BENGALURU: With more and more people taking to yoga, training centres are mushrooming across the country. This has raised concerns over quality of training and its impact on people. “It is a concern and, to address that the Centre is launching a system on Monday to certify yoga teachers,” said Dr H R Nagendra, Chancellor of S-VYASA, Yoga University, Bengaluru.
Nagendra, who is closely associated with the Centre’s initiatives on yoga, including the International Day of Yoga celebration and the system to certify yoga instructors, spoke to Express on the need for certification, importance of Yoga Day and latest research in yoga. Excerpts:
On Yoga Day
BKS Iyengar, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Amrita Suryanandaji and I had met at Ravi Shankar’s ashram two years ago and decided to suggest celebrating World Yoga Day in the United Nations. But nothing happened. Last year, when our Prime Minister made the suggestion, it got a big response. It is a great opportunity for yoga.
For the International Day of Yoga (IDY), a 35-minute protocol was developed in consultation with yoga gurus. It consisted of a prayer, five minutes loosening practice, 15 minutes yogic postures, five minutes pranayam, five minutes meditation and sankalpa or resolve followed by a closing prayer. The Ayush ministry, with NGOs, conducted training in every district. For each district, they have given `1 lakh for one month training.
Yoga and Science
To search for reality is the real objective of science. Over the last 400 years in modern science, we have progressed to understanding everything about the physical universe. We know that everything has molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, fundamental particles. They are all made of pockets of energy called quarks. Everything is energy. So, you can precisely calculate how much energy is there in any given matter. And we also know the laws that govern them.
Having understood everything about the physical universe, science is progressing to understand subtle things. Is there something like Prana? What is it that is called Mind? What is the relation between mind, emotion, intellect and others? Is there something like consciousness? Do Gods and Goddess exist? Science is trying to unravel all these things. It may take thousands of years to understand all subtle dimensions. Fortunately, in our country, our ancient civilizations underwent all these things and understood them. All this knowledge is available in our Yogashatras, Vedas and Upanishands.
Yoga is not merely asanas
Many people think yoga is some small asanas. It is not merely asanas and that is the message we want to spread. Asanas or physical exercise is just a drop in a ocean. It has got Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. We have a whole knowledge base available. In Bhakti Yoga, we know how to deal with emotions and Raja Yoga teaches how to gain will power and mastery over the mind. How to bring it to day-to-day practice is Karma yoga.
More and more people are taking to yoga
The whole dimension of yoga is becoming popular because it relieves stress. Our children are getting stressed and it has to be handled well. Modern medical system can only give symptomatic treatment and relief, but it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. Yoga does that. People have started understanding its usefulness and benefits and started practising it.
Scientific base to traditional system of yoga
Our whole approach is to give a scientific base to the traditional system of yoga. It should not be just presented as some mumbo-jumbo or faith alone. It should be presented as scientific dimension — yoga as science of holistic living. We are moving further to understand what is happening to the brain at subtle levels and what is happening at the molecular level. Gene sequencing, gene expression and all that we are going to unravel -- this has to go into the highest level of journals and that will take yoga to highest standards.
Need for certification
Lack of certification for Yoga teachers is a great concern for us. Ayush Ministry and Quality Council of India (QCI) formed an expert committee headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living and I was technical adviser to it. We developed a methodology to certify Yoga teachers. It is called as a Competency Model with written test, a presentation and skill demonstration. The certification will be given by Ayush ministry and QCI. In future, it will become mandatory for all yoga teachers. There are people who are very good, but without any degree. They need to be recognised.
Risk of being trained under a unqualified trainer
For normal people, there is not so much of a risk. But for those with depression, asthma and diabetes and other such ailments, yoga has to be tailor-made. If it is not done properly, it is going to be hazardous.