THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:“The future is very bright,” says an excited Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, ahead of the eight edition of the Asian Yoga Sports Championship which opens here on Thursday. ‘’Yoga involves no cost. One mat or a bed sheet is all you need,’’ says the yoga veteran who is president, Asian Yoga Federation and the Yoga Federation of India.
By fusing the elements of music and dance moves into the yoga, new frontiers of the art form are being explored. Yoga as a sport is garnering more acceptance.But back in the late ‘70s, when he started off, it was all way different. He has come a long way, one of the pioneers in bringing Yoga to the forefront as a sport.
It was in 1971 that Ashok Kumar became the first person in the country to get employment as a yoga instructor in the government. Aggarwal recalls running door to door, reaching out to schools and colleges in an effort to popularise yoga. After getting employed as a coach in the sports department in the government of Haryana, it took a while to introduce yoga to the people.It took several more years and several consistent efforts to develop yoga as a sport and into what we see today.
“At that time none in the country had received employment in the government in the field of Yoga. I spent the time introducing more people to the field, students and college students, organising inter college yoga competitions, school games, and such,” Aggarwal says. Since 1974, the nation started witnessing a unique sporting event, the national yoga sports championships.“And now we have completed 42 national yoga championships,” says a proud Aggarwal.
Like other sports, yoga has also started getting its due. “This time we are expecting the participation of fifteen countries and 500 yoga participants,” he adds ahead of the championship.But he adds that yoga is not just being taught for competition. “The larger goal is to ensure the physical, mental and spiritual well being of a person. And competitions like these are just one of the steps to reaching that goal of ours. We have to attract more people into yoga,” he says.
The veteran adds that the opportunities in the field are immense. “People across the world are conscious of their health,” says Aggarwal. He adds that the whole attempt is at making yoga more attractive.“What is otherwise considered boring with ‘Chavasana’ turns into an interesting activity and we get to bring in the young crowd. And during the different sets of competitions, you get to add music and incorporate dance moves. No two music is alike. So you might be using the music of Punjab or Kerala. By weaving in music and dance, it becomes recreational and we get to attract the children. Else they won’t come,” he says.We want to channelise the energy of the youth into this.