Yoga: Inspired by the celebration of International Yoga Day on June 21, and to keep youths engaged during their summer break, youth committee of Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan’s (HDSB) organised a yoga camp in Thimphu yesterday.

The Durga Mandir was thronged with over 100 people. Because of the space crunch, the programme was conducted in three batches over the day.

Swami Ramachandra Bhandari, a 35-year-old Bhutanese Hindu monk, guided the participants on theory and practical applications for personal practice.

Swami has experience of over three years of yoga and meditation practises in Rishikesh. He gave a talk on usefulness of yoga and meditation to solve various physical problems in day-to-day life.

Swami urged the participants to switch from ultra-automatic life to manual work to stay healthy and fit. He said that yoga and meditation will be more effective if the practitioner concentrate on vegetarian diet.  Yoga is not just a fitness trend, but it is also a way of life, he said.

Yoga includes physical exercise, breathing techniques and meditation, among others. Every yoga posture has a different function.  Some yoga, when practised with proper guidance, energises body, improves digestion and relieves stress, while others are therapeutic for blood pressure and heart health. Yoga also helps address several lifestyle diseases without having to resort to medication. Yoga postures and asanas guide life force in a positive way.

Instructors said that if yoga is not practised under proper guidance, it can cause physical, emotional and spiritual harm.
Ram Sharma, a lecturer at Royal Thimphu College, who participated in the camp, said that he has been practising yoga for past four years with guidance from TV and Internet. He said that practising with guidance from a qualified instructor is a different experience.

The participants included primary students to senior citizens. Harilal Nirola, 50-year-old civil servant, said that finding a teacher in Thimphu is difficult. He said that he always wanted to strengthen his yoga practice with a teacher who knew his ‘non-conforming’ body.

Ragupati Suberi, a participant, said that yoga is secular and can be practised by people belonging to any religion, even by freethinkers. He said that the recent international yoga day celebration in Bhutan, which was attended by Prime Minister and cabinet members, has helped reduce stereotype associated with yoga.

Such camps will organise periodically yoga enthusiasts, said the organisers.

Meanwhile, to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Paro chapter of HDSB is organising three-day Vishnu Purana in Paro from July 9 – 11 where Swami Ramachandra will teach yoga in the morning.

Swami, who is also the chairman of Pandit Committee of Bhutan, is planning to conduct the largest yajna (ritual offering of ghee, grain and herbal preparations into a sacred fire) at the new hindu temple at Kuenselphodrang before dasain festival and conduct prayers of His Majesty the King and Druk Gyaltsuen.

Contributed by Rabi C Dahal