Celebrating the Spirit of Yoga: To mark International Yoga Day, Indian Embassy in Cairo organises Yoga at a park

The second International Day of Yoga coincided with the holy month of Ramadan and both of them celebrates the same spiritual aspirations of people

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A woman practicing yoga. Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
The Indian Embassy in Cairo played host to the second International Day of Yoga at the scenic Al-Azhar Park on June 21, 2016. The historical monuments — the minarets of famous mosques and the iconic Saladin Citadel — formed the perfect backdrop for the event that was held after Iftaar during the holy month of Ramadan.
It saw a participation of more than 1,500 yoga enthusiasts including politicians, businessmen, diplomats, media persons and members of the Indian community. Imaj Hassan Ahmed, Miss Earth Egypt 2015, was the chief guest of the event.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
Highlighting the importance of the day that was celebrated on June 21 in 193 countries around the world, India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya, said, “Yoga is India’s gift to humanity and in just a year’s time, it has gained immense popularity in the Land of Pyramids. The second International Day of Yoga coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, and they both promote the same spiritual aspirations of people.”
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He added that the holy month calls for self-control, spiritual development and aims at attaining peace of mind. “These concepts are in line with the core principles of yoga to achieve peace through meditation and self-discipline,” Bhattacharyya said.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
As a thoughtful gesture, the Indian Embassy had scheduled the celebration in the evening as most people fast during the day. Organising the event after dusk saw the participation of Indians, Egyptians and other foreigners in large numbers.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga was ‘Connect the Youth’. In tune with it, more than 400 school children, 40 yoga instructors and their students participated in the event and presented a  special performance based on yoga asanas. Even regular visitors of the park enthusiastically joined in the celebration.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
A local music group performed a few instrumental songs that opened the spectacular event on Tuesday evening, June 21. The yoga instructors took turns in conducting a variety of meditation and exercise sessions to enthral those present at the venue. The Ambassador delivered the welcome address; it was followed by the chief guest’s speech. In her address, Miss Earth Egypt 2015 said, “Yoga has become popular all over the world because of its benefits. It helps us improve our behaviour towards ourselves and nature as well.”
The Common Yoga Protocol was played in Arabic, and all the participants enthusiastically performed yoga asanas. There were also many other activities including yoga dance, group yoga, circle yoga, advanced yoga, meditation, and cultural performances as part of the celebration.

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Ahmed Darwish, Chairman of the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone, told that he is a recent convert to yoga and but though he is a late starter, he is a sincere practitioner.
In the run up to the second International Day of Yoga, the Indian Embassy had conducted an online photography competition titled “Yoga in Egypt”. A first-ever yoga championship was also organised by the Indian Embassy on June 5, 2016, under four categories, with the age of participants ranging from 4 to 72 years. The winners of the two competitions were awarded prizes during the event at Al-Azhar Park on June 21, 2016.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) in Cairo has been conducting yoga classes since 1993. But in the past few years, yoga has become quite popular in Egypt, and many gyms, clubs and organisations have started conducting yoga classes. The number of yoga schools in Egypt has increased threefold in the last one year, from 14 to 40. The growing popularity was reflected in the participation and support of a vast number of people at the International Day of Yoga event.
In addition to the ‘Yoga at the Park’ event held in Cairo, the Indian Embassy is organising such celebrations in two other Egyptian cities — ‘Yoga by the Suez Canal’ in Ismailia on June 23 and ‘Yoga at the Beach’ in Alexandria on June 25 — to mark the occasion.
Two more events — ‘Yoga by the Suez Canal’ in Ismailia on June 23 and ‘Yoga at the Beach’ in Alexandria on June 25 — will be held to celebrate the occasion

-by Shillpi A Singh, a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She can be contacted at shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Wow! Yoga in Cairo. There should be a twist with a little bit of their traditional dance moves 🙂

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This Quarantine Centre is A Place To Delight: Filled with Music, Yoga and a Menu of choice

This COVID-care centre in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan offers music, meditation, aerobics along with the choicest of the menu for the people staying there!

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Rajasthan's quarantine centre has emerged as a role model by setting up new benchmarks. Pixabay

BY ARCHANA SHARMA                                                                                                  A COVID-care centre in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan has emerged as a role model by setting up new benchmarks as it offers music, meditation, aerobics along with the choicest of menu for the people staying here!

Called as Parda Chundawat Quarantine Centre, it has set example by creating a serene environment where people wake up listening to soothing music. Then, there are Yoga and meditation classes where they exercise to shoo off negativity from their mind.

In fact, the daily schedule of those admitted here is quite impressive. They wake up listening to melodious bhajans at 6 a.m. Soon after, there are two yoga classes — one for the people who love to do indoor exercise while the other for those who are interested to do yoga under open sky.

All guidelines of social distancing are followed by the people while performing yoga.

Soon after Yoga, they go for aerobics where they stretch their body rhythmically on different music beats. Thereafter, they get breakfast of their choice and are served lunch in the afternoon. As they take nap in afternoon, the evening time at 5 p.m. awaits for another interesting activity where they listen to their favourite songs of renowned singers including Kishore Kumar, Rafi, Asha Bhonsle, Lata Mangeshkar amongst others, while sitting together.

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This COVID-care centre in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan has emerged as a role model. Pixabay

Special games and activities are available for kids which include spelling, synonyms, pronunciation, painting etc. Kids find this environment really engaging, says Sabhla sub divisional officer Manish Faujdar who is in charge of this centre.

Also, there are psychological experts who help in counselling. “People coming here are quite worried about their future life, their spouses and families. These counsellors help them connect to meditation with scientific facts which make them feel joyful and relieves them of their stress,” says Chhaya Choubisa, assistant director, Information and public relations, Dungarpur.

Faujdar says that when admitted, these people were quite aggrieved and angry. “We saw an unseen fear in their eyes and mind. Therefore, we introduced a few activities which can make them relieved from their stress, offering mental peace to them. We wanted to divert their attention and hence launched music therapy. We connected the music system to youTube where there were bhajans in morning, filmy songs in the evening and Aarti and patriotic songs later. Eventually, their anger vanished and they look joyful now with no stress or anger seen amongst them.”

Also Read: Caring For The Elderly, Tackling Old-age and Loneliness in The Times Of COVID

District collector Kanaram also visited this place and praised these innovations. (IANS)

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Caring For The Elderly, Tackling Old-age and Loneliness in The Times Of COVID

While we do our bit to stay safe, looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial

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Caring for the elderly in these troubled times is very important. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN 

The Coronavirus pandemic has left human race with feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and a fear what’s coming next. While we do our bit to stay safe, looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial.

In this crisis, just like the little children in the family, our elders also need extra care and attention, especially if they are living alone and are prone to feeling isolated. Coupled with the greater restrictions on the 60+ population stepping out, these feelings can negatively impact physical and mental health, and must be addressed promptly and with care.

In a chat with IANSlife, here are some ways suggested by Dr Ishita Mukerji, a senior psychologist at Kaleidoscope, a mental wellness centre part of Dr. Bakshi’s Healthcare.

Teach them to go digital: Patiently help them learn the use of various video/voice call applications available and encourage them to stay virtually connected with their friends and family. They can also use this time to rediscover their lost art of writing and share short heart felt notes via email, to their loved ones to lift their spirits. Demonstrate to them how to use taxi-hire apps, medical-monitoring apps, emergency call services, and the like. Hand them a copy of all necessary phone numbers and save them on their phones.

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Looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial. Pixabay

Prioritize their nutrition intake and physical activity: Senior citizens need adequate sleep, optimum nutrition and some kind of physical exercise on an everyday basis. Ensure that their sleep cycle is not disturbed due to the changes in the household because of the factors associated with social distancing. Their daily diet must have a combination of essential proteins and minerals, fruits, green vegetables, dairy products and a lot of liquid, as we are in the peak of summer. Elders might find it tough to exercise within the house, as many go to neighbourhood parks and yoga classes. However, you must help them incorporate at-home yoga and breathing exercises into their routine.

Enjoy recreational activities together: A good way to bond and enjoy as a family is watching a movie, listening to music, indulging in some craft activity, looking through photo albums together or playing indoor games like cards, chess, ludo, monopoly, carom etc or some mind stimulating games like Sudoku or puzzles. These activities will in turn make them feel relaxed, rejuvenated and something to look forward to each day.

Keep them engaged indoors: It is important to involve your family’s senior members in the household activities as much as possible. Their help in such basic activities will let them stay occupied and also give a sense of accomplishment to them but do not push them to perform strenuous activities. You may encourage them to pursue hobbies like reading, writing, knitting, singing or painting. Make sure they have enough supplies to last the crisis. Encourage them to teach young kids a skill.

Involvement in decision-making: We must seek advice and suggestions from the elders in our families at all times, especially when making decisions that might directly or indirectly impact them or their lifestyle. Taking their inputs into consideration will make them feel wanted and heard. It is really important to respect their thoughts and feelings that they derive out of their life experiences and wisdom accumulated over the years.

Create a positive environment at home: Getting exposed to the concerning news around worsening situation for longer durations can create anxiety and fear in seniors’ minds. Create a positive atmosphere and help them keeping calm and positive. Speak to them about their happy times. Revisit old memories, reopen photo-albums, listen to their life experiences and spend quality time with them.

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The elderly can also use this time to rediscover their lost art of writing and share short heartfelt notes. Pixabay

Taking care of mental and emotional needs: Pay attention to the thoughts and concerns that the elderly might have as there may be big or small issues where they may need your help to solve them. Look out for mood swings too, as it might mean they are struggling mentally and need extra support and care. Also be aware of any cognitive difficulties they might be facing like being anxious, angry, stressed, agitated or withdrawn. It is very important to provide emotional support to keep them mentally and physically fit.

Also Read: Turn to Yoga For Quitting Tobacco

The elderly have sacrificed a lot in their youth for our sake and it is now time that we show them utmost love and appreciation, signs off Dr Mukerji. (IANS)

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Turn to Yoga For Quitting Tobacco

An effective cure to tobacco addiction is the practice of yoga and meditation

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Practice yoga and meditation to get rid of tobacco. Pixabay

There are more than 8 million people who die from tobacco-related causes each year. Of these, over 7 million die as a result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Smoking is decidedly bad for your health and harms nearly every organ of the body.

Smoking causes damage to blood vessels making them thicken and grow narrower. This increases heart rate and your blood pressure. Smoking also causes many other cancers and health problems. Women who smoke during pregnancy face a greater risk of certain pregnancy problems.

An effective cure to addiction is the practice of yoga and meditation. Yoga offers tools to down-regulate the stress response system and activate the relaxation response. This increases our capacity to observe our experiences with a greater sense of level-headedness and self-control. Yoga practices such as asanas, and meditation also rewire the brain creating new neural pathways. These are effective for new behaviour-forming habits, breaking old patterns to replace them with healthier ones. In this way yoga can help in de-addiction, and also regain the body’s health by boosting your immune system, building strength for both body and mind, and flushing out toxins.

One of the main reasons that people find it a challenge to give up smoking is because of nicotine. Nicotine is a stimulant drug and a highly addictive substance that is found in tobacco. Nicotine addiction makes it much harder for people to quit smoking. But it is important to remind oneself of the dangers of smoking and stay committed to quitting the habit. Yoga asanas release feel-good hormones in your body and lead you to make positive lifestyle changes. Yoga also builds mindfulness, and this awareness can be useful to keep yourself in check every time you reach for a cigarette.

Practice the following asanas upto three times or more a week, repeat for up to three sets holding each pose for 15-30 seconds.

Ustrasana

Kneel on the yoga mat and place your hands on the hips.

Simultaneously, arch your back and slide your palms over your feet till the arms are straight.

Do not strain or flex your neck but keep it in a neutral position.

Stay in this posture for a couple of breaths.

Breathe out and slowly come back to the initial pose. Withdraw your hands and bring them back to your hips as you straighten up.

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Yoga asanas release feel-good hormones in your body and lead you to make positive lifestyle changes. Pixabay

 

Vajrasana – Thunderbolt pose

Formation of the Posture

Begin by standing straight with your arms by the sides of your body

Lean forward and slowly drop your knees on your mat

Place your pelvis on your heels and point your toes outward

Here, your thighs should press your calf muscles

Keep your heels slightly apart from each other

Place your palms on your knees facing upward

Straighten your back and look forward

Hold this asana for a while

Breathing Methodology

Softly inhale and exhale

Word of Advice

A person suffering from knee joint pain, Arthritis or any knee injury should avoid this asana

 

Paschimottanasana – Seated forward bend

Formation of the Posture

Begin with Dandasana

Ensure that your knees are slightly bent while your legs are stretched out forward

Extend your arms upward and keep your spine erect

Exhale and empty your stomach of air

With the exhale, bend forward at the hip and place your upper body on your lower body

Lower your arms and grip your big toes with your fingers

Try to touch your knees with your nose

Hold the posture for 10-30 seconds, repeat up to 3 times

Breathing Methodology

Exhale as you fold forward

Tobacco
Yoga builds mindfulness, and this awareness can be useful to keep yourself in check every time you reach for a cigarette. Pixabay

Padahastasana

Formation of the posture

Begin by standing in Samasthithi

Exhale and gently bend your upper body, dropping your head and keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed

Bring the trunk closer to the legs. Try to touch the knees with the forehead. This may require a lot of flexibility. If you are starting out your practice, go only as far as it is comfortable.

When you are folding forward, attempt to move your torso from the hip joints, instead of the waist.

Place palms on either side of feet

Try to keep the legs and knees straight throughout the practice. If you are a beginner, you may have to bend your knees slightly to accomplish this.

With practice, slowly straighten your knees and try to touch your chest to your thighs

Hold this asana for a while

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Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward dog pose

Formation of the posture

Lift the hips up, straighten the knees and elbows, and form an inverted �V’ shape

Now keep the hands shoulders width apart. Fingers point ahead

Put pressure on your palms and open your shoulder blades

Try to push your heels to the floor

Keep your eye focused on your big toes

Hold eight to ten breaths

Breathing Methodology

Exhale as you enter into this posture(IANS)