|Ambassador Pranay Verma kicks off International Day of Yoga celebrations in Vietnam at the Indian Embassy premises in Hanoi on June 20, 2021, with limited participation in line with local COVID-19 rules. (Photo: Indian Embassy in Vietnam)
Bao Tram: Thank you for joining us, Mr. Ambassador. What is the significance of International Yoga Day?
Ambassador Verma: Yoga is an ancient Indian gift to the modern world. It is a practice of asanas, postures, breathing, and exercises which help you attain overall holistic wellness, including mental health. Yoga literally means ‘to unite’. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action. It also means greater synergy between humankind and nature. It is a holistic approach to health and well-being. With the conviction that Yoga can help in uniting all of humanity, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, during his address to the UN General Assembly in 2014, proposed that there be a day dedicated to celebrating yoga around the world – an International Day of Yoga. Soon afterwards, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution to celebrate every June 21 as International Yoga Day to showcase the universal appeal of Yoga and the benefits that come from Yoga.
Bao Tram: How is Yoga relevant to the current global COVID-19 pandemic?
Ambassador Verma: As we have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yoga has become more relevant, because Yoga helps us improve a healthy regimen by enhancing our immunity, giving us an overall wellness, and improving our psychological balance during a stressful time. Yoga is known to bring psychological relief from depression and the stresses and strains of daily living. This is particularly relevant now that we are coping with the suffering and hardship the pandemic has brought. Yoga is a very effective tool for dealing with the impact of COVID-19, not just physically but also psychologically.
Bao Tram: How has the Embassy of India been celebrating International Yoga Day in Vietnam this year?
Ambassador Verma: International Yoga Day has been celebrated by the Embassy every year since 2015, when annual International Yoga Day celebrations began. We’ve received great support from local authorities and we’ve been working with provinces to organize the event in many cities in Vietnam. For example, last year, thanks to successful containment of the pandemic in Vietnam, we worked with the provincial authorities in Quang Ninh to organize an impressive International Yoga Day event at Ha Long Bay, the UNESCO cultural heritage site. We also organized events last year in Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, and Phu Yen province, as well as Ho Chi Minh City. That was our first test of using the platform of International Yoga Day to introduce the benefits of Yoga to as many people in as many cities in Vietnam as possible.
But this year, due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines issued by local authorities, we are observing International Yoga Day online. The theme this year is “Yoga for Wellness”, and we want as many people as possible to join the online event we are organizing with our Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre – from their home. For that reason we’re popularizing the slogan “Be with Yoga, Be at Home”.
We have been working with various partner organizations and friendship organizations in Vietnam to host online International Yoga Day sessions. In the run-up to the day, we’ve been holding online demonstration classes using our cultural center’s Yoga instructors. There is also an online Yoga Quiz posted on our Facebook page. All these activities are using the online platform to promote Yoga in Vietnam.
|Celebrations of the 6th IDY in 2020 at the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay.
(Photo: Indian Embassy in Vietnam)
Bao Tram: Many Vietnamese people are practicing Yoga today. How do you see Yoga fitting into our lives?
Ambassador Verma: I’m very impressed by the large number of people in Vietnam who practice Yoga, the overall popularity of Yoga in Vietnam, and the large number of Yoga training centers that can be found in various cities. I think this reflects a high degree of consciousness among the people of Vietnam about fitness. When I go out in cities like Hanoi and HCMC, I see people doing breathing exercises and doing Yoga in the parks – and not just in the morning. This shows people are really looking after their wellness.
Bao Tram: Do you practice Yoga yourself?
Ambassador Verma: I do!
Bao Tram: So do you have any tips for practicing Yoga more effectively?
Ambassador Verma: I think it is because I practice Yoga that I have a greater conviction that it’s the holistic approach to wellness and health. I’ve experienced the benefits of Yoga, not just physically but also in maintaining mental peace. I think you should do a combination of physical asanas, breathing exercises, and meditation. It will help you both physically and mentally. The second tip I’ll give you is to do it consistently. You’ll have to take 15 or 20 minutes out of your schedule and do it consistently every day. That’s very important, because this is something that will get into your system and you need to give it time to bring you its benefits.
Bao Tram: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for granting VOV this interview.
Ambassador: Thank you very much for giving me opportunities to connect with your listeners and viewers on the important occasion of International Day of Yoga on June 21.