Mask Yoga: Not a New Trend, But a Protest Against Air Pollution
On International Yoga Day, citizens from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Varanasi came out in their air pollution masks to do yoga as a symbolic gesture to demand their right to breathe clean air.
The dust storms of last week and PM10 levels going above severe levels in many parts of the national capital, is proof that air pollution is no longer limited to winter season but a year round problem.
While doctors prescribe the usefulness of yoga and the need for regular practice, they do warn that it does limit the damage caused by air pollution. Doctors also warn that doing any form of exercise outdoors when pollution levels are high is counter productive.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery and Director at Institute of Robotic Surgery at Delhi’s Sir Gangaram Hospital says:
Yoga is an excellent method to improve the capacity of our lungs. However, it cannot change the quality of ambient air and yoga cannot stop the ill-effects of poor air on the lungs. Even if we are practising yoga and we are in a poor air quality city, the damage to the lungs will happen nonetheless.
Yoga instructors and citizens who came together for this protest demand steps be taken to create a national clean air action plan.
Delhi’s Graded Response Action Plan lists measures to tackle extreme air pollution situations. But these actions are only visibly seen during extreme peaks like the dust storms of last week. Most other cities in India lack an air quality plan despite ranking high on World Health Organization’s air pollution database.
The activity spearheaded by the Clean Air Collective, a group of NGOs and think tanks working on air pollution issues, came days after reports about zero good air days in Delhi NCR as per Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) data between March and May this year.
The Clean Air Collective and #MyRightToBreathe campaign put together this protest as a purely symbolic gesture. Doing any kind of exercise wearing a mask is not recommended since you breathing the same air again and again.
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