Yoga played vital role in projecting India’s soft power: ICCR DG

New Delhi : Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Director General Dinesh K Patnaik on Tuesday said Yoga has played an important role in projecting India’s soft power.

“Yoga has played an important role in projecting India’s soft power as it is ‘a health and exercise system’, best described as a gift from India to mankind by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the Director General said while speaking to UNI in an interview.

A two-day international yoga conference, the first of its kind, known as ‘UBUNTU’: International Yoga Conference, held on the theme “Yoga for Universal Well-being, Finding Commonalities between Indian and African traditions”, was organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations from June 21 to June 22 in virtual mode.

“The conference, marking the 7th International Yoga Day celebrations, aimed at finding the commonalities between Indian and African traditions, focusing on the multi-layered aspects of traditional health and medicinal

systems of India and African countries,” Mr Patnaik said.

The conference was attended by distinguished global experts and more than 78,000 African healers from traditional healers’ organization in South Africa and students of IKS-Africa and Yoga.

Academics and enthusiasts from global institutions and universities having IKS – Africa and Yoga therapies in curriculum also joined the event.

Mr Patnaik said the main aim of this conference was to make people aware of different aspects of Yoga as well as find similarities and common points with different countries. This time the partner was the African continent.

Underlining the benefits of yoga, he said particularly during the pandemic it was noticed that yoga assisted in reducing anxiety and relieving depression of people trapped in their houses during the global lockdown.

The last one year has been very challenging for the world due to the COVID pandemic. Many of ICCR activities dealt with physical events and shows, were greatly affected due to the lockdown in many countries.

“The ICCR took the initiative of immediately moving into a virtual mode and has taken most of its programming online,” he told UNI.

Performing art shows, Visuals art exhibition, Conferences and discussions, all have been held online.

He also informed that the ICCR has become a Personnel Certification body of the Yoga Certification Board of India and will be able to issue certificates to Yoga professionals across the world.

This is an important initiative as it helps in creating a scientific and well defined procedure to obtain a certificate to be a Yoga professional.

While Yoga is a low impact exercise with high benefits, it is important to ensure the safety of the learners and practitioners of Yoga. The certification system will ensure that properly trained and knowledgeable yoga practitioners are able to obtain a certificate so that they can then help learners and beginners to do yoga in a systematic manner, he said.

Mr Patnaik said since 2015 the Ministry of Ayush, Ministry of External Affairs and ICCR have been working together to promote yoga across the world. The International Day of Yoga is celebrated in almost all countries through the active participation of Indian Embassies and High Commissions.

While yoga has been popular for a long time, since 2015, it is assumed that it has global significance and has helped in projecting the fact that yoga originated in India, he added.