NAIROBI – Kenyans and athletes have been urged to practise yoga for their holistic health wellbeing.
India High Commissioner Namgya Khampa said on Sunday that the long held Indian tradition is now recognised internationally by WHO as an effective practice for holistic health.
“It is not really how fit or flexible your body is but making that body-mind connection and with your externality, environment and nature. It is tremendously popular today as people are re-discovering the integrated holistic approach to health that is embraced in the practice of yoga,” the High Commissioner said.
She spoked during an event to mark the ninth International Day of Yoga in Nairobi, where at least 4,000 people participated. It was also streamed live for more than 50 participants in Somalia.
The event held under this year’s theme of “One World – One Family” was graced by Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports CS Ababu Namwamba and Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris.
The day, which has been marked since June 21, 2015, celebrates the physical and spiritual prowess that yoga has brought to the world, as it is an important source of exercise and healthy activity across the world.
“On the International Day of Yoga, WHO is privileged to celebrate the physical and mental health benefits of yoga and highlight its contributions to life-long health and well-being, promoting healthier populations, and a healthier, more equitable and sustainable Region and world,” WHO said in a statement ahead of the celebrations, which officially takes place on Wednesday across the world.
CS Ababu said yoga brings the world together into one large global family, and that it’s among key cultural ties that bind the special Kenya India relationship.
He noted that the practice is a good way of building a healthy society both mentally and spiritually, lauding the Indian High Commission for putting together such celebrations.
The Sports CS encouraged Kenyan sportsmen and women to tap into the power of yoga to aid their mental and spiritual wellness, while navigating the intensity of elite level sports.
“Yoga goes beyond physical wellbeing, and extends to mental, physiological and emotional wellbeing and also spiritual, thus holistic. So, it is something I would highly recommend to our athletes. Kenya is a great sporting nation and our athletes suffer a lot of mental stress due to the challenge of competing at that elite level.
“When you see Faith Kipyegon breaking two world records in one week, you can imagine the pressure of preparation and yoga would be an amazing way to calm you down mentally and remain focused,” Ababu said.
On her part, Passaris said, “Yoga is a journey that brings us closer together, promoting wellness and balance in our lives”.
Since 2015, following its inception by the UN General Assembly in 2014, the day has been celebrated worldwide, featuring diverse activities and programmes focused on yoga and overall well-being. The fifth International Day of Yoga was celebrated in Kenya across 10 counties in collaboration with the county governments.
Yoga, an ancient Indian practice, offers a holistic approach to improving overall health and promoting relaxation. Through a combination of physical postures (asanas) and breathing exercises, yoga enhances strength, flexibility, and mental tranquility. Physicians recommend it for lower back pains, and it may reduce stress, thus enhancing mental health.
During the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, yoga emerged as a valuable tool for promoting health and well-being among individuals worldwide.
The proposal for Yoga Day was made by PM Narendra Modi during the opening of the 69th Session of UN General Assembly. PM Modi said yoga was an invaluable gift from ancient Indian tradition.
The Narendra Modi’s new Yoga initiative is widely seen as a diplomatic soft power tool for India.
The PM, who will be on a state visit to US at the invitation of President Joe Biden from June 21-24, will lead celebrations with yoga session at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday. He will be joined by President of General Assembly Dennis Francis and other top UN officials and member states.
KENYA-INDIA CULTURAL TIES
With Kenya and India signing a bilateral Cultural Cooperation Agreement in 1981, the two states have enjoyed close cultural ties.
Since 2016, for instance, Indian artists have been participating as adjudicators for the Kenya Music Festival under the sponsorship of Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
The Indian High Commission also distributed grants-in-aid from Ministry of Culture of India to 16 Kenyan organizations promoting Indian culture. To showcase its rich cultural heritage, South Indian Cultural Festival was organized in May 2019.
Additionally, an MoU on establishment of an ICCR Chair on Indian studies between ICCR and University of Nairobi was signed in March 2015.