‘Breathe in, breathe out’

The Asian Age.

Life, Health

International Yoga Day is once again a reminder that yoga is a powerful tool in dealing with stress of uncertainty and isolation

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While 21 June marks the sixth edition of the International Yoga Day, this year, the COVID-19 pandemic protocols will compel everyone to observe the day within the four walls of their homes.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the theme for International Yoga Day 2020 is ‘Yoga for Health  Yoga at Home’. According to the United Nations, the theme highlights yoga is a powerful tool in dealing with stress of uncertainty and isolation, and helps maintain physical well-being. Aasana, dhyana and praanayama could go a long way in mitigating isolation anxiety.

Especially in times of uncertainties and turbulences such as these across the world, yoga enthusiasts and gurus advise that it is best to roll out one’s yoga mat and discover the combination of physical and mental postures so each of us can value-check and tweak our current situations.

The holistic answer to fitness

In the wake of people grappling with mental health issues amid lockdown, experts have repeatedly recommended exercising daily during the lockdown for its benefits in helping release stress, even as it keeps one physically and mentally fit. In its latest health guideline, the Harvard Medical School stated that yoga, meditation and controlled breathing are “some tried and true ways to relax”.

Separately, Deepak Chopra, the founder of The Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global, had talked about the connection of COVID-19 to yoga in one of his articles for a leading global media website.

He said, “The virus makes the need for a positive psychological response more urgent, and the good news is that meditation and yoga are good for anti-stress, which is connected to a strong immune response.”

Celebrity yoga trainer Bharat Thakur reiterates on yoga’s abilities to boost immunity and help in easing depression. “Our blood stream is filled with hormones, the chemical messengers that bring about different changes in the body and maintain the balance in our system,” says Bharat.

“But when there is an imbalance in the hormones, a lot of things in the body can go wrong. It can, however, be set right with the right food and yoga, which are the best means to bring your hormones back in control.” Another yoga enthusiast who swears by the goodness of yoga is Vasundhara Talware, who has been an ardent yogini since she was thirteen years old. The yogini and Life Coach, Vasundhara believes yoga lowers negativity and boosts positivity.

“The best way to describe yoga is that if you are absolutely comfortable in being who you are, you accept yourself the way you are and the way you are not you don’t want to be anyone else  only then, you are practicing yoga,” elaborates Vasundhara.

“Yoga with your own self, yoga with who you truly are at the core and yoga with your higher self. Yoga with you. When you live a life in harmony with your true nature, you build tremendous strength and immunity. When you are in love with who you are and however you are, you are genuinely happy inside out. It reflects in your speech, thoughts and actions. Positivity reflects on your health, wealth, relationships. It’s all connected.”

Vasundhara also believes in that life-affirming essence of yoga. “There’ll be no virus in the world that can shake you when you are established in your core essence, and the yoga way of life will help you become one with your core essence,” she adds.

Breathe in life

Actress Zoa Morani believes yoga helped her fight Covid-19. An ardent yoga practitioner for seven years, Zoa says, “Fortunately, I was already practicing ashtanga yoga for the last seven years. It is not only yoga it was an entire lifestyle change  probably the first time I led a disciplined life after my initial years in school,” explains the actress.

Zoa also talks about how yoga helped her cope when she was tested coronavirus positive. “I had fever for an entire month and my immunity took a hit, but I sailed through it because of all these new habits I had learnt,” she points out. “It helped me mentally and physically. Also, no matter what the situation was, it helps remain calm and maintain a positive outlook. I have experienced days where I have been in a negative frame of mind and my practice and prayers almost instantaneously changes my perceptions.”

Ashwini G.S., daughter of Karnataka BJP MP, is yet another who believes yoga helped her recover from the Covid-19. She had recently shared a video message, in which she said, “Covid-19 is not something to be feared, and yoga, pranayama and a strong mental state are the key to defeating the pandemic.” Payal Gidwani Tiwari, one of the most famous fitness and yoga experts of Bollywood, staunchly advocates the power of breathing correctly.

“Positivity in yoga comes from breathing correctly. Breathing is spontaneous and occurs naturally to everyone. Yet, most of us do not know how to breathe correctly, so how can one think positively and have good mental health?” she asks.

“Slouching and bad postures also reduce our lung capacity and hamper our breathing. Moreover, with the current situation, sedentary lifestyles, tension and fatigue lead to decreased levels of blood circulation. To achieve positivity through yoga, one needs to do pranayama like anulom vilom, bhramari, bhastrika and om chanting,” Payal adds.