Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that has its origins in India. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to unite or join, symbolizing the union of consciousness and body. Yoga is popular worldwide. Recognizing its universal appeal, the United Nations proclaimed 21st June as the International Day of Yoga in the year 2014 upon the proposal of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. In its Global action plan on physical activity 2018 - 2030: more active people for a healthier world, WHO highlights yoga as a way to improve health. Yoga signifies mental and physical discipline to achieve a peaceful body, mind, and soul.
Kalyani Thakkar is a YCB level 3 Yoga Teacher and Evaluator and has 23 years of yoga teaching experience. She is also a lecturer at the New Age Yoga Institute for Yoga Certification Board, Aayush Ministry - Teacher Training Course. She has been the Limca Book of World Record holder for 1008 Surya Namaskars. She is capable of doing Surya namaskar, nonstop. She has also been a national-level volleyball player. A wide network of learners between Mumbai’s Bandra and Borivali regions learn yoga lessons under the able guidance of Kalyani Thakkar.
Benefits of Yoga
Kalyani emphasizes, “Yoga is beneficial in all aspects of life - mental, physical, social and spiritual. It keeps an individual physically fit and leads to spiritual upliftment. It helps in self-realization and also helps in developing successful social relationships by providing balance in the way of dealing with life in general. Yoga helps in understanding oneself and the purpose of life. So, benefits are manifold both practically and theoretically. Since the mind and body with yoga remains stable, the ability to find solutions to the problems increases. It provides a sense of equilibrium to the mind leading to relief from worry, fear, and afflictions by changing the thought process. Life becomes beautiful.”
Yoga provides fitness – You can do it with or without any other additional activities
Kalyani clarifies, “Additional activities like walking, etc. along with yoga would have health benefits and one should do that as per time availability. However, yoga in itself is self-sufficient to maintain fitness goals. Just as walking gives cardiovascular benefits, Surya Namaskar provides cardiovascular benefits too. Through yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation energy level increases, there is a sense of peacefulness, and the balance of mind and muscle strengthens. Everyone has been worried about lung capacity during this pandemic. Pranayama helps in increasing lung capacity. Yoga also improves the digestive system, respiratory system, etc. But if we do activities like running and walking additionally, there is nothing harmful in it. The greenery that we see while on a walk is good for the eyes."
How effective is yoga in disease management?
Kalyani mentions, “Disease like hypertension, diabetes, arthritis are psychosomatic problems, meaning it develops from psychological problems like stress. Since the mind affects our body’s well-being, yoga helps provide equilibrium to our mind which in return provides a positive impact on our body. If one is suffering from high BP, then pranayama, yoga asanas, meditation certainly makes one feel better. It is advisable to begin taking care of the mind and body from a young age itself instead of doing so at an advanced age when health problems start showing up. Yoga provides peacefulness to the mind and has a feel-good factor attached to it,” says Kalyani
When is it ideal to practice yoga?
Kalyani advises, "early morning pranayama between 4am - 6am is very good as the nostrils are free from congestion and the atmosphere around is calm and serene. Also, since it is recommended to practice yoga with an empty stomach, the morning is a suitable time. Mornings are good for meditation as well due to the quietitude in atmosphere."
"Some asanas relax the body. Meditation too relaxes the body and hence these can be done in the evenings too when one is tired after a busy day to have a soothing effect. Just ensure that your stomach is empty. If women are not free in the mornings as well as evenings and afternoon suits due to quietude at home, they can do that as well because yoga should be done to enjoy. If there is too much noise going around or too many work-related thoughts going inside the mind then doing meditation or yoga will not be that powerful,” says Kalyani.
(Edited by Amrita Priya)