How Yoga can help in the time of Covid 19
In the midst of a global pandemic, we’re all navigating through uncharted territory. COVID-19 has caused levels of stress and anxiety to skyrocket and it’s (understandably) taking a toll on people’s mental health. Yoga can be one of the great remedies and it is suitable for everyone.
Yoga is a holistic and mindful practice that includes physical movements (asana), breathing (pranayama), meditation(dhyana) and relaxation (savasana).
As we are still swimming through getting back to normality which can takes a while, it is important to constantly recognize how we feel, assess our stress level and in-corporate some form of yoga practice in our daily routine to raise our baseline of well-being.
Yoga can be practice anywhere, anytime
The best part is that a mat space is only required. This can be done in your own room, anywhere in your house or in a park, beach or in nature. Ideally, we like to encourage beginners to practice in studio under the teacher’s supervision so as to build a strong foundation of alignment and technique (for movement), also understanding the options available. This is to ensure personal overall safety.
So what are the ways ?
- Yoga Breathing, Prayanama
Yoga Breathing or Pranayama (In Sanskrit, “prana” means vital life force) is the foundation of yoga practice. It is the regulation of inhalation and exhalation and a link between body-emotions-mind-spirit.
It can begin with deepening our breathing with the 3-part breath, then moves into more advanced breathing exercises such as Kapalabhati and the Alternate Nostril Breath, nadi shodhana pranayama. I also personally like Ujiya breathing.
The 3-part breath involves the “three parts” :the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest. During Three-Part Breath, you first completely fill your lungs with air, as though you are breathing into your belly, ribcage, and upper chest. Then you exhale completely, reversing the flow. You can try this in a quiet place lying down or sitting upright cross-legged. Put one palm on your chest, one palm on your belly. Try this routine for 10mins everyday and you will feel the difference.
Ujiya breathing is another great technique that allows you to calm your mind by focusing on your breath. This helps you override thoughts that could possibly distract you from your meditative or focused state. Ujiya breathing also work hand-in-hand during asana practice.
I personally practice ujiya breathing technique when I am in moments of stress and making work decisions and hectic planning. Ujiya breathing calms my breathing and allows clarity to my mind and make right decisions.
How to do ujjayi breathing
- Keep your mouth closed.
- Constrict your throat to the point that your breathing makes a rushing noise, almost like snoring
- Control your breath with your diaphragm.
- Keep your inhalations and exhalations equal in duration.
- Meditation, Dhyana
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
There are many types of meditation from mindfulness to breathe awareness meditation. It is always good to set yourself 1 type of meditation so you can focus during the meditation. I personally love this technique which our teacher trainer has shared and that is to close your eyes, empty your thoughts and focus on the tip of your nose in the darkness of your clear mind together with calm breathing. Another way is to draw a 50cent circle with a dot in the middle, having to stare at it which will lead to a focused meditative state.
It definitely helps me to clear out unwanted thoughts entering my mind.
- Physical Movement, Asanas
A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that “movement-based yoga,” defined as any form of yoga where participants are physically active at least 50% of the time (ie, flowing through poses), can positively impact how you feel.
The research shows that movement-based yoga improved symptoms of depression or improved mental health for people living with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and major depression.
So what are the poses which helps? There are no right or wrong poses as all poses in Yoga has its own benefits. A good way to start with is to identify which part of the body holds stress so you can counter release the stress and tension. In times of Covid-19, it is important to boost our immune system and reduce stress.
Here are a few poses which are recommended:
- Relaxation (savasana)
Savasana might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice. But it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed.
In Savasana—also known as corpse pose— you lie down on your back and relax your body and mind so you may fully assimilate the benefits of your asana practice
During this pose, you close your eyes, breathe naturally, and practice eliminating tension from the body. Ideally, this posture lasts for 10 to 20 minutes. However, even a few minutes of Savasana can have powerful benefits.
Savasana can also helps us learn how to completely surrender, stop fighting the clock, and make space for peace and harmony to fill the soul. Savasana is like turning off your computer when it’s acting up. Once you reboot it, the computer often has greater functionality.
The above are few ways to help condition our mind and body with Yoga to be stronger especially during this time of pandemic. Everyone has their preferred ways so hope that what I have shared will help anyone in any ways.
I like to also include music in my practice and meditation as it sets the tone and ambience. One of my favourite playlist on spotify is ‘deep focus’ as the genre of music set is purposeful for studying and concentration.