“You don’t have to go to someone, or go to a mountain, or a new job, a new boyfriend to find happiness. You can be naturally happy if you have inner peace. That’s all you actually need. And when you learn it (yoga and meditation process), life becomes a play and joyful,” Christine Lirio tells The STAR.
Yoga and incredible India
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

“Yoga is not an exercise. It is a very personal process where you are actually processing energy in an upward direction,” explains Filipina Christine Lirio, a volunteer yoga teacher at the Isha Yoga Center of the Isha Foundation in Coimbatore in India.  Lirio used to work as a DJ in Los Angeles, California.

MANILA, Philippines — But despite a stable career and steady income in LA, she felt empty inside. She later found fulfillment and inner peace and happiness doing volunteer work with the LA branch of the Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization which promotes wellness and well-being.

“You don’t have to go to someone, or go to a mountain, or a new job, a new boyfriend to find happiness. You can be naturally happy if you have inner peace. That’s all you actually need. And when you learn it (yoga and meditation process), life becomes a play and joyful,” Lirio tells The STAR.

Lirio clarifies that any person over four years old can start performing yoga, which she describes as a systematic practice of physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control and positive thinking and meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind and environment.

A yoga session with Lirio was one of the highlights of the week-long program prepared by the Bengaluru India Tourism Ministry as part of the 5th International Day of Yoga last month. The session was attended by 39 foreign delegates from over 20 countries, including the Philippines, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Russia, among others. 

Yoga teacher Christine Lirio (top) strikes bow and combination pyramid poses. Foreign delegates join a yoga session at the Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore during International Yoga Day.

The International Day of Yoga was initiated by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2014. The General Assembly eventually adopt a resolution to celebrate International Day of Yoga every June 21.

Even if some of the delegates had not done yoga before, Lirio managed to guide them into performing the butterfly or Baddha Konasana and cradle the baby or Hindolasana yoga poses. In the baby cradle pose, the yogi sits on the ground in a cross-legged position, then lifts the top leg and cradles it in his/her arms from knee to foot. To complete the pose, the yogi rocks the leg back and forth as if rocking a baby.

The yoga session with Lirio was held in the heart of the Isha Yoga Center situated 30 kms west of Coimbatore, a major industrial city in South India. The center is also home of the mesmerizing Adiyogi Shiva Statue, the world’s largest bust sculpture.

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of the Isha Foundation, says Adiyogi, the originator of yoga, is a reminder for humanity to shift from religion to responsibility because the world is about inner transformation and liberation.

The foreign delegates, together with hundreds of locals, celebrated International Day of Yoga at the Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore. Aside from being the best place for yoga sessions, the 240-acre garden is also home to a variety of birds, flowers and trees. Locals and foreigners visit the gardens to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air.

Another highlight of our India tour was the visit to Jindal Nature Cure Institute (JNI) in Bangalore. The institute promotes healing through naturopathy and yoga. JNI is a leading naturopathy hospital for providing prevention and cure for chronic diseases through body detoxification and lifestyle modification with a holistic approach. It pioneered modern drug-less healthcare in India.

Students of the S-VYASA institute perform at the 5th International Day of Yoga.

Clients of JNI attest that naturopathy and yoga helped a lot in improving their health without medicine, which could lead to adverse side effects. The clients visit the institution once every two years. In promoting yoga, the Indian government also supported the establishment of Vivekananda Yoga Kendra, Jigini, Bangalore (S-VYASA), a registered charitable institution working to make yoga a socially relevant science.

Romesh Mavathur, professor and chief of Molecular and Biology Department of the S-VYASA University, says a person with diabetes can control the fluctuation in his or her blood sugar level by performing yoga.

Mavathur says one of his colleagues made a testimonial on this. “It is not the elevated blood sugar level, it is the fluctuation in the blood sugar level. So with yoga, a study shows that the fluctuation was minimized by almost 80 percent,” he shares.

He says there is yoga for physical fitness, balancing the mind, emotional stability and spiritual unfoldment.

Aside from having great spaces for yoga sessions, India is also home of the Ooty Tea Factory, situated amid the blue hills of Nilgiris, perched at an altitude of approximately 1,839 meters above sea level.

The imposing Adiyogi Shiva statue at the Isha Yoga Center is the world’s largest bust sculpture.

Tourists, both local and foreign, enjoy the process of making tea at the factory’s tea museum. At the end of the tour, tourists are offered different kinds of teas for purchase, each one is believed capable of treating certain kinds of ailments such as high blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, weight loss and as antioxidant, among others. Sanjay Srivatsay, regional director of the Tourism Ministry of Bangaluru India, encourages people from all over the world to practice yoga.

“Yoga is very relaxing in mind, body and soul,” he says. “Whatever you are doing in life, at the end of the day you will look for a peaceful and happy life and yoga is contributing towards that kind of direction.”

Yoga tourism is already an industry in India and any country, including the Philippines, can benefit from it in terms of both the economy and people’s well being, says Somsong Sachaphimukh, vice president of the India-Thai Chamber of Commerce.

“Yoga tourism is also health tourism. Yoga tourism has good potentials anywhere in the world, including the Philippines,” Sachaphimukh adds.

CHRISTINE LIRIO ISHA FOUNDATION YOGA
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