Yoga mania has taken the world by storm over the last decade. Here is a list of eminent personalities promoting this ancient Indian practice and its overall health benefits.
Historically, Yoga has been an important part of Hinduism, initially practiced by spiritual individuals, referred to as Yogis, in order to develop their meditation skills and purify their body. With time, it slowly got spread to the masses and it represents today a ‘healthy practice’ that is even taught in Indian schools. The trend has gradually become international, particularly in the western world, with an increasing number of foreigners coming to India to learn this practice.
In December 2014, the United Nations recognised that “Yoga gives a holistic approach to health and well-being” and that circulating information about the benefits of Yoga would be beneficial for the health of world population. June 21 was then declared as the International Yoga Day by the United Nations, with thousands of people gathering to practice Yoga in cities like Paris, New York, London and Tokyo. Key personalities from India and abroad, some referred to as gurus, have become ambassadors of this practice and contribute in spreading the Yoga mania around the word.
Baba Ram Dev: Baba Ram Dev, a Hindu godman from India, is THE Yoga teacher by excellence. He is one of the founders of the Divya Yoga Mandir Trust that aims at promoting Yoga among the masses and notably became famous, thanks to his TV programs on Yoga exercises. Baba Ramdev prescribes Pranayama which is a collection of breathing methods that focus on increasing the blood circulation of the body and improving the flow of blood to all the internal organs of the body so that the overall health of the individual improves. His exercises have seen added marketability, where modern aspects of mental and physical well-being are presented, such as weight loss, slimming the body, stress reduction etc. He also claims his Yoga exercises can cure cancer and even AIDS. The spiritual guru is also making various Ayurvedic medicines and products. Many celebrities and politicians from India and abroad attend his Yoga programmes. He has given Yoga lectures in the British Parliament, the US, Japan, the United Nations etc.
Shilpa Shetty: The gorgeous 41-year old Bollywood actress has not changed a bit since she started acting in films in 1993. Her secret: Yoga. Today, through a series of videos and conferences, she shares her Yoga exercises that are mainly beauty related: for a flat tummy, to relax the nervous system, get relief from menstrual cramps etc. She has released three audiovisual Yoga CDs, covering yogasanas and pranayama.
Suneel Singh: Here’s a new-age Yoga teacher based in New Delhi, the Indian capital. He mixes old traditional forms of Yoga with new methods. His contemporary Yoga moves are influenced by zodiac signs, Yoga-Chi and Hasya Yoga. Today, Suneel conducts preventive healthcare workshops, focusing on fitness and healthcare solutions for ailments like obesity, diabetes, neck pain, arthritis, stress, insomnia, heart problems, tension and depression.
Bikram Choudhury: 73-year-old Bikram Choudhury is an Indian Yoga teacher and the founder of Bikram Yoga, a famous form of Hot Yoga performed in a series of 26 hatha Yoga postures done in a hot environment of 40°C (104°F). Each pose benefits a definite part of our system. He has trained many celebrities, including Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems and violence. He established a Geneva-based charity, the International Association for Human Values, an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development, and aims to foster shared global values through exercises focused on well-being, such as meditation and Yoga. For his service, he has been awarded in several countries including India, Peru, Colombia and Paraguay.
Jasmine Chong: Long working hours and unhealthy habits left Jasmine feeling sick and tired, and Yoga was the only activity that made her feel better. She finally left her desk-bound banking job in 2014 to pursue her passion for Yoga, ultimately training to become a teacher of the exercise. Fast forward to today, she is the founder of Yoga Lab, a studio in Singapore dedicated to making quality practice accessible. To Jasmine, the lessons Yoga offers off-the-mat are more valuable than the poses on the-mat. A whopping 74,000 Instagram followers watch her everyday as she moves from one pose to another.
Tara Stiles: Tara Stiles is a model and the founder of Strala Yoga, a revolutionary approach to healing through movement. Tara works with corporates like W Hotels, Reebok Yoga and has also authored several best-selling books, including ‘Yoga Cures’ and ‘Strala Yoga’, which are translated and published in several languages. Besides being a celebrity Yoga teacher, Tara also supports ‘The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’, a Clinton Foundation initiative to combat childhood obesity, bringing Strala classes to 30,000+ participating schools.
Late Yoga Gurus
Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda was a great socio spiritual leader and an exponent of Yoga. He was a pioneer social reformer whose contribution to the upliftment of Yoga in the western world through lectures and discussion is noteworthy. He stressed upon how negative thoughts arise out of physiological, psychological and emotional imbalance, and could be addressed through Yoga. Swami Vivekananda’s philosophical works on Yoga are Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. His important publications on yoga includes ‘Karma Yoga’, ‘Taja Yoga’, ‘Vedanta Philosophy: Lectures on Jnana Yoga’, ‘Addresses on Bhakti Yoga’, ‘Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga’.
B.K.S Iyengar: B.K.S Iyengar, popularly known as Guruji, genuinely explains the meaning of Yoga sutras. He was one of the leading Yoga personalities in the world and popularised Yoga across the globe. Yogacharya Iyengar’s style of Yoga is unique and is termed as ‘Iyengar Yoga’. He had command over Yogasanas and practised complete authority over asanas. He had written many books on Yoga philosophy, such as ‘Light on Yoga’, ‘Light on Pranayama’, ‘Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ and ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutra Parichay’. He is the recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, which are awarded by the Government of India.