We all know that Yoga is good for us. But in what way can Yoga be beneficial during the times of COVID, especially during a lockdown?
What comes to mind immediately is that an asana practice (postures) will keep our physical body mobile and strong. This is important when we stay at home more than usual, especially when working from home. Walking is of course much recommended and necessary. But Yoga moves and strengthens all of our joints in different and complex ways, which other regular exercise doesn’t do. It leaves us feeling all-over much more comfortable, and somewhat ‘rounded’, contented and mindful.
The changes in our routine and life-style brought upon us by the pandemic, can greatly affect our mental health. We can be surprisingly fragile, and unexpected mood swings can affect even the normally strong and centred. Of course spending time in nature or simply going for long walks will be helpful, but I personally don’t find anything as stabilising and as incredibly uplifting as a Yoga practice. It gives me a level of satisfaction, joy and sometimes even euphoria. I also feel a deep sense of connection – knowing that everything will be ‘ok’. No other activity has ever provided me with this level of stability and contentment.
Of course with this gained sensitivity and awareness, we are also much more able to respond wisely and in a supportive manner to the needs and fragility of others.
Stick to your routine
Continue with your Yoga on the days and times you usually practice. Be disciplined about this, even if it requires you setting an alarm during the day at home so you can get ready and be on time for your ‘one-on-one’ with Yoga. This could apply to anything you usually do during the week. E.g. you take your daughter to netball on Fridays, therefore you might like to go with her for your favourite activity (even a ball game) to the nearby park at that time instead. Be creative around keeping up your normal schedule e.g. you usually leave for work at 7:30 am; do so if working from home – now as well. Leave your home at that time, and go for a walk for as long as it takes you to get to your place of work, and arrive back at home at the time you usually start. Same for lunch breaks, you might like to go walking also. In the evenings: close the computer/work at the usual time, leave the house for as long as you usually commute, and come home and go about your normal evening activities, like cooking a nice meal etc. Don’t so much as glance at your desk or computer, you might even like to cover your work paraphernalia with a throw, if needed.
Create a practice space
To practice Yoga you only need a space slightly larger than the size of your mat. Of course, when practicing in our beautiful shala, we can all draw on the wonderful, pure energy of the room, which has accumulated over the last 30+ years of ‘Yoga only’-activities. It provides a beautifully nurturing, supportive, and ‘connected’ experience, which can’t so easily be replicated. Nevertheless, we can build up and recreate an atmosphere of introspection, peace and calm in our dedicated practice space at home. This could be your living room in front of the couch, in your bedroom or even in the hallway. Mark or decorate a usually otherwise-used space with something ‘yogic’, or something which evokes the kind of feeling you would like to practice in. Light a candle, put a little icon near your mat. Or simply having your blanket or shawl ready for the relaxation at the end of practice might just do the trick.
No interruptions from yourself or others
Now you have created your designated practice space, the mobile is turned off, and no-one is allowed access to the room. Or if you are in the hallway or common area, no-one is allowed to talk to you during your practice. This is a discipline which might be more challenging for you than for those around you. Once you practice, stick to it, and spend your dedicated time solely with your breath.
Allocate time for Yoga – longer or shorter
As there is less travel time, you might be able to practice longer than usual. Spend more time chanting, with some pranayama and meditation, or whatever part of your practice usually ‘suffers’ first when you are under pressure. One student even told me that her practice now takes up to 3 hours daily, and she loves it!
But for some, being at home – maybe with homeschooled children – and/or a work-from-home partner the situation most likely looks entirely different. With everyone being at home, to have even 20 minutes for yourself could be challenging. In that case always be reminded that everything you do, you will do so much more efficiently, if you practice Yoga. There is no compromise allowed, we have to get onto the mat once a day. Have the room closed with a ‘I am not at home’ sign on the door, or in front of your mat in a common space.
Schedule a ‘meeting’
It doesn’t matter if you have more or less time available for Yoga, put it in your schedule: ‘have a meeting with yourself’, as my beautiful first Yoga teacher Eve Grzybowski advised me years ago. It still works for me and it will for you. Mark the time in your calendar as ‘busy’.
You are not alone
Depending on your temperament, some might be very comfortable switching to a sole home practice without others around them, but not everyone is. It can feel lonely at times, frustrating, boring, overwhelming, or one is anxious with endlessly-circulating thoughts. To get ‘out’ and switch to a more positive mindset, you could sign up for online classes. You can virtually share your time with your fellow practitioners, delight in the familiar faces, and of course the familiar presence, voice and instructions of your teacher/s. All of this will help maintain a sense of normality, and provide you with some comfort and connectedness. They are so important during this time. We just have to ‘hold each others’ hand – virtually – and support each other.
P.s. as has been said so many times before – ‘together we can do this’.Book an online class