Exploring the history of yoga

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Experts and academics discuss the effects of yoga on the body, soul and even culture

A deeper understanding of yoga and Vedic traditions was explored at an informative seminar held recently to celebrate International Day of Yoga.
The event was jointly organised by the Indian Consulate and Australia India Institute (AII).
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A welcome speech by Manika Jain, Consul General of India in Melbourne, marked the start of an interesting academic discussion on the rich history of yoga that can be traced back more than 5,000 years in India.
Dr Haripriya Rangan, Associate Professor and Director, Research And Academic Programs, introduced the speakers, starting with Professor Marc Cohen who spoke on ‘Uniting with the deep inner well of our being.’
Prof Cohen is a doctor and one of Australia’s pioneers of integrative and holistic medicine. He is currently president of the Australasian Wellness Association and professor of health sciences at RMIT University where he leads postgraduate wellness programs.
His presentation reviewed research on how yoga enables practitioners to remain comfortable in uncomfortable situations and thereby enhances homeostatic responses and resilience.
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Prof Cohen also discussed how yoga assists with conditions such as hypertension, insomnia and metabolic syndrome.
Dr Shameem Black, Fellow in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University, followed with an engaging discussion on some of the concerns that have been raised by members of the Indian diaspora.
She talked about how yoga might be approached in a way that respects these concerns with sensitivity through her topic ‘The cultural politics of yoga in a globalising world.’
Dr Sanjay Raghav, director of Dandenong Neurology, and Level 2 Yoga teacher shed light on ‘Unravelling mystery of consciousness: Through ancient yogic texts.’
According to him, the mind gets its power from pure consciousness. “Yoga is a conscious process to accelerate our growth from grosser to subtler layers of mind. The goal of yoga is to manifest divinity inherent in consciousness and to unfold the total personality in all of us,” he said.
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Dr Jayant Bapat OAM then went on to explain ‘The seeds of yoga in vedic religion.’ Dr Bapat retired as a senior lecturer in organic chemistry from Monash University. His current research interests are Indology, Hinduism, Goddess cults, Jainism and sociology of religion.
Dr Haripriya Rangan reflected on a variety of ideas about yoga as doctrine and practice in the Bhagavad Gita.
After an interactive Q&A session that was used to clarify any doubts and further examine the concepts, Dr Rangan offered the vote of thanks and concluded the evening.
(With inputs from the Australian India Institute and Indian Consulate)
Photos courtesy of AII

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