“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.”

People deserve to feel fulfilled in their lives as a whole, not just from sickness. When a person&’s wellness is heightened, so too is his ability to be productive in all phases of life: home, work, relationships, etc. Of course, the overall sense of wellness also helps with illness and therefore decreases the need for the traditional healthcare system. In addition, this newfound health allows for a happier environment where the person can be a productive member of community and improve his and the lives of others.

With origins in ancient India yoga makes use of different movements, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques that help in leading a healthy life, while keeping stress at bay. Although yoga is a powerful technique that is relevant to the modern world, it cannot be denied that the pure concept of yoga is often misrepresented.

Yoga has been watered down, where people now confuse it with other exercise programmes and build profit-making ventures in its name. Sometimes those who are unaware of its value even regard it as a religion. On the whole, yoga has been surrounded by confusion. It needs to be clarified that yoga is a union of mind, body and spirit.

Yoga, an ancient Indian philosophical practice, was claimed to be developed in the northern parts of India nearly 5000 years ago. It combined body movements and fixed postures with meditation, spiritual, and holistic exercises.

“Yoga” means the practice of asana, the physical positions that compose the third of the eight limbs of yoga, according to Patanjali. Yoga is a practice associated with the Indian philosophical system, a tradition that recognizes and creates bodies that are quite different from those we are familiar with in the West. In Indian culture, yoga is seen as a means to achieve self-realisation.

There are eight steps in classical yoga, of which the physical postures, the asanas, are one. Yoga utilizes this physical aspect, asana, because yogic teachings see the body-mind as “the ground of action that can lead to or obstruct liberation,” which must therefore be dealt with through asana.

In ancient days when yoga originated, it was practised in the peaceful environment of a forest or mountains. Today, yoga is practised in air conditioned enclosures at homes, fitness centres, attractive resorts and even at offices. Although commercialisation has boosted the popularity of yoga and helped in creating awareness among people, it has also been glamorised to suit modern tastes, thereby losing the authenticity of age-old discipline, experts worry.

According to experts, commercialisation of yoga can have both positive and negative impact. However, we need to treasure the traditional yoga style and maintain its authenticity, rather than mix up various styles of yoga.

The origins of yoga which date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions have been introduced to the West by yoga gurus from India. Over the years, yoga has evolved into forms like Asthanga Asana power yoga, hot yoga and more. Today, yoga is being offered in several venues, in different styles, and with more teachers. But when teaching yoga forms and values, teachers should ensure the promotion of authentic yoga, and hence, certification of yoga teacher from a good institute should be made mandatory.

Many Indians and foreign nationals realise the importance of yoga as a healing science. People are more susceptible to long-term wellness in their changed lifestyles and that is the main reason for the growing number of people who like to practice yoga daily. According to the International Yoga Federation, over 300 million people were practicing yoga all over the world by 2008.

Yoga gained popularity and worldwide recognition due to its manifold benefits. The 2008 “Yoga in America” study, released by Yoga Journal, a magazine devoted to the practice, showed that yoga is a $5.7 billion a year industry. As many as 20.4 millon Americans reportedly practiced yoga in 2014, a significant increase from the 15.8 million yoga practitioners in 2008. The market in yoga in the US was estimated to be worth $27 billion in 2014. Bikram, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga studios can be found all across America, but are more concentrated in some states than others. There is a whopping $80 billion value of yoga industry worldwide.

In India, according to the government&’s Make in India report, the wellness industry is worth Rs 49,000 crore and wellness services alone comprise 40 per cent of the market. The AYUSH sector has an annual turnover of around Rs 120 Billion. The sector is dominated by micro, small and medium enterprises, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the enterprises.

However, with increasing popularity of yoga, it is also growing to be a global business. It has led to opening of multiple training centres around the world.

The growing business potential prompted yoga teachers in America to rush for patenting. In the United States alone, patent authorities have issued more than 130 yoga-related patents, 150 copyrights and 2,300 trademarks related to this ancient practice. India raised strong protests and the US admitted that patents were given for yoga-related products made there but not to yogic postures.

India became alert and had set up a resource team to research and standardise yoga postures, to ensure owning and developing yoga. Yoga piracy refers to the practice of claiming copyright on yoga postures and techniques found in ancient treatises originating in India. India has set up a team of gurus and scientists to identify all ancient yoga positions or asanas and register each one to stop "patent pirates" from stealing its "traditional knowledge".

India has made available a list of 1,300 newly registered yoga poses, compiled to prevent the ancient moves from being exploited by patent pirates. Gurus and scientists scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) compiled the list from 16 ancient texts, including the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita, and Patanjali&’s Yoga Sutras, to prevent yoga teachers in the United States and Europe from patenting established poses as their own. The database, which includes 200 video demonstrations, will be made available to international patent offices through India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)

It is important to let the authenticity and traditionalism of yoga remain. It is in the hands of yoga gurus or teachers to see that original and traditional forms do not get adulterated due to blending of various styles, and lose their true value.

The writer is with Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (EIILM), Kolkata.