It wasn’t just the physical aspect: Yoga also provided mental exercise. The constant fear, anxiety, and uncertainly about the future would be calmed with more yoga.
Last Updated: June 21, 2020, 1:35 PM IST
On 24 March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting movement of the 1.3 billion population as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
As news of the lockdown slowly reached everyone, people started flocking out to buy essentials and hoard them. Many with temporary homes tried to get back to their families.
But the ones who could afford to work from home, stayed indoors. They learnt household chores, cooking, did DIYs to pass time, watched shows, and bonded with their family members.
With gyms shut and jogging outdoors being banned, the fitness enthusiasts had to figure out a way to exercise that didn’t require equipment, a lot of space, or a trainer. So here comes, Yoga.
The ancient spiritual and physical practice which originated from India found its way back to the masses during the lockdown. The forms were convenient and there were many tutorials to learn from online, and an abundance of time.
Bollywood stars and celebrities started practising and set an example.
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So @rohmanshawl challenged me to attempt this balancing #yogapose 😉😁❤️ Guess who’s always up for a challenge!!😉👊 #yourstruly of course!! wanna try? You can do it!!!👊👍😍 I love you guys!!!💃🏻 hint: straighten your back & tighten your core 👍😉
A post shared by Sushmita Sen (@sushmitasen47) on Apr 16, 2020 at 7:20am PDT
But it wasn’t just Bollywood celebrities doing yoga. The hashtag #LockdownYoga has over 10,000 people sharing how they were spending their time doing yoga, and how it was keeping them fit. For beginners, there was also a separate section to help people who were practising it for the first time.
It wasn’t just the people in lockdown. Delhi-NCR’s first coronavirus patient, 45-year-old Rohit Datta, in an interview to The Hindu had revealed how he spent a significant amount of his time in the coronavirus isolation ward practising yoga.
Datta had made a mental list of five breathing exercises he needed to do: om, anulom-vilom, kapal bhati, bhastrika, and kumbhaka.
“The first time I tried, I couldn’t do any for even two seconds. I felt like an old man who had smoked through his life.”
However, he kept at it, doing them twice for a week, slowly increasing the duration. “I didn’t have the strength for physical exercise.”
Datta had just returned from a work trip to Europe when he was diagnosed positive. Now, a pranayama loyalist, Datta said that he would be one for the rest of his life. “It is both preventive and curative,” he added.
The WHO, in its media briefing on March 20, days before India’s lockdown, listed yoga as one of the ways of “making time for exercise.”
But it wasn’t just the physical aspect: Yoga also provided mental exercise. The constant fear, anxiety, and uncertainly about the future would be calmed with more yoga.
Dr Manoj Kutteri, wellness director at Atmantan Wellness Centre, said in an interview that “Yoga is a great tool as the stretching poses help to reduce tension in muscles and joints, and this can, in turn, help relax the sympathetic system. There are many yoga poses which are excellent for managing blood pressure thereby reducing anxiety symptoms.”
Aakriti Joanna, who runs an online counselling platform ‘Kaha Mind’, told News18 in an interview that the work-from-home situation under a lockdown meant creating new rules and routines. One of her tips was, “Eat well, hydrate, and practise some breathing exercise.”