What is the constant thing in the world? — Change! Such a cliché, right? Nevertheless, we cannot deny the fact that it is true. Just consider our current situation and you can see how inevitable change is. In just an instant, there has been a 360-degree turn of events.
What we normally do become the “not normal”. Before, we can freely roam outside our homes without any restrictions; now, aside from it is now age-restricted, we have to put our masks on (which was just usually done by those with health issues during the pre-pandemic).
Wanderlusts are not wandering anymore, but are left wondering when they can be able to tick off their next travel destinations from their bucket lists. The place that once gave us comfort now becomes the same place where we experience the stress from our work.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic is able to bring positive changes on people as human beings. They become more focused on what is essential (more than the “porridge”). People realized that more than greediness and selfishness (hoarding grocery items), compassion is more important (donating or putting up community pantries). And since we are being told that “not to go out”, we must comply by following the laws. Must this hinder us from doing what we love? Of course not! We were born creative and resourceful.
What we can do outside, we can as well at the comfort of our homes. This is important nowadays since the virus is still widespread. We must take care of our well-being. Eat healthy and move your body. And among those that we can begin with is practicing yoga. Why is it necessary especially during this pandemic? How will you begin? Can you achieve yoga success by yourself? These are just some questions we are going to shed light with.
Doing Yoga at Home
As mentioned, lockdowns are all over the place. Some establishments, including those catering to fitness and health, are temporarily closed. But this does not mean that we should just wait for them to open again just to do once again our exercise routines (or even begin with).
In fact, this is the right time to be more conscious of our health. Let us bring the studios inside our homes. More than physical health, yoga helps in maintaining our mental and emotional health. This is quite important nowadays as the effects of pandemic have become prevalent. In example, many people got retrenched or unemployed because of business shutdown.
Of course, it is how people are able to provide for their families’ basic needs and yet, they are now deprived of such right. The tendency is that, their stress levels go up, affecting their mental health. Now one of the many ways to cope with it is through yoga. It is not just about being fit or having a sexy body, but more than that, it stretches our minds by being mindful of every bodily movement to be done during each session.
It makes us more aware of what is happening around us at the moment. Through simple breathing exercises, thoughts and emotions may be controlled. It may be an emotion of fear, restlessness, or anxiety, that may even lead to depression. These emotions are visible through our bodily sensations. Just imagine, it is even more contagious than the virus itself. COVID-19 spreads in 48 hours, while emotions spread quickly or even in an instant.
This is what we call as emotional contagion. It has even been proven by many researchers. And since we are contained inside our homes, there is a higher chance for our negative emotions to be absorbed more easily by the other family members. If there is a vaccine for COVID-19, there is as well for contagious emotions—mindfulness, that can be achieved through yoga. The more we know about our feelings, the better decisions we can make.
How to start yoga
Whether you have experienced attending yoga classes in the studio before the pandemic hit, or are really beginning from scratch, it is important to have a background of what you are going to do. Remember that it is dangerous to dive in when you do not know how deep the water is.
A beginner may use available DVDs to watch some yoga regimen that may fit him or her. Nevertheless, he or she may maximize the use of the internet by watching YouTube videos, specifically, yoga instructors teaching for free on their channels.
You may also find websites that teach home practice. Remember that yoga is never an easy feat. Researching about it will help you set your expectations for you to be able to set your goals properly. Never hurry your progress as you are just a beginner. Enjoy the step-by-step process before advancing to the next level.
What is even great about home practice is that you are not bound to a fixed schedule. You are free to set your own time or choose when you are idle. Just make sure to stick with your plotted schedule in order to achieve your set goal every day. Of course, never forget that every exercise needs maintenance of a balanced diet.
Now after knowing where to begin with, here are some more specific steps in doing your home yoga practice.
- Prepare the equipment that you need. Of course, the most important one is to have a yoga mat. Other props such as yoga block, yoga belt, or blanket, may also be used in doing certain poses or routines. Just make sure that they are comfortable while being used in order to avoid injuries as well. Also, give importance to what you are going to wear. Make sure that it is not tight for you to be able to do unrestricted movements. Do not worry if you cannot go out to buy these items as these are readily available online for delivery.
- Find a comfortable place. Make sure that you have few inches on each side of your yoga mat so that you will not hit the wall while doing your poses. Your chosen place must be quiet to avoid disturbances that will make you out of focus.
- Put together asanas. This is one of the most difficult part of doing yoga at home. However, you may use first the basic sequence if you are not yet familiar with the other sequencing. Start by doing meditation and chants in order to calm your mind. Afterwards, do warm-ups by doing floor poses. From sun salutations to standing poses, shift to doing some bends and end with savasana or corpse pose. Do not forget to end your practice with a relaxation pose.
- Set an intention. Place your hands in a prayer position. If you are still confused with your intention, you may begin with “letting go”.
- Use different asanas. Do not pressure yourself by doing all the asanas. You may begin with mastering few simple poses. As you progress, you may incorporate difficult ones. Hold the asana for 3-5 breaths.
- Do inversions. This is important in yoga practice. Inversions can give you better blood circulation while strengthening your muscles. Make sure to do them properly to avoid injuries.
- Add a twist. This will help you do backbend easier. Always start with a simple variation before doing a difficult one.
- End with closing postures. These will help calm your mind and body.
After doing these, you may eventually intensify your yoga practice by doing the following:
Increase the duration and frequency of your practice. After being comfortable with your established routine, you may now add more challenging poses. Do them for at least an hour and for more number of days (at least five).
Set new goals. Have another purpose. If you used to concentrate on developing either your body or mind, try combining the two.
Now if you are wondering what yoga fits you as a beginner, here are some styles from where you may choose from.
- Hatha yoga – It focuses on the basics of holding poses for a few breaths. Physical posture is its main concentration.
- Yin yoga – This balances your mind and body. It is not a fast-moving practice as a pose is being held for several minutes.
- Anusara yoga – This is the modern hatha yoga. Start with a chant and finally, do meditation.
- Iyengar yoga – It focuses on details but it is slow-paced.
- Restorative yoga – Poses are usually done on the floor. This is good for your overall health.
- Kripalu yoga – It starts with slow movements and has three levels that deepen mindfulness.
- Sivananda yoga – It uses 13 poses that can be easily adapted by people with different physical abilities.
- Viniyoga – You do not have to make your poses precisely. What is important is to focus on your breaths’ movements inside your body.
Before doing any of these, do not forget to know your limitations first. It is better to consult a health professional to assess you before having your first yoga practice especially during this pandemic that made us realize that still, “health is wealth”.