Nepal | August 07, 2020

Opinion: How Yoga can help during coronavirus pandemic

Dr Sunil Sapkota
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Yoga is the best way to keep a healthy body and a calm mind. Regular practice of yoga leads to physical, mental, and spiritual development. Daily yoga practice brings positive changes in the body and mind. The body is healthy and energetic. Digestion is good. Blood circulation is increased in every organ of the body. The mind is calm, sleep is good, and immunity is increased, among other benefits.

Nowadays, yoga is understood only as yoga asana or some people regard all physical exercises as yoga. Both of these interpretations are wrong. According to the ancient texts, there are eight practices of yoga, which is called Ashtanga Yog. These include Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

The Yama are social conducts which are all about creating harmony between yourself and the external world. Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Asana refers to the posture practiced in Yoga. The fourth stage Pranayama, generally translated as breath control, consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognising the connection between breath, mind, and emotions. Pratyahara is about withdrawing from external senses and turning our focus inwards toward our emotions and consciousness.

Likewise, Dharana refers to concentration while Dhyana is the practice of meditation. Samadhi is a state of ecstasy. It is transcendence, connectivity with the divine, coupling with the universe, and a mind-body integration of the concept that “all things are one”.  This stage may take a long time to achieve but even if it is not reached, other practices of Ashtanga Yog keep the body and mind healthy. Practising these eight limbs is the right way to do yoga.

There is a widespread practice of doing yoga the wrong way. If it is practised incorrectly, various physical and mental problems can appear. Therefore, it should be done only according to the advice and suggestions of skilled yoga instructors.

In today’s hectic and stressful life, there is no substitute for yoga to keep the body healthy and the mind at peace. Yoga is necessary for every age group but it should be practiced according to the age group. Today, the practice of yoga has become very important during the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus prevention requires compliance with government regulations. Attention should be paid to personal discipline and cleanliness. The body should be kept healthy and the mind should be kept calm. And the immune system should be strengthened. For that, practising yoga is very helpful.

The two main factors in the prevention and proper treatment of the coronavirus infection are immunity and stress management. There is no vaccine or medicine to cure the disease yet. Hospital treatment is the only life-saving method of treatment for the advanced symptoms and if the patient has other complex problems. The main factor in the patients’ recovery (in the lack of vaccine) is that their body has good immunity. One who has stronger immunity can better overcome this disease.

On the other hand, those with weakened immune systems may have complex problems. Therefore, it is very important to increase immunity. Also, in the current situation, the mental stress among general public and those infected with coronavirus is increasing due to various reasons. Some have even died by suicide owing to unmanaged mental stress. Therefore, stress management is also vital. Yoga is the best way to boost the body’s immune system and manage stress. Along with yoga, some other natural methods can also be adopted.

In addition to boosting the immune system and helping with stress management, yoga also improves lung function, strengthens the muscles used for breathing. Abundant oxygen is supplied and vitality develops in the body. It also helps in developing positive thoughts.

What can be practiced?

1) Yama: To follow the social rules and regulations imposed by the government.

2) Niyama: To follow the suggestions made for personal hygiene and discipline.

3) Asana: Practising the yoga following (with proper guidance and instructions).

4) Pranayama: Breathing exercises of yoga.

5) Pratyahara: Do not follow unnecessary and misleading news, remove the misconception that we will die after contracting the disease, and develop positive thinking.

6) Dharana and Dhyana: Practice of concentration and meditation.

Staying in the sun and fresh air, eating a balanced diet, refraining from eating unhealthy, junk food, drinking plenty of water, among other daily practices will add to the development of stronger immune system during this time of pandemic.

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