Yoga in uncertain times


South Woodford resident Seetal Kaur discovered yoga before coronavirus become headline news. During lockdown, that discovery became an essential part of his physical and mental wellbeing

In these uncertain times, it is hard to find ways to occupy your time. Perhaps you have been baking a signature banana bread or having a deep spring clean. Personally, I have found solace in perfecting a hobby of mine, yoga.

Yoga is an ancient Indian discipline that combines breathing, meditation and exercise, aiming to connect the mind, body and soul.  Having started my yoga journey eight months ago, I quickly noticed my fitness improving and, most importantly, the positive impact it had on my wellbeing.

Routine is especially important these days, so I stick to an hour of Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow (lively sessions that merge fluid movement and breath) before lunch. These dynamic practices kick-start the day, and for someone who hates the conventional workout method, this exercise is the perfect substitute. Three hours after dinner, just before I’m ready to wind down for bedtime, is the perfect time to take up a 30-minute yin/restorative practice (poses are held for longer periods and aim to calm the mind and body). It is suggested to eat two to three hours before any practice as your mat could get seriously messy during those upside-down poses!

When the class begins, the teacher will ask you to set an intention or goal to maintain focus throughout and close with gratitude. Giving thought to an intention and practising gratitude becomes most apparent during these times as you might want to dedicate your practice to someone who may be going through a difficult or challenging time, or even devote positive energy to yourself.

While you may be feeling you don’t have the necessary props to fully commit to the practice, these household substitutes will have you covered:

Yoga mat: place a blanket on top of a rug.

Bolsters (a long, thick pillow used for support): folded blankets.

Straps: try using a scarf or any type of belt.

Blocks: these can easily be achieved with a stack of books or old DVD boxes.

Research shows the benefits of yoga include stability, flexibility and balance, strengthening of the muscles and the reduction of anxiety. I especially noticed my anxiety reduce through breathwork (conscious breathing is the main essence of yoga). According to Ayurveda (meaning the science of life in Sanskrit), the breath and mind are unanimous. So, when the mind is chaotic, the breath is chaotic. When our mind is focused, the breath mirrors.

This form of therapy allows me to experience inner peace and sets a calm tone for the remainder of the day.