Think yoga, and a picture of a person contorted in an incredibly complicated pose comes to mind, or that of a person in a deep meditative state with sublime peace on their face.
Acrobatic flexibility is out of the question for many of us, and a peaceful mind is an even rarer gem. In short, though inspiring, these images are a little daunting too.
The key to unlocking yoga - an aesthetic, energizing, and enriching practice - is to know one simple fact - yoga is for everyone. Yes! EVERY ONE!
Yoga doesn't call for fancy setup or expensive equipment. It requires nothing more than space slightly longer and broader than a yoga mat and the willingness to keep at it. (No one turns an expert or yogi overnight.)
Like Indian philosophy and spiritual practices, yoga can be approached from many different angles. The tangible benefits of practicing yoga are myriad. Besides mere exercise, it is a wonderful method of strength training sans the props. It is effective physical therapy and can prevent injuries. It enhances body balance and is a potent full-body indoor/outdoor workout.
Yoga is an engaging and holistic practice - the word 'holistic' is not used lightly. The system integrates breath, body, mind, and spirit. It can control anxiety, improve immunity and reduce stress. For those seeking a deeper meaning, it can be the means to exploring spirituality and self-realization. For those so inclined, it is profound enough to become a way of life.
The system itself is robust and inclusive and has survived several millennia. There are records of the yogic practice dating back to 2700B.C. Sage Patanjali systematized and codified the then-existing practices of yoga. The treatise 'Yoga Darshana' or 'Yoga sutras' are attributed to him, and he is considered the master of classical yoga.
The word comes from the Sanskrit root 'Yuj,' meaning 'to join' or 'to unite.' The 'joining' refers to seeing past the duality of our existence and finding the oneness or connectedness with everything that surrounds us.
Swami Vivekananda's lecture at the Chicago World Parliament of Religions in 1893 sparked widespread interest in the practice in the United States. Since then, teachers like B.K.S Iyengar have popularized the system among Americans.
The system, like the exercises, is flexible – allowing for many teachers to develop various schools of practice. Yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar introduced props to help practitioners achieve the perfect pose and developed a technique that is now known as "Iyengar Yoga."
Each generation has adapted yoga and integrated it to achieve their goals. Yoga is timeless; its soaring popularity is testimony to the fact. Even locked in and shut out, yoga practitioners continued to breathe deep and relax through daunting times.
Yoga is a vast science that has many subliminal levels. Once learned, it's a tool that you can turn to at any time. Yoga is a path. It can lead where you want to go – towards health, strength, fitness, flexibility, well-being, spiritual growth, and oneness.
On International Yoga Day, which falls on June 21, take a brief look at what the ancient practice is all about.
Seemingly lost for an explanation of why vaccine uptake is so low in Russia when coronavirus infections are soaring and vaccines are readily available, the Kremlin resorted to complaining of "nihilism."
- Five months into the campaign, and a growing battery of threats as well as incentives, by June 2, only 18 million Russians had received at least one dose of vaccine.
- Vaccinations are even available in department stores. But at just one-eighth of the population, that figure, the most recent available, is far lower than in most Western countries.
- The hold-outs have proved impervious not only to cash payments and chances to win a car or even an apartment but also to loss of earnings and threats of dismissal.
- And unlike most countries, Russia is not short of vaccines, having approved four domestically made shots and finding willing buyers worldwide for the most widely available, Sputnik V.
- Russians often cite a general fear of new medical products as their reason for refusing the vaccination. There's also the general distrust of authorities and negative media reports about foreign-made vaccines – and the fact that more than 5 million people have already been infected and developed resistance.
The Supreme Leader is the commander-in-chief of Iran's armed forces and controls the security services.
- He also appoints the head of the judiciary, half of the influential Guardian Council's members, Friday prayer leaders, and the heads of state television and radio networks. The Supreme Leader's multi-billion-dollar charitable foundations also control large swaths of the Iranian economy.
- The president is elected for four years and can serve no more than two consecutive terms. The constitution describes him as the second-highest-ranking official in the country. He is head of the executive branch of power and is responsible for ensuring the constitution is implemented. The president has significant influence over domestic policy and foreign affairs. But it is the Supreme Leader who has the final say on all state matters.
- All presidential candidates must first be approved by the Guardian Council, a body of six theologians (appointed by the Supreme Leader), and six jurists (nominated by the judiciary and approved by parliament).
- They approved only seven out of the 590 people who registered their candidacy for this month's election.
- The 290 members of the parliament, the Majlis, are elected by popular vote every four years. The parliament has the power to introduce laws, reject the annual budget, and summon and impeach government ministers and the president.
- The most influential body in Iran, the Guardian Council, is tasked with approving all bills passed by parliament and has the power to veto them.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution with the support of 119 countries several months after the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in a Feb. 1 coup.
- U.N. Secretary-General had earlier on Friday pushed the General Assembly to act, telling reporters: "We cannot live in a world where military coups become a norm. It is totally unacceptable."
- The military cited the government's refusal to address what it said was fraud in a November election as the reason for the coup. International observers have said the ballot was fair.
- An initial draft U.N. resolution included stronger language calling for an arms embargo on Myanmar. According to a proposal seen by Reuters last month, nine Southeast Asian countries wanted that language removed.
- General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but carry political weight. Unlike the 15-member Security Council, no country has veto power in the General Assembly.
- The General Assembly also called on Myanmar to swiftly implement a five-point consensus the junta forged with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to halt violence and start a dialogue with its opponents.
China's Most Belligerent Journalists Used To Be The Ones Doling Out Insults Online. Now They're The Targets
Reporters from China's jingoistic government-owned media outlet, the Global Times, have become the latest targets of an increasingly radical wave of nationalism sweeping through the world's largest country.
- Just weeks after China's leader Xi Jinping urged government officials, state media, and diplomats to refine their propaganda to portray a "loveable" image of China, prominent journalists from the Global Times have suddenly found themselves in the firing line.
- The daily tabloid is widely considered the unofficial voice of Beijing's more hawkish views.
- Nationalistic commentators and trolls have targeted writers who have expressed concerns that the rhetoric online in China is getting too extreme.
- Some within China's state media privately say the increasingly radical tone on Chinese social media is akin to a modern-day version of Chairman Mao's 'red guards,' who denounced enemies and publicly humiliated "reactionaries" during the Cultural Revolution.
- Things stepped up a notch when several prominent users of China's censored Twitter-like platform Weibo decided to start publicly denouncing a group of well-known writers and academics as "traitors" for having taken part in a cultural exchange program sponsored by Japan's government.
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