Yoga a lifeline during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, can inspire nations to recover stronger, greener: UN leaders

·5-min read

United Nations, Jun 21 (PTI) Yoga became a “lifeline” for many around the world during lockdowns amidst the pandemic, helping people cope with uncertainty and anxiety and the ancient practice can play a significant role in rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients and inspire nations to recover stronger and greener, top United Nations leadership said as the world body commemorated the 7th International Day of Yoga.

India’s Permanent Mission to the UN organised virtual commemoration to mark the International Day of Yoga 2021, with the theme ‘Yoga for Well-Being’.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the consequences of poor global health. The social and economic consequences have been devastating. For many around the world, yoga was a lifeline during lockdown. It helped to maintain physical well being, while also managing the stress of uncertainty and isolation,” President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir said in his virtual address on the occasion of International Yoga Day.

He underlined that as 'we take steps to recover from the pandemic, let Yoga inspire us to approach challenges holistically, to work together through the multilateral system so we recover better, stronger and greener.” Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed emphasised that “the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous stress and anxiety for many worldwide, stemming from loss, isolation, economic insecurity or disruption to normal routines and work-life balance,” she said adding that Yoga can help people cope with uncertainty and anxiety.

“It can also play a significant role in the care and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients, in allaying fears and sorrow,” she said.

Mohammed stressed that it is for these reasons and more that the United Nations continue to promote Yoga and meditation for its staff and their families.

“I hope that more people take up this ancient activity to connect more deeply, not only within themselves but with greater humanity and the natural environment,” she added.

Mohammed underscored that Yoga has the potential to connect people from different cultures and “advance our shared global values of peace, tolerance and solidarity.” She said millions of people globally practice yoga. 'For many, it is an integral part of their daily lives. Yoga is open to people of all ages and abilities, its benefits are legion. Yoga is great for the body for flexibility and balance.” Yoga is “terrific' for the mind, promoting patience, discipline and resilience and helps people to forge a connection between the two by cultivating mindfulness, Mohammed added.

Bozkir noted that the word Yoga means to “unite” and it symbolises the union of body and mind.

“This holistic approach to well-being has helped many people around the world with their mental, physical and spiritual health,” he said, adding that Yoga is today practiced by millions and in recognition of this, the General Assembly had proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.

“Global health is a long term development objective. Close international cooperation will be required to achieve it. Member States must remain engaged with the multilateral system to share best practices on how to promote active wellness, not just prevent sickness,” he said.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said that this year's commemoration of the International Day of Yoga seeks to reaffirm the rejuvenating role of Yoga in promoting health and well being of the global community, which is presently coping with the pervasive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Beyond its immediate impact on the physical health of people, the pandemic has also exacerbated their psychological suffering and mental health issues,” Tirumurti said.

'As pandemic related movement restrictions continue in various forms in many countries, Yoga organisations and practitioners around the world have been raising awareness through digital platforms on the potential of Yoga in mitigating the adverse effects of the pandemic on the physical and mental well being of the people,” he said adding that Yoga has particularly emerged as a powerful tool to reduce the impact of stress and help with anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

“Yoga is a unique way to discover the sense of unity with oneself, the world, and nature. It transcends the barriers of languages, religions, cultures and geographies. Its global appeal is firmly grounded in its universal benefits,” he said.

During the over hour and a half long virtual commemoration, renowned Yoga teacher, author and lecturer in New York Eddie Stern led yoga demonstrations of asanas and exercises.

The virtual format enabled Yoga practitioners from around the world, including from India, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Mexico, France and the US, to join the Yoga sessions that included the Surya Namaskar and other Yoga asanas.

An interactive dialogue with renowned yoga experts Padma Shri Awardee and Founder of Arab Yoga Foundation Nouf Marwaai, pain management specialist Dr. Krishna Raman and Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz was also held during the virtual commemoration.

Since the first International Day of Yoga in 2015, India’s Permanent Mission to the UN has marked the day at the UN headquarters annually with top UN officials, Ambassadors, diplomats, civil society leaders and Yoga practitioners participating enthusiastically during the commemoration.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic last year led the Yoga Day commemoration to be moved to a virtual format.

This was the second year in a row that the Yoga Day was commemorated in a virtual format due to the pandemic. PTI YAS RUP RUP RUP

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