By Gozde Bayar

ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) – Performing yoga could achieve greater success in fighting the novel coronavirus as it boosts the immune system, according to a guru of the ancient practice.

Ankit Tiwari told Anadolu Agency there are many yogic asanas, or postures, that boost the endocrine system, strengthening the thyroid and adrenal glands, as well as the liver.

“Hormonal balance is key to improving immunity. A person with strong immunity has greater success in fighting the COVID-19 infection. Practicing yoga is best suited during the pandemic because it manages physical and mental issues,” Tiwari said to mark the sixth International Day of Yoga (IDY).

“Restrictions on traveling, panic situations over the risk of infection and death, continuous flow of negative news all around the world led to a rapid increase in anxiety and stress level,” Tiwari said, adding that being confined to homes as part of isolation can be mentally challenging and create depression and anxiety.

Besides staying connected to family and friends and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, yoga could help keep anxiety and mental health in check, strengthen muscles and it can help remove toxins from the body, he said.

Tiwari contends that anxiety and stress trigger the sympathetic nervous system which causes several problems including hypertension, lack of concentration, shortness of breath and loss of appetite.

A yogic lifestyle helps to calm our minds because it triggers our parasympathetic nervous system through various “asanas and pranayama — breath control in yoga — which “helps to reduce tension in muscles and joints,” he said.

Yoga could be considered an all-round exercise that will take care of the body, mind and soul, according to Tiwari, who said practicing it has been known to be beneficial for all ages.

“Yoga is for health, harmony and happiness,” he stressed, and one can achieve “mindfulness and thoughtless state” practicing yoga.

Indian Embassy in Ankara marks International Day of Yoga

Tiwari, who is deputed to the Indian Embassy in Ankara by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), said the embassy began yoga courses before the coronavirus pandemic.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to maintain social distancing, Embassy of India will be celebrating IDY-2020 on limited scale within the embassy premises, which will be live streamed through social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter Live to encourage all yoga enthusiasts to participate in the celebrations from their homes and practice Yoga,” the embassy said in a written statement.

As a “warm up” prior to the event, it organized a number of events, including a yoga video blogging contest and a yoga quiz, with details published on the mission’s website and social media.

Four or five practitioners will demonstrate live Common Yoga Protocol and more than 500 enthusiasts are expected to join, according to the embassy.

Anyone can join the June 21 event, which will take approximately one hour, without any criteria.

The UN on Dec. 11, 2014, proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga, which has been celebrated annually since 2015. The decision was co-sponsored by 177 countries, including Turkey.

It aims to raise worldwide awareness of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

Since originating in China last December, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 464,000 lives in 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil and Russia are currently the world’s worst-hit countries.

Nearly 8.8 million cases have been reported worldwide, while more than 4.3 million patients have recovered, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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