PRACTICE YOGA TO IMPROVE IMMUNITY AND TO FIGHT COVID-19 
| Kanishka Singh, Editor-Nutrition, IOP - 25 Jun 2020

Yoga is an Art of Living and We Have to Learn it - Acharya Raman Kumar

Special Interview with Acharya Raman Kumar by Kanishka Singh

“Today, when the entire world is fighting with pandemic of COVID-19, India is not only fast recovering and fighting this disease but also supporting other nations globally in this fight of pandemic. Yoga is the right way in this lockdown for recreating and developing our immunity and keeping ourselves fit in every sense,” said Acharya Raman Kumar, Organizing Secretary, Asian Yoga Federation & Yoga federation of India.

Born in the year 1977 and brought-up in Himachal Pradesh, later eventually shifted to Chandigarh, Raman Kumar after completing is studies in yoga had started his professional career as yoga coach in the City. His hard-work and dedication for yoga brought him loud and marked success in various yoga championships in India and worldwide. He is also the national coach for world and Asian yoga champions, Chairman - Himalayan Yogis Global & Himalayan Institute of Yoga & naturopathy and Director - Raman’s Yog and Naturopathy Services.

Indian Observer Post's Editor (Health & Nutrition) Kanishka Singh talked to Acharya Raman Kumar about importance of Yoga at the time of COVID19. Here are the edited excerpts:

Q) First of all, please tell me about your understanding and perception of Yoga?

  • Human existence is nothing without a healthy body, mind and soul, and yoga helps in achieving all these effectively.
  • From the ages of civilization & culture and centuries of Vedic life Yoga had been an important aspect of one’s living. As said in Bhagavad Gita “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self”. B.K.S Iyengar has said,“Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s action”.
  • There was a big time span when the century’s old yoga got lost somewhere, but now people are rediscovering yoga and it is again gaining much love from people globally. Yoga plays a unique role for the existence of humankind. It not only balances our body, but also energizes and stabilizes our mind and soul. As it is also said “The ultimate goal of yoga is to always observe things accurately, and therefore never act in a way that will make us regret our actions later”.

Q) You are running your YouTube channel Ramanyogi_77. Please tell me about your Yoga Channel.

-In my channel I try to give the simple and easiest way to do basic yoga and practices, and as it is very technical and lot of information are already available on net and YouTube on my channel. I try to deliver them in the best possible simple way I can.

Q) Is Yoga a scientific practice? How does it help cure diseases? What is the difference between Yogic science, Yogic therapy and Yoga theory?

-  Yoga is a very scientific practice, as a yoga coach in Indian yoga team, we train people for different competitions and they also win many medals. There are different kinds of yoga we teach them, but the main objective of the yogic training is to improve their flexibility and yogic posture. Yogic science, yogic therapy and yoga theory are different thing. Yoga therapy and yoga education are two different things. Yoga for normal being and yoga for special purpose are different in terms of yogic therapy and yogic science. Many people do yoga to lose their fat while many do to gain inner strength and all.

Q) In the time of global pandemic COVID19, what would you suggest to people how they should deal with this lockdown period?

- Firstly, people should follow all the instructions, precautions and guidelines given by WHO and our government of India. But as a yoga practitioner I would like to say that, some yogic exercises and breathing techniques helps to improve our stamina. If we see to this period, from a long duration we are locked in our homes, so by our choice if we stay at our homes it gives us pleasure but if it happens with some force it gives us little stress. So yoga is the way which can helps us in releasing our stress. And if we are physically and mentally healthy we can fight with any problem. So, yoga plays a very unique and vital role to fight with this situation. And yoga doesn’t require any material as such except a place where there is proper light & ventilation and a mat. One can sit and do breathing exercises to combat with this situation.

Q) What would you suggest people to deal with the issue of mental stress in this time of pandemic?

- So when we say the word stress there is no way to decrease it. Stress comes with things which we are not able to do or are not in your favour. For example, suppose I am thirsty and so to quench the thirst my necessity is water, but to quench it my desire is to have a cold drink which is not available anywhere, so that is stress for me for this situation. We don’t value things we have in our hands and demand for those things which are not in our hands.

Earlier before lockdown people complained about their workloads, not getting time for homes and for themselves, etc. Govt. is constantly appealing from people to protect themselves from corona and follow the instructions, so this is not the fear of this lockdown, this is basically the fear of our lives, that why we should stay at our homes, that is creating stress. Everything in our daily life creates mental stress. 

Q) Yea, so what would you suggest people in their daily routine to come out of mental stresses?

- Everyday activities like walking on road, tire puncture, etc. creates stress for us. And all the things which you don’t want to happen if happens they create stress.

In all my videos also I keep saying that have patience, because there are energies in universe which always helps us to find ways to combat with stress.

The best way to live a stress free life is to accept the situation as it is. We have to adjust according to this. We have a lot of things to do in the lockdown like read books, and do things according to our interests.

Q) Would you suggest any particular Yoga process to ease mental stresses?

- One can do yoga and breathing exercises, because breathing exercises helps us to release any kind of stress and boost our mental strength. Do deep breathing, for this one should sit in a comfortable situation as in Sukhaasan, etc. with back straight and just concentrate on breathing i.e. inhale exhale.  After doing 15- 20 repetitions of it body starts feeling relaxed, cooled and inner strength.

This breathing when done with conscious state of mind besides relaxation and inner strength it also gives inner happiness. Start it with 5 min duration and by practicing slowly bring it up to half an hour or so accordingly.  It helps us in everything and everywhere.

The major cause of stress in modern lives is that people never connect with and concentrate on their breathing, they usually just inhale and exhale.

If we do not connect with our breathing we are no less than a dead. People must do connected breathing every time not just in this lockdown situation, so that they normally stay relaxed and happy. In initial condition already existing negative thoughts will distract one’s mind but slowly you will start gaining the meditative state with this deep breathing exercise and negative thoughts starts moving out.

Q) How do deep breathing helps our mind to work faster and staying balanced?

- We have two nostrils and both the nostrils never work together, and only one works at a time for inhale and exhale. The inhalation with right nostril provides heat while the inhalation with left nostril provides coolness to our body. But due to workload and other issues people do not concentrate on this inhaling-exhaling process. When body is in the need of heat left nostril is working and when it wants to be cooled down right nostril is working, this ultimately creates a stressful life. People experiencing heat issues in body like high B.P. they must breathe with left nostril and vice-versa. Breathing plays a very important part for our stress free life. If a person do this for a month the person will notice marked positive changes in within and will have low capacity for alcohol intake automatically because our mind starts directing what our body needs and digests.

Q) What kinds of yoga we can do for start building our immunity?

-  Firstly I would say that the best way to build immunity is regulating breathing, because proper breathing purifies our blood, and other way is Surya Namaskar.

It is a set of Aasanas and 12 postures. It strengthens our arms, spine, lungs and chest. After Surya Namashkar there is Dhanuraasan. It gives expansion to our chest region, strengthens our spine region, thighs, calf muscles and arms.

Another major Aasana is Paschimotaasan. It helps building our immunity, improves blood circulation and gives massage to our body from head to toe. Vrikshaasan, the two standing positions, strengthen legs, thighs and spine and by reducing stress improves mental health. Trikonaasan or triangle position provides strengthen & flexibility to shoulder, neck and waist muscles. These major Aasanas greatly improves body’s immunity.

Q) What kinds of basic breathing exercises or Pranayamas, which can be helpful for commoners or beginners for improving their immunity?

- Anulom-Vilom & Nadi Shodhan is the two techcnique of breathing, but Anulom-Vilom is the major one because through it we are capable of balancing both nostrils. There is a Pranayam called Chandra-Bhedan, and in this everytime inhaling is done from left nostril and exhaling is from right one and this gives relaxation to heart, lungs and blood circulation.

After all Aasanas & Pranayams do OM chanting, but people of different religion can do it according to their belief, and concentrate on breathing.

I want to mention that there are 84 lacs of Yogic Aasanas representing 84 lacs Yonis given by our Rishis, depicting different life forms i.e. animal, birds, etc., and each Aasana represents a specific quality of them as each life form has different breathing technique and sitting positions.

For example, Peacock is the only bird which can digest snake poison, and if we perform Mayuraasan it improves our digestive system and process.

Yoga gives 5 major elements i.e. proper exercise, proper breathing, proper strengthening & flexibility, proper relaxation, proper diet.

Q) What is the yogic diet? Is it different from the normal diet and its normal modifications?

- Yogic diet differs from person to person because everyone has different digestive system ranging from very strong to very weak.

According to Ayurveda there are three body types i.e. Vatta, Pitta and Kapha, and every food is not suitable for everyone, so it’s primarily important to find out your body type among these three or their combination. Whatever you intake must be consumed in a limit.

According to your stomach capacity, it should be half filled with food, one-fourth with water and leave the rest one-fourth part of stomach for air. If this intake ratio is followed one will never face digestive issues.

This is the yogic way of diet. Too much eating or too less eating clearly represents poor mental balance, which needs to be corrected and maintained. We should take sunbath for 5 to 10 minutes daily to gain energy and should spend with nature. We should stay positive. 

(Transcribed by Sanjana Rastogi) 

Image courtesy - Acharya Raman Kumar/ Twitter Handle @avsadan / @MsSriReddy


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