I have a confession to make: even though I’m studying to be a meditation teacher, sometimes I find yoga to be a pain in the asana. Pre-pandemic especially, it often felt like a pricey, time-consuming commitment, even though post-class I always felt better.
But now that at-home fitness is all the rage, I’ve rediscovered the joy of stress release through online yoga. And I’m not the only one turning to child’s pose when I feel like crawling into a fetal position. Wellness app Mindbody reported a 230% surge in virtual classes in the first week of the pandemic alone, with yoga leading the pack as the most popular online workout.
With 5,000 years of efficacy and counting, it’s not a stretch to call yoga the top self-care option.
Yoga technically means “union,” coming from the Sanskrit word “yuj.” While there are several branches of yoga, including meditation (raja yoga), most Westerners think of hatha yoga — the practice of using poses (asanas) to build strength and endurance.
Today, this age-old technique to join body, mind, and spirit is scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects. With the advent of COVID-19, a team of researchers from the University of California-San Diego, Chopra Library for Integrative Studies, and Harvard University led by MIT’s William Bushnell, PhD, have found evidence from more than 100 different studies on yoga and immunity that the practice has solid potential as an adjunctive treatment option for COVID-19.
We have found that practicing meditation and yoga could boost sensory health. And as if to underscore it, doctors are having success placing patients into a prone posture akin to the yoga asanas in order to improve their respiration.
The benefits are not reserved for only those who are sick, but everyone plagued by the impact of the coronavirus. When you pair poses with deep breathing (pranayama), you also bring relief from anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Bring om into your home
Getting into a daily yoga practice has never been easier — or more personalized. If you’re a writer, chef, or runner, YouTube’s top yogini, Adriene Mishler (“Yoga With Adriene”) has just the class for you. There are 500+ videos for all levels, interests, and time commitments.
If reading about yoga is more your style, Yoga Journal has you covered. And if you’re looking for live online classes, chances are a nearby studio has a Zoom class available, so you can practice karma yoga by supporting a local small business.
Whether you think yoga is for you or not, be flexible: now’s the perfect time to go to the mat for your health and well-being.