There is so much to worry about these days, and, depending on your own situation at home, your mind and body might be dealing with a lot more stress than they’re used to. You might be a medical professional battling COVID-19 on the front lines. You might be taking care of a sick loved one or have even experienced unexpected loss. You might be a parent of young children, who now need constant care and daily schooling at home, while you continue to work full time and take care of the additional cooking, cleaning, laundry and other daily chores that come with long-term quarantine.
As a parent of a 4-year-old, an expectant mother (any day now!) and an entrepreneur, whose business has all but halted operation in the past two months, I can attest that the quarantine can certainly take its toll. Thankfully, yoga has been a refuge for me and has, in many ways, kept me sane during these tough times.
If yoga and meditation are not already a part of your quarantine routine, here are five great reasons why you should start taking online yoga classes today.
- Calm your mind
There are any number of scientific studies that show definitive proof that practicing yoga reduces stress and anxiety and improves overall mood and emotional wellbeing.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine even found that yoga improves mood and reduces anxiety more than walking. So, if taking strolls to wind down is part of your daily routine, you might want to consider using the same amount of time to get on your mat, take some deep breaths and strike a few yoga poses.
If finding free time for yoga is an issue—and trust me I know all about that—then try to designate a single time slot per week (after the kids go to bed and your work is put aside) to move and breathe. Whether all you need is the gentle, yet powerful effects of a restorative yoga class or the sweat and burn of a strong yoga flow, you will feel calmer and truly thankful that you took the time to mentally reset. Which brings me to my next point…
- Take time for yourself
Living cooped up in your house, surrounded by family 24/7, can make it difficult, but doubly important, to find alone time. Whatever your preferred form of escape, you absolutely must find it regularly, in order to stay sane and maintain your relationships with your (too) near and dear loved ones.
Yoga can give you that much-needed break, and all you need is a 2×6 ft space and a device, on which you can stream a virtual yoga class. The beauty of online yoga classes is that there is one running somewhere at any given time of the day or night.
So, whenever you find that precious moment to take time out for yourself, all you have to do is Google a class. Or, if you have a favorite studio or teacher, you can follow their schedule and play or request recordings of their classes at your own pace.
- Move your body
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that, in order to stay healthy, adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity per week. To be considered moderate, an activity has to raise your heart rate about 50-60% above your resting heart rate.
Whether a yoga class falls into that range is entirely dependent on its style and your own physical fitness level. But a strength and conditioning class or a yoga flow, which has you moving constantly from strengthening pose to strengthening pose, will most likely get your body sweating and heart pumping. Taking a couple of these classes per week, or combining them with other types of physical activity, like walking, dancing or biking, could not only help you hit your aerobic physical activity quota, but also make you feel really good in other ways (see all other points).
- Stimulate your digestive system
You would think that, with milk, butter, sugar and flour being so hard to find at the grocery stores, we’d all be on a low carb, low fat diet. As it turns out, quite the opposite is true and, for many, the rise of home baking and comfort eating has brought on the so-called “quarantine fifteen.”
The good news is that there are things you can do to counter the havoc that your new diet is wreaking on your digestive system. Among them is—you guessed it—yoga.
Yoga movement and breath work help to massage your internal organs and soft tissues, which aids in both the elimination of toxins and the absorption of revitalizing nutrients. The positive effects of yoga on common digestive issues, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), are well documented across a number of scientific studies, including a 2016 review published by the American Gastroenterological Association Institute, which showed that yoga significantly decreased IBS symptoms and severity, while improving overall quality of life and physical functioning.
So, the next time you reach over for a snack in an effort to pass time, hop online instead and grab a spot in any yoga class. Your gut will thank you!
- Create a new healthy habit
For those with a little extra time on their hands, the COVID-19 quarantine has been considered a great opportunity to work on themselves and learn new skills. Regardless of whether you actually fall into that group of lucky free spirits, taking care of your health should always be a priority. And, if you’ve never done yoga before, now is a good time to start.
Why yoga, you ask? For one, you can do yoga at home, and you don’t have to have any experience, tools or significant amount of space or time. Beginners are always welcome, and all you need is a small clearing in your house where you can spread your arms for as little as a few minutes a day. Even having a mat is not mandatory.
Plus, read the reviews: everyone else is doing it and loving it! A 2016 study by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal found that more than 36 million people in America were doing yoga at the time, which was almost double the number from just four years earlier. The study also showed that Americans believe that yoga is good for you, increases flexibility and strength, enhances athletic performance and relieves stress. And, almost 80% of those who do yoga also engage in other physical activities, like running or cycling. So, basically, yoga is a gateway to a lifetime of healthy choices!
Convinced that yoga during COVID-19 can be good for you? Check out our online class schedule and sign up for any one that strikes your fancy. And if you can’t make it to the live class, we’ll send you a recording, so you can practice yoga wherever and whenever you can find the time.
About the author:
Lora Markova is the co-owner of Earth & Aerial Yoga in Hudson, MA. She is an ERYT-200 and has been practicing yoga around the world for over 20 years. Having personally enjoyed its tremendous physical and psychological benefits, she loves to help others experience them too. Lora’s classes are slow and strong, and she focuses on using deep breaths to gently flow through carefully designed sequence that stretch, strengthen and open the body. Lora’s classes will help you increase your physical and emotional awareness and walk away feeling reenergized, reconnected, and refocused.