Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India. It involves physical poses, concentration, and deep breathing.
This year, on International Day of Yoga, scores of people turned out to experience the physical benefits of the practice at India House in St. Andrew.
About 200 Indian community members and locals turned out in their comfortable exercise garbs for the annual event, ready for stretching.
According to the American Osteopathic Association, yoga increases flexibility, muscle strength and tone, and it helps to improve respiration, energy, and vitality.
Participant in the June 21 activity, Elizabeth Matthews, an 85-year-old yoga student, said she joined yoga classes in February this year and practises three days per week. She said her health issues have improved since she started doing yoga.
“Yoga helps with improving my joints and spine problems that have been affecting me,” she said, adding that doing yoga makes her feel relieved and that she has been recommending it to others.
Another yoga student, Simone Campbell, said she has been doing yoga for over 10 years and plans to become an instructor.
“Yoga helps to calm me and be more peaceful in my everyday life. [It] helps with my mood, demeanour, my interactions with people, and my health tremendously,” she said.
“I also think others should do yoga… because of how aggressive some of us can be,” she encouraged, and added, “I used to have back pain and yoga helped to ease it along with the flexibility of my joints and muscles in so many ways.”
Campbell also said: “The way you start your day is very important and I use yoga to do that because it helps to relax me and it brings togetherness.”
She said that yoga is for everyone and people should think of creative ways to introduce it in schools, at home, and in communities.
Practising yoga involves shifting the body in various positions that range from beginner, intermediate to advanced levels, and Pauline Matthews, a student of yoga, said she started yoga at the gym and liked it despite some of the positions being challenging.
“Despite the challenges, I liked yoga so much that after work I would attend classes and often fall asleep because of how relaxing it was. Yoga also has holistic benefits and I try to practise yoga at least three to four times per week. Even if I don’t get to attend the class one day, I try to do it at home for 30 to 45 minutes,” she said.
A fourth participant, Maria Serrana, said she is thankful to the instructors and the Indian High Commissioner to have the opportunity to practise yoga for free.
She started classes in October last year when she was invited by a friend and fell in love with it.
“Every time I participate in the class, I feel calm, peaceful and it gives me a sharp mind. I start work later so I can attend the 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. class in the mornings,” she said.
“When I’m doing yoga, I feel a part of the yoga community and the instructor makes us feel like we’re at home,” Ms. Serrana added.
High Commissioner of India to Jamaica, Rungsung Masakui, recently shared that the exercise should be practised regularly.
“It is the unity of body, mind and soul. There are benefits to your physical body from the postures that we do and when you move on to the meditation to finish the session, it helps with your mental peace,” he said.
“It comes with the discipline of what you eat and what you drink. Everything is integrated. So if you practise it, then you can avoid several lifestyle diseases,” the High Commissioner added.
Yoga was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 as an initiative of the Indian Prime Minister.
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