On the occasion of International Day of Yoga 2020 (June 21), H E Munu Mahawar, Ambassdor of India, speaks to Muscat Daily on the signifcance and relevance of yoga in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. H E Mahawar recalls the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘The way to lead a calm, creative and content life is yoga.’ Excerpts:
In times when most people around the world are asked to stay indoors, the relevance of yoga it seems cannot be overemphasised. What role does yoga play in helping people fight isolation and quarantine blues?
Yoga is a gift of ancient India to the world and has become a way of life for millions across the world. In the present times as all of us battle COVID19 and are adapting our lives to the new reality, yoga has become even more relevant. It has helped many maintain a healthy regimen during the long periods of lockdown and boosted their immunity and sense of balance. In such trying times, yoga can be beneficial in staying strong, mentally charged and attain overall fitness. Yoga helps improve endurance and mindfulness.
In Oman, yoga is quite popular not only among Indian nationals but also among Omanis and expatriates. In last year’s International Day of Yoga (IDY) celebration, more than 6000 Yoga enthusiasts from various nationalities participated in one of the largest single location Yoga gatherings outside India. This year, too, we look forward to celebrating this event in a befitting manner. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also sent a message to His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik seeking his support in this regard. As we get ready to celebrate the 6th International Day of Yoga, the Embassy of India has been organising events online in association with yoga organisations in Oman. These events have been based on themes relevant to the current situation such as Yoga for Immunity, Yoga for Mental Health, Yoga for Holistic Health, etc. All these events are available on our YouTube page – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrMWKGkXyF_ZUphLjI4rseQ for the benefit of all.
It is not just the physical aspect of yoga but also the holistic approach to life it provides, making it more relevant in these times when stress and anxiety is taking a toll on people. What role does yoga play in helping people cope with depression and disruptions in normal life due to the pandemic?
Yoga is a scientific practice that helps in achieving holistic wellbeing. yoga connects people with their inner self and nature. I feel, that more than the physical distress, it is the mental stress that is adding to the woes of people. Many feel anxious and even scared.
While I am not a yoga expert, it is well established that yoga poses help in improving blood circulation, activate internal organs, help in detoxification, thereby improving immunity levels. Experts also say that transmission of chemicals in the body known as ‘happiness hormones’ is drastically improved through correct yoga postures which helps in alleviating stress and relieves anxiety. ‘Pranayama’ techniques help in regulating breathing patterns leading to improved functioning of internal organs and improving immunity. Calming and mindfulness practices that are integral part of yoga are a natural way of fighting depression. Yoga has brought the world together and is helping in fighting COVID19 pandemic.
How different would this year’s celebration be in Oman? What can people expect to achieve by joining the programmes/sessions?
This year, the theme of International Day of Yoga is ‘Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family’. In view of the restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID19 pandemic, the celebrations will be held online through digital media platforms. The main event will be held on June 20, 6pm onwards, which will be live streamed on social media platforms of the Embassy. In addition to this, we have been organising yoga sessions through June 13-19 in collaboration with renowned yoga organisations. The programmes include sessions on yoga for immunity, mental health, holistic wellbeing, etc.
Yoga is the most economic, powerful and efficient way of achieving harmony in lives apart from physical fitness. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “The way to lead a calm, creative and content life is yoga. It can show the way in defeating tensions and mindless anxiety. Instead of dividing, yoga unites. Instead of further animosity, yoga assimilates. Instead of increasing suffering, yoga heals”. Let us all embrace yoga and inspire everyone to have a healthy lifestyle.
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