We are all riding the last wave of quarantine. Lockdown rules have become more lenient, and social distancing is a thing of the past. ‘Social’ being the key word as we all know physical distancing is still encouraged and should be followed to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Staying in doors for 4,5 days at a time seems so distant as we have now ‘unlimited time in the park’ for exercising and catching up with friends at a distance. Some of us were fortunate enough to stay at home. And I mean that because those who still had to be there to keep the transport running, the shops open, and some businesses which opened earlier, did not have as many opportunities as those who had free time. Those in furlough, me included, have more time for ourselves, an opportunity to regain an exercise routine, to catch up on some reading, to re-connect with old hobbies, fall in love with baking (I mean I must be the only one who hasn’t baked that banana bread), and generally have more time to do the things we always complained we ‘don’t have enough time for’.
But, slowly, things are starting to look ‘normal’ again. Shops are opening up again, some cafes/ restaurants are open, and even children have started coming back to school. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find no queue outside a shop and walk in like good old times. However, I know I won’t be the only one that will kinda miss these times. You feel more autonomous as you can literally wake up whenever you want and plan your day however you want with what feels and felt like an unlimited time.
And if there is one thing that has kept me sane throughout all of this, it’s Yoga. Just before lockdown time, I have already gained an interest in Yoga and started doing it a few times a week. But now, I practically do it every single morning and I worry that after I return to work, I will no longer have time for it (at least in the morning) as it means waking up super early and my body doesn’t even remember it is possible!
Since beginning this habit, it now feels like a normal part of everyday life and routine. It is as important to me as brushing my teeth at this point. Anyway, there is a number of benefits to it which will keep me practicing for a long time.
Stress is our biggest, silent killer. Anxiety, over-thinking, worrying are all part of stress and it takes a toll on your health more than you might think. I have found when I start my day with yoga, I am likely to come out of it feeling more relaxed and ‘mentally cleansed’. It is this little time for yourself that grounds you and makes you feel relaxed because you’re giving yourself some much needed self-love and time. It is your chance to switch off everything around you mentally, and just focus on you and your movement. Yoga is a lot about moving your breath too, and you might notice at the beginning of your flow that your breath is a bit shallow. This is the effects of stress. Once you get into the yoga flow, you will be taught to breathe deeply and exhale your stress through the mouth, literally letting the bad energy go. Throughout the day,we do not really have an opportunity to take really deep breaths and release everything going on inside and yoga taps into that.
Part of the reason I started doing yoga, was because I wanted to increase my flexibility. I always had this goal in my mind to one day be able to do the full splits and I pretty much set this goal every month however, I am still no where near. I am not strict with it though, because I do yoga and certain stretches depending on how my body feels that day. For example, if my hips are feeling tight or my shoulders ache, I focus more on those areas and find a yoga flow that fits those specific needs.
However, I did notice that my overall flexibility has improved a lot. The journey is slow, but worth it. I mean a few months ago it was really difficult for me to touch my toes without it hurting but eventually if you resist the pain, your body will want to naturally stretch. And remember to breathe! Flexibility isn’t just something to work on so you can do fancy splits and leg lifts though. It is so important for overall mobility and strength. If you have more range of motion and push your body to more stretches, you will be able to do more exercises with more ease as the muscles would have been used to being used.
When your body is moving, your gut is moving too. Body movement signals to the body to wake up and keep the digestion moving, making sure things are running smoothly internally. Twists are especially good for the stomach and gut as they initially cut of blood supply in the areas and once the twist is released, the area will be introduced to fresh blood which means your body will supply new nutrients and start detoxing the bad.
If you are like me and a sense of routine keeps you sane, then I really recommend fitting yoga into your day. Feeling like you need to show up for something, for yourself, and scheduling the time for it will ensure you are less likely to miss it. Actually, think of it as a class you cannot miss ( I do that). I mentally give myself a time let’s say 8:00 in the morning or 7:30 am (depending what time I wake up) and I make sure to start my yoga video then and prepare the mat and any equipment a few minutes before hand so that I start right on time. We live in times were a Tuesday is exactly the same as a Saturday, and in general, days, weeks and months have been blending in together and looking the same. The sense of time sort of ceased to exist. A sense of routine will keep your days from looking the same and ensure you are productive.
Yoga is considered both a way of meditating and exercise. Think power yoga. When you do power yoga, you are really using your muscles and strength to keep yourself in certain deep poses and stretches. I hardly ever work out my arms but can say that yoga really pushed me to use my arm strength a lot especially in planks and even cobra poses. And no kidding, sometimes you can break a sweat! Which is good, sweat releases the toxins in your body. Yoga that targets your muscles from head to toes is especially good right after you wake up. I know when I wake up sometimes, I feel very stiff in certain areas and after a good yoga session I literally feel like a newborn baby.
So there you go. Yoga is great. We live such sedentary lives nowadays, it’s good to get down on the mat and get yourself in weird twists and poses and de-stress and just have fun with it 🙂