Yoga in all its ramifications is much more significant today than it was a decade ago. An accelerated life style and the consequent stress and strain, both mental and physical, accompanying this mode of living and thinking has drawn man towards yoga, because yoga seems today to have, if not all the answers to modern man's woes, at least the maximum number and most effective of solutions to his predicament.
In this growing popularity of yoga in all corners of urban India, yoga schools, and mobile yoga instruction teams and self-appointed yoga teachers (this of course is in direct proportion to its popularity in the West) have grown in number. But yoga is a science, not a form of physical exercise. Erroneous yoga practice could be harmful in the extreme. What is needed in order to satisfy the public thirst for yogic know-how is the establishment of authentic yoga schools staffed with persons who have adequate knowledge about the intricacies of yoga in both its physical, mental and spiritual connotations.
The three-day 8th All Orissa Yoga Sammelana was inaugurated on the 10th of this month in the Satyananda Yoga Vidyalay premises in Vidyut Marg, Bhubaneswar. The ground floor of the building of the Vidyalaya was also inaugurated on this occasion. An informative souvenir detailing the activities of the Satyananda Yoga Vidyalaya and carrying comprehensive articles on the yoga science was also released. The souvenir was inaugurated by the then chief minister Sri Janki Ballav Patnaik who has been showing keen interest for the establishment of this Yoga Vidyalaya here. Welcoming Swami Niranjanananda, the gifted sadhak of yogic science of the Bihar School of Yoga the Gajpati Maharaja of Puri and other disciples from all over Orissa and from Munger, the chairperson of the reception committee, Smt. Jayanti Patnaik, stressed the necessity of yoga as a part of modern man's daily routine. In the face of rising mental turmoil and physical ailments, yogic exercises would to a great extent alleviate man's problems, she said.
The Gajapati Maharaja of Puri has been consistently taking a keen interest in the establishment of the Satyananda Yoga Vidyalaya. In February 1987 he laid the foundation stone of the Ashram and participated in the bhumi pujan. During the inauguration he spoke about yoga as part of our cultural heritage bequeathed to us by the ancient enlightened souls of our land. Yet foolishly, we, in our blind pursuit of the Western values, have discarded what is truly ours. Only when the West has adopted yoga as a cure to their mental, spiritual, and physical ills, have we been re-inspired to claim our own heritage. He expressed the hope that people would incorporate yogic advice and practice into their lifestyle. Only through yoga, he stressed, would modern man be able to cope with life's pace.
Swami Niranjanananda, the chairman of the Bihar School of Yoga kept the gathering engrossed with his speech on human nature, and the benefit of yoga.
Man, he said, could be differentiated from an animal because of the presence of viveka in him. Where animals live in a world of instinctive feeling, man is born with intuitive knowledge. By relegating this into the background, by donning blinkers as it were, to this God-gifted faculty man has called his woes on himself. Yoga, stated Swami Niranjanananda, could once again revive this intuitive knowledge. It would bring about a total integration of the mental, physical, physiological, spiritual and social aspects of man. This harmony is education in the true sense and could remove mental imbalance and physical illness. Hence, he urged, yoga should be incorporated as a compulsory part of school.
The misconception that yoga is a religious concept is to be removed from people's mind, he stressed. This was one reason why the common people kept their distance from yogic organisations. Yoga is in fact, said the Swami, a spiritual concept- a means to bring about inner integration, a symphony of existence as it were. Yoga realigns the mind, develops concentration and mental power, and improves family relations among other things through its asanas, pranayama, mudras and meditation.
The last two days of the Sammelana comprised of question and answer sessions, bhajan, kirtan, yoga practice and discourse. Swami Swarupananda Saraswati and Sri Samarendra Patnaik, secretary of the Yoga Vidyalaya, along with others, contributed to the success of the Sammelana. The question-answer sessions were lively. Many misconceptions of lay minds were removed by Swami Niranjanananda by his lucid answers exemplified by common real experiences. The growing interest of people in yogic science was also evident through the nature and number of questions.