Exploring the benefits of yoga

Yoga practitioners were taken through a demonstration of common yoga protocol.

Yoga enthusiasts met at the Samaj Centre in Gatesville on Sunday ahead of the seventh annual International Day of Yoga.

The UN declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga seven years ago.

Both seasoned yoga practitioners and those still learning gathered for Sunday’s event, which was hosted by the Consulate General of India Cape Town.

Master of ceremonies Pramilla Vassen said yoga benefited the mind and spirit as well as the body.

“The ethos of yoga is non-violence, and we need to practise this on our own bodies first. We must do all practices mindfully, and it is important to breathe through all the postures. We also grow and develop at our own pace,” Ms Vassen said.

Ashok Babu, the Consul General of India, said the previous events in Cape Town had been held at bigger outdoor venues, but a smaller gathering was held this year because of Covid-19.

“Yoga originated in India, but it now belongs to the world,” he said. “Yoga is good for our overall wellness, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is all the more reason for us to be safe and healthy. Fitness routines are important for our health.”

Mzwakhe Nqavashe, chairperson of the City of Cape Town’s safety and security portfolio committee, said people of all ages could learn yoga.

“Yoga allows us to stretch our lung area and provides enough supply of oxygen for our blood. People of all ages and physical condition can do it, as it is slow motion and puts no strain on the body. It has a lot of health benefits.”

Martin Gluckman, a Sanskrit scholar working with UCT, lives in Auroville, a community of 2 700 people in the south of India, and he spoke of how the community strove for unity in humanity.

According to Mr Gluckman, the community, which was started in 1968 and now has people from 53 countries, believes “all life is yoga” and operates on a gift economy and volunteerism, while prioritising ecology and the environment. Residents have planted three million trees, eat only the food their farms produce and support surrounding villages.

Participants listen to one of the guest speakers.
From left, Lauren Mensikovas, Nikki Petersen, Zura Sirkoth and Theron Naidoo, from the Mzansi School of Yoga Arts, lead the yoga demonstration.
Pramilla Vassen guides the participants through the yoga demonstration.