January 17, 2021, 02.49 PM

Overcoming crises

The coronavirus pandemic and climate change are two of the biggest issues facing humanity at this point in history. Whether it's the global quest for a Covid-19 vaccine or the world pulling together to slash greenhouse gas emissions, solutions to both require an effort from the international community.

This is where the ancient Indian concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam comes in. Rooted in yoga, it means the world is one family and should act as such. Not least in times of crisis.

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"Yogis believe that all life is connected, that we are all one and should live in harmony with each other," said Alexander Bütow, who runs a yoga and meditation studio in Berlin.

"The problem is that many humans take themselves out of that and create divisions, groups, and start disconnecting — from themselves, from others, from the world around them. Once we stop this disconnect, we can overcome crises together."

'We are part of nature'

He, like others who practice regularly, sees meditation and yoga as a means of slowing down, emptying our minds, and calming our thoughts. And that, so the thinking goes, facilitates the connection not only to ourselves but to the world around us.

"Every human being is intrinsically connected to every other human being and also to nature, animals, plants, everything on this planet. But you are often not aware of it because you are too busy with too many things. When that stops for a moment, when you calm down, you realize these connections," said A.G. Ramakrishnan, a professor for electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, who also researches in the fields of meditation and breathing exercises.

"The concept of yoga, for instance, is holistic. It teaches you that we can't live without others, we cannot live without animals, we cannot live without nature," Ramakrishnan continued.

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