It is heartening to see people all over the world, India, societies, communities, and colonies doing yoga. Yoga centres and ashrams have sprouted everywhere in the past few years. In fact, it is a means of livelihood for many.
Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s one had never heard of high-profile yoga gurus eulogising the ancient practice and to put it mildly, making it more than a means of earning money. But no offence meant since they have at least reminded us of the benefits of doing yoga.
Then there are the much-in-demand Yogacharyas who go from house to house, teaching (mostly women) how to bend, twist and turn their body charging anything from Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 per month depending on how cash-rich the colony is and the fleet of luxury cars parked in the porch. So, yoga makes for an interesting conversation at the evening parties or kitty parties (alas! we can’t have them now). It gives some weight to the daily schedule, “Oh! I can’t come in the evening, I have my yoga class!”
The declaration of June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’, on December 11, 2014, at the United Nations General Assembly, months after PM Narendra Modi had proposed the idea gave a whole new meaning to Yoga. According to United Nations, this year’s theme is relevant “for our times in a society still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic”. It also said that yoga can help people deal with crises such as depression and anxiety by boosting both physical and mental health.
The pandemic has changed how we practise yoga. The fact that people are following virtual classes through individual trainers or the many Yoga apps is testimony to how seriously its benefits are being taken by individuals. Validation by medical practitioners and government authorities has given the ancient practice more mileage and rightly so.
Here are some Yoga facts you must know:
- Lord Shiva is considered to be the first Yogi. It is believed that He disseminated his knowledge and learning to seven learned men known as the Saptarishis. They, in turn, spread this knowledge in seven different directions covering diverse regions – knowledge that humans can evolve beyond their physical limitations. (The Art of Living)
- The word Yoga was derived from the Sanskrit word yuj which means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. This union is not, merely, about your nose touching your knees as you bend to touch your toes! The union referred to is that of your mind with your body. You integrating with your surroundings and nature. And, finally, your individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. (The Art of Living)
- The word “yoga” literally means “union.” If you make your life energies very exuberant and ecstatic, your sensory body becomes as large as you want it. Yoga is to expand the boundary of your sensation in such a way that you experience the whole universe as a part of yourself. Everything becomes one. That is union. (Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev)
How does Yoga help during COVID-19?
- Anulom Vilom Pranayam: Alternate Nostril Breathing. It improves the immune system, boosts memory, improves respiratory and cardiovascular health and regulates blood pressure, and helps to de-stress.
- Vrikshasana: Tree pose. It helps to bring balance to the mind and body, makes the legs stronger, opens up the hips and assists the body in establishing pelvic stability. It also strengthens the bones of the hips and legs.
- Bhujangasana: Cobra pose. It strengthens the spine, butt, butt muscles, chest, abdomen, shoulders, lungs and improves blood circulation while also releasing stress on the body.
- Matsyasana: Fish pose. It stretches the chest, abs, hip flexors and neck to stimulating two important areas of the body.
- Paschimottanasana: Seated forward-bend. It is beneficial for those suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. It calms the body and relaxes the mind. It also helps circulate fresh blood to the head thereby relaxing the mind and reducing insomnia, depression and anxiety.