GADAG: Residents of Papanashi, a small village on the foothills of Kappatagudda -- 10km from Gadag town on the Gadag-Mundargi Road, take their health rather seriously. Farmers complete their yoga routine on their fields before taking up the day’s hard work, and other villagers ensure they practice their asanas twice a day, every day. In fact, the village with a population of around 2,000 has earned itself the tag of ‘Yoga Gram’.
Rightly so, as 80 per cent of the villagers, who also have a good knowledge of medicinal plants, perform yoga regularly. Papanashi residents are also keen on using Ayurvedic plants to treat their various ailments, as they live near the hillock and know many natural remedies.
Yoga classes were first started in February 2020 by Ayurvedic doctor Ashok Mattikatti, but were interrupted by the March 2020 Covid lockdown. But the doctor convinced villagers to continue practising yoga on their farms following all the Covid-appropriate behaviour. After the lockdown, villagers completed and continued training under the doctor for free. It was two years ago that Mattikatti first started training some children, women and senior citizens.
Soon, other villagers joined. A teacher, Sudha Patil, approached the doctor with a request to learn yoga and teach it to other villagers. She was also appointed yoga teacher by the Ayush Department, which told her to take one class per week. But thanks to the villagers’ intense interest, Sudha started teaching yoga twice a day.
Earlier, it was difficult for them to gather at a place and learn yoga. Now they have formed groups of farmers, daily wagers and daily travellers who go out of the village, and perform yoga on fields, along major roads and at homes. Most of the children, aged 12 to 18, who learnt yoga, are now teaching the villagers different asanas. Children said when they started learning yoga, they felt good and active.
Initially, few parents said they had no time and gave other reasons. But when children forced them to try yoga twice a week, they agreed and are now addicted to their asanas. “We wanted to learn yoga earlier... but would have had to travel to Gadag, and classes are held at 5.30 am. When we heard of free yoga classes in our own village, we decided to take it up. We do yoga regularly, and are proud that neighbouring villagers and others call Papanashi ‘Yoga Halli’ or ‘Yoga Gram’,” a resident said.
“We got a good response from Papanashi residents. Now we are training them twice a day... at 5.30 am and 5 pm. Children who came for training brought in friends, relatives and parents... Now, all villagers are practising yoga,” Sudha said. The International Yoga Day also had a role in spreading awareness.
“After PM Narendra Modi introduced Yoga Day and spread awareness to the world, we used to have a yoga session on June 21. But now, most villagers have made it their daily routine, and many others join us on Sundays and holidays,” Mattikatti said. Chaitra, a PU student, said, “We have been learning and practising yoga for the past two years. Some villagers asked us to teach yoga so we have started separate classes for senior citizens and women. We were surprised so many people are interested in it.”
Only four tested positive for Covid-19
While effects of yoga on Covid are yet to be established, Papanashi reported only four Covid-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic. Daily yoga boosted the villagers’ well-being and confidence throughout the three waves, and many villagers claim they kept the pandemic at bay with yoga.
Ayush doctors also taught jala neti
Mattikatti also decided to teach jala neti, a type of nasal treatment which helps clean clogged nasal passages. This also got a good response. Many villagers practised it during the pandemic, and continue to do so. Mattikatti said that jala neti is also a part of yoga and is helpful in maintaining nasal hygiene by removing dirt and bacteria trapped along with mucus.