Fitness: Why yoga is good for mind as well as body
Yoga teacher Lorna Lowe, who runs a variety of classes in Bury and Newmarket, explains how yoga can help to calm emotions – and shows us some key poses to try at home
Over the past month or so our lives have been turned upside down by the Covid-19 virus sweeping the world. People are having to learn a new way of living and many are turning to yoga to help them through this difficult time.
As a country, we have been asked to socially distance ourselves to help stop the spread of the virus. This means stopping work, avoiding visits to family and friends and missing out on our favourite workout sessions. We are all playing our part to protect ourselves and others but this can come at a great cost to our mental health. Yoga can really help to combat feelings of anxiousness, overwhelm and panic about the future and to help us deal with our emotions in a calm way.
Yoga for everybody
There are so many different types of yoga available (from Power Yoga to Chair Yoga), that it is so easy to find a style which fits your body and feels good. There are even specialist classes available for those suffering from a specific illness or special circumstances such as pregnancy.
The main focus of yoga poses (known as ‘Asanas’) are to help lengthen and strengthen the body, helping it to return back to its normal range of movement. There is a common saying when it comes to our body which is ‘use it or lose it’ and yoga helps you to use every muscle to help maintain and develop strength.
The best thing about Yoga is that it can be done anywhere! Yoga is the perfect way to move our bodies, raise our heart rate and keep us busy and it can all be done in the comfort of your own home. It doesn’t matter how long you choose to spend doing yoga, even just a few minutes moving your body can make a big difference physically and emotionally.
As well as movement, another major part of yoga is the breath. We often forget that breathing plays a huge part in our wellbeing. When we are stressed, our breathing becomes shallow and mainly focused in the upper chest. This causes us to feel tired and tense. When we breathe slowly and deeply, we send signals to our nervous system telling it that we are okay and not in danger. So if you do nothing else, if you can practice a few minutes of breathing using your full lung capacity, you will feel calmer, happier and more energised.
Give it a go now - take three long, slow deep breaths in taking your breath all the way down to your belly and breathe out through your mouth a lovely long sighing sound. Doesn’t that feel great?
Lorna demonstrates some key yoga poses for you to try at home. . .
Be here now
The main aim of yoga is to bring the body and the breath into perfect harmony. By linking every move we make to the breath it helps to bring us into the present moment. This can really help to calm us down when we are worrying about what we are being told in the news. When we take a moment to come to our mat or sit down quietly in a chair and focus on what we are doing right now, we can begin to see that in this exact moment, we are okay. We are safe and we are well. Yoga helps us to tune into our body and breath, noticing it as it is right now and this can then begin to spread into our daily lives.
Yoga has many benefits on the body, not just physically which is why so many people are taking up yoga during this period of uncertainty. If we can take each day as it comes and learn to practice mindfulness both on and off the yoga mat, we can see this pandemic through and come out the other side more peaceful and resilient than before.
About me: Lorna Lowe is a qualified yoga teacher. She teaches a wide range of classes including Vinyasa Flow, Beginners Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga and Kids Yoga. She firmly believes that yoga is for everybody and everyone can benefit from a little bit of yoga in their lives. She feels so lucky to meet people of different ages and abilities of yoga on a weekly basis. Lorna teaches classes in both The Wellbeing Warehouse in Newmarket and The Self Centre in Bury St Edmunds. She also goes into schools to teach Kids Yoga as an afterschool club. You can find Lorna on her Instagram page @lo_yoga or on her website loyoga.co.uk. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Lorna also teaches yoga classes for free online through the Wellbeing Warehouse, so be sure to check out her Instagram page for details on these classes.
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More by this authorLouise Cummings