A week of virtual yoga for families

V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR

With the Covid-19 pandemic driving people indoors, there is no better way to remain fit and agile than by doing yoga.

The ancient practice, which originated in India, is known to increase flexibility, muscle strength and tone, improve respiration, energy and vitality, help maintain a balanced metabolism, reduce weight, boost cardio and circulatory health and protect against injuries.

Yoga is also a powerful tool to deal with the stress of uncertainty and isolation as well as to maintain physical well-being.

The word "yoga" is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness.

"Yoga is getting popular in Singapore," said India's High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf. "Every year, around the International Day of Yoga (June 21), the High Commission of India (HCI) organises several yoga events across Singapore along with partners.

"Last year, we had 180 sessions at 120 venues, by far the biggest set of yoga sessions in any city in the world. Around 8,000 people participated."

This year, due to safe-distancing measures, the yoga sessions will be held virtually.

There will be a series of classes, webinars and a video blogging competition from June 20 to 28.

"We are partnering with 40 organisations this year to provide the virtual classes and demonstrations which will be one hour long or more," said Mr Ashraf. "It is targeted at the entire family and will be available live on video conferencing facilities such as Zoom, Webex and Facebook Live.

"The big plus this year is that people can attend multiple sessions in a day from their homes. They can also ask the instructors questions about the benefits of yoga or how to correct a posture. They will have a large number of options."

The International Day of Yoga (IDY) aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practising yoga.

The draft resolution establishing the IDY was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 United Nations member states.

The proposal was introduced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly in which he said: "Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action... a holistic approach is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature."

IDY has been celebrated across the world since 2015. The focus this year in Singapore will be on the physical and emotional dimensions of yoga.

Special emphasis will be placed on themes such as health and wellness, building immunity and dealing with emotional and psychological challenges, including anxiety and depression.

"We have on board a good team of experts," said Mr Ashraf.

"In the past it has sometimes been difficult to get them to fly down to Singapore. This year that won't be a problem. They will be available virtually to give tips and answer questions."

There will also be three webinars on yoga that the HCI is organising with partners. The IDY celebrations will have a webinar on Ayurveda too.

Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science in the world. It originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is often called the "Mother of All Healing".

The theme of the Ayurveda webinar is "Preventive Healthcare and Building Immunity Through Ayurveda".

At the initiative of Mr Modi, a yoga practitioner himself, there will also be a video blogging competition organised by India's Ministry of Ayush and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

People in Singapore can participate in the competition by submitting videos of themselves doing yoga or talking about how they benefit by doing it.

The competition will be run on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and will have six categories - three male and three female (Under-18, Over-18 and Professionals).

"Winners in Singapore will get to take part in a global competition," said Mr Ashraf.

Visit https://hcisingapore.gov.in/idy/index.html for more details.

santosh@sph.com.sg

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