International Yoga Day 2020: Yoga may help ease depressive symptoms in people with mental health issues
This International Day of Yoga, more and more studies and research discussing the many benefits of yoga are being published, especially it’s benefits on mental health. Mental illness is not something new to this world, but in times of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown put in place to curb its spread, it has become grave. With people increasingly living isolated lives for the last three months, the situation is getting worse day by day. With millions of recorded cases and deaths, the infectious disease has seen a rise in depression, anxiety disorder, domestic violence and sexual abuse, with cases reported from across the country. According to research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 340 million people. And depressive symptoms often go hand in hand with other mental health issues, such as generalised anxiety and psychotic disorders.
A recent study concluded with a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research suggests that yoga may help ease depressive symptoms in people with other mental health issues.
While sharing his experience on Yoga, Sourabh Tiwari, Assistant Professor, Manipal University Jaipur told ANI, “I was never a Yoga person, but during the early days of lockdown I was frustrated and disturbed. I was not able to concentrate on work, I decided to start Yoga and morning walks. This getting up early in the morning and doing Yoga helped me a lot in achieving my mental peace.”
“Now, I find myself more energetic and relaxed. Yoga is something which has to be done regularly to learn its benefits. No one can actually predict the benefits of Yoga without experiencing it. On the International Yoga Day I request all youngsters to please try and see the benefit yourself,” Tiwari further said.Kriti Raj, a post graduate student who has been practising Yoga for many years says that Yoga had helped her to remain calm, cool and positive. By doing Anulom vilom, Bhujangasana, Bhrastika and Kapalbhati yogasanas she felt a lot of improvement in her mental as well as physical health.
Meanwhile, Priya Manish Kumar, an Assistant Professor from St. Xavier’s College, Patna said that Yoga is magic! It helped her to balance her emotions.”Yoga, I was told was not just for the body but also for the soul. I started practicing yoga to lose weight and was rewarded with myriad other health benefits. Yoga is magic! Other than keeping me physically fit, it helps me be calm and emotionally balanced. It gives me a lot of energy that keeps me productive throughout the day,” she said.
Dr Rajiv Mehta, Vice-Chairperson, Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Sir Gangaram Hospital while talking to ANI about mental illness said, “Our body functions on chemicals. Emotions and behaviour also run on chemicals, when they get depleted, depression happens. The reason for the depletion occurs from the demands in the brain which can be addressed as any kind of change, be it positive or negative. So by yoga especially Pranayam and meditation--- it improves the chemical level in the brain as it is an oxygenating mechanism for the brain.”
Dr Mehta suggests for practising Yoga continuously to gain the maximum benefit from it, as it is slow and steady process. However, action starts soon after doing yoga and it can maintain or prevent a mental state but for improvement it takes days and months with Yoga.Due to the pandemic induced lockdown the number of patients has been increased who are suffering from major metal illness. “By one estimate approximately 10 per cent of the Indian population was suffering from major mental illness minor mental illness is apart but by the end of the COVID we expect it around to be 20 to 40 per cent,” said Dr Mehta.
Further elaborating about the reasons for increase numbers of patients Dr Mehta said, “Major mental illness like--depression, anxiety, drug addiction and hypochondriasis are increasing among people and the reasons for this increase is job insecurities , lack of payment in the job, lack of business, domestic violence, child abuse, and frustration not to go outside. Just like calcium deficiency leads to osteoporosis, thyroxin deficiency results in hypothyroidism, iron deficiency causes anaemia, serotonin deficiency reportedly leads to depression.
Medical expert says to deal with anxiety and stress in this lockdown one should do various types of activities and should not make a monotonous routine of the day. People dealing with stress or depression should also communicate well with family and friends. International Yoga day is a wonderful concept; one should do time management and take time for Yoga and exercise
Garima Bhandari, an internationally acclaimed Yoga coach talking about the importance of Yoga said that, “Yoga is a detailed and precise science. The practice of yoga applies just the right amount of pressure on external organs, internal organs, the mind, and even emotions to keep them all in a perfect balance. Through regular practice, one can bring the body in such a harmony that external factors diminish in intensity, and the state of is equilibrium is achieved.”
“The most important aspect of yoga is breathing. When we breathe right, our entire being exists only in that moment and in that breathe. Everything else fades away until it is just you, the movement of your body and your breath. In that state, there is no space for even thought, let alone anxiety or stress. It is as close to a state of zero a human being can get as is possible within the confines of our body,” said the coach.Bhandari is inclined towards ‘inversions’ for keeping her mental health condition well, as this yogasana sends more blood to our head. As a Yoga instructor she recommends to look at the condition of the body before practicing Yoga because due to overreach it might cause injury. She also suggested some yogasans to be mentally healthy.
“The most basic to start with is Ujjayi breathing. This is the first and the foremost step and the fundamental of your practice as this is the manner in which you will breathe no matter which posture or asana you hold. You can then progress to the Vipritkarniasana, which is a simple legs against the wall while your upper body rests on the bed pose. Post which you can try the Sarvangasana, Downward Dog, Upward Dog, Bhujangasana, Adhomukhswanasana and many more,” said Garima Bhandari.
In today’s scenario, it is important for everyone to realise that mental health is equally as important as physical health. It is something which should never be ignored as it can leads to an unhealthy life. Yoga is one of the key to lead a happy and prospers life.
The International Yoga Day is annually observed on June 21 since 2015. Due to the outbreak this year’s theme for Yoga Day is “Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family”.
The first International Day of Yoga was observed all over the world on June 21, 2015. The idea of International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014.
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