Yoga has nothing to do with religion and those who attribute religious connotations to the "ancient science" cause "immense harm" to humanity, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said today.
Stressing on more research in this field, Naidu said yoga was a science of well-being that needed to be studied and practiced just like any other medical system.
"Yoga has nothing to do with religion. Some people unfortunately attribute religious overtones to this ancient scientific system. Those who do this are causing immense harm to humanity," he said while inaugurating the two-day 'International Conference on Yoga for Wellness' here.
He termed yoga as the mother of all exercises which provided physical fitness, mental well-being, spiritual succour and also took care of "medical bills".
The theme of the conference, Naidu said, was very relevant and timely as it provided an opportunity to deepen understanding of the ancient science and the possible ways in which this knowledge could be applied to make lives healthier and happier.
He also lauded Yoga guru Ramdev for taking the practice to every household and said yoga was the best medicine as it cost nothing.
"Ramdev made yoga reach every house. That is the greatness of that individual. He made this herculean task simple by explaining what yoga is and how it helps you lead a better life," he said.
In a lighter vein, Naidu also urged AYUSH Secretary C K Mishra, who is also the health secretary, saying, "If you popularise this ministry (AYUSH), your expenditure on health on will come down."
Naidu said yoga was a heritage received from forefathers and emphasised on conserving it.
Stressing that yoga should become a part of the daily routine to combat modern-day health problems, both physical and mental, he said there was a misconception that it was only a physical exercise meant for fitness.
"It is a holistic system where the mind and body act in unison and get completely rejuvenated as physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation help in overall well-being of an individual," he said.
"Yoga also helps in the spiritual quest of an individual through understanding of the inner-self and achieving complete peace with the surroundings," he added.
He said while yoga was an integral part of health and physical education in India, it was gaining increasing popularity in schools in the United States. It was also introduced in schools in the UK and Australia because of its positive effects on concentration levels and emotional balance, among others, he added.
Minister of State for AYUSH Sripad Yesso Naik said the world was facing the challenge of increasingly growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases and stress-related health problems and youth was the most affected due to erratic lifestyle.
"To be free from stress, our youth develops the habit of smoking, drinking or drug abuse. With the rise of stressful living conditions, the social evils are also rapidly rising," he said.
He said that if yoga was adopted and encouraged as part of one's daily routine, there would be less need to go for expensive allopathic interventions and drugs.
The third edition of the international conference has six technical sessions and experts would deliberate on the scope of yoga in integrated medicine, control of cancer, depression, cardio-vascular diseases, gynaecological disorders and pain management.
Around 500 delegates, including 70 international delegates from 44 countries, would attend the conference which would provide a common platform for AYUSH and allopathy practitioners, researchers, academicians, policy makers and students.