This Yoga Day on June 21, Suryanamaskar is not part of the programme, and neither is chanting “Om” compulsory. While both had become controversial last year when the initiative started, with minority groups objecting to it, those who practice or teach yoga say that it’s not a big deal.
Yoga guru Sakina Kapadia says, “Yoga as a practice has so much more to offer, then why should we get stuck with the ideology that the practice always has to begin with Om? We do a lot of Suryanamaskars, but without chanting the mantras, so as not to hurt any person’s faith but at the same time getting the benefits of the practice. That’s what counts at the end of the day.”
Singing the same tune, another city-based yoga exponent Rina Hindocha says, “What does Suryanamaskar have to do with religion? It’s not a religious activity but a yogic exercise, sun is common to all people and so is Suryanamaskar.
Yoga does not mean standing on your head, twisting your body or holding your breath. Yoga means to know the union of life. When you experience everything as a part of yourself, you are in yoga. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day to preserve and promote yoga for the well-being of the whole world.”
Sakina adds, “Let us as learned individuals not become part of this controversy but take up this age-old practice for the innumerable benefits that have been scientifically proven.”
But about chanting Om, Rina differs with Sakina and says, “Om is a vibration that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. It has nothing to do with religion. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. It’s like a sound in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside a seashell.”