It feels like the lockdown has been going on forever, doesn’t it?
All over the country (and in most of the world), formerly teeming streets are now all-but empty. Roads which were once thronged with nose-to-tail traffic are now empty. If you live in London or any of the country’s other big cities you’ve likely never seen air so clean and clear, or streets so free of litter. Still, while the lockdown may be great for the environment, sadly it’s not so beneficial for our mental and physical health. We’re all getting tired of living in a state of near-constant anxiety. We’re tired of not being able to hug our friends, family members and loved ones. We’re missing our work colleagues and even our bosses. We’re tired of every day being a battle for productivity while we grapple with the logistics of working from home. And that’s those of us who are lucky enough to still have jobs.
It’s fair to say that even those of us who have been lucky enough to avoid exposure to the coronavirus itself have found ourselves faced with something that’s potentially just as damaging (albeit in a different way)… the lockdown blues.
So, what’s the cure for our quarantine malaise? Many people all over the world are turning to yoga to improve their health, their mindset and their quality of life. Here we’ll look at some of the reasons why yoga is more than just a fun new hobby, it’s actually the perfect antidote to the lockdown blues…
It’s surprisingly accessible for all kinds of beginners
When we think of yoga, we tend to think of people twisting themselves into all kinds of unfathomable human knots. But don’t let the extraordinary feats of lifelong yoga devotees fool you. Yoga is completely accessible for all kinds of beginners. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are or whether you’re a man, woman or non-binary. Yoga is for everybody! Even if you can barely touch your toes, you can get started. You need a bare minimum of equipment. Indeed, many do well with none whatsoever. However, it may be advantageous to order a yoga mat and some blocks online.
A yoga mat is great for ensuring that you don’t slip while arranging your body into asanas or poses and reducing risk of strains. Blocks, on the other hand, are great for easing your body into challenging poses and gradually deepening your stretch, they’re beneficial for beginners and advanced practitioners alike so these little cork or foam blocks are a good investment in the long term.
The “Yoga high”
At a time when we’re all feeling sluggish, sad and lacking in motivation, yoga can be the perfect pick me up. Like pretty much all forms of exercise, a good yoga session floods the brain with endorphins; easing aches pains, anxieties and that non-specific feeling of dread that many of us are feeling right now.
The “yoga high” is a scientifically observed phenomenon which accounts for the serenity, calm and poise which so many experienced yogi exude. Even before the lockdown, most of us were living our lives in a constant state of stress and panic. And not only has this been making us miserable for years, it’s also not great for our bodies. Living in a heightened state of stress triggers the body’s inflammatory response making us vulnerable to all kinds of chronic conditions from hypertension to diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Yoga is extremely effective in unifying the body and mind and encouraging them both to wind down.
It encourages you to make better food choices
In the current climate, we’re all taking our health a lot more seriously. As we all know, good health starts with good nutrition. But when we’re isolated, stressed and fed up we tend to eschew sound dietary advice and head straight for the comfort foods. But while these sugary, fatty and salty treats may grant us a fleeting feeling of satisfaction, they come at the expense of a grinding come down accompanies by feelings of sluggishness and self loathing.
Getting into yoga encourages you to think like a yogi, and adopt a yogi diet (no, this doesn’t consist of picnic baskets swiped from park rangers). A yogi diet isn’t just about what you eat, it’s about fundamentally changing the way you think about food. It’s about ensuring that the food you eat is ethically sourced (ahimsa), nourishing to the body and mind, and easy for the body to digest without feeling bloated or sluggish.
It can actually make you cleverer
No kidding, as well as making you stronger, more flexible and more emotionally healthy, yoga can even make you smarter. Just 20 minutes of yoga every day can improve cognitive function and memory as well as helping you to feel more aware and alert. So, why not try swapping out your morning coffee for a few asanas? You might just find that it’s a far more energising way to start your day!
It’s a friend for life, not just for lockdown!
Once you start to get a grounding in yoga and its asanas become second nature to you, you’ll find that it’s a good and loyal friend for life. It can be the quick pick me up that you enjoy in the morning to chase away the cobwebs after a rough night’s sleep. It can be a quick workout that you can enjoy on your coffee break at work. Through yoga you will gain a greater understanding of your body, what its limits are, and how to breathe your way past them. Every time you feel anxious or stressed, yoga will be there for you. Every time you feel groggy or irritable, yoga will be there for you. Every time you need a feel good fix, yoga will be there for you.
There’s no better time than now. So why not invest a little time and effort in bringing yoga into your life. The shaky first steps you take today could be the start of a beautiful lifelong relationship.