International Yoga Day 2021: Experts opine on the healing effect of Yoga and its health benefits

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International Yoga Day 2021: Experts opine on the healing effect of Yoga
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June 21st is marked with International Yoga Day every year. It is dedicated to raising awareness about the practice of yoga and its many benefits. The idea of an International Yoga Day was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 in the United Nations General Assembly Meeting. 

Yoga is a traditional practice in ancient India that uses meditative techniques for the healing of the body and mind. It poses several health benefits that it is now accepted in Western countries as well. It impacts your overall health and wellbeing and this is backed by health and medical experts. On this occasion, let us find out what these experts have to say about the many benefits of yoga.

Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO & Co-Founder, Indira IVF, says, “Given the urban lifestyle, stress and unhealthy schedules are often found to impact people’s reproductive health. Not only does it affect different organs, but can also lead to infertility. The benefits of yoga are manifold as it enhances the physiological and psychological conditions in people. It underlines the importance of breathing techniques, promoting relaxation which consequently balances hormones in the body and improves circulation – both key to ensuring fertility. Some asanas which can be helpful to individuals seeking to improve their chances of conception include Bhramari Pranayama, Paschimottasana, Supta Baddha Konasana, and Sarvangasana.”

Yoga has proven to be beneficial in times of the Covid19 pandemic. It has taken a sudden boom as people across the world have been spending time at home and yoga helps us to keep healthy and fit during these testing times. 

Dr Sharvari Kumthekar, department of cardiovascular & pulmonary rehabilitation, P.D.Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Khar, says, “COVID 19 pandemic has unmasked a larger problem area of mental health due to lack of socialization and the overall panic associated with the negative propaganda. This causes fear and fight response via adrenaline rush by activation of Sympathetic Nervous System in the brain. Hyperstimulation of which is responsible for increased pulse rate, increased blood pressure, slowing digestion, rapid and shallow respiration, excessive sweating, bodily aches and pains with increased fatigability and irritability.”

Further adds, “yoga has shown to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System driven by secretion of acetylcholine. It is the rest and digest mode of the body that takes the body into a state of utmost relaxation and helps to reverse the ill-effects of hyperstimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System by decreasing the pulse rate and blood pressure, slowing down the respiration, improving metabolism, quality of sleep and bringing about a calming effect which promotes healing and helps to maintain homeostasis by creating a state of balance between mind and body. Needless to say that we can prevent lifestyle disorders and be more immune to infectious diseases if our body is in a state of equilibrium at all times!”

Dr Sharvari Kumthekar suggests a few breathing exercises that you can practice at home to ease anxiety and stress that can be done sitting in Sukhasana (Cross Legged Sitting), Padmasana (Lotus Pose), Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) or sitting with back, arms and feet supported on a chair:

Adham Pranayama (belly breathing).

Anulom-Vilom also called Nadi-shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing).

Chandra-Nadi Shodhana pranayama (left nostril breathing).

Soorya Naadi shodhana pranayama (right nostril breathing).

Bhramari Pranayama.

Ujjayi Pranayama.

A-U-M chanting.

Yoga is a great way to boost our immune system and especially during Covid times when the immunity has been compromised, it helps in keeping our immunity level high and keeping infectious diseases at bay. 

Padmashree Dr H. R. Nagendra, Chancellor, S-VYASA, President, Indian Yoga Association, says, “Under the current pandemic scenario, yoga holds great promise to enhance the function of the immune system and act as a supportive treatment method for Covid management in patients with mild to moderate severity. While earlier studies indicate that yoga practices such as Kriya, Yogasana and Pranayama have beneficial effects on bodily functions such as reduction of airway reactivity, strengthening of the respiratory pump, controlling anti-viral activity and stress reduction.”

Nikita Sulay, psychologist & outreach associate, Mpower, The Foundation, says, “It is well established that mind and body are connected. What we think and feel influence our body and what we do and eat influences our mind. For instance, an individual taking a walk or engaging in exercise is caring for their body. These tend to release endorphins which are also known as ‘Happy Hormones’ making the person feel good and productive. Similarly, someone who feels good may want to engage in positive activities like eating healthy and taking care of hygiene. On the other side, we see a lot of physical problems which are either caused or increased due to stress. Various skin problems such as psoriasis, hives, and acne or some gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome are seen to increase due to stress.”

Further adds, “Yoga, when used in a therapeutic format, is called Yoga Therapy. As per the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), Yoga Therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress towards improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga. It uses yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation and guided imagery to improve mental and physical health.”

Nikita Sulay also talks about a few benefits of yoga on mental health which include:

Calming effect: The asanas and breathing techniques help become more calm, relaxed and reduce agitation in a lot of mental health conditions.

Increasing awareness: Yoga practices increase awareness of oneself and of one’s surroundings. As a patient begins to be aware of the most basic physical sensations as heartbeat, pulse and so on it becomes easier to increase awareness of the surroundings and other people.

Increasing attention span: Certain practices in Yoga such as Tratak and meditation help increase one’s attention span. This is especially helpful for a lot of mental health conditions.

Acceptance and adaptability: One of the challenges in rehabilitating individuals with mental illness is that even if they are adequately rehabilitated in their homes, the environment there may be unhealthy which may result in them getting a relapse. Ideas of acceptance and adaptability are a part of yoga counselling that eases the transition.

Also Read:  Yoga Day 2021: Daily stretches and asanas to do despite a busy schedule

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