Stressing the importance of good health, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Wednesday said Yoga is a science that helps improve fitness level as well as overall health profile.
"A good deal of discussion has been held in many places on defining yoga.
Is it a science, an art, an aid to meditation, a spiritual path or a religion?
Different interlocutors would give different answers, each valid to an extent and none universally endorsed, " he said while inaugurating a two - day international conference on 'Yoga for Body and Beyond' here.
Ansari, explaining how diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart related medical problems were causing a loss of millions of rupees in India and in the world, said there was a stark relationship between poverty and ill health.
"Poverty creates ill health because it forces people to live in environment that make them sick, without decent shelter, clean water or adequate sanitation, " he said.
Ansari said the importance of good health and sanitation was well understood by the leaders of our freedom movement.
Mahatma Gandhi had observed "health is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver".
Gandhi on many occasions had written and spoken about the economic impact of insanitation, the vice president recalled.
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, he said.
"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.
They all depend on sounds or expressions that evoke appropriate responses from the practitioner based on his or her spiritual background, " Ansari said.
The event was attended by Minister of State for AYUSH and Health and Family Welfare Shripad Yesso Naik, Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev, Pranav Pandya, Swami Amrita Suryananda, Swami Chidanand Muni and H. R. Nagendra.