Yoga for Urban Living


When hundreds of people die in a terrorist attack or when thousands meet their end in natural disasters like cyclone, flood or earthquake, they are rightly considered as global tragedies with manifold implications. However, when the same numbers of people die each day of unnecessary and preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments, we don’t seem to care enough.

The World Health Organization (WHO) report 2009 has labeled India as the diabetes capital of the world. Statistics point at an alarmingly high prevalence of obesity, hypertension and diabetes among our urban population. But are we perturbed enough to take action? 

Most of these lifestyle diseases are preventable and to a certain extent, self inflicted. Metabolic disorders like diabetes or kidney failure don’t come up overnight but are in fact a result of years of abuse of our own body through the lifestyle choices which we make every day. Increased work pressure, wrong eating habits and sedentary lifestyles being the biggest culprits. Add to the list, lack of sleep, stress and increased indulgence in stimulants like alcohol and tobacco and this lethal cocktail leads to a range of disorders and diseases. While the body can initially handle the assault, with time this may lead to chronic sleep deprivation, obesity and an increased risk to diabetes, cancer and hypertension.

The modern medicine has a lot to offer in its treatment and management of acute illness, accidents and communicable diseases, but yoga and its holistic approach towards an individual qualify as the key players in preventive, curative and rehabilitative healthcare. The practices and philosophy of yoga arm the modern man with many stress management and coping skills which effectively tackles most urban illnesses.

Whether you are looking for physical strength and vigour, mental relaxation, emotional well being or spiritual enlightenment, yoga seems to have solutions for all. The practice of specific yogic asanas, mudras and bandhas help to improve the functions of cardio vascular, nervous and endocrine systems; the principles of Yama and Niyama aid to build ethical behaviour and those of Shatkarmas facilitate detoxification or removal of disease causing toxins from the body.

Yoga also teaches one about Yogic aahaar i.e. the approach to food, the types of food as well as the importance of timings and moderation in diet. The practice of controlled breathing or Pranayamas ensure that each and every cell of the body gets optimally oxygenated; a pre requisite to better energy level, enhanced immunity and improved metabolism.  The Yogic Sayyamas, Pratyahaar and meditative practices of ‘Dharana’, ‘Dhyaan’ and ‘Samadhi’ have the potential to not only induce relaxation but also to develop the unique strategy of introspection, contemplation and integrity in the man. And if that is not enough, yoga philosophies and ideologies also train the modern man  about the much needed skills to handle tension, negative feelings and anxiety through ‘Pratipaksh Bhavana’, ‘Samaatvam’ and ‘Vairagya’.

Most of us lead a busy life amidst deadlines, time constraints and innumerable liabilities, so the versatility, ease of learning and numerous health benefits associated with yoga makes it an ideal choice for each of us. The multi disciplinary approach of yoga towards prevention and treatment of any disease comes as a boon for urban living.

During my Yoga Shashtri or teacher’s training course at Yoga Bharti, Mumbai, I have had the good fortune of experiencing the myriad aspects of yoga. The article is a sincere effort to reach out to fellow urbanites about the tremendous potential of the ancient wisdom of yoga in combating today’s problems and diseases. The yoga practice and philosophy was perhaps never as relevant as they are today.

Experience it to appreciate it!

Written by Panchali Moitra

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