Yoga in the fight against COVID-19
Yoga has gained increasing popularity all over the world. In response to a historic address by the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi to the UN General Assembly in September 2014, the United Nations adopted the 21st June, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, as the International Day of Yoga(IDY) in December 2014 with an overwhelming support of its 177 members!
Yoga was well known and practiced in Azerbaijan even before 2014. However, practitioners in Azerbaijan by and large agree that Yoga following has grown exponentially since the first International Day of Yoga was celebrated in June 2015. Last year, IDY was celebrated in many iconic locations across Baku including at Heydar Aliyev Centre, Gobustan, Yanar Dag, Icherisheher, Ateshgah, Boulevard etc and we had the opportunity to take IDY out of Baku to regional cities like Lankaran, Samakhi and Gabala. The support and enthusiasm Yoga received from friends in Azerbaijan and the regional cities of Azerbaijan was unparalleled, reflecting the universal recognition of the benefits of Yoga.
IDY 2020 will be a unique one. It will be celebrated at a time when the world is facing an unprecedented period and as many countries continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. This also means that unlike in the past we will not be able to celebrate the IDY together- in squares and in halls, as the need to maintain social distancing will not allow us to congregate and participate in Yoga events together.
The Government of India has come up with a very innovative and creative way to celebrate IDY this year. This year’s IDY will be celebrated on the theme ‘Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family”. To take this forward, the Embassy has organised a series of programmes in collaboration with some of the most renowned Yoga Gurus in Azerbaijan with the intention of introducing Yoga to the larger community and also to encourage Yoga enthusiasts to practice Yoga from the warmth of their homes. These are being broadcasted live on the Embassy’s facebook page. Please join us.
The relevance of Yoga has a new meaning this year more than ever. As people confine themselves at home leading to loneliness and sometimes depression, as panic over the risk of infections rises and as we are surrounded by negative news and fear, it has become all the more important that each of us remain fit and calm. That we turn to a time tested solution- Yoga. Remember Yoga is 5000 years old. It has been tested through generations over the years and it has passed the test. Therefore, today, Yoga is recognised as the best form of physical and mental practice . This is the main reason why it is gaining popularity by the day.
Yoga is known by many as a physical exercise, but it is much more than that. Yoga can bring calmness to the mind besides making a person physically fit. It unifies the body and the mind. It introduces and maintains harmony and brings nature closer to man. A systematic practice of Yoga and following the Common Yoga Protocol (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-GJh9GeOxE), which is showcased as part of the annual International Day of Yoga is a good starting point to achieve physical and mental balance.
I will also recommend that you watch and practice animated 3D videos of the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, a keen practitioner of Yoga at the link https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKrFtLRqyz6MWIswWKBazJOux333ZMyvX ,to guide you further .
The unique poses and stretching exercises introduced by Yoga can help reduce tensions in muscles and joints. This could in turn help in relaxing the muscles and decreasing tensions in the human system. Breathing techniques of Yoga can help discover one’s true essence and improve balance within the body.
A healthy mind and body with strong immunity is what we all need as we face an invisible virus which invades with no discrimination. Yoga can lead us to the way of attaining a wholesome well being and transform one’s life in a positive way.
A very happy International Day of Yoga!
The author is the Ambassador of India in Baku. Views expressed are his own.