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Fighting COVID-19 Anxiety With Yoga as Society Reopens


Many people are chomping at the bit for society to reopen. However, if you are among those with an autoimmune condition or another disorder and run a high risk of complications from infection, you might have valid fears.

The stress doesn’t benefit your overall health and may put you at risk of a painful flare. What can you do to tame your tension? Here’s how to fight COVID-19 anxiety with yoga as society reopens.

1. Tune Out Instead of Turning Into the News

Often, people exacerbate their anxiety by spending too much time on social media or watching the news. While you want to be informed, the chances are that you won’t miss any breaking developments if you silence your phone alerts and turn off CNN.

Yoga offers you the ideal alternative. You can find tons of free videos on YouTube, and you can watch and follow along on the big screen if you have a smart TV or a streaming device. Make a brief workout — you can find those as short as five minutes — an alternative way to unwind from your workday instead of flipping to the latest broadcast.

In addition to physical health benefits, yoga offers mental health perks. When you move, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These substances help decrease your pain perception and elevate your mood. Gentle stretching also helps to calm your body, a lifesaver when tension causes excruciating knots.

2. Focus on Your Breath — Anywhere

If you study many forms of yoga, your guide will show you how to unite your breath and body movements. This technique is called a vinyasa. However, you don’t have to be flowing between poses to reap the benefits of deep breathing to fight COVID-19 anxiety as society reopens.

When you’re on your mat, learn how to perform ujjayi breathing. Inhale deeply to the base of your belly. As you exhale, allow the air to echo out over your soft palate, creating a gentle sigh or hum. You’ll notice your breath making an ocean-like sound as it flows in and out in gentle waves.

As you grow accustomed to the technique, you can perform ujjayi breathing with your mouth closed, still hearing the air echo gently like the ocean. Once you master this method, you can use it anywhere when you feel the panic butterflies start kicking up in your stomach. Strive to make your exhalations slightly longer than your inhales, activating your parasympathetic nervous system — the half responsible for inducing your body’s rest and digest functions.

3. Use Your Practice to Maintain Routine

Uncertainty. It seems like everyone has swum in a sea of it for the past year.

If the pandemic disrupted your daily schedule, you could feel as adrift as a rudderless ship. Why not use your yoga practice to add structure to your day?

Start your morning with a few stretches before you leave bed and greet the day with a few sun salutations. Stroll in your local park after lunch and stop to strike a few asanas in a beautiful location and readjust your mindset. End your day with a relaxing yin practice to ease you into dreamland.

4. Manage Re-Entry at an Individualized Pace

Does it seem like everyone is rushing to return to “normal''? If you aren’t keen on returning to the studio yet, you can continue your practice at home.

When you decide it’s safe to venture forth, why not begin with an outdoor class? There’s far less risk of contracting the virus outside, and you can attend without a mask if you are fully vaccinated. You can try something different, like yoga on a paddleboard at your local beach, or merely seek out an instructor taking advantage of the great outdoors to make their participants feel at ease.

5. Reconnect With a Safe and Nurturing Community

While the vast majority of people heeded COVID-19 restrictions with little fuss or fanfare, some folks got downright hostile. If you encountered such an individual, you might have valid fears about people making inappropriate comments if you decide to continue indoor mask use or even express your hesitancy.

Fortunately, yoga isn’t only a physical practice but a spiritual one. Among its many lessons are patience, tolerance and respect for all life. Whatever your limitations, be they mental or physiological, you’ll find nurturing and support among the community.

6. Process the Physiological Effects of Your Recent Trauma

Psychological stress has a nasty habit of manifesting as physical pain. Society has experienced collective trauma, and you aren’t alone if you feel more aches and pains than usual.

Yoga can help you process the physiological effects of trauma and restore your mind and body to balance. Gentle stretching releases painful adhesions that occur when your muscles tense under stress and remain fixed in one position for an extended period. When you combine movement with deep breathing, you can ease aches more effectively than with medication in some cases.

Fight COVID-19 Anxiety as Society Reopens With Yoga

You aren’t alone if you have COVID-19 anxiety as society reopens. Help yourself manage your stress and fears with yoga!

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