Friday February 28, 2020
Home Indian Diaspora Padma Shri wi...

Padma Shri winner Wai Lana revolutionising yoga in USA

0
//

Himani Kumar Sanagaram

Her  colorful “ Haku Fresh Flower Head Lei” or Hawaiian  crown of flowers is what sets her apart from the rest of the pack. Recent Padma Shri winner Wai Lana is a woman of Chinese origin woman, who introduced Yoga to China and has made it mainstream in the United States.

Showing off her Hawaiian origin, this daughter of Chinese immigrants in the US has achieved great heights by her sheer hard work and is conspicuous in her colorful clothing and yogic postures be it TV, DVD, or YouTube videos. Wai Lana is only one of two Chinese nationals to win the prestigious Padma award in its 62-year history.

“I’m very humbled and don’t feel deserving. I’ve just been trying my best to share the gift of yoga with the Chinese people and the rest of the world. My real reward is seeing so many people experiencing the many benefits that yoga has to offer,” Wai Lana said of the award in a press release

Yoga has been popular in America  for many years and was first introduced in United States by Swami Vivekanada, who came to the country in  1893 to attend the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Later it was made popular by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, Yogi Bhajan etc.

Wai Lana, whose actual name is Zhang Huilan in Chinese  credits the Chinese leadership to her successful Yoga TV programs in China.

“Chinese leaders understood the value of yoga long before it became popular in the United States,” Wai Lana said.

“Mother of Yoga” as she is called has been broadcasting  the Yoga TV series “Wai Lana Yoga”  for over 17 years ago on PBS in the United States. She has inspired many American and Chinese youth to take up Yoga. Her videos are mostly shot in natural locations- by the sea or trees in a forest.

Her popular song “Namaste” has been well received and the video was releases worldwide on the International Day of Yoga on June 21 last year, when it was celebrated for the first time.  International Yoga Day was internationally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 11, 2014. In the song, her sweet melancholy voice captures the peace and joy that yoga gives as she joins people all over the world from Poland, Hawaii, India, Canada etc. to unite in peace and practice Yoga.

At a time, when even many young Indians both in India and United States are renouncing their culture and religious practices, for western culture, Wai Lana bridges the gap between the east and the west

Her hard work is endearing as can be seen in videos. She is truly a modern yogi and one can hardly doubt if she is of Chinese origin. Her programs started airing on CCTV in China in 1985 and in America in 1998 and then in many other countries.

Wai Lana has also worked on a “Little Yogis” DVD for kids and has launched various healthy food products and yoga gear related to Ayurvedic cures. Her website sells various healthy products related to yoga and shares information on meditation, lifestyle, yoga sound meditation techniques and recipes. She has really spread the art of Yoga to United States and China as well as other countries.

Himani Kumar Sanagaram is freelance journalist based in Chicago. She covered Headley’s trial from Chicago from 2010-2012. She is also a former foreign correspondent with Press Trust of India.

Next Story

Yoga may Help Decrease Depressive Symptoms: Study

Doing yoga may reduce depressive symptoms

0
Yoga Depressive
Now researchers have found doing yoga is linked to decreased depressive symptoms. Pixabay

The benefits of yoga have been widely documented by scientific health research and now researchers have found doing yoga is linked to decreased depressive symptoms.

The study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, proposes that yoga can increase levels of Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) in the short-term and completing one yoga class per week may maintain elevated GABA that could mitigate depressive symptoms.

GABA is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and has been associated with decreased depressive symptoms.

“The findings suggest that the associated increase in GABA levels after a yoga session are ‘time-limited’ similar to that of pharmacologic treatments such that completing one session of yoga per week may maintain elevated levels of GABA,” said study researcher Chris Streeter from Boston University in the US.

Yoga Depressive
Completing one yoga class per week may maintain elevated GABA that could mitigate depressive symptoms. Pixabay

Depression is a highly prevalent and disabling disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects approximately 16 million people in the US. every year and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Given its high morbidity, extensive research has been done on effective treatment modalities for depression. In a study, a group of 30 clinically depressed patients were randomly divided into two groups.

Both groups engaged in lyengar yoga and coherent breathing with the only difference being the number of 90 minute yoga session and home sessions in which each group participated. Over three months, the high-dose group (HDG) was assigned three sessions per week while the low-intensity group (LIG) was assigned two sessions per week.

Participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brain before the first yoga session and after the last yoga session. They also completed a clinical depression scale to monitor their symptoms. Results showed that both groups had improvement in depressive symptoms after three months, the researchers said.

Also Read- Online Images Represent Gender Stereotypes in Certain Occupations: Study

MRI analysis found that GABA levels after three months of yoga were elevated (as compared to prior to starting yoga) for approximately four days after the last yoga session but the increase was no longer observed after approximately eight days.

“A unique strength of this study is that pairing the yoga intervention with brain imaging provides important neurobiological insight as to the ‘how’ yoga may help to alleviate depression and anxiety,” said study co-author Marisa Silveri. (IANS)