Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
The World's top drinker is an Asian, scientists report (The Funny Side)
The biggest consumer of alcohol on the planet is an Asian, a science report said. That headline made me think they'd located a gentleman I shall refer to only as Uncle E
 
Made an important discovery last week. There is no masculine way to carry a giant teddy bear and a Disney Princess helium balloon back from a funfair.
 
Never mind. My ego should recover in three to four months with sufficient stroking.
 
And now to the news. The biggest consumer of alcohol on the planet is an Asian, a science report said. That headline made me think they'd located a gentleman I shall refer to only as Uncle E.
 
When I was growing up, his daily beer intake matched everyone else's daily oxygen intake, the only difference being that humans can survive several minutes without oxygen. When he went on holiday, they shut the local brewery. In biology class at school, I used him and the brewery as an example of symbiosis, entities dependent on each other for survival. We used to joke that when pink elephants got drunk, they saw him. He cut himself once, and no blood came out, just pale stuff that looked like Corona Extra.
 
But a read of the report revealed that scientists hadn't found my relative. The world's biggest drinker is probably the Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrew. It lives on a type of flower nectar which has evolved to be an alcoholic drink, said the study published by the Royal Society. (Evolution is a wonderful thing.) I wish I had known about alcoholic flower nectar when I was young, and was busy giving up frivolous luxuries like food, water and shelter to pay for my beer.
 
Scientists also found a type of chimpanzee that regularly drinks the equivalent of a whole bottle of wine in fermented tree sap. Since most mammals have much smaller bodies than humans, drinks should affect them more. So I guess three glasses of beer might be 21 glasses in "dog beers".
 
By coincidence, my youngest child a few days ago asked me: "Why don't you drink wine, Dad?"
 
I was first asked this question when I was about 28, three or four years after I had given up alcohol, and I'd answered: "People who drink alcohol say and do stupid things." But this answer stopped working when Donald Trump stopped drinking and became measurably stupider.
 
So I gave my daughter a different answer. "Alcohol reverses evolution, making you smell like a pangolin, grow extra nipples and gradually turn back into a lizard," I said. (It's never too early to teach hard science to children.)
 
In my reader contributions mailbox was a report that some days ago in India, goat farmer Ramesh Patni found members of his herd staggering around or fast asleep. Police had steamrollered 11,500 bottles of seized liquor on the field and the goats had partied for three hours before collapsing. Mr. Patni took them home in a handcart to sleep it off. The local police said the last year they'd smashed the bottles on a different field and the cows had got wildly drunk.
 
I have a new respect for wildlife. We think they're just innocently chewing grass or sitting in trees, but these guys know how to party on a low budget. I just hope no one tells my Uncle E about the flower nectar.

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Commercialisation of yoga: Boon or bane?
There are some, like IT training company Koenig Solutions, who give free yoga classes not only to their employees, but also to underprivileged children
 
From the tranquil environs of a forest or mountains, yoga is now increasingly moving to air-conditioned enclosures within homes, fitness centres or attractive resorts. While commercialisation has surged the popularity of yoga, glamourising it to suit modern taste, this has also taken away the authenticity of the age-old discipline, say experts.
 
Nupur Sikka, director of Ganga Kinare, a riverside boutique hotel in Rishikesh - a city touted as 'World Capital of Yoga' and home to many ashrams and spiritual gurus - feels that "commericialisation has both positive and negative impact".
 
"We really need to treasure the traditional yoga style and maintain its authenticity rather than mixing up different styles of yoga," Sikka told IANS.
 
The origins of yoga - which helps in physical and mental well-being - have been speculated to date to pre-Vedic Indian traditions. Later, yoga gurus from India introduced the discipline to the west. It is estimated that 250 million people around the world practice yoga, over 20 million of them in the US.
 
It has evolved into forms like hot yoga, power yoga, Ashtanga yoga and more.
 
Now, with the world ready to celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21 - proposed to the UN by by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accepted with acclamation - experts hope its popularity gets a further boost.
 
“The affirmation coming from one of the highest offices in the country surely helps people shed their cynicism and develop an honest inquisitiveness. The fact that Modi himself is a trained yoga practitioner has further helped in promoting yoga,” Manisha Kharbanda, a 28-year-old practitioner and proponent of yoga for almost two decades, told IANS.
 
Kharbanda, who founded BrahmYog, a Patiala-based initiative committed to spread the benefits of yoga, stressed that “yoga is an education and commercialisation of any type of education is not good".
 
There are some, like IT training company Koenig Solutions, who give free yoga classes not only to their employees, but also to underprivileged children.
 
On the flipside, a major benefit of the commercialisation of yoga has been the increased accessibility of the practice to the masses. Today, yoga is being offered in more venues, in more styles and of course more teachers, but Kharbanda believes that to keep a check on ensuring the promotion of authentic yoga, certification of yoga teacher from right institute must be a prerequisite.
 
“The idea of certifying yoga teachers through the ministry of AYUSH will be a welcome step and will ensure that people learn yoga the way it was evolved by our forefathers,” added Kharbanda, who holds four batches of yoga classes everyday.
 
Also, with the burgeoning popularity of yoga among the young and old alike, it has created space for multiple training centres.
 
Bikram Yoga, an international chain, has opened its first franchisee in India. For a monthly membership of Rs.6,000 exclusive of taxes or an annual membership of Rs.50,000 plus tax, it is attracting customers.
 
“Till now, 50-plus people have joined the classes in a period of one month while over 150 have taken a trial and have liked it. Many are eager to join. We have members from various age-groups ranging from 13 to 70,” Bikram Yoga owner Pallavi Aggarwal told IANS.
 
The fact that yoga is turning out to be a huge business globally is also proven by the variety of designer apparel and practice mats available in the market. And it's only poised for growth.
 
“The interest of yoga in western countries is much more than India. In fact, yoga in the west has already taken off... It has much to do with government's initiative because that is a force which guides people in a certain way,” Navneet, assistant general manager, Kairali Yoga at Kairali Ayurvedic Group, told IANS.

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WHO researching yoga's role for healthier world
The World Health Organization is researching how to integrate yoga with universal health care needs, according to Nata Menabde, the agency's executive director at the UN office.
 
It was a struggle to standardise yoga for use around the world as part of health care systems because of its many different schools of practice, but WHO was working with centres in India and elsewhere to find ways to do this, she told reporters at a briefing here on Sunday's International Day of Yoga.
 
Calling yoga the "ancient Vedic gift to the world", she stressed its ability to bring together body, soul and mind for a holistic approach to health.
 
Yoga is an ideal medium to deal with lifestyle disorders, she said, citing as an example studies in applying it to deal with cardiovascular diseases in Russia that WHO has seen.
 
It can also help in coping with stress and treating mental disorders by helping people develop "inner resilience", Menabde said. 
 
In Goa, yoga was being combined with other therapies to treat mental illness and it was showing results, she said.
 
She said she saw a growing role for yoga as the world's proportion of ageing population increases. Ageing becomes healthier because of the ease of practice and the impact on both body and mind.
 
It has also been shown to help with arthritis and various other illnesses.
 
India's Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji said that the International Day of Yoga celebrations on Sunday would connect the UN with the world outside by linking the observances inside headquarter's open plaza with the mass yoga performances at New York's Times Square and around the world.
 
Every year a yoga event is organised at the Times Square on the summer solstice day by the city's yoga community and the Times Square Alliance. This year it will be a part of the International Day of Yoga and is expected to draw 30,000 people, he said.
 
The celebrations in 256 cities across 192 cities would touch two billion people, Mukerji. They would take place in even strife-torn places like Syria and the Central African Republic and the only country not able to participate would be Yemen, he said.
 
Mukerji said yoga assumed a special meaning this year because of the focus on climate change and the international conference in Paris in December. 
 
The General Assembly's resolution creating yoga day, he said, spoke of its role in "building better individual lifestyles devoid of excesses of all kinds".
 
Yoga's relevance to preserving the environment and combating climate change, Menabde said, is in helping to reflect on what is important and realise the minimalist needs. 
 
This leads one to "be less destructive to the world and to the people around you", she said.
 
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to give the keynote address at the yoga day UN celebrations. 
 
Asked if Ban would participate in the yoga demonstration, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said he may participate in some fashion.
 
In his message about the celebrations, Ban said that he had tried the Vrksasana -- the tree pose -- and "appreciated the simple sense of satisfaction that yoga can bring".

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