Kenyans Tuesday joined the world in marking the 8th International Yoga Day (IYD) under the theme, Yoga for Humanity.
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in India and today is an extremely popular form of exercise around the world, where those taking part often do different poses to achieve better control over their body and mind.
The United Nations in 2014 proclaimed every 21st June of the year as the IDY following a proposal by India and endorsed by over 175 member states.
The World Health Organization also mentions Yoga as a means to improve health in its Global Action play on physical activity 2018-2030.
Speaking during the commemoration of the event that was held at the United Nations office in Gigiri today, the Indian High Commissioner Dr. Virander Paul said Yoga has been playing a big role, especially for the last two years, when the world was affected by the Covid- 19 pandemic.
“The science of yoga has been and is going to continue to help all of us to alleviate human suffering. During the covid-19 we have had a lot of cases especially in mental illness, depression due to loss of jobs and Yoga has blended in such scenarios by giving people peace,” Dr. Paul said.
The High commissioner explained that Yoga is not just an exercise for the physical wellbeing, but a holistic approach to the overall human well- being and it indeed includes a large measure in the promotion of mental health, which is so very important in modern times.
“We are currently all on the road to post Covid-19 recovery. I have no doubt that the more we practice yoga, the more we promote this ancient science and ancient system of healing. A healing that brings balance to the mind and body,” he said.
Dr. Paul said that ever since the adoption of Yoga in 2014, it has contributed a great deal to the overall health of not just Kenyans, but the entire world.
It is very heartening to see how various national governments are in one way or another incorporating yoga directly or indirectly as another alternative systems of medicine in the national healthcare policy, he added.
“We hope that this particular system of medicine which has proven efficacy and there is a lot of scientific evidence coming up to support that can play a major role in various countries to meet the larger objective of health for al,” Dr. Paul said.
Consequently, Yoga has now become an everyday activity for most people and through this, the High Commissioner added there will be better engagement of Yoga and other systems of alternative or traditional systems of medicine in the overall health system in the world
“We see it happening every day and in the coming times we are going to see better engagement of yoga and other systems of alternative or traditional systems of medicine in the overall health system in the world.
United Nations Resident Coordinator for Kenya Dr. Stephen Jackson said it was an honour for the UN fraternity to celebrate the day at the UN complex saying that as a global headquarters it was of particular importance for them.
“This is an inch of technology of both physical and mental health that the global south has given to the world because there isn’t a country in the world that is not practicing Yoga,” he said.
He noted that the COVID-19 as well as its challenges is not yet over as it brought about isolation from friends, families, loved ones and co-workers bringing about loneliness and depression.
“Yoga is a way of using physical practice to promote mental strength and health. It is really about breathing deeply and reflecting,” he said.
Dr. Jackson noted that although Yoga is celebrated once a year, it should be practiced as a routine.
“I find myself dreaming that we should have Yoga practice on the lawn here in Gigiri every morning. I think it would put staff in a better mood, and would make us more productive and also more mutually forgiving,” he noted.
He congratulated Kenyan people for practicing Yoga saying as the UN, the day is a central part and falls within the stronger commitment to promote Universal Health.
As countries develop and as they grow richer, we tend to spend more times sitting down and driving around in cars, we are no longer workmen in the shamba every day and we get what we call diseases of development such as heart problems, diabetes, obesity that were never known in the past.
He noted it was therefore important for Kenyans outside to take a walk, run, do yoga, swim, bike and do whatever it takes to keep fit, healthy both body and soul.
Today’s event, organized by the Indian High commissioner included a brief Yoga session that Kenyans as well as the UN fraternity participated in, with the aim of raising awareness of the many benefits of practicing Yoga.
By Wangari Ndirangu