By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, June 21: Pragati Sigdel does yoga every morning for an hour and has been doing so for the past eight years. The 48-year-old says that yoga helps her relax and exercise. “I don’t have time to go to the gym for heavy exercise. So, I do yoga to stretch my body,” she said, adding, “It also helps refresh my mind.”
Similarly, Ranjan Sharma, 55, also practices yoga with his wife and daughter-in-law every day for the same reason. “You get a kind of special energy from yoga which makes you ready for the day,” he said.
Yoga is essential for complete well-being and should be part of everyone’s lifestyle, experts stress. “Yoga exercises all parts of the body and helps counter the increasingly sedentary life we are leading,” Professor Dr. Yogendra Man Shakya, head of General Practice and Emergency Medicine Department at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj, said. “It makes us active and helps in bodily functions,” he added.
Yoga Guru, Philosopher and Founder of the Manokranti Movement Dr. Yogi Vikashananda shared that the physical and breathing exercises and meditation, all of which are part of the yoga, kept the body physically, mentally and socially healthy. “The physical exercises prompt the release of positive hormones like endorphins which increase happiness and help in boosting our immunity,” he explained. “The breathing exercises or Pranayama help increase our oxygen intake and strengthen our lungs. The oxygen breathed into the body also helps burn food and produce energy. This energy can help us contribute to society, thus enhancing our social well-being.”
Vikashananda further added, “The meditation aspect of yoga calms and concentrates our mind. Yoga can help us enter what is called the ‘flow state of mind’ which, in turn, increases creativity and innovativeness. Running, playing a musical instrument or any other activity which completely absorbs our focus can have the same effect too.”
Vikashananda also elaborated on how yoga helped release serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and
endorphins, collectively called the happy hormones, which made one happy and relaxed from the inside and readied them to face life’s challenges.
The benefits of yoga, especially to mental health, have also been proven by research, said Dr. Basudev Karki, senior consultant psychiatrist at the Mental Hospital, Lagankhel. “Yoga focuses our thoughts and boosts mental health. It is also great for stress relief,” he said, stating that everyone should incorporate yoga into their daily routine.
But regularity is the key to reaping benefits from yoga, Shakya, Vikashananda and Karki, all three, concurred. “Doing yoga for two hours once and then taking a gap of a week is not advised,” Dr. Vikashananda noted. “Do it for 30 minutes but do it every day.”
Vikashananda recommended people break down the 30 minutes into 10-minute segments, each for physical exercises, Pranayama and meditation. However, because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, yoga needs to be limited to one’s home. “We should not go out and practise yoga in groups like before. Let us do it on roofs, gardens or in our rooms,” Dr. Shakya advised.
Dr. Vikashananda also urged everyone to practise yoga in their houses. “Please open the windows and doors to keep the room properly ventilated and to allow air in. Yoga can be done in any room or place as long as there is ample amount of fresh air to breathe in.”