A yoga teacher's guide to staying calm during COVID-19

Feeling anxious? You're not alone.

If we've learnt anything during Lockdown, YouTube has given new means of calmness to New Zealand through various classes. Yoga is taking social media by storm, and heres some tips and tricks I've enjoyed over the past few weeks..

Auckland yoga teacher, Kirsty van de Geer, has put together this comprehensive guide to staying calm during these strange and unprecedented times...


How to calm anxiety...

Take a walk.

Feel the ground beneath your feet and the feeling of autumns fresh air entering your lungs. Notice the way your feet meet the ground beneath you. The sensation of air on your exposed skin. Get into the fresh air and draw in the freshness of Autumn. Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year. Just like trees, letting go their leaves, it's a time we can use let go of our expectations for our future.

Put on your favourite music and dance like a banshee, shaking out stored emotion in the body and getting the heart pumping.

Take a bath, light some candles and let your tension unravel in the buoyant support of water.

If you're not isolating alone, have a hug. Hugging releases oxytocin and releases dopamine in the brain, which is the pleasure hormone associated with happiness. Hugging lowers anxiety by boosting your pleasure and improves your immune function.

If you are isolating on your own, research has shown that just by looking in your canine companions eyes, boosts your dopamine levels! Time to call the SPCA and adopt? 


Meditation: A Beginners Guide

I used to think that meditation was for those that were blessed with the skill of quieting a busy mind, from all the incessant noise and chatter. There are some meditations, where this is the objective, but not the easiest way to go about meditation for most of us that are leading active lives in a modern environment. 

There are some great meditation teachers out there, teaching groups of meditators, or if you prefer to learn from home, some amazing apps. All you need is a comfortable and quiet place, where you can spend anywhere between 10 and 60 minutes without being disrupted.

Two of my favourites meditation apps are: One Giant Mind or Insight timer. 

Meditation, will strengthen your awareness of everything that appears in consciousness. All thoughts, emotions, urges, sensations we are usually too busy to acknowledge can come to the fore. Instead of mindlessly reacting to our urges and emotions, we develop the skill of noticing it all without getting caught up in it. When you meditate, you focus your attention on an anchor, often a mantra, breath or visualisation.

At some point, you will become aware of (notice) thoughts. As a start to the practice of meditation this can be a profound insight, that we are not in fact our thinking mind, but a product of our conditioning. From the moment we are born into the world our conditioning begins. Long term meditation can slowly strip away the conditioning. Beneath the layers we can feel our true nature, that of the divine. 

The benefits of meditation, is creating a more spacious and even quality to the mind, so that in times of stress and challenge you become better equipped at coping with the emotions, aversions and desires. Less likely to overreact . There a so many great meditation teachers out there and some amazing apps. 


Practice yoga...

There is a heap of online yoga to access, and the scientific benefits of this practice are widely known and shared. The time we sign up for, on our mats, is time to tune into our bodies, through the gateway of conscious breath work and fluid movement, we can open a doorway into our interior world. 

Our minds spend the majority of its thinking on high rotate. It's like we are playing the same recording over and over. Yoga can disrupt the repetitive thinking and open a pathway to new enquiry.

Instead of repeating old patterns, or ruminating on past or future events yoga can guide us into meeting ourselves where we are in the moment, no matter how the moment might present to us. It doesn't mean we will always feel good about where we are, but at least we know that whatever arises in those moments is firmly rooted in reality. 


Practice gratitude...

Time spent counting your blessings are a great reminder of getting present with feelings of inner wealth and abundance. It could be a journal or it could be moments spent counting your blessings.

It's easy to fall into fears for our future, or pining for our past. Spending time feeling grateful sounds cheesy, but it can be a profound way to draw us into present and can connect us to all the beauty in our lives. Blessings come in many forms, it could be good health, the love of our pets and families.

Being grateful can range from the beauty of nature to giving thanks for strong and compassionate leadership. Once you get started it can be a lot of fun, and it really creates a feeling of abundance in the heart that is strongly associated with the goddess Lakshmi. 


And if you're still struggling...

Have a good laugh, call a friend or set up Friday night drinks on Zoom.

Connect with your peeps outside of your bubble to feel the benefits of human connection. 

Or even have good cry! There is a lot of anxiety in facing our fears of an unknown future. It can deplete your energy stores and shorten your fuse. Be kind to yourself and those around you. If something triggers your emotions, try to remember that everyone is walking around with similar feelings of uncertainty. If you are feeling as though you need a good cry, put on a sad movie or music and give yourself the gift of releasing some emotion whilst releasing endorphins.