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As I write this blog the planet is groaning again with the emergence of yet another variation of the Covid Virus (such a clever little thing ruling our lives!) Just when we think we have outwitted it this virus keeps outsmarting us humans and forcing us to adapt to its ravages with vaccines, distancing , masks and surrender.

 

yoga mental health during pandemic

 

As a mild – moderate catastrophiser keeping my mental health in check would appear to the untrained eye to be difficult if not near impossible. This is where my Yoga and Meditation practice take centre stage and buoy me along quite well in this turbulent time of Covid.

 

So, what do I mean by catastrophising and why is Yoga such a potent remedy for living in a Pandemic? Catastrophising is what many of us do naturally when faced with a challenge; we go to the worst-case scenario and then collapse into a range of negative states including fear, helplessness, and shut down. But perhaps this can be a choice – we can choose to engage in daily activities and practices that support our mental health and self-care despite what is a most challenging situation.

 

This is where the ancient practice Yoga can be so helpful in supporting us to maintain our sense of equanimity and presence despite the roller coaster we are on. Here is a list of how Yoga can support your sense of well- being and perspective as we learn to live with what nature has dealt us.

 

Yoga balances our nervous system;

The nervous system is the part of our body that maintains homeostasis. During the pandemic most of us are experiencing high levels of stress which stimulates the fight or flight wing of our nervous system. Yoga practices directly impact our nervous system sending soothing and calming messages to the body and mind. This ultimately makes us more resilient. Recent scientific evidence is proving how effective yoga is for balancing body and mind. Yoga teaches us how to engage our nervous system in a way that helps it find balance by switching on the relaxation response. Ultimately how we deal with stress can have a huge impact on our state of health.

 

Yoga teaches us to be mindful

Yoga teaches us to be mindful and to have more choices about how we take in and process the myriad of stimulation and advice. We really don’t have much choice about what is happening, but we can learn to stay more present and grounded during this period of uncertainly. Practicing feeling the ground under us as we walk, the sensations moving through our body and staying with our present moment experience enriches our day to day lives and helps us cope despite the challenges.

 

Yoga relaxes physical tension

Physical tension is a direct result of the feeling of stress and loss of control. The moving and stretching we do in yoga when combined with the breath leaves our body feeling more supple, energised and at ease supporting our sense of well-being.

 

Yoga practice gives us a broader and more expansive perspective;

Yoga practice helps us see the bigger picture; like cleaning a lens on our glasses that has become foggy after a Yoga practice we see things more clearly and our natural insight and wisdom can shine through.

 

Yoga Practice leads us to discover our sense of contentment and gratitude

Yoga leads us to rethink our tendency to want things to be a certain way. There is so much beauty in our day-to-day life that we miss out on. The practices we explore on the Yoga mat train our attention to be more engaged and open to what is pleasant and joyful. The Yoga Sutras refer to this state as Santosha a deep sense of contentment that is not dependent on external circumstances but begins to flow from within through training the breath, body and mind.

 

Surrender

Ironically, I saved this one for last, I just tested positive for Covid!! As I write this, I have a pounding headache and sore joints and am trying to let go and surrender to this virus. Yoga reminds us that there are some things we cannot change so here I am now after 2 years of avoidance it has found me and there is nothing to do but be kind to myself and surrender.

 

Maybe you never thought of taking up yoga until recently – the pandemic has hidden silver linings. Maybe it is time to try this ancient practice out for yourself or return to it after a hiatus to support your mental and physical health during this most challenging time.

 

For me right now there is nothing I can do but tread softly, breathe and let go …. Thankful my years of yoga practice have helped find a way to live peacefully inside this wild ride of life.