By A Devotee of Vedanta

We may never again see an athlete dominate basketball for as long and as thoroughly as NBA Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul credits his stellar success to Yoga. When he started Yoga for fitness (1976) very few athletes knew about it. Today Yoga (with some adaptations) is an integral part of NBA training camps. And not just NBA or professional athletics. Yoga has now grown into a fitness favorite across urban population globally. In American cities yoga studios are mushrooming fast – BKS Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Dance Yoga, Chair Yoga… you name it.

The word “Yoga” emerging with all these fitness variations speaks volumes of its “commercial brand appeal.”  But is there something more to this popularity, beyond just the commercial aspect?

To trace the origin of Yoga, one has to travel thousands of years back in time to the recluses. This word literally means “to unite.” It is a technique to restrain the otherwise restless mind and body. Using this technique our faculties evolve. We begin to perceive the inherent harmony in all beings and experience universal unity.

So the efficacy of Yoga isn’t limited to just health and fitness; when practiced in its full potential can benefit us many layers deeper. It helps us unfold our spiritual identity.

Just as water, regardless of how it is flavored or colored, retains its power to quench our thirst, so it is with Yoga.  Being a universal technique it can be applied to any faculty – emotions, actions, thoughts, reasoning and so on. In Bhagavad Gita eighteen varieties of Yoga are described.

So it may not be surprising if the fitness industry offers so many variations of Yoga.

Last December, the UN declared June 21st as International Yoga Day. This gave geo-political recognition to Yoga. Many promoters of Yoga worldwide are observing Yoga day, each in their own way. June 19-21 Vedanta Society of Providence is arranging special programs to observe this occasion. With these efforts, hopefully the genuine aspects of Yoga come to light, and we can learn to apply it beyond just physical wellness.

What are your views on Yoga and the International Yoga Day? Please share your comments.


  1. I think, the consumerism – which glorifies bhoga (extrovert tendency towards pleasures of senses) – converts yoga into it. A genuine yoga, even if it is to be practiced at the most elementary stage, has to guard against consumerism. Consumerism opposes yoga, in the name of its practice.

  2. While I agree consumerism promotes more of a materialistic tendency that defeats the benefits of Yoga, it is also needed to get attention of the people amongst all other available avenues of enjoyment that make equally loud (if not louder) calls. The genuine yoga enthusiasts, once exposed to yoga due to consumerism, will naturally gravitate towards the more genuine and serious yoga approach. So consumerism is like a necessary evil.

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