Yoga can modify the way the human body responds to stress, according to research. It can calm down the nervous system and help soothe your mind. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a mental health crisis seems to be next on the cards. While yoga cannot be a standalone remedy for mental health disorders, it can certainly go a long way in alleviating stress.
World Yoga Day is celebrated on June 21 to spread awareness about the benefits of yoga and to encourage more people to get involved. But this year, things are a little different. Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi organised a gala event in Ranchi where thousands of enthusiasts attended a public yoga session with him. This year, however, there can be no public events. But perhaps, this year, people are realising the importance of yoga, more so than before.
For Nidhi Mohan Kamal, a nutritionist and Strength and Ashtanga Yoga trainer, yoga has been the only way to keep her body fit and healthy during the pandemic. When a nationwide lockdown was announced in India on March 24, gyms and yoga centres around the country closed their doors. For several people, this posed a challenge - how were they supposed to work out on their own? Now that the lockdown restrictions are being gradually lifted, gyms continue to remain shut.
For many, yoga came to them as a saviour for this was something one could do on their own even while staying at home. "I used to do weight training 4 days week which is not happening . I have mostly done my Yoga practice my own, so thankfully I had my practice to fall back on, I am not teaching anymore and even if I am teaching its all online and on YouTube," said Nidhi.
According to Nidhi, it was extremely tough to cope with the way coronavirus changed our lives overnight. "I used to travel 3 months in a year that stopped completely. My clinics are shut now, so initially we had a lot of time, but thankfully I have moved my diet and training programs online, so it keeps me and my team busy. But I miss training groups and human touch. It going to be a while before I take stage again," she added.
Nidhi believes that yoga can be immensely helpful during the pandemic, particularly because it can help boost immunity. For a long time, yoga has been considered to be one of the natural and most effective ways of boosting one's immunity. A study found that yoga, especially certain postures, can resist autonomic changes in the body and keep your cells healthy even under duress and stress.
Nidhi agreed. She said, "I can vouch for this, regular practice does improve your immunity. I don’t remember falling sick except one-two times in the last 4 years. No medicines whatsoever."
Nidhi explained that these days, a lot of people practice yoga to look cool or for aesthetic photos on Instagrams. For her, it is more about spirituality. "The Asana practice is one aspect which connects your body, breath and mind. I try to practice Yoga as a full spiritual practice, as a way of life and a ritual. And it’s a practice to connect your individual self to divine. This would also free you of any kind of mental blocks," Nidhi added.
Nidhi also has a few tips on how to get started with yoga, especially if you're a beginner. She recommends that you should begin with meditation and breathing exercise. "Awareness of every breath you take is great way to start. Once you have that, try bringing that awareness to just standing straight; it seems like nothing but you’ll find it challenging once you attempt," she advised.
Like Nidhi, there are hundreds who believe that yoga kept them going even as the world struggles to tackle the viral outbreak. If this motivates you, then take a look at some step-by-step guidelines for common yoga poses that Nidhi shared on her Instagram account:
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Day 3 #21dayyogachallenge . . Half Lift pose very basic pose that comes in most #vinyasa flows. You can learn to do it step-by-step, and progress deeper into the fold. . Head to my #YouTube ! And thanks for showing me all the love . . #desimusclesworkouts #desimusclesyoga #yoga #yogapose #yogaeverydamnday #yogachallenge #youtube #challenge
A post shared by निधि मोहन कमल Vegan Yoga (@nidhimohankamal) on Jun 6, 2020 at 10:47am PDT
This interview is part of our series #YogaTalks where yoga enthusiasts who have built a community, share with us their experiences with yoga during the pandemic.