8 Ways to Practice Yoga Now

I heard you can now hear the birds singing in Wuhan, and that swans and dolphins can be seen in the canals of Venice. Nature is starting to reveal its utter beauty because humans have been asked, or rather forced, to be on lock down. 
 
This goes out to each and every one of you living and waiting for this growing pandemic to subside. For fear and panic to lose its grip, for our lives to return to seeming normal requires all of us to stay calm in the midst of chaos and take action, or as the Bhagavad Gita suggests, inaction in action.
 
In class, we often talk about cultivating calm abiding presence as we breathe and move. But that is simply practice ground for the calm abiding presence we are asked to cultivate off the mat and in the world, especially now. Can we stay calm and present when a growing pandemic seems to inch its way closer to our local communities, homes and families? Can we resist panic buying and excessive online shopping and simply slow down, quiet down, and reassess?
 
Here are some practical ways we can practice Yoga at this time:
 
  1. Movement: Get out into nature (obviously away from people), and move your body. No, you do not need to figure out how to get into warrior 1, 2, or 3. Move naturally as in walk, run, jump, skip, lunge, dance, etc. Play with your pets and/or children. Our human design loves organic, natural movement. Several studies show that dancing is highly supportive in motor, emotional and intellectual brain functions. It improves memory and reduces signs of dementia, alleviates depression, and boosts nerve growth factors.
  2. Mental Health: Try to get 10-15 minutes of fresh air and sunshine on your skin daily for your Vitamin D fix. It’s also an effective mood enhancer.

    Meditation is key to quiet the monkey chatter, but if sitting still is too challenging, then try moving meditation. Allow yourself to be breathed as you move. Frame the breath around simple movements so that there are natural pauses between movements similar to tai chi. While it looks simple, basic and boring it’s actually quite difficult for my advanced students (many vinyasa practitioners breathe very shallowly, believe it or not, and don’t really move with breath as the initiator of, and conclusion to, movement). If that doesn’t work for you, try a guided meditation app.

  3. Digestive and Immune Health: Eat well. Fresh, whole foods are always the best, nutrient-dense foods. Cook as much as possible, and consider consuming less as a way to slow down and go inward. Increase your intake of zinc, vitamin C, E and B6. Whole food sources include citrus fruits, broccoli, garlic, ginger, green tea, kiwi, papaya, turmeric, chicken soup, sunflower seeds, almonds. Always drink enough fluids. Fresh ginger/lemon/honey tea is great for the immune and digestive systems. Infused waters of strawberry/lime/mint or sliced apples with cinnamon stick or pear/raspberry/rosemary are lovely combinations.
  4. Sleep: Sounds like a no-brainer, but sleep is so essential in boosting the immune system. If it’s hard to sleep, use a Yoga Nidra app and allow a simple body scan to relax your mind and body.
  5. Svadhyaya or Self-Study: This is a time to reassess what’s truly important and re-evaluating everything from relationships to the stuff in your house to how you spend your time to who you spend it with.

    Now is a great time to do some Spring cleaning. Assess what you really need and what you can let go of and donate unused clothing, furniture, appliances, etc. to anyone in need. It feels good to clear the clutter! Resist panic buying, online shopping for things you don’t need, etc. This only wreaks more havoc on the environment.

  6. Stay informed and stay connected:

    For general information on coronavirus: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-facts-infographic
    For up-to-date statistics on what’s happening around the world: www.worldometers.info.

    Find reliable sources of information for your local area.

    Check-in with neighbors and especially the elderly in your area. Do they need assistance in getting food or other provisions? This is the most at-risk population, as well as those whose immune systems are already compromised. Reaching out to your local community is one of the best ways to practice Yoga.

  7. Mindfulness practice refined:

    Be considerate at keeping your distance from others when you absolutely have to go out. Some countries are imposing a 2×2 meter distance from others. While this may seem extreme, it’s the collective efforts now that will reduce the increasing numbers of transmission. Every act is an act of kindness towards yourself and others. Every act counts. 

    If you find yourself forgetting to keep your hands off your face, nose, mouth, etc. then consider wearing gloves. I did this while flying home and it certainly kept me from unconsciously scratching my nose or rubbing my eye. Of course, the regular habits of washing your hands, not touching door knobs etc are key. Not taking the highest level of precautions could easily mean transmission.

  8. Smile and find gratitude that you are alive, are able to read this blog, have a roof over your head, and are healthy and well.

    Every breath is a miracle. We have the skills to slow it down, stay calm in the midst of chaos, boost our immunity, and do our best at prolonging/living our best life, and to hope that for others.

    Take a moment each day to acknowledge all that is going RIGHT. Remember that the state of Yoga merges us with everything. We are all connected. Taking care of self and taking care of other is the lived, moment-to-moment Yoga that we are being asked to practice on a global level. This continues to evolve and take on new meaning. And new connection.

 
#Now is the time.