(Note from the Executive Secretariat) Please allow us to showcase this essay, produced under the newly forming KCC Internship program, with special thanks to the Consulate General of India in Osaka-Kobe (website: https://www.indconosaka.org,) not only for bringing together the Kansai community for a wonderful “International Yoga Day” event, but for also cooperating to develop the next generation of Kansai-area youth with this PR/Communications opportunity! Also special thanks to Ms. Natsu Kubota for her terrific work and the young professionals at UNISC Kansai.
The next International Yoga Day is on 24 June 2018 in Kobe City.
We are looking forward to seeing you all there!
Essay on 2017 International Day Of Yoga Event held in Kyoto in 2017
Based on the personal experience of Ms. Natsu Kubota, Intern with Kansai Consular Corps (KCC)
In the early morning hours of 18 June 2017, more than 1000 residents from throughout the Kansai region, as well as tourists and students such as myself, assembled in front of Heian Jingu Shrine, which was built in 1895 for 1100th anniversary of the establishment of Heian-kyo, ancient capital of Japan. Regardless of age, gender and nationality, these people gathered in Kyoto to experience traditional Indian culture together. And in one moment, under the iconic red gate (torii) of the shrine, I felt Kansai was united with the world by Yoga. It was “International Yoga Day” – a celebration designated by the United Nations in 2014 after Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, proposed the significance of Yoga and the contribution it could make to the world. Yoga originated in India as a way of recognizing the health of both body and mind through mediation.
The Kansai celebration was held in Kyoto with the support and guidance of the Indian Consulate of Osaka-Kobe. As an intern for the Kansai Consular Corps, I joined the event with several of my university classmates to learn more about India and Indian culture.
Following the main outdoor yoga event in the morning was a day-long series of activities that included yoga lessons, Indian dance and music performances and traditional arts and crafts, as food stalls featuring Indian cuisine. At Yoga Live area, people who wanted to learn Yoga were able to take Yoga lessons. There were 5 spaces and a total of 25 lessons were offered, ensuring ample opportunity for all guests. Every class had a unique feature. For example, I was impressed to see yoga lessons for persons with disabilities, medical yoga, and a lesson called “yoga and religion”. There was even a lesson that explored the relationship between Yoga and love. Meanwhile, the event was filled with Yoga and Indian cultural contents. I expected to see Indian art and cultural offerings, but what surprised me were the Kyoto offerings from local shops. Some sold beautiful sweets such as cookies and muffins, others showed Bonsai (“bonsai” literally means “planted in a container” and is a traditional art invented in ancient China and adapted to Japan). The fusion of Indian and Japanese culture made me feel the close connection between the two countries.
As I walked around, enjoying the event, I also spoke with many other visitors, eager to see how they were enjoying the experience. I could feel the energy among the participants. “The yoga instructor spoke in Japanese as well as English so that guests who are not good at Japanese could enjoy the lesson, too”, a woman from Australia said. International Yoga Day (IYD) is held all over the world, but IYD in Kansai was globalized as well as localized.
I was so excited about my experience at the International Yoga Day that I felt I wanted to learn more about the event. How did the Consulate have the idea to hold IYD? How did they coordinate this event? What is their main purpose, etc.? In order to learn more, I contacted the Indian Consulate and requested a meeting and more information.
I arrived at the Indian Consulate with 3 UNISC colleagues and the Vice Consul welcomed us. At first, I asked some questions for IYD. When I said “why did they choose the venue of Heian shrine?” she answered “We wanted to select a place that has heritage value. Our goal is to promote places that are regarded as special within Japanese culture at the same time as we promote our own culture.”
“Yoga was one of the exercises I did to lose weight”, said Sara, a UNISC colleague. She used to take Yoga class in her high school and realized that she experienced psychological benefits in addition to physically ones.
After we students expressed our thoughts about Yoga, the Vice Consul told us that Yoga has now become an international practice, making it possible to be open to various definitions and styles of Yoga. Yet, despite these variations, having one standard of Yoga is also important in order to preserve the original heritage and quality of yoga. I thought this balance between traditional and new interpretations was interesting.
Before my visit to the Consulate, I viewed yoga as a physical exercise, especially for women, and the image of “Western-style” Yoga was very strong in my mind. However, I learned that Yoga is originally more about controlling your body by controlling your mind through breathing.
We were informed about the Common Yoga Protocol designed by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India (GOI).According to yoga protocol, Yoga is defined “a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.” Unlike Yoga in Western cultures, which practices dynamic Yoga posture, original Yoga was more static. To breathe deeply and calm down for a couple of minutes every day whether in office, school or at home, does not require any warming up or special clothing to do yoga.
I knew that Yoga is also registerd with UNESCO as in intangible world heritage. India is promoting Yoga by holding events to mark the special Day. International Yoga Day was celebrated in Kyoto-Kansai, it was simultaneously celebrated during the week of 21 June by approximately 180 Indian Embassies/Posts including the Indian Consulate in Osaka-Kobe around the world.
GOI’s Ministry of AYUSH, Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) published a booklet prepared in consultation with leading Yoga experts and heads of the eminent Yoga Institutions of India called ‘COMMON YOGA PROTOCOL’ and is available at the link http://www.mea.gov.in/images/pdf/common-yoga-protocol.pdf. The information provided in this Yoga protocol is intended to create general awareness among people and community to get harmony & peace through Yoga.
In recognition of a huge demand for Yoga experts at national and international level and with a desire to spread India’s traditional knowledge worldwide, Ministry of AYUSH along with Quality Council of India (QCI) launched two Schemes in June 2015 with a robust system of evaluation and certification of ‘Yoga Professionals’ and ‘Yoga Schools’ based on international best practices, to enhance their credibility and for marketing and popularising Yoga globally. We were also informed of the link http://yogacertification.qci.org.in/. Many Indian Universities now also offer a Master and Doctorate Degree in Yoga
Many people are familiar with Yoga throughout the world , but I suspect that it is still mostly known by its “western” variations. The reason International Yoga day is attractive to many people and obviously successful due to the coordinators’ flexible and tolerant attitude, as I witnessed in the event and in my interviews with participants. There is an international stream where people prefer tradition and sustainability living with nature.
Anyway, from now on, I would like to practice Yoga following protocol!
————————————— * * * ————————————–