How Yoga can help you to take back control after COVID-19
I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has made me stop and think. It’s certainly affected us all. Not only physically, with restrictions to what would be normal “day to day” life (which we seem to have been taking a little for granted), but also emotionally. Our thoughts and fears may have changed during these last four months, as has our perception of what’s important.
So, how do we manage these changes?
Initially many of you were reporting that you have had an opportunity to “reconnect” with your friends and family and “slow down”, enjoying time catching up with those things that you had put off because “you were just too busy working“. Sound familiar?
Many of you enjoyed the opportunity to spend time reconnecting with the family, together in the house or in the sunshine outdoors.
Now, over four months later, our lives, thoughts and perspectives seem to have changed again. The reality and impact of this global pandemic has left such a catastrophic effect on so many lives and it’s difficult to comprehend, and although the time together was appreciated, it’s becoming clear what the real impact of the months of lockdown will be.
People have lost their loved ones, and my heart goes out to everyone who has experienced a personal loss in any way throughout this time. And beyond this, many people are currently working hard to maintain their livelihoods and businesses. I think each one of us will have our own moments where we realise the true impact of this pandemic, whether this is at home, in the workplace, or socially.
Incidents of domestic abuse has risen, drug misuse and alcoholism has increased and some people, unfortunately have lost hope. The impact of Covid-19 on Mental Health has sadly had a huge impact on society, with statistics such as suicide rates increasing throughout the pandemic and predicted to continue to rise long after the pandemic is over.
This article is about not giving up hope. Times are challenging for many people at the minute, but a supportive community, positive attitude, and healthy approach to overall wellness can help things to improve for you right now. With our supportive community here at Your Yoga, I wanted to let you know we’re here to help!
Yoga can help us all take back some control of our lives. If we can conquer our thoughts and bring ourselves back into the present moment, we can create equanimity in the body.
If we allow our thoughts to run wild and we don’t bring ourselves back into equilibrium and the present moment, we can create unhelpful and unwanted responses in our body that effects our overall health.
The fight and flight response of the human body developed to help survival by responding to situations that needed an immediate injection of energy to be able to run away or stay and fight. This is the basic stress response. Unfortunately, chronic, low level stress (traffic, worry, etc) is something that can have a huge impact on health if we don’t take control of it.
What’s this got to do with Yoga I hear you say? Well, everything.
We can usually tell if we are in a stress situation -our breathing rate increases and we become reactive to situations. When we are calm you’ll notice that the breathing rate decreases, and you’re able to fully engage in your decision making. This type of stress can be heavily influenced by perception: how do we see the situation. Taking time to reconnect with yourself, even for a short time when stress, can have a real, physical impact on overall well-being. Being aware of the breath (pranayama) helps us control our mind, ultimately helping us to relax, with all the positive health benefits as an added bonus.
In Yoga we use breath control to not only relax our body, but also to meditate and to master certain postures (asanas), allowing us to connect at a deeper level and unite the mind, body and soul to overcome obstacles and fears.
In other words, some of the challenges that we face on the mat, may give us the tools that we need to face challenging situations in other areas. For example, consider yourself in the studio trying to nail a balance pose like crow pose (Balasana) which is an arm balance pose.
How many of you say to me “I’m so scared of falling”, or “I can’t try that”. Well, what’s preventing you ultimately comes down to fear (other than contraindications that are medical reasons of course).
Practicing in the studio provides a safe environment where you can draw upon the guidance of experienced and qualified teachers, who can (and always do) offer suitable alternatives/ modifications to make the asana more accessible for you. This helps you to build into the movement, to trust your teacher, and more importantly, yourself.
This enables you to conquer your fears. Maybe it’s just the confidence boost you need. The ability to trust yourself will help you to remove obstacles not only on the mat, but in your daily life.
When our thoughts take us out of the present moment, we are usually thinking about things that have happened in the past or may happen in the future. We allow ourselves to become ‘unconscious’, unaware of the present moment and allow our fear to take over.
When this happens, we manifest feelings and emotions that affect our physical and mental health. Our bodies are unaware that these are thoughts and respond in a way that they would replicate reality. In a way, we’re too smart for our own good!
For example , if you have ever faced a trauma in your life, and you allow your thoughts to take you back to that trauma, you have a strong physical response. Your body does not realise that you are not in the same situation of trauma, and responds as though you are back there. We release the hormones into the body as it would as if you were back in that same situation! You’re reliving the stress over and over.
When we bring ourselves into the present moment and not allow our thoughts to wander, we can focus the mind and calm the body, overriding this stress response and allowing ourselves to relax.
In yoga, we may experience times when we are out of balance and fall out of postures (asanas), but with practice and patience, we overcome.
Yoga gives us the tools to manage challenges both on and off the mat. Take back control of your own wellness. I’ll see you on the mat.
P.S. If you would like to try our classes at your yoga experience, please visit the ‘book online’ page of our website