Yoga And Social Transformation
Yoga is very much popular, across the world, today. A large number of yoga schools and yoga teachers are restlessly working in this arena, in India as well as outside India. Yoga popularity attained new dimensions in the world in last 50 years. Credit goes to those yoga teachers, who chose to develop yoga schools, in the western world, in last century. They could rightly judge the social need for yoga, in the thick of the highest material development of the western world. Even after glaring progress on all the fronts, western world clearly witnessed the rise of unhappiness, restlessness and purposelessness in the personal life of majority people and in all the sections of the society. While medical and social scientists were struggling to find an amicable solution for this disturbing phenomenon, yoga provided much sought peace of mind and positive social outlook for the masses. Peace of mind, purposefulness in personal and professional life, self contentment, a sense of inner fulfilment, self empowerment, connectedness with the family, society, profession and the world around, were the main personal, professional, social and cultural requirements, felt significantly missing in the western society. Yoga practices and yogic way of life, amicably bridged this gap, in all the walks of life. Yoga addressed personal, professional, social and political issues, irrespective of the religious faiths and schools of thoughts. It resulted into wide social acceptability of yoga. It is on account of this multiple and cross sectional impact of yoga that it became an issue of scientific investigations, by the medical and scientific community, throughout the world.
Technically, yoga is a science and art of self realisation. Word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj” i.e. to unite. Hence yoga means, a methodology of the union of “self” with the “supreme self”. Desire for this union and clarity of the reasons for the same, is “self-realisation”. As such, “yoga” finds its first authentic mention as one of the “shad-darshan” (Six Philosophies), mentioned in the ancient Indian scriptures. Sage Patanjali is the philosopher of this “darshan” and is believed to exist about 5000 years, BC Sometimes, yoga and spirituality are described interchangeably, which is not correct. To understand the difference it may be put: “Spirituality is the path, yoga is the process and self-realisation is the goal.”
Physically, human body requires regular exercises for the strength and fitness of muscles, bones, joints and ligaments. It also requires good co-ordination of all the body organs, systems (internal as well as external) and functions. This much-needed fitness and coordination is mediated by the mind. Yoga controls the mind and hence brings about the mental control and physical fitness.
As a process, yoga comprises physical exercises (asanas, surya namaskar, joint exercises, brisk walk etc), breath control (prana-yama), control of mind (concentration, meditation) and samadhi (bliss state/ state of enlightenment). These processes have scientifically proven beneficial effects and are to be learned under the guidance of an accomplished yoga teacher.
Regular and well-guided yoga practice, earns rich dividends for each individual. Some worth mentioning personal qualities, developed through yoga, are—self empowerment, creativity, energy, mutual respect, frank expressivity, flexibility, vision and a great partnership sense. Yoga also provides joy to the practitioner, in routine day-to-day activities, preventing fatigue/burnout, after days’ job. This also brings about a great paradigm shift about the goal and purposefulness of life and social outlook of the individuals. Therefore, such individuals become effective vehicle of social transformation and social harmony.
It is on account of this personal transformation that yoga brings about a great and discernible social change. Yoga imparts a unique sense of belonging and connectedness of the individual with the society. This sense of connectedness with the workplace creates an enlightening work atmosphere and much improved work output, which is beyond the routine administrative and management control systems. Hence, individuals as well as societies are immensely benefitted with the yoga science and philosophy.
Efforts limited to reap business benefits only, from yoga, are not going to transform the businesses. It will require serious and systematic efforts by the business honchos to develop human resource, which has structured exposure to yoga practices, rendering them value rich, at all levels. This approach, in turn, will pave the way for business transformation, on sustainable basis. Yoga can definitely provide vision and value system which is conducive for business development and desired social harmony, but it has to be absorbed and shared, at all levels, in each organisation.
Hence, it remains a matter of strategic assessment and forecasting, if business leaders of today are able to appreciate this approach, in the thick of aggressive lifestyle and global competitive challenges. Yoga, as an effective tool for developing competitive competencies and social transformation, is still waiting its recognition, by all concerned.