View: Yoga to the rescue in unbalanced times

By M Venkaiah Naidu

Ever since Covid-19, life has not been the same. Prolonged lockdowns have led to uncertainties and anxieties. Which is why it’s important for all of us to maintain both calmness of mind and fitness of body. Yoga is an effective tool for this very double-purpose. Today, on the International Day of Yoga, we can underline the important role yoga can play in this holistic development of an individual.

Yoga means to join or unite, and seeks to bring about a harmonious union of mind and body. It is a science that emphasises balance, poise, grace, equanimity, peace and harmony. During his proposal to the United Nations in 2014 to adopt an International Day of Yoga, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had summed up the import of yoga as an ‘invaluable gift’ of ancient Indian tradition, which ‘embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature’.Subsequently, June 21 was declared by UN as the International Day of Yoga.

While pointing out that insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes, the World Health Organisation (WHO) mentions yoga as means to improve health in its ‘Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030: More Active People for a Healthier World’ (bit.ly/3hGKqXe).

Individuals and countries have to make difficult choices, especially in these pandemic times — balancing lives and livelihoods, imposing and lifting lockdown, as well as negotiating with isolation and reduced communication, forced sedentary lifestyle and the need to be healthy. Without the normal avenues for face-to-face interaction, physical exercise and recreational activities, yoga can be an effective antidote to the high-level of stress that the pandemic has induced in our lives.

Yoga is also an approach to life celebrating balance. As Krishna tells Arjun in the Bhagvad Gita, ‘Samatvam yoga uchyate’ (Being balanced is yoga).

This year’s theme for International Day of Yoga is ‘yoga at home and yoga with family’. This is a meaningful and effective way to deal with today’s isolation and uncertainty.

From cardiac ailments to backache, performing yoga asanas on a regular basis can control them.

It is also one of the best options to improve the body’s immunity, particularly for those vulnerable with asthma, hypertension and diabetes.

Yoga can also help in dealing effectively with depression, anxiety and stress, which have become all-pervasive due to modern lifestyle, and can also disturbingly lead to suicide.

As a 2018 Harvard Medical School health letter (bit.ly/3d8pVit) noted, ‘the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent. The evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, highyield approach to improving overall health’. Research has also shown that yoga can help in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a common type of dementia.

Various pranayama techniques can greatly help in providing relief and improving the capacity of lungs. Apart from improving body’s flexibility, toning muscles and providing relief from pains and aches, one of the most beneficial effects of yoga is the sense of mental equilibrium it imparts to an individual.

‘Unicef Kid Power’ has a list (bit.ly/37Mhcl5) of 13 yoga stretches and poses for children. With educational institutions conducting only online classes now, I would like to suggest that they could include yoga as part of their online learning programmes.

The writer is vice-president of India.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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