Yoga: A powerful tool to improve health

The theme of this year’s International Yoga Day is “Yoga for Humanity” – a relevant and timely theme. Yoga is beneficial for people of all ages and incomes. It can be practiced anywhere, at any time and by people of all countries and cultures. Yoga is a powerful tool for individuals, communities and countries to improve not only physically but also to improve mental health and to prevent and control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Southeast Asia zones. Eight major priorities. The four major NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – account for more than 80% of all premature NCD deaths, including 85% in low- and middle-income countries, including the region.

Schools, workplaces, civil society organizations and communities should consider incorporating yoga into daily activities, supporting each country’s goal of achieving a 15% relative reduction of physical inactivity by 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goal. Where appropriate, health care providers should encourage patients to adopt yoga to promote health, prevent and manage diseases – including NCDs – and accelerate recovery from illness and injury.

Notably, yoga has been shown to have immediate psychological benefits and enhance feelings of emotional and social well-being. Unlike other forms of physical activity, yoga can help reduce heart rate and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Even people who are sick can do it. Throughout the Kovid-19 response, yoga has helped hundreds of millions of people of all countries and cultures stay healthy and well, as expressed in the WHO Constitution – Health is not just the absence of disease or infirmity, but rather a state of absolute physical, mental and social well-being.

On International Yoga Day, WHO is privileged to celebrate the physical and mental health benefits of yoga and highlight its contributions to lifelong health and well-being, promoting healthy populations, and a healthier, more equal and sustainable region and world.

And we observe subtly: Yoga is one of the many systems and / or knowledge, skills or practices used in the area to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illness and can be incorporated into preventive and promotional health strategies. At the level of primary health care, the area’s new strategy for primary health care is highlighted.

Global momentum is growing and leading from our region. In March, the WHO and the Government of India (GoI) signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Center for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, India. GCTM – supported by a $ 250 million investment by GoI – has a strategic focus on evidence and learning, data and analysis, sustainability and equity and innovation and technology, with an overall goal of optimizing the contribution of traditional medicine (TRM). Global health and sustainable development.

GCTM’s focus on strengthening TRM System-Performance Monitoring, enhancing safety monitoring for TRM products, enhancing research capability in TRM, and integrating safe and effective TRM in healthcare delivery, aligns well with the region’s focus. It significantly contributes to regional and global efforts to leverage safe, effective and evidence-based TRM to help achieve universal health care (UHC), a top priority and SDG goal. In its quest for an area to prevent and control NCDs and achieve UHC, WHO will continue to highlight the physical and mental health benefits of yoga and support the discovery of traditional knowledge, skills and practice systems and / or forms. Together, let us combine ancient wisdom with modern science for a healthier, happier and more stress-free future for all humanity.

Opinions expressed by Poonam Khetrapal Singh Regional Director, WHO Southeast Asia

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