Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, going to your local gym or sports club may not be an option right now. Nor is it easy to arrange for these facilities in our homes. But to do yoga, you need only a mat and a little willpower. Yoga is a proven technique of maintaining health and vigor, and one that we inherit from our ancient saints. It is the next best thing after ‘Namaste’ that the Indian Subcontinent has offered the world to beat the corona scare.
As most people are locked up in their houses, they are worried about their health. Limited physical movement weakens the body, and makes it susceptible to attack by pathogens and chronic diseases. And the high stress during the pandemic is sure to affect your mental health. In such a scenario, yoga could be an effective tool to maintain good physical and mental health, according to Dr. Hari Prasad Pokharel, senior physician, yoga and naturopathy.
Yoga includes practices of asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breathing management). These practices are highly beneficial for strengthening the life force. “The body’s mechanism of developing antibodies and fighting diseases are strengthened through the life force or jeevani shakti,” says Pokharel.
By the activation of this energy through the yogic practices of body and breath, we can fight not only parasite germs but also other adverse life conditions, Pokharel asserts.
“We have plenty of time in our hands right now. We can develop our hobbies and be creative. We can also consolidate our yoga practice, if we already know it,” Pokharel adds. “If you haven’t done any yoga postures yet, you can make use of YouTube channels run by experts.”
Among the practices of breathing, Kapalbhati is an extremely good exercise for now. It strengthens both your prana energy and detoxifies your body. But one needs to be careful in starting pranayama, and should do it only under expert guidance, Pokharel cautions.
“This is a time of high stress and little physical activity. It is very important that we keep our bodies moving,” says Amrita Ghimire, chairperson of Kathmandu-based Amrita Yoga Foundation. “We should, at the least, do some joint exercises, and then start practicing simple pranayama. They help keep our bodies fit and flexible.”
To fight the Covid-19 pandemic, pranayama could be a useful tool as it develops immunity, says Ghimire. “Kapalbhati is very helpful. But people with hypertension should take precaution. You can do right nostril breathing instead. Diabetics can do left nostril breathing. You can also do Bhramari chanting, Om chanting or Nadisodhan, which are all harmless.”
Any yogic exercise that makes you sweat is helpful in boosting immunity, says Anil Ranjit, a private yoga instructor based in Kathmandu, adding that Surya Namaskar and Virbhadra Asana are particularly good. But yoga has a more important aspect, according to him. “It has to do with your spirituality. It increases your willpower. If you have a strong willpower, your ability to fight diseases will increase manifold. Then good health comes as a by-product.”
To keep the mind and body fit during the lockdown, here is some expert advice for beginners:
1. Start with Sukshma Vyayama (joint movements). Start from toes and gradually move up to the neck, moving each joint.
2. Do a few rounds of basic Surya Namaskar
3. As you build body flexibility, move to simple asanas. These may include few postures lying on your stomach and back, such as Uttanapada asana, Nabhi Darshan asana, Nauka asana, Bhujanga asana, Salava asana, and Yana asana.
4. As you master simple asanas, you can move to advanced ones.
1. Kapalbhati (boosts prana energy and detoxifies body)
2. Bhramari pranayam
3. Om chanting
1. Breathing awareness (Anapana)
2. Positive, healthy affirmations
(As suggested by Dr. Hari Prasad Pokharel, Chairman, Yoga and Naturopathy Subject Committee, Nepal Sanskrit University)
Along with the start of the practices of lockdowns and social distancing, yoga teachers have started offering online yoga classes. Here are a few of the good ones available in Nepal.