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International Day of Yoga: Towards Heath and Well-being for all

by Public Health Update

By Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia

On the International Day of Yoga (IDY), WHO and its member states in the South- East Asia Region lead global efforts to celebrate the physical and mental health benefits of Yoga and its contributions to life-long health and well-being.

The word “yoga,” which means “to join or to unite,” represents the fusion of the physical body and the mental consciousness. It is currently practiced in many countries all over the world and is becoming more and more popular. In recognition of its universal appeal, the United Nations declared 21 June to be the International Day of Yoga in 2014. The purpose of the International Day of Yoga is to increase public awareness of the various advantages of yoga practice.

Balance is the key component of yoga, not simply balance within the body or between the mind and body, but also equilibrium in one’s interaction with the outside world. The virtues of attention, moderation, discipline, and perseverance are emphasized in yoga. Yoga gives a way to live sustainably when it is applied to societies and communities.

Yoga practices focus on bringing harmony between mind and body as also between human being and nature. Yoga helps in attaining psycho-physiological wellbeing, emotional balance; and cope with routine stress. It is well known that Yogic practices such as Yogasanas (Physical postures), Pranayama (Breathing practices), Dhyana (meditation), cleansing and relaxation practices etc. help modify and regulate the responses to stressors and are beneficial in stress and its consequences. Numerous randomized controlled studies have shown the efficacy of Yogic practices in management of non-communicable diseases like hypertension, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchial asthma, diabetes, sleep disorders, depression, and obesity.

Meditation helps combat stress and related disorders. Practicing meditation helps reduce inflammatory responses. Meditation decreases sympathetic overstimulation and reduces cholesterol levels. It helps increase exercise tolerance, reduce anxiety and enhance maximal workload in an individual.

These are exciting times for Traditional Medicine. The WHO-Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM), is rapidly coming up in Jamnagar, India., The WHO along with India during its G20 Presidency is going to organize the first ever Traditional Medicine Global Summit in Gandhinagar, India on 17-18 August 2023 on the theme of ‘Towards Heath and Well-being for all’ is another landmark event highlighting the growing eminence of Traditional medicine including Yoga. The summit will focus on the evidence based Traditional Medicine for the Health and Well-being of People and the Planet.

Let’s all commit to practicing yoga regularly on this International Day of Yoga to create a future where everyone is healthier, happier, and stress-free.

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