Yoga, Ayurveda and the Covid Pandemic

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By Manpreet Vohra, High Commissioner of India to Belize
Six years ago, the United Nations General Assembly designated 21 June, the date of the summer solstice, as the International Day of Yoga. The Resolution was co-sponsored by 177 countries, which is the highest number of cosponsors ever for any UNGA resolution of this nature. It was adopted unanimously.
This overwhelming global support was in recognition of the importance of Yoga for the health and well-being of people, our environment and indeed of Mother Earth.
Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition and philosophy. As many readers will know, there are numerous benefits from Yoga that can help us alleviate stress and fatigue, lead a happier and healthier life, and discover the all-important connection between our body, mind and soul. In other words, Yoga helps us promote the balanced development of all our three dimensions– the physical, the mental and the spiritual. We gain control over our body, breath, emotions and mind to gradually awaken our knowledge of unity (the meaning of Yoga is ‘to unify’).
This is now accepted by scientists and medical experts. Several studies on Yoga have been conducted by prestigious organisations such as the Harvard Medical School and the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Researchers have found that Yoga lowers blood pressure, reduces hypertension, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, improves the lipid profile and reduces cardiovascular risk factors. Yoga can also help people to fight depression, and mental health is one of the greatest challenges from the stress of modern life today.
Ayurveda (meaning ‘knowledge or science of life’) is the traditional Indian system of holistic healing which, like Yoga, also stresses the importance of balance between the body, mind and spirit. For medicine, it uses a mix of herbs, plants and natural substances designed to cleanse and restore imbalances in the body and thus eliminate the root causes rather than only treat the symptoms of a disease. Many simple and readily available Ayurvedic remedies, often just herbs and spices, can be taken daily as a tonic or supplement. Together with the practice of Yoga, they strengthen the body’s natural defences and prevent us from falling sick easily.
All over the world, senior mainstream doctors agree that inner peace is essential for a healthy immune system. It is really the balance within us which protects and heals us. If we can preserve that, we are much stronger and less susceptible to diseases. Balance is what restores and heals us daily in a way that no medicine does.
These days, as the world tries to improve its knowledge and find a vaccine against Coronavirus and a treatment for Covid-19, what we already know is that a healthy body with a good immune system is itself a powerful shield which can prevent us from catching the disease, and even recover faster if we do indeed get it. Yoga and Ayurveda can help us easily boost our immune systems using simple home remedies and without having to see a doctor.
There is thus an important role for Yoga and Ayurveda even in our current battle against this pandemic.
Of course, medicines are also required when things go too far. Therefore, integration of Yoga, Ayurveda and modern medicine – a logical marriage between mankind’s ancient and contemporary knowledge – is perhaps the best way forward which would help the world to shift from disease management to overall promotion of a healthy lifestyle and holistic well-being.
Many have realized this already and it is not surprising that Yoga as a complementary therapy now has millions of practitioners in every part of the world, including in Belize. It requires no major investment of time or money and is easy to learn for everyone – women and men, children and senior citizens, for those at home and for those busy in the office. This 21st of June, let us celebrate the 6th International Day of Yoga and let us try to adopt Yoga in our daily lives.