COVID-19 has changed the rhythm of our lives. We’re home and more sedentary than usual, and we’re challenged to adapt our lives to these new circumstances.
Enter, yoga. It gets us moving and helps soothe the anxiety of the moment. Plus, even via video, the classes can be a great experience.
Yoga is the “yoking,” or union, of the mind, body, and breath. It invites us to become aware and curious about ourselves. Through movement of the body and attention to the breath, yoga can create the space for us to connect to sensations and feelings, fine-tuning our interoception. Interoception is our ability to sense our internal state: feelings such as hunger and fullness—or cold and heat.
If you’re newer to yoga, look to start with styles such as gentle, slow flow, restorative, beginner/basics, chair, and hatha. Google is an incredible resource for any of these, or you can try out my gentle yoga & movement practices here. If you’ve never done yoga at home before, or have never done it through an online class, getting started is quite simple once you’ve found a class. Here are a few tips to help you begin:
You don’t need to have a yoga mat or a large space—practicing on a rug or even outside in the park works just fine. Find somewhere where you can stretch both your arms out wide.
Flexibility isn’t a barrier to trying yoga! “Props” are a great way to support your range of motion and practice. For example, if you can't touch your toes when you bend forward, you can use yoga blocks, a couch, or some soup cans under your hands to bring the ground up to you. If your knees feel sensitive when you're on hands and knees or doing a lunge with the back knee down, using a blanket or a thick towel as a pad to provide more comfort.
A short positive phrase or feeling directed to yourself or someone else will help shift the focus to the present moment throughout your practice. This could be something like, “I am safe” or “I am open to my experiences.”
Before class starts, place one hand on your belly and one hand on the chest and close the eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Feel your body expand into your hands and bring awareness to the quality and length of inhale and exhale. Try breathing in slowly as you count to four, and breathing out slowly as you count to four again.
If you’re just starting out, doing body weight postures like plank and down dog may be too strenuous. Both ask you to bear decent amounts of weight into your upper body. If you’re not used to the weight on your hands and shoulders or the range of motion required, you can modify these poses by elevating your hands. Stack books or yoga blocks under your hands or place your hands on a couch or chair to shift weight into your legs and take some load off of your upper body. When doing balancing poses, you can also use a chair or wall for support.
Moving your body—and putting your mind more in touch with your body—can help relieve the physical and mental stresses many of us are feeling. Yoga is, by nature, open to anyone, and with the tips here you’ll see it’s easy to step in and start.
Giulia began studying and practicing yoga to supplement her dance training during her time as a B.F.A Dance major at The Boston Conservatory. Yoga became a natural extension of dance for Giulia, providing a different path to discover more about herself. A few years and injuries later, she expanded how she views and teaches yoga through her pursuit of extensive studies in movement and kinesiology, anatomy, physiology and biomechanics. She left the dance and performing world behind, but its knowledge, detail, body awareness, and passion still infuses in her work.