Message Of Support
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
I am delighted to join the Consul General of India, the Honourable Dr Vikram, and the Founder of the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman, as we celebrate the International Day of Yoga.
I have had the privilege of participating in these Yoga demonstrations since they first began, in 2015. The very first time I attempted the Warrior Pose, I had no prior experience of doing Yoga, although I knew from my late friend, Sri Swami Sahajananda, of the remarkable benefits it brings.
I must say, I was surprised to find that I was able to instruct my body to do the movements that were being demonstrated. I had always thought that Yoga was for the young, the flexible and the adventurous. But I discovered that it is indeed for anyone, of any age, and any level of fitness. Its levels of complexity flow with the individual abilities of each person, allowing even someone like me to reap benefits.
This is why I support the International Yoga Day and why I appreciate the initiative taken by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness at an international level of the health benefits of practising Yoga.
This is indeed an important message for South Africa. We struggle as a nation with lifestyle diseases, many of which have the side effect of chronic pain. I myself have been a Diabetic for many years, and while I am very careful about my diet, I am also cognisant that the demands of my work seldom leave enough time for rest.
It is therefore essential that I take time to focus on what my body is telling me. Interestingly, when I do Yoga, I find it much easier to listen to the signals of my body. Usually, when I feel tightness in my muscles, or a twinge of pain, my automatic response is to push it aside and just keep going. After all, aren’t our bodies duty bound to do whatever we ask of them?
I’m afraid that is a misconception. We actually have to look after our bodies, recognising and respecting their limitations. Because we only get one body in which to live out this life. Every dream we want to fulfil, everything we want to achieve, depends on our bodies staying alive and well.
There are many South Africans who live with chronic pain, hoping that if they limit their activities or their range of movement, things will get better. But medical science is clear that movement and stretching helps relieve chronic pain in the long-term. So if you are suffering with pain in your back or your hip or your shoulders, why not try some Yoga? It’s gentle, and your body will thank you.
It is good to see so many learners and young people taking part in this demonstration. The younger you are when you learn the value of exercise, the better off you will be. I hope that all of you will go home today and tell your dads, granddads and uncles that Yoga is for everyone. After you’ve wished them a happy Father’s Day, why not show them a few moves?
Every year when I come to this demonstration there are people who ask me if I wouldn’t rather be at home, considering that it is Father’s Day. My answer is simple. I believe that when you’re a father you have a responsibility to show your children the right ways to live.
By your own example, you teach them to be responsible. You can model integrity, accountability, generosity, kindness and patience. These are all important lessons as you build your children’s character. But there are other things you need to show them; things that will lead to a lifetime of health.
It’s not enough to talk to your children about eating well, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, or getting regular exercise. They need to see you do it yourself. You need to lead by example. Because children learn far more from what they see you do, than from they hear you say.
My own children are all grown up, and I am proud of the good character I witness in all of them. I know it has much to do with the way their mother raised them. But I also take some credit. I have tried to show my children, through my actions, what is important.
So even on Father’s Day, or perhaps especially on Father’s Day, I am happy to be at a demonstration like this, learning how to take care of my physical and mental health. It gives a good example to the younger generation.
This generation faces so much hardship. It is not surprising that mental health has become an enormous challenge among our youth in South Africa. It’s hard to stay positive and hopeful when jobs are scarce, our economy is in recession, and leaders keep failing us.
I want to encourage our youth to actively pursue emotional wellbeing. You may have heard the saying that your attitude determines your altitude. No matters what circumstances you face, if you keep a good attitude, doors will open. So look for things that help you positive. You don’t need a coping mechanism. You need a lifestyle that focusses on healthy, positive, beneficial practices. Things like prayer, forgiveness, building relationships, pursuing knowledge, eating healthy, and getting daily exercise.
Yoga is the perfect start for anyone. You can practice it in the safety of your own home, by yourself, or in a group with friends. You can do it at any time of day. All it takes is your willpower.
I thank our demonstration team for opening our minds to this wonderful practice.