Covid-19 crisis: Renewed focus on immunity-building and yoga

Published: May 24, 2020 12:01:58 AM

Weighed down by work pressures, domestic responsibilities and immunity worries, people are turning to yoga like never before.

As the world faces one of its worst pandemics, there’s been a renewed focus on building one’s immunity.

By Reya Mehrotra

As the world faces one of its worst pandemics, there’s been a renewed focus on building one’s immunity. While eating right is one way to do it, another time-tested way is to practise yoga. Said to be a natural immunity booster, yoga also serves the dual purpose of helping keep stress at bay in these uncertain times.

It’s not surprising then that many people today are adopting yoga at home to manage the pressures of work coupled with domestic chores. There are many celebrities, too, who are promoting ‘home yoga’ modules. Earlier this month, author and columnist Ira Trivedi curated and launched India’s first online wellness festival named Being Yoga.

Supported by the ministry of culture, the festival saw nearly one million people participating and performing yoga. “We thought of organising the yoga festival not only because it’s a good practice, but also because it is good for immunity and internal health, both of which are important and need to be strengthened in the current situation. We have studios across the country, but went online after the lockdown,” says Trivedi, founder, Ira Yoga, a wellness platform that offers customised, cutting-edge yoga solutions for the global workplace. “We have got an amazing response, as one doesn’t need a large space to conduct classes online. I am connecting with my students on platforms like Zoom.

We even do pranayams for respiratory health online. We also have yoga for beginners, where one can learn the basics in just six days. We had one million people attending our festival mainly due to the pandemic and also because people want to lose weight while at home,” she adds. Many celebrities such as motivational speaker BK Shivani, Mahesh Bhupathi and actor Rahul Bose participated in the festival and talked about yoga and related aspects.

There are other celebrities, too, who are turning to yoga. Veteran actor Neena Gupta, who is a fitness lover, can be seen practising yoga at home in her trackpants on her social media handles. Even newbies like actor Alaya F are turning to YouTube tutorials to learn the basics. The young actor can often be seen posting videos of trying out new yoga postures she learns online.

There are certain things, however, that one should keep in mind while doing yoga at home, especially at the beginners’ level. “There are over 300 asanas in the physical yoga practice. Hence, it is important to narrow down few easy poses to start the daily yoga routine. These are tadasana (standing pose), vrikshasana (tree pose), utthita trikonasana (extended triangle), marjaryasana and bitilasana (cat and cow pose), and balasana (child pose),” says Paramita Singh, a Mumbai-based nutritionist and yoga practitioner.

Talking about the myriad benefits of yoga, especially in current times rife with uncertainty, she says, “Yoga is a holistic approach with long-term impact on overall health. It helps relieve muscle tension and calms mental stress. As people are working from home, anxiety has been a major concern. We must indulge in yoga to strengthen our defence system, stay positive and bounce back with more confidence.”

Author and columnist Ira Trivedi curated and launched India’s first online wellness festival called
Being Yoga this month

Singh says she isn’t surprised by this sudden inclination towards yoga-at-home. “People are opting for yoga, as it is considered to be a holistic approach that incorporates the mind, body and breath. With sudden closure of gyms, people who were used to heavy-weight routines, are focusing on yoga due to lack of equipment at home,” she says.

Needless to say, yoga teachers are benefitting greatly, getting good viewership and response. Dharamsala-based Sonia Gaba, a certified yoga trainer, launched her YouTube channel called Bliss Yoga and Meditation by Sonia Gaba earlier this month.

Dharamsala-based yoga trainer Sonia Gaba launched her YouTube channel earlier this month;

“I have been practicing yoga since 10 years now. I have personally taught many beginners. I was planning to start my own yoga school. But now, since that is not possible, I have started my YouTube channel to reach out to people online, and I have got wonderful response so far. To those who want one-on-one interactions and a more personalised session, I take classes on Zoom,” Gaba says, adding, “I practice ashtanga yoga and power yoga for my daily workout sessions. To maintain peace, I would suggest meditation and, for fitness, I would suggest traditional yoga and basic asanas for beginners.”

This current wave of yoga fever, however, is not new. In 2016, Sarva Yoga Studio, founded by practitioner Sarvesh Shashi, became a global rage, with many international celebrities such as actor Jennifer Aniston and sportsperson Alex Rodrigues investing in it. The startup now has a collaboration with Malaika Arora in the form of Diva Yoga, which is for women. As it continues to draw big investments, Sarva Yoga has also now initiated live sessions on its social media handles where anyone can participate.

Mumbai-based nutritionist and yoga practitioner Paramita Singh;

Mix it with yoga
Some easy stress-busting yoga postures and exercises to try at home

Uttanasana
For mental well-being, one should start with simple asanas like uttanasana, the standing forward bend pose, where the toes are grasped to calm the mind and relieve stress and mild depression. It also stimulates the liver and kidneys while relieving headache and insomnia

Walking
Brisk walking, slow walking and walking barefoot on grass helps in relieving stress and also keeps you fit. Take 30- to 45-minute walks early morning or in the evening.

Viparita Karani
In this posture, the legs are held up against a wall. In modern yoga as exercise, it is commonly a fully supported pose using a wall and sometimes a pile of blankets. It stretches the back of the neck, front torso and back of the legs.

Games
Sports like tennis and badminton that can be played in verandahs help in relieving stress and tone the body.

Dancing
Dancing can be a wonderful stressbuster while you are at home.

Gardening
It’s a good exercise. Plus, spending time with greenery relaxes and refreshes you.

Chakrasana
It is also known as a ‘bridge’ in acrobatics or gymnastic terms. Practising this asana would directly release the stress from your shoulders and neck. It also helps to keep the kidney, liver, colon, small intestine, etc, healthy. Experts, however, suggest practising the asana cautiously to avoid any potential injury.

Vajrasana
The thunderbolt pose or diamond pose is a kneeling asana in hatha yoga. It helps with constipation troubles, stomach disorder, digestive problems and acidity. It also makes the lower body flexible, tones muscles (hips, thighs, calves), cures joint pains, urinary problems, etc.

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