So here we are again. Another wave of COVID-19 in New Zealand, which has forced us to observe a 12-day lockdown. After a cluster of cases grew to 29 in Auckland, public places were shut, and residents were advised to stay home where possible. Travel restrictions, breaking of our precious routines, the panic of getting infected, and just the negative news all-over, can create quite a bit of anxiety in our daily lives. Being stuck at home can also have a detrimental effect on our mental health. In such a case, having a regular yoga practice at home (ideally first thing in the morning) can help establish a routine and set you up for the day.
Why practice Yoga?
Anxiety and stress usually trigger our sympathetic nervous system which results in increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties, muscle strains, etc. Ancient Indian Vedic texts reveal the many benefits of yoga – benefits that have been confirmed by various researchers across the world. A regular yoga practice can improve the overall balance of the body, be it the nervous system or the gut, respiratory system or blood circulation. Yoga poses or asanas are designed in such a way that they strengthen the internal organs and make our body stronger inside-out. Perhaps complete opposite of a weight workout that strengthens the external musculature of our body and works outside-in. This focus on internal organs also promotes immunity against various diseases. A regular yoga practice can also improve the digestive system, help with diabetes, thyroid issues, constipation and osteoporosis. And that’s not even going into the benefits it has for the muscles and joints. Simply put, a regular practice can be help keep your mind and body performing at its best. Especially, during this lockdown when we are working from home and not able to go out for workout at the gym or a run at the park. Add in meditation and breathing and you have the perfect toolkit to manage tension, panic and anxiety of the coming future.
How to get started?
If you are a beginner then start with a gentle 20 minute practice during any time of the day. Beginners should take care to follow the poses in the correct order and observe proper form. There are many online videos and classes available right now. One of the benefits of doing yoga at home is that you can do it any time of the day. And you can also practice multiple times. Consider adding an intense flow in the morning to energise and a gentler flow in the evening to relax. Also, there is very little required to practice yoga at home – consider start with a yoga mat and a yoga block, if available. Consider also creating a sacred space free of distractions where you can focus on your practice and breath. Practice self-awareness. Be more aware of your movement, how your mind works, how you breathe and where your body feels tense. And consider carrying the lessons learnt on the yoga mat into your general life. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be patient. And this too shall pass.
If you're returning to a yoga practice after a long break, check out our article on how to inspire a return to a regular practice.
Photography courtesy of the Awesome Ethically Kate.