•Regular and adequate physical activity reduces the risk of many non-communicable diseases and conditions
•Physical activity also helps to prevent hypertension, obesity, and overweight and can improve mental health, quality of life, and well-being.
High Commissioner of India to Kenya Dr Virander Paul on Wednesday urged Kenyans to embrace yoga while highlighting its health benefits.
Speaking during the eighth International Day of Yoga marked at the United Nations Complex in Nairobi, Virender said Yoga has played a critical role in curbing the cases of mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This year, the theme for this day is Yoga for Humanity. Yoga played a key role in tiding up the suffering we all faced on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. Practising yoga will continue to help us alleviate human suffering,” he said.
He said that yoga is not only a physical exercise but also a holistic approach for the overall human being and promotes good mental health.
The High Commissioner lauded the participants of the event for their enthusiasm and interest in yoga.
The United Nations declared 21st June as the international day of yoga in December 2014, through a resolution proposed by India and endorsed by 175 member states.
UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Stephen Jackson, who was in attendance, also acknowledged that yoga was a universal activity and it promotes mental strength and health.
“Sometimes, people say that all the physical poses that you do, the upside and down poses and the balances are nothing but a way of getting you to breath properly. Yoga is about breathing, breathing deeply, reflecting and using that to promote a sense of mental and physical health,” Stephen said.
He noted that the celebration was aimed at promoting the awareness of the benefits of yoga to Kenyans where he encouraged people to embrace it and make it a routine.
“This day is a centre part and falls within our stronger commitment to the promotion of universal health, similar to the Kenyan Government's commitment to promoting Universal Health Coverage in Kenya,” he said.
Jackson was also representing United Nations Office at Nairobi director general Zainab Hawa Bangura.
The World Health Organization mentions yoga as a means to improve health in its Global Action Plan on physical activity 2018 – 2030.
The WHO Global Action Plan 2018-2030 says that regular and adequate physical activity reduces the risk of many non-communicable diseases and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast, and colon cancer.
Physical activities also help to prevent hypertension, obesity and overweight and can improve mental health, quality of life, and well-being.
However, the Global Action Plan indicates that 1 in 4 adults and 3 in 4 adolescents (aged 11-17 years) do not meet the current global recommendations for physical activity by WHO.
Yoga involves a set of poses combined with specific breathing techniques and meditation principles.
According to an article by New York Times, studies show that yoga can help to reduce back pain, strengthen bones, improve balance, stave off mental decline reduce stress and relieve depression.
When doing yoga exercises, only a yoga mat and comfortable clothing are recommended. It is practised barefoot on a mat hence no shoes or socks are needed.