New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday said yoga is "science, not dogma" and could complement health care approaches in developing countries, including India.
"It (yoga) is a science, not dogma. It helps improve the levels of fitness and the overall health profile. Most practitioners testify to its usefulness," Ansari said after inaugurating a two-day international conference on 'Yoga for Body and Beyond' here.
The Vice President, in his inaugural speech, underlined that yoga was above religion.
"All systems of faith or belief have within them the practice of meditation. The Indian experience is a particularly good instance of this, given the rich interaction that took place over centuries in the areas of belief, consciousness and practice."
"Thus, we find yoga and meditation in Jain and Buddhist practices; similarly, great importance is attached to meditation in Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. The convergence or parallelisms are striking even if rituals or modalities of enunciation may vary," he said.
Enumerating the economic cost of ill-health, Ansari said many developing countries, including India, that cannot augment public health funding must look for complementary health approaches, like yoga.
"Given the inability or unwillingness to augment public health funding in developing countries (and that includes India), the quest for complementary health approaches assumes an urgency. Amongst these is yoga, which has acquired a following worldwide."
AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik said, "Yoga doesn't represent any religion or region. Probably, that's the reason 177 countries out of 193 UN member states had not only supported the idea of declaring 21st June as International Yoga Day but also co-sponsored it."
Seventy international delegates from 32 countries are participating in the two-day conference, which was also attended by yoga guru Ramdev.
At the event, Ansari gave away certificates to the winners of 'Best Yoga Apparels' and 'Best Yoga Geet'.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, on the occasion of International Yoga Day, had sought to distance yoga from religion and called it a "zero-budget health insurance scheme".