon for Breast Cancer Survivors
Yoga a Boon for Breast Cancer Survivors. Pixabay

Breast cancer survivors, if they practise yoga for as little as three months, may significantly reduce fatigue and inflammation, shows research.

“Modest yoga practise over a period of several months could have substantial benefits for breast cancer survivors,” claimed Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University in the US.

“The results could easily generalise to other groups of people who have issues with fatigue and inflammation,” added Kiecolt-Glaser.

To reach this conclusion, researchers asked 200 participants to practise yoga in small groups twice a week for 12 weeks.

Women in the control group were instructed to perform normal routines and not to do yoga.

Results showed that on average, fatigue was 57 percent lower in women who had practiced yoga compared to the non-yoga group, and their inflammation was reduced by up to 20 percent.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“The participants had completed all breast cancer treatments before the start of the study,” said the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The more the women in the study practised yoga, the better their results.

“Though many studies have suggested that yoga has numerous benefits, this is the largest known randomised controlled trial that includes biological measures,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health problems, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and alzheimer’s disease.

A secondary analysis showed that more frequent yoga practise produced larger changes in fatigue, vitality and depressive symptoms as well as between an average 4 to 6 percent reduction in two of the three pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Also Read: Avoid Diabetes With Yoga, Weight Lifting

The yoga group also reported significantly improved sleep compared to the control group.

“Yoga has many parts to it – meditation, breathing, stretching and strengthening. We think the breathing and meditation components were really important in terms of some of the changes we were seeing,” Kiecolt-Glaser stressed.

Reducing fatigue enables women to engage in other activities over time. So yoga may have offered a variety of benefits in addition to the yoga exercises themselves, added the study. (IANS)

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