Mass yoga demonstration in Chandigarh, an expected turnout of 25,000 to 30,000 people, seven points for demonstration of yoga across Delhi, and multiple events on various scales planned for the rest of the country and the world; the Ministry of Ayush officially raised the curtain on the massive events planned for the upcoming International Day of Yoga (IDY) 2016, held on June 21. The plans were revealed on Wednesday at a conference dedicated to the scientific research proving health benefits of yoga, chaired by the Minister for Ayush, Shripad Yesso Naik, and other ministry officials.
Yoga has also found an honourable mention in the joint US-India statement issued on June 7, during PM Modi's trip to the US, where leaders of both countries recognised yoga's importance in curving the rising threat of Non-Communicable Disease.
Preceding the June 21 celebrations, there will be a Chandigarh yoga festival from June 10-12, where Baba Ramdev will hold the concluding session; post IDY there will be a two-day international conference on yoga held by the ministry. The Ministry of external affairs has been working with UN members, and 173 Indian missions abroad have drafted plans for yoga day celebrations; celebrities from different countries are being roped in to take part; 100 RWAs each in "metropolitan" cities will be trained in yoga; industry bodies such as CII, ASSOCHAM, Ficci, PHD Chamber of Commerce, have been requested to encourage their members to participate.
However, the ministry doesn't want to sound too ambitious. "We set two world records last year, we're not looking at records this year," said Ajit Sharan, Secretary, Ayush.
The conference for the press, however, was to give a serious push to the "large number of inter-disciplinary researches in different fields", as the minister said. Secretary, Ayush, Ajit Sharan too assured the audience that the panellists he introduced were the "top experts in the country". These included Dr Shirley Telles, Director of the Patanjali Research Foundation, Dr SC Manchanda a cardiologist associated with AIIMS and Ganga Ram, Dr Usha Kiran, a Brahma Kumari member with AIIMS' Department of Cardiac-Anaesthesia and Dr HR Nagendra, Chancellor, S-VYASA University.
Dr Narayan is also the head of the expert committee created for the IDY 2016.
Here were efforts to combine the science with the "spirituality" of yoga, rather than "religiosity". However, while fielding questions Naik said that yoga without om was incomplete, and they were talking to those "opposed" to om being chanted.
However, during her presentation Dr Tell is said that whether one chants "Om or Ave Maria", the act of deep breathing and prolonged exhalation helped the body relax. Tellis also spoke at length of yoga's uses in cooing with mental illnesses, whether among stressed out students, overworked school teachers with low salaries, army men who had to stay "alert and relaxed", and survivors of natural disasters suffering from PTSD. Some of her studies are based in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and floods in Bihar. Dr Manchanda spoke of his work on reversing heart disease through yoga that he said has gained acceptance over by cardiologists communities in the West.
There was much emphasis on these studies and bodies of research being conducted along with premier American universities -- Harvard and UCLA found mentions in various presentations -- and Manchanda pointed out that recent research had gained legitimacy as it was fine through randomised control trials.