The practice of yoga can help communities heal together, ensure physical and mental well-being as people around the world deal with increased anxiety, uncertainty and unemployment unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a top US Congressman has said.
During a virtual commemoration of the International Yoga Day hosted by the Consulate General of India here on Sunday, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan also underscored that practices like yoga don’t have to necessarily be a religious practice to really experience its deep benefits.
In his virtual message, Ryan said that today yoga is meeting the moment as the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed large-scale unemployment, led to added uncertainty for people who were already reeling from huge income inequality in the United States and the greatest gap between the rich and poor since the Great Depression.
The 6th International Yoga Day was marked on June 21.
Ryan said that as people deal with mental health issues, depression and high levels of chronic anxiety, yoga has the power to improve mental, physical health.
The Consulate General of India in New York organised the virtual yoga session ‘Ghar Ghar Se Yoga-Yoga at Home’ on Sunday to commemorate the International Day of Yoga.
In previous years, the day has been commemorated at a grand scale across various venues in the city but this year it was marked virtually due to COVID19-related medical restrictions in place and requirements of social distancing.
India’s Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty said yoga originated in India but the US has become its second home, with more than 36 million Americans practicing yoga regularly.
He said India, the US and other countries in the world have been facing the challenge of COVID-19 for the last few months.
Amid this, yoga comes to our aid to help us maintain our physical health and mental wellbeing, he said, adding that yoga means different things to different people.
Anyone can do yoga to the best of his or her ability and I think that is the uniqueness of yoga.
Ryan stressed that there is a need to continue to highlight that the practice of yoga “isn’t just the physical (exercise) and well being (but) overall health. The more and more research we do on it, the more it’s going to bear itself out of the huge impact that (yoga) can have on us. We need to teach it in our schools, we need to make sure it’s accessible for our communities, he said.
The Democratic Party Congressman noted that an integrated programme called Urban Yogis’ based in Queens, New York – a group of African-American leaders in the community who have been teaching yoga and meditation to people – would be leading a march next week during which there will be an over eight-minute long meditation along with community service.
This is what yogis in America are starting to do. I think it’s going to get infused into the marches and non-violent protests that are happening in the United States and I have a hunch that this is going to grow into a broader movement so the practices of yoga and mindfulness are actually going to get infused into the social consciousness of the country, and it’s going to have a huge impact on where this country needs to go to heal, he said.
India’s Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha highlighted that the yoga day has been celebrated prominently with members of the Indian community in the US since 2015 and this year’s theme is Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family.’
Several officials and staff from the Indian Consulate joined the online yoga session, during which Dayashankar Vidyalankar, teacher of Indian culture at the Consulate and practicing Yogi, demonstrated yoga asanas.