The ongoing pandemic has not only challenged us but also changed our life. Though we have started learning to cope with it, fear and anxiety manage to seep into our minds anyhow. Suddenly, the constant fear of contracting infection, scarcity of resources, job stress and the daily flow of negative news became a part of our life. Situations were particularly more distressing for those away from family and those who lost their source of livelihood. Amid the daily struggle, we began putting efforts into the two most neglected parts of our life — family and health. Everyone began looking for tips and tricks to boost immunity. Besides age-old secret kitchen ingredients, one thing that gives assurance of complete health is yoga.

The theme for International Day of Yoga 2021 is “Yoga for well-being”, which is appropriate and relevant to the current crisis. During these mentally challenging times, yoga not only keeps you physically fit but also keeps your mental and spiritual health in check. Yoga has multiple benefits — from easing tensed muscles, building strength and flexibility, elevating mood to reducing stress and anxiety. The ancient Indian tradition is a one sure shot solution for overall health.

Stress And Anxiety Management

The pandemic took a toll on each one of us. We had our own sets of problems to deal with. While some lost their closed ones, several lost their jobs. These dreadful situations trigger panic leading to stress and anxiety. Yoga helps your mind to calm down and be present at the moment. If practiced with proper alignment, breathing and awareness, it benefits beyond the physical level. Even The United Nations recognises the value of yoga. “A growing trend of people around the world embracing Yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression has been witnessed during the pandemic. Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety,” read the United Nations statement on its website. Many experts even suggest Yoga Nidra for 20 minutes to manage stress and anxiety.

Physical Health

The lockdown-induced sedentary lifestyle came with its potential to adversely impact our physical health. Most of us gained body weight due to lesser physical activity during home quarantine. Work from home made the situation worse. With gyms and parks closed, one was only left with options like exercising without any accessories or yoga at home. Yoga, as it is known to help in building balance, strength and flexibility, keeps physical health in control throughout the lockdown. As we sit for a long period during work from home, simple stretches of yoga can be practised to ease the tensed muscles.

Embraced by Women

Women in India are among the worst affected due to the pandemic. While there was an increase in domestic violence, the constant juggle between household chores and office work adversely affected them. Hence, many of them opted for yoga for some respite. In an online survey conducted by Enamor in June 2021, 60 percent women turned to yoga and 85 percent agreed that yoga helps in stress and anxiety management. 75 percent of women said that yoga helped them develop a positive self-image. 2,200 women participated in the survey out of which 70 percent women were between 25 to 44 years of age, 20 percent were above 44 years of age and 10 percent were of 18 to 24 years of age bracket. While 60 percent were working professionals, 40 percent consisted of homemakers.

Online Class Boom

Many resorted to yoga during the lockdown and online classes are the proof. In a global survey released by US consumer electronics and fitness company Fitbit in October 2020, yoga witnessed a 241 per cent spike among its Indian users amid the pandemic. The data also showed that meditation became the go-to activity amongst Fitbit users with a rise of 2381 percent. Though online classes are mushrooming across the internet, some instructors believe that the physical presence of teacher and student is of vital importance to fix posture and breath. There is a chance of people injuring themselves with wrong postures.