International Yoga Day: Yogi helps UAE frontliners beat Covid-19 stress

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Lokesh Hegde, a yoga specialist.

Abu Dhabi - Lokesh Hegde realised that his colleagues at the hospital have been dealing with a lot of pressure, so he started making and sharing yoga videos.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sat 20 Jun 2020, 2:16 PM

Last updated: Sat 20 Jun 2020, 4:27 PM

Thanks to the power of yoga and meditation, healthcare workers in the UAE are able to beat stress and anxiety amid the pandemic.  
As they heeded the call of duty, working long hours during their shifts, the Covid-19 warriors were offered yoga tips and training by one of their own.
Lokesh Hegde, a yoga specialist at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, realised that besides community members, his own colleagues have been dealing with a lot of pressure. So, he made and shared yoga videos that frontliners can follow whenever they are free or even when they are at the workplace. 
It didn't take long until Lokesh's followers swelled in number, prompting him to start conducting webinars. 
"As the number of infected patients increased at the hospital, our medical staff was fully engaged. I knew this would induce stress and anxiety. Working in PPE for was not an easy task," he said. 
"Seeing the struggles of my fellow doctors and nurses, I decided to shoot videos of easy yoga techniques and shared the clips with them. It helped. Many started calling me for more tips and guidance. I started getting calls from people outside the hospital. So, I decided to hold a webinar once a week, depending on the requests."
Dr Nadia Najjari, a reproductive medicine consultant, said that practising yoga offers relief and helps staff stay calm and motivated. 
"I am practising yoga regularly now. It has been very helpful to keep the mind calm during tense situations," she said. 
"The pandemic really proved how yoga could be helpful. During the initial days of the outbreak, it was normal. But slowly, the number of cases increased. It was not easy. At the end of the day, everybody was exhausted."
Dr Najjari now teaches the nursing staff at the hospital, too.
Dr Job Simon, diabetes and endocrinology consultant, said he started doing yoga as he could not go out for a workout.
"After long hours of attending to patients, at the end of the day, I was very tired and exhausted. So, I started with simple tips and was mesmerised to see the result. 
"I would urge people to embrace yoga as a daily routine. It is not just an exercise but an integration of body, mind and soul."
Meliza Moralde, a nurse, said she learnt about Lokesh's yoga tips from the hospital's WhatsApp group. 
"The pandemic had affected us all. There was some added stress as we had to keep ourselves away from the family. Some of my friends had babies whom they never touched for weeks. But we all knew these were testing times and it was our responsibility to attend to patients. Practising yoga and meditation has really helped me," Moralde said.
Lokesh has been teaching yoga for the past 20 years, conducting regular yoga classes at various centres in Abu Dhabi. 
He will be holding a live yoga practise session on Facebook page of Burjeel Hospital on Sunday at 7pm. 

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