Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages
The world is changing, to say the least.
With the Covid-19 regulations forcing more people to spend time at home, the last few months have been both emotionally and physically draining.
Fitness regimes have also been forced to change.
Runs, walks and outdoor workouts have been halted for the time being. Yoga, however, can become a remedy.
Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages.
And, if you are going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing.
The practice of yoga dates back to 5,000 years.
The myriad benefits of yoga include strength, flexibility, and mindfulness - all acting as powerful tools to handle the current circumstances.
Yoga in Bangladesh has been steadily growing in popularity and more and more people are inclining towards practicing yoga as a form of non-intensive exercise.
But why yoga?
Anxiety and stress usually trigger the sympathetic nervous system which can increase blood pressure, tense up muscles, affect concentration, make breathing faster, and yoga helps to improve these.
Yoga can also release a great deal of quarantine pressure.
A report from John Hopkins Medicine states that yoga helps relieve stress and it is one of the best medicines for good mental health.
Paired with breathing exercises and meditation, a session of yoga is a full package exercise which can take care of our body, mind and soul.
And the on-going Covid-19 pandemic situation has instilled long-term depression and anxiety in many.
So, how much impact can doing yoga regularly have on our physical and mental wellbeing?
Anika Rabbani, founder of Yoganika and a reputed yoginī based in Dhaka, told The Business Standard that yoga can process our emotions and helps relieve muscle pain
However, practicing yoga alone will have little to no impact on the body and mind.
It needs to come secondary to a healthy diet in order to keep our physical and mental wellbeing in check.
"It boosts the immune system and helps us maintain the fight-or-flight response. Depression and anxiety can also be taken care of by maintaining a proper diet," Anika said.
While maintaining a healthy diet, you also have to ensure that you are putting in enough vitamin D in your body.
Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are great vitamin D sources.
Other foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals can also be eaten everyday.
With regards to this, Anika said, "Boosting immunity is very important during these times and vitamin D levels should be high as it acts as a mood booster."
Trainer at Evergreen Yoga in Mirpur, Shama Makhing, said, "As we all know, the coronavirus can cause lung infection and damage the organ. If one regularly does yoga, his/her lungs, kidneys and other vital organs will remain healthy. Moreover, yoga helps to reduce back pain and burn fat. It also helps those with thyroid issues."
"Meditation through yoga is a great way to tackle depression and anxiety and remain calm," she added.
Following are some advanced yoga poses you could try at home. Each of them has particular health benefits.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
To begin with, lie on your belly with your hands alongside your torso, palms up.
Exhale and bend your knees, try to bring your heels as close as you can to your rear.
Reach the back with your hands and take hold of your ankles.
Your knees should not be wider than your hips. Try to lift your thighs away from the floor.
This pose helps to strengthen your back muscles and also works on your digestive system.
Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose)
Stand on your mat or floor. Shift your weight to your left foot and bend your knee so that your hand can reach back for your foot. Try to grab the outside of the foot.
This would be difficult in the beginning, but it would also give you a better stretch.
Extend your left arm forward and up, and reach toward the sky.
This asana boosts metabolism and is a great stretch for thighs.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose)
Start from sitting in Dandasana (Staff Pose, basically sitting upright with your legs extended at the front). Bend one knee and keep it on the floor.
This foot should in front of the groin and the other leg should be at the rear.
Bend the knee of the rear leg and take hold of the foot or ankle. You could use one or both hands to do it. This asana helps with back pain and improves posture.
While we are all confined to our homes, these poses will help you stay healthy - spiritually, mentally as well as physically during this pandemic.
If you want to start taking online yoga classes, institutes such as Yoganika, Yogamrita Yoga Institute, Samadi Yoga Dhaka and Joysan Yoga & Wellness Center are offering free and registration-based online classes.