Yoga in the Time of Corona
Beginning a new year is always a great time to put new habits, regimes and lifestyle choices into action, whether it’s losing weight, getting fit, being more organised or giving up smoking, meat or dairy – but this New Year didn’t feel like any other year that’s come before. Life in the time of corona is topsy-turvy; our daily routines have been thrown into disarray, our jobs and livelihoods are working to adapt, our priorities have changed and the future seems uncertain for many of us.
Each time we thought we knew where we stood, the rules and restrictions changed, and some days it felt like one step forwards and two steps back. Those of us who watch the news grew anxious and increasingly depressed with current affairs, and as further lockdowns and curfews beckoned, the outlook seemed bleak and the mood was somber.
But then I got out my mat…
For those who have never practiced yoga, it may appear to be an impossible feat of flexibility and contortionist dexterity. Your mind may envisage slim, lycra-clad women in challenging positions; curling their spines or standing on their heads. But ask any yogi the most important element of yoga and your answer will always be the same: the breath.
The breath. The breath.
Yoga is reconnecting to your breath. Yoga is listening to your breath. Yoga is moving through your breath.
Yoga is quieting the mind, stilling the fears, letting go of the past—and the future—and returning to the here and now; this moment; this breath.
When we are nervous, stressed or anxious, our breath is short, shallow, fast and goes into the chest area. And our heart pumps fast. This is our body’s fight or flight response, which triggers an increase of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bloodstream.
When cortisol levels are high too often or for long periods of time, our chemistry gets stuck into this stress loop, inhibiting our natural healing.
So many of us are rushing about in this survival state, forgetting that if we only slow down and breathe deeply, we will automatically activate our body’s relaxation response that triggers the increase of the love hormone, oxytocin – and we calm down.
And breathe in…
And breathe out…
It sounds so simple doesn’t it? And the answer is in fact – yes.
Because what yoga does is it reminds us of the sweet simplicity of being.
For a moment at least, we can close the door on the chaos and confusion of the outside world. We can escape the noise and negativity that spews from our screens and phones, and politicians and nosy neighbours, and we can bring ourselves to a place of pure peace and calm.
Learning to Flow
But what of these crazy poses and postures? – I hear you ask – and sure, there are experts in every field of life, (although, most yogis would know better than to ever call themselves an ‘expert’ for we never stop learning and growing) but as with everything, the more you practice, the easier it gets. And because we move with the breath, many of these ‘difficult’ poses and positions are far easier to achieve than you would imagine.
You see, yoga is a threefold practice – it brings together the Mind, Body and Soul – thus bringing your whole being into harmony, with itself and with everything else.
By moving through the breath, we are not forcing, nor locking joints or unnatural jarring. Unlike aerobics or weight-based physical exercises, there is no impact, no force, no shock to the body. We breathe into a pose or stretch and gently breathe through it.
And as we listen to our breath, we feel the energy flowing through us – almost like electricity through a circuit.
The more we flow, the easier it becomes.
If you’ve not tried yoga before, then there has never been a better time to begin.
In a time of unprecedented confusion, give your body, mind and soul the gift of self-care and inner peace. In no time at all you will see how yoga can help you navigate the coming months with ease – and you never know, you might even learn to stand on your head in the process!