When Manjeet Bahety, 39, was diagnosed with high cholesterol in 2014, he thought there was only one option to get healthy again – medication. “Lack of physical activities and irregular eating schedules had taken their toll,” recounts the director of Kolkata-based Dinman Polypacks Pvt Ltd. Today, the dosage of his medicines is reduced by half, and he feels healthier, fitter and more active than ever.
He adds, “All thanks to yoga and my extended family. They advised I visit Bengaluru-based Jindal Naturecure Institute, which introduced me to this ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice. I have been coming here for 10 days every year.”
Bahety is one of the many who have turned to yoga and its holistic regimen to alleviate health issues and lifestyle diseases. What’s more – 30 minutes of yoga every day is enough. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts led to the United Nations declaring June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, in 2015.
“Yoga is an effective way of maintaining good health,” says Dr Ishwar Basavaraddi, Director, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India.“Various research results have shown yogasanas not only have preventive value, but with medicines help in management of diseases like diabetes, and maintaining sound mental health. With substantial medical proof, more and more people have started understanding the value of yoga,” he adds.
The curative powers of yoga
Studies have shown that yoga can reduce stress-induced hyperglycemia. A combination of the right breathing techniques, body postures and meditation invokes relaxation that regulates the level of the stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine) responsible for increasing the blood glucose levels and blood pressure — both cause Type 2 diabetes.
“Certain yogasanas like Ardha Matsyendrasana, stretch the pancreas and stimulates the production of insulin, which is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” says Dr Srikanth HS, Senior Naturopath, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bengaluru. Yogic breathing techniques, he says, improve glycemic regulation and protect insulin sensitive tissues like cardiac and skeletal muscles from damage. Yoga aids muscle glucose uptake, bringing down blood sugar.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, arthritis and respiratory disorders are few other diseases that yoga lowers the risk of. Coupled with lifestyle management, yoga also helps fight obesity. Regular practice of yogasanas improves the alignment of body, allows the skeletal frame to bear more body weight, and reduces the strain on joints.A study conducted by the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS) in 2010 demonstrated the beneficial effects of yoga on all bodily systems.
The brand value of yoga
Dr Basavaraddi informs that the National Council of Teacher Education undertakes 13 teacher education programmes, and has set up a Yoga Certification Board to certify teachers at levels 1 to 7.
Also, NCERT has introduced Level 1 and 2 yoga in Class 6 to 10 in all its affiliated schools like KVs and Navodaya Vidyalayas, with almost 18 lakh students practicing yoga.
Several state governments are also following this trend. Dr Basavaraddi says that the Ministry of Ayush is attempting to upgrade certified yoga institutes through education programmes.
“This year, we have received over 50 entries for certification from Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Italy. It’s time we brand our own product.”