Benefits of Yoga whilst in Isolation
The world is currently facing a global pandemic, which has started to impact everyone’s lives immensely. Numerous countries have imposed social distancing as the new norm, businesses are closed, and citizens have been asked to socially distance in order to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Though these are very important measures and guidelines which we must all adopt, they can also be detrimental for our physical and mental health. Social distancing, isolation and being in “lockdown” can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Being constantly exposed to negative information, distress, uncertainty about the future can contribute, or even, exacerbate one’s anxiety, and thus also affect our mental health.
There is undoubtedly a strong correlation between mental and physical health. Therefore, in the world of COVID-19, staying active and preserving a healthy lifestyle, is of the upmost importance. So how can we better cope and take care of ourselves during this period of uncertainty? This article will pinpoint some benefits that yoga has for our physical and mental health.
Physical health benefits of yoga:
Yoga does not only entail the physical posture, but also breath work and meditation. These are tools which we can learn to use, in order to help us cope during the long periods of isolation. Like any other activity or sport, as we move and practice yoga our body produces endorphins, positively affecting our mood and making us happier. The key difference is that yoga can be practiced within your home and does not require a lot of space. Yoga will also increase your focus and concentration, thus making you more productive while working from home.
Both yoga and breathing exercises will help you lower your blood pressure, stabilize the heart rate and soothe the parasympathetic nervous system. The nervous system plays a crucial role in our daily lives, and especially when faced with stress and anxiety. When our body is under stress it produces a hormone called cortisol, which over time starts to create inflammation in the body and weakens the immune system. Hence the more yoga that we practice, the more we activate our parasympathetic rather than the sympathetic nervous system, which will also boost and balance the functioning of our immune system.
Mental health benefits of yoga:
For many of us, life has almost changed overnight with COVID-19, and all of sudden we are confined to our homes. Being and living in isolation can greatly impact our sense of belonging in the community as well as hinder on our daily routine, which is especially important if you have children. Yoga can help you create a daily routine and encourage you to stay more disciplined while working remotely. It is also a nice way to give yourself a mental break from work and establish a better separation from work life, versus home life. Start out small, meaning even 10 minutes of practice a day is better than nothing, and build up your practice day by day. Yoga is a wonderful tool to combat stress and anxiety, and to really learn to take in each moment as it comes, helping you to feel less overwhelmed. As you move your body and find more balance, your mind will also find peace.
Yoga is a great method for staying fit while in self-isolation, but it’s also a nice way of taking your mind off the fact that you need to isolate yourself and cannot practice other sports outdoors or at the gym. It is an opportunity to do something for yourself and your health. Since we cannot go or exercise outside, go inside, within you and reconnect with yourself. Take a moment to find some space and silence from the negativity and chaos that’s happening in the world. It’s an occasion to disconnect from the uncertainty and reconnect with yourself and the things which you can control.
Keeping active and staying in contact with family and friends is crucial, which of course needs to be done virtually. As you might have already noticed, numerous gyms and yoga studios started teaching online, which doesn’t only help us to stay active but also reinforces a sense of community. You can practice yoga with a friend virtually or sign up for one of the many live streamed classes which are being offered on social media. It’s an opportunity to share with others, and reduce your isolation. After all, we are all in it together.
To conclude, as a yoga teacher, we know that everything is only temporary. We teach students to breathe through the discomfort, and embrace the present moment as it is, without running away from it. Some poses might be easier than others, some poses we prefer over others. However, in life we don’t always get to choose only the good and nice experiences. We also have to learn to ride out the rough waves.