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In the last few months, coronavirus has turned everyone’s life upside down. Of course, the problems might look different for everyone, but there’s a common thread: stress. The absolute fear of the pandemic is amplified by several other factors: staying away from loved ones, lack of job security, a crashing world economy, and uncertainty about the future.
Under usual circumstances, things were much easier to manage because you had control over triggers causing you stress. But during this pandemic, the things causing stress are not in your hands, and that has really raised anxiety levels!
About two months into this ordeal, I literally felt the stress taking a toll on my physical health. I suffered from frequent headaches, and the constant overthinking was making me feel so fatigued that I wanted to stay in bed all day long. My routine completely went for a toss — I was staying up till late every night, and couldn’t wake up on time the next morning. This worried me a lot, because it didn’t feel like me!
A friend noticed just how stressed I was, even though I didn’t mention it. A regular yoga practitioner, she asked me to first acknowledge the fact that these circumstances are not in my control. Her second advice was to incorporate yoga, so that I gradually have a routine during the lockdown.
Here’s how yoga helped me during the lockdown
Now, I was introduced to yoga in school, as part of my physical education course, but I didn’t continue beyond that. Honestly, my levels of physical activity were next to zero, once school ended. First college, and then work life made me sedentary.
At first, I regretted not joining a yoga class much earlier, but my friend asked me to calm down. Instead, she sent across some links of YouTube channels to help me start. I would begin my day by doing surya namaskar, and then meditate for a couple of minutes. Slowly and steadily, I included more asanas in my daily practice.
In a few days time, I noticed my posture getting better, and guess what, I was more flexible too! I was gaining confidence to try more complicated asanas for improved balance and focus. Besides, I felt more energised every morning, and my mood was definitely more stable!
When I started out, I was unsure of what was going on in my life. However, practising yoga has helped me to regain my mental calm and composure. Don’t get me wrong, it takes time and requires regular practice for the effects to show, but if you stick to a routine, it will benefit your physical and mental health.
Turns out, there are various studies that confirm that yoga can have a positive impact on one’s mental health. One of them published on PubMed Central says, “Yoga encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs.”
Yoga has really helped me manage my stress levels during the pandemic, and I don’t think I am going to leave its side now!