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|July 01, 2008
The Yoga News
|India Bends Toward Yoga
formation of the Indian Yoga Association signals recognition of the
need to create global standards in yoga education.
After years of consultation with eminent yoga experts, India’s
Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddhi and
Homeopathy (AYUSH), along with the Ministry of Health and Family
Welfare, has overseen the establishment of the Indian Yoga Association
(IYA), a self-regulatory body responsible for establishing standards
for accrediting yoga institutions, yoga curriculums and yoga therapy.
This recent development in India signals the first official government
sanctioning of efforts to regulate the tradition of yoga, and it is
appropriate that India, the motherland of yoga, and the Indian
government, which has become increasingly aware of the need to protect
and preserve its cultural heritage, should take this historical
initiative and lay a much needed foundation for establishing a credible
standard of yoga education and practice.
Perhaps more importantly, it is also the first time that
representatives from all the major lineages of yoga across India have
come together in search of a common regulatory goal.
This news, however, may not bode so well with yogis around the world.
Many practitioners and teachers of yoga might wonder just what this
means for yoga, their current status as teachers and institutions, and
their various yoga practices. It may be too early to tell, but the IYA
is already feeling pressure by those who feel that their approach to
yoga may be compromised by any standardization.
As Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Acharya of Ananda
Pondicherry, India says; “No
one can argue that the wild mushrooming of Yoga Institutes and Yoga
schools and the rapid proliferation of so-called Yoga Teachers is truly
alarming… Clearly, some regularization, standardization, clarification,
and accreditation is the need of the hour.”
How to do this will certainly be a challenge. The word ‘yoga’ today has
taken on many new and often strange associations. There is much debate,
even in India, over what this ancient science is all about and what it
holds in store for those who engage in it.
First, and perhaps foremost, will be the task of defining the term
yoga. The measurement of the quality of yoga teachings will also
another hot topic of debate. As Dr. KD Sharma, former director of the
Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, states: “Those concerned with
ensuring quality yoga education are well aware of the difficulties of
assessing and regulating this subject. [Yoga] is not physical
education… and hence, its value cannot be assessed by normal academic
measures. It is an Indian art and science, not a foreign concept of
physical training, and cannot be measured by the foreign [Western]
standards of education.”
The board members of the Indian Yoga Association must also grapple with
the relevance of the age-old guru-chela
(teacher-student) relationship, as well as the significance of the paramparai (yoga
lineage) tradition, both of which have always been an integral part of
yoga’s foundation but have become increasingly discounted by the modern
approach to yoga and its teaching. So has the relevance of the very culture
from which the teachings of yoga have sprung. These issues and their
significance to the future of yoga are no small matters to consider.
Anyone who has ever been to India knows that the wheels of Indian
bureaucracy turn slowly. With much at stake, and under the direction of
a group of eminent masters who have dedicated their lives to the
preservation and propagation of this ancient science of life, these
decisions are not likely to come easily, nor quickly.
The Founding Members of the IYA
B.K. S. Iyengar (Pune); Shri. O.P. Tiwari (Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala);
Dr. H.R. Nagendra (VYASA, Banglore); Dr. S.P. Mishra (Haridwar), Smt.
Hansa Jayadev (Yoga Institute, Mumbai); Shri. S. Shridharan
(Krishnamacharya Yoga Institute, Chennai); Smt. Meenakshi Devi
Bhavanani (ICYER, Puducherry); Shri. Shrdhalu Ranade (Aurobindo Ashram,
Puducherry); Dr. Swami Ananta Bharti (Swami Rama Ashram, Delhi); Dr.
K.Krishna Bhat (Manglore University, Manglore); Dr. Ishwar Bharadwaj
(Haridwar); Dr. M.Venkanta Reddy (Hydrabad); Swami Mangaltirtham (Bihar
School of Yoga, Munger); Dr. Swami Shankaranandaji (Munger); Swami
Dharmanand (Delhi); Dr. Anil Singhal (Himalayan Institute of Yoga,
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From Neurons to Nirvana
scientific experience of cosmic proportions
On Dec. 10, 1996, Jill Taylor woke up to a pounding pain behind her
left eye, what she described as “the kind of caustic pain you get when
you bite into ice-cream.“ Gradually, over the next four
hours, she watched as, one by one, her brain functions,
speech, movement and comprehension began to leave
her. She had suffered a stroke.
Each year, nearly three-quarter of a million people suffer a stroke in
North America alone. What was unique about Jill Taylor is not that she
was and still is a renowned neurobiologist, whose life is dedicated to
the study of the human brain, but it is the profound experience that it
left her with, and the change it has made in her life and her work.
It took eight years for her to “fully recover”, as she puts it, and in
February, 2008 she recounted her experience in an eighteen-minute
lecture at the cutting-edge TEDtalks conference in Monterey, California.
In that presentation, Taylor presents herself at the opening as the
quintessential neuroscientist, giving a brief but rather academic
overview of the hemispheres of the brain and the scientific
classifications of their various neurological functions.
It’s not until she treads into the depths of her personal experience
that the transformative weight of that life-changing morning is
revealed. What she proceeds to narrate is a tale of experience that is
both heart-warming and though-provoking. The yogi would easily
recognize her sensation of the dissolution of her ego-self into the
expansive state of universal one-ness. As she describes it, “I found
nirvana. I remember thinking that there is no way that I can squeeze
the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.”
Perhaps the full scope of it all was not truly absorbed by the hundreds
of people, scientists, media personalities and folks from all walks of
life who listened intently with reserve while she showered them with
the profound emotion of her experience.
That’s no surprise. After all, what she was attempting to illustrate is
an experience that, by its very nature, defies description. An incident
that some of a purely scientific bent may no doubt attribute solely to
the firing or misfiring of neurons and other biological processes, but
an experience that the yogis would certainly appreciate as something
much more… one that few today can appreciate or even approximate… what
Taylor herself describes as a “tremendous gift”.
In the end, she speaks the profound truth that lies at the very heart
of the practice of yoga: “I realized that if I have found nirvana, then
anyone who is alive can find nirvana… I pictured a world filled with
beautiful, peaceful, loving, compassionate people who know that they
could come to this space at any time, and that they could purposely
choose to step to the right of their left hemispheres and find this
watch the full 18 minute lecture, click here…
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descent of Mother Ganga
On the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Jyeshta, this year
falling on June 13, an important festival, known as Ganga Dussehra
occurs in Northern India. It celebrates the descent of the holy Ganga
River down to the parched earth.
Each year at this time, big Melas,
a Sanskrit word meaning 'gathering', are held at important centres
along the banks of the river. Here, hundreds of thousands of
people throng the ghats to bathe in the waters known as the river of
India, and wash away their sins.
The Ganga, largest of the rivers in India, has been sacred since
ancient times. She is seen as the mother who washes away all the sins
of mankind, and has been venerated in India through countless
generations. Today, she remains a potent symbol of life and salvation,
representative of both the intimate connection between mankind and
nature, as well as the vital thread of life upon which humanity’s very
The Story of the Ganges:
ago there was a king named Sagar who, aspiring for Indra-hood (king of
all the Gods), performed one hundred Asvamedha (horse)
in fear of being dethroned, the great God Indra stole the hundredth
sacrificial horse and left it within the premises of the reclusive
All the sixty thousand sons of Sagara went out after
the horse. When they found it, they mistook Kapila for a thief and
attempted to destroy him, whereby they were cursed by the great sage
and burnt to ashes. Kapila then claimed that “they would be renewed
only if the water of the Ganga flows over this land”.
Anshuman tried but did not succeed in bringing down the Ganga to earth.
Then his son Dilip tried, but also without success. Finally his son
Bhagirath, after performing severe austerities, managed to please
She appeared before him, but told him to seek the
help of Lord Shiva to help check her flow, as otherwise the whole earth
would be submerged in her torrential waters.
Again performing rigorous
penance, Bhagirath pleased Lord Shiva who then received the deluge of
Mother Ganga in his matted locks and let her drip over him and spill
gently to the earthly planes.
first half of 2008 has been a busy one at International Yogalayam.
For starters, we’ve completely re-designed our website, a monumental
task that remains a work in progress. We took our first foray into
video production in the spring too, adding another dimension to our
groundbreaking yoga e-course, which is now available on our website.
And of course, you’re reading the inaugural edition of The
Yoga News, our new monthly Yoga
E-zine, which features
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Continuing to work on merging modern technology with ancient wisdom,
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E-COURSE, to our
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