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International Day of Yoga 2020-Yoga at Home, Yoga with family

Interview with Ambassador of India to Azerbaijan Bawitlung Vanlalvawna 

Baku, June 19, AZERTAC

The United Nations adopted 21st June as the International Day of Yoga (IDY) in December 2014. How has IDY been observed and celebrated in Azerbaijan since then?

Since the adoption of 21st June as the International Day of Yoga(IDY) by the United Nations in December 2014, IDY was celebrated in Azerbaijan for the first time on 21 June 2015 in Azerbaijan. Although Yoga has been practiced in Azerbaijan in the past, what we have experienced is that Yoga has significantly grown in popularity after the first IDY was celebrated in 2015. Over the past few years, the events and celebrations connected with IDY have increased. In 2019, IDY events were held at many iconic locations across Baku including at Heydar Aliyev Centre, Gobustan, Yanar Dag, Icherisheher, Ateshgah, Boulevard etc. and also in regions like Lankaran, Shamakhi and Gabala.

Can you tell us in this period of COVID-19 pandemic, when public events are banned in view of the need to maintain social distancing, how do you propose to celebrate IDY this year?

Due to the prevailing circumstances, IDY 2020 will be celebrated in an unique way as compared to previous years. Obviously, unlike in the past, we will not be able to celebrate the IDY together in iconic locations and public spaces as the need to maintain social distancing will not allow us to congregate and practice Yoga together. Therefore, the Government of India has come up with a very innovative and creative way to celebrate IDY this year. This year’s IDY will be celebrated on the theme “Yoga at Home, Yoga with family”. This will give all Yoga lovers in Azerbaijan the opportunity to celebrate IDY at home with their families.

Yoga from Home is indeed an appropriate way to celebrate IDY in this period of pandemic. What are the events the Embassy proposes to organize and how are these taken to homes?

The Embassy is organising various events in the run up to the IDY 2020 in collaboration with various Yoga schools and renowned Yoga teachers in Azerbaijan. As mentioned before, unlike in previous years, we are live streaming Yoga sessions through the Embassy’s facebook page so that all our friends and Yoga lovers in Azerbaijan can join the sessions from their homes. In all these, we have received excellent support from our friends in Azerbaijan particularly from the honourable members of Azerbaijan India Working Group on Inter-parliamentary Relations who have kindly sent video messages to greet yoga practitioners on the occasion.

The main event of the International Day of Yoga 2020 will be celebrated on 21 June 2020 at 15:00 and will be streamed live on the Embassy’s facebook page. We invite all our friends to join us.

Can you tell us briefly how Yoga could be beneficial to an individual particularly at this time when people need to maintain a healthy lifestyle while isolating themselves and avoiding public gatherings.

The past few months have been very challenging for many of us to adapt to lifestyle changes due to various restrictions imposed in order to combat coronavirus. Many are required to work from home and this resulted in lack of physical contact with friends and colleagues. In fact, some studies have shown that there has been a rise in depression, anxiety and fear among people during this period. The practice of Yoga can bring about a balanced physical and mental well-being, if practiced regularly and seriously. This is because Yoga involves both physical exercise and breathing techniques which can reduce tension in the body and help discover one’s true essence and improve balance within the human body. A healthy body and mind through Yoga will also improve a person's immunity against diseases like COVID-19.

What are the basics of Yoga? Do you have any advice for those who are beginners to Yoga?

Yoga must be practiced in a clean surrounding. It is also important to have a clean body and mind and a relaxed environment. A person must wear comfortable clothes and a mat with a good grip of the floor may be used. It is also important to practice Yoga Asanas with an empty stomach. A short warm up or loosening exercise is recommended for beginners to avoid injuries from performing Asanas. Yoga must be practiced at one’s own pace and gradually without hurrying to move to advanced posture as done only by experienced yoga practitioners. Yoga should not be performed in a state of exhaustion, illness, or in acute stress conditions. After yoga sessions, it is advisable to wait for sometime ( at least an hour) before ingesting food.

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