The holistic approach to health, well-being provided by the practice of yoga is critical now as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives, created loneliness and has led to increased anxiety, UN General Assembly President has said during the virtual commemoration of the 6th International Day of Yoga.
This year, the International Day of Yoga, marked on June 21, will be commemorated virtually due to the COVID-19-related restrictions in place and requirements of social distancing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new reality for many of us. It has disrupted lives, created loneliness caused by social distancing as it has also led to increased anxiety caused by economic difficulties, fear of illness and worry about loved ones. This is only natural. This year’s celebration comes amidst this critical context,” UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande said in a virtual message.
In commemorating the International Day of Yoga this year, he said “we recognise the important benefits of practicing yoga and its potential in helping people deal with increased anxiety due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.”
In previous years, India’s Permanent Mission commemorated the day at a grand scale in the UN premises. However, this time the mission hosted a virtual ‘Yoga for Health – Yoga at Home’ session on Friday to mark the International Yoga Day at a time when the global outbreak of COVID-19 has upended lives and disrupted lifestyles of people across the world.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said the global outbreak of COVID-19 has “upended lives and disrupted lifestyles” of people across the world.
“Studies indicate a rise in depression and anxiety among people due to the difficulty in adapting to such lifestyle changes,” he said, adding that there is a growing trend of people from many parts of the world embracing yoga to fight social isolation and depression during the pandemic.
Tirumurti said to commemorate Yoga Day this year under the theme of ‘Yoga for Health, Yoga for Home’, the endeavour has been to put together simple yoga modules, carefully designed by experienced yoga gurus, that can be practiced from home by all age groups.
Muhammad-Bande said celebration of the International Day of Yoga is a “unique opportunity” to recognise the holistic approach to health and well being provided by the practice of yoga especially in times like this.
“Global health is a long term objective that requires close international cooperation and exchange of best practices. Health no longer only implies the condition of not being sick. It’s also about being actively well,” he said, adding that multiple studies have confirmed the interdependent mental and physical benefits of yoga.
“The meaning of yoga is most commonly interpreted as a union – the union of the mind and the body – but it also signifies the interconnectedness of the human body and spirit to all the elements of the world that surrounds us.”
The specially-designed module included a session by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on ‘Yoga for Respiratory Health’ where the spiritual leader spoke about the need and importance of maintaining an inner balance during these challenging times.
In a 15 minute session ‘Yoga for Soothing the Heart’, Yoga Guru Kishor Chandra from the Bhakti Center led followers through asanas and pranayama that will help balance and soothe the heart. A meditation session from Sahaj Yoga on a guided meditation exercise aimed to relax the mind was also part of the module.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev said the coronavirus pandemic is “one of the biggest challenges that we as a generation have faced.”
“It is most important that we as human beings function at our best. Our physical self, our intellect, our emotional balance everything should be at its best, our innate wisdom must function now because now there is a crisis outside. You cannot afford to create a crisis within you,” he said.
The spiritual leader underscored that during this moment of pandemic and in the post-pandemic world, “one of the biggest challenges will be psychological crisis that human beings will face. When a problem is thrown at us, we should not become a problem. This is very important. There is no better way to approach life than through the yogic system.”
Tirumurti said the celebration of the International Day of Yoga is a testimony to Yoga’s global appeal and the substantial medical and scientific evidence that acknowledges the efficacy of yoga in promoting healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Tirumurti said the very nature of yoga techniques, combined with proper breathing techniques and meditation, have been found to reduce the impact of stress, help with anxiety and depression, boost energy and provide equanimity to one’s existence.
At least 8.6 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus around the world, 458,000 have died due to the deadly virus and more than 4.2 million have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.