Makar Sankranti is an occasion to celebrate Surya Namaskar

Shri Sarbananda Sonowal
14 Jan 2022

 

Sarbananda Sonowal writes: When performed on a regular basis, the surya namaskar improves physical vitality and immunity and helps maintain mental balance in a fast-changing world.

The Ministry of Ayush has decided to utilise this occasion to reach out to humanity with a special and topical message of rejuvenation through the surya namaskar — the set of yoga asanas used to “salute” the sun.

The sun will rise a little to the north on Makar Sankranti, January 14, bringing along many messages of cultural, spiritual and agricultural significance for the country. The word “sankranti” signifies transitional movement, the movement for betterment within and without, transitions on a cosmic level and in the zodiac signs.

The Ministry of Ayush has decided to utilise this occasion to reach out to humanity with a special and topical message of rejuvenation through the surya namaskar — the set of yoga asanas used to “salute” the sun.

Most of us must have heard about the surya namaskar. Its significance goes much beyond a salutation to the sun. It has a profound impact on the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of humans. When performed appropriately on a regular basis, the surya namaskar not only improves our vitality and immunity but also helps maintain mental balance in a fast-moving and stress-generating world.

Considering the importance of yoga, the Ministry of AYUSH has dedicated due resources towards its growth and development — along with naturopathy — under the ambit of Indian traditional medicine systems. Furthermore, in a bid to popularise yoga at the global level, it has also been recognised as a competitive sport. The International Yoga Sports Federation (IYSF) has been constituted by the ministry and concrete steps are being taken to promote it as a sport at the international level.

Since 2014, when the International Day of Yoga was recognised, the event has grown each year, with greater international participation. As a part of its commitment to promote yoga on a grand scale, the ministry is in the process of setting up a centre of excellence for Ayurveda and yoga in the United Kingdom. In order to further boost professional activity in the domain, the Ministry of AYUSH has constituted the yoga certification board for yoga professionals and accreditations to the institutions.

Building upon the “whole of government” approach of PM Narendra Modi, a surya namaskar demonstration programme is being launched in line with the tribute to 75 years of India’s independence, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The AYUSH ministry has not only engaged other ministries and state governments but has involved all major stakeholders in the global yoga fraternity in this mass demonstration programme.

The universal appeal of yoga is embodied in the surya namaskar. As the sun is the source of vitality for all living beings, the surya namaskar is a sure-shot dose of vitality for humans without any side effects. The world is realising that vitality and strong immunity from within are the most pressing requisites to battle the re-resurfacing Covid-19 infection. For this reason, the surya namaskar becomes even more important.

Our approach is not limited to one-off events as the ministry strongly believes in creating lasting impact, focusing more on building synergies and a continuum — both in the design and implementation — of our action strategies. The demonstration event on January 14 is also part of a continuum, as I had said in Hyderabad recently when we embarked upon an initiative of organising 75 crore surya namaskars.

Surya namaskar is a combination of eight asanas performed in 12 steps. The beauty of these asanas is that all age groups can perform them without much difficulty and their regular practice makes the whole system resilient. I will not go into the details of the benefits of performing regular surya namaskars here but would just like to remind the reader that a practitioner, like myself, is bound to feel energised, with overall well-being, throughout the day, thus saving personal and national expenditure on health-related issues to a great extent.

I am sure that this Makar Sankranti will herald the beginning of a novel resolve from the global community in making natural resources of energy, like the sun and the surya namaskar, our best and most dependable friends. This will help our planet in more ways than one.

[This column first appeared in the print edition on January 14, 2022 under the title ‘Salute the Sun’. The writer is Sarbananda Sonowal, the Minister of AYUSH and the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India]

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