In the second week of March, When Covid-19 cases were at a rise in countries, the Harvard Medical School’s health blog published an article titled ‘Coping with coronavirus anxiety’. The author suggested Yoga, meditation, and controlled breathing as three distinct ways of relaxing. While all three were mentioned separately, but essentially, Yoga encompasses all three.
Why Yoga? You may ask. Yoga offers a complete package for a happy productive life, which includes physical health, mental health and spiritual health. Research studies have also proven that meditation can change your brain for better. It is an easily accessible tool for any body type or physical ability. It can be restful and restorative or physically active, depending on one’s physical ability or needs. You can practice Yoga in a small space with just a mat and no equipment.
Assessing the subtle and tasteful art of Yoga may take some training. Though starting your home practice seems simple enough theoretically, but you may be uncertain about many things. To begin with, you may not know what poses to choose and what sequence to follow. So, if you have made up your mind about giving yourself the gift of Yoga, you will need a plan to succeed.
Here’s a guide about how to start and what to do:
Do Some Research
If you are a complete beginner, read about various styles, asanas, and breathing techniques involved in Yoga to understand the basic building blocks which make up the practice. At this point, you may want to talk to your family physician, especially if you have any medical conditions, and then decide what would work for you and what contraindications should be avoided. You could read about accessories used in Yoga to understand their purpose and which ones you would need. You could visit the YouTube channel: The Yoga Institute. The Yoga Institute is a very renowned Institute in Mumbai, established in 1918. They offer training programs in Yoga for teachers as well as for amateurs. In their YouTube channel, Asanas are explained in great detail. In many videos, the importance or relevance of certain asanas towards achieving certain goals is explained. There are videos about topics like nutrition, Sattvik diet, breathing techniques, and many more. This channel is a gold mine of information when it comes to enhancing one’s knowledge about Yoga.
Set Realistic Goals
Understand and acknowledge your current level and begin from there. Getting into advanced asanas straightway, or losing kilos of weight within a short time is not going to happen straight away. You will have to work your way towards it slowly. In the beginning, start with easy asanas, understand the correct techniques to do them, and complement them with some breathing exercises and some relaxation. Once you will start feeling good, you will be motivated to increase the intensity and make it a part of your daily routine. The health and happiness effects will follow soon.
Choose A Space & Set The Mood
Identify a quiet place in your home and a time that is best suited for you to do your practice without distractions. If you are an early riser, you could get up a little earlier than usual and practice in a quiet environment when everyone else is sleeping. Or, you might want to end a busy day and pamper your senses to the calmness and stillness that Yoga and meditation brings. You could use mood lighting, tea-lights, an essential oil diffuser, or some relaxing music to get into the right mood and relax.
Listen To Your Body
Just before starting the practice each time, ask yourself what you want to achieve from that particular day’s practice. On certain days you may be feeling particularly agile and ready for a physically exhausting work-out, while on other days your body may just require some restoration or relaxation. Listen to yourself and take the practice forward from there. This will help you focus and stay interested in the long run and also provide for variety in your work-outs.
Practice Warm-Ups & Cool Down
Always begin the practice with gentle warm-up exercises for different parts of the body. You could do Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations, or a short spot-jog as a warm-up exercise. Savasana is an ideal asana to cool down in the end. This pose provides complete relaxation to the body and brings calmness to the mind.
Be Gentle & Consistent
Remember that you are the best judge of your body. Be gentle and know where to stop. Also, try and be “mindful”. This means letting the thoughts come and go without being judgmental, and bringing your mind into “the present”. It is tough and cannot be achieved in a day, but having an intention will surely help you achieve it. Consistency is the key to success, so try to stay committed to your planned schedule and avoid unnecessary breaks.
When you are ready to start your practice, you could refer to one or more of the following YouTube channels to aid your practice. These are some of the most visited channels that have made a name for themselves among many.
Best YouTube Channels To Aid Your Practice
Adriene Mishler is a quirky, down-to-earth YouTuber and the undisputed queen of YouTube Yoga. If you are new to Yoga or could use a refresher, check out her “Foundations of Yoga” series, which breaks down the basic alignment and benefits of tons of poses. The videos are very specific, customized to professions and hobbies (Yoga for gardeners, Yoga for skaters, Yoga for chefs), and health conditions (Yoga for PTSD, Yoga for diabetes, Yoga for migraine, etc.). She also has a vast collection of practices designed to ease suffering.
Julia Jarvis teaches Yoga on the YouTube health and wellness channel Psyche Truth. This channel not only has Yoga videos but also is a forum for medical professionals and other experts to share their knowledge about fields ranging from nutrition & massage to psychology & Yoga. Yoga videos are divided into sections like Yoga for complete beginners, Yoga for weight loss, Power Yoga, and Yoga for pain relief, for ease of selection. You can also select a particular instructor or a massage therapist and see their full playlist. These Yoga classes are especially helpful for people who aim to lose tone and strengthen their muscles or lose weight.
Mark Spicoluk and Juliana Semenova are the husband and wife duo behind the Boho Beautiful account. This channel has videos about Yoga, Pilates, vegan Food, and guided meditations. If you are new to this channel, the class library will help you find everything from Beginner Yoga to Intermediate, Yin Yoga, Yoga Workouts, Hatha, Ashtanga Inspired, Morning Yoga, and much more.
Sarah Beth’s channel offers guided practices from as little as 5 minutes up through 90 minutes. This channel truly has something for everyone, with Yoga for beginners, prenatal, workout, and more. Videos have also been categorized as per styles such as Power Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Hatha Yoga, etc. She was a chiropractic assistant before being a yogi, and functional movement is intertwined into all of her sequences. Stress and anxiety relief with mindfulness, breathing exercises & body awareness is a top priority of her videos.
In her own words, Leslie Fightmaster, the founder of this channel, describes her teaching style as an “infusion of meditative and flowing Vinyasa classes with Yoga philosophy, concise technical alignment, and some heartfelt humour”. Fightmaster Yoga also offers a 30-day Yoga program for beginner yogis as well as a 90-day program to get you in the Yoga habit. A new class is released every Monday and can be a great supplement to your home practice.
Brett Larkin is the brain behind the Brett Larkin Yoga YouTube channel. She focuses on both Yoga and philosophy and posts Yoga videos every Monday and philosophy videos each Friday. Vinyasa flow Yoga dominates her videos, and her impressive video library includes videos for those who have never done Yoga before to sweat-inducing advanced Yoga workouts. Whether you are one of the busy people who barely have 15 minutes to spare for practice or among those who are game for a “Yoga marathon,” there are videos to match your interest or goal.
It won’t be an exaggeration to propose that this low activity period of Coronavirus related isolation can be used to pause and think about changing lifestyles. Whether you take online live yoga classes, which have suddenly started making an appearance, or try a combination of information on channels like YouTube, it can be seen that yoga surely can become an interesting part of one’s life not only during COVID times but also post COVID.
If you have already visited some Yoga channels on YouTube, you may have come across words like Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative Yoga Etc. These are different types of Yoga, and different practitioners have different specialties or mastery over certain styles. This terminology may be a bit confusing for you if you are new to Yoga. It is important for you to understand the different types of Yoga, and then decide which one would be best suited for you. You could also switch between different types based on your requirements, but the idea is to make an informed and conscious decision. You could read my post: What Type Of Yoga Is Best For You, to understand different types of Yoga and their attributes and benefits.
Whether you decide to go for Yoga or any other fitness style, one thing is clear: Starting the practice might be important than the choice of technique. So, make up your mind and start your journey to a healthier and fitter YOU, and take care. We will catch up in the next post.
Disclaimer: The views and ideas expressed here are the author’s own and are shared to motivate readers and provide information. Please consult certified professionals before making any fitness or lifestyle changes to your routine. The author or this website cannot be held responsible for any mishaps or injuries occurring from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.