Feel good at the end of your yoga class? Here’s how to take that feeling to the rest of your day.
Yoga for Wellness During COVID-19
We are living in a crisis right now. It is not exactly easy to be healthy in this environment, what with all the fear, worry, and uncertainty. At the same time, it is more essential than ever that we take care of ourselves now. Both mentally and physically.
In six months, the world has changed into an unrecognisable place. We started with a short lockdown. It got extended. We waited. It got extended again. And again. The lockdown has been lifted now, but the world is nowhere near what we were used to. It is not safe to go out yet. Corona is here to stay. This situation is here to stay and we have to learn to live with it.
Fear of catching the virus, lack of job security, financial difficulty, uncertainty about the future, lack of social contact, and a general lack of freedom all contribute to disrupting life as we have known it. Stress and anxiety are a normal response in this situation.
Yoga is always a great step to take on the path to wellness, and more so now. Let’s take a look at how.
As a workout
This is the most basic benefit you can get out of a yoga practice. The physical postures, asanas, serve as a simple workout. If you’re spending hours sitting in front of your laptop working, attending virtual meetings, and talking on the phone, your body likely isn’t getting the physical activity it needs and it is not safe to step out to exercise now. You can get on your yoga mat, move your body, and sweat it out.
Simple stretches are also effective to relieve mental and physical tension from sitting at one place for so long. Take a look at this video for some examples.
Studies are showing that yoga can help improve the body’s metabolism. This follows on the heels of the previous point; physical exercise does help improve metabolism. However, physical exercise is not the only way yoga contributes to an improved metabolism. The other aspects of a yoga practice, breath-work (pranayama) and meditation, probably help even more. That takes us to our next point, stress relief.
Stress affects sleep patterns, alters emotional responses, reduces cognitive ability, and disturbs homeostasis, the body’s balance mechanism. This, in turn, affects blood pressure, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and the immune response of the body. All yogic practices help reduce stress, especially pranayama and meditation. Simple meditative practices like AUM chanting and observing the breath are great for bringing the mind into the present moment and out of whatever loops of thought it might be stuck in. As the mind relaxes, sleep patterns also slowly fall into place. I have a YouTube video about pranayama that you can use for stress and anxiety relief, you can find it here.
The body holds emotions as tension and stiffness in the muscles and joints. This is true of anxiety, fear, stress, worry, etc. Working with the body and breath in a mindful manner slowly eases that tension and stiffness. In the process, emotions held unconsciously are released. The mindfulness emphasised in all yoga practices also helps recognise emotions as they come up, which gives you a chance to work with them.
With a combination of the factors mentioned above, yoga can contribute to the optimal functioning of your immune system. Physical activity, stress relief, emotional balance, all play a role.
Taking time out for yourself
This is probably the most important of the lot. Situations out of our control are throwing us around and battering us. At such a time, a few minutes taken away from it all to just spend time on yourself can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
So is yoga the answer? I would be lying if I were to say the lockdown and social distancing don’t get to me. I get stressed out and frustrated at times too. And I do yoga everyday. But yoga does help me stay grounded, it helps me gather my strength and relax my mind. It gives me a break and it definitely helps me deal with challenges better than I would have been able to without it.
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