Many people, myself included, have turned to yoga during quarantine these past few months. I was first made aware of it a couple years ago, tried it a couple of times but was never consistent with it until this year for a couple of reasons: one, having been forced indoors by the virus I needed a form of exercise I could do at home, and two, I needed something to take my mind off of everything that was going on. At first I tried one of Chloe Ting’s free workout programs and I kept it up for about 2 weeks, but finishing every day’s routine completely out of breath, in pain and dripping in sweat really didn’t do it for me. It became more of a hassle than something I looked forward to, so I knew it was time to try something different: yoga!
This time around, I was ready to commit: I opened up Day 1 on Yoga with Adriene’s “30 Days of Yoga” program on YouTube. I was already familiar with her and her channel and I believe most people are at this point; it was the number one googled workout of 2015.
The program took me a little longer than 30 days (because nobody’s perfect) but I managed to finish it. Granted, yoga is very different from a cardio workout like Chloe Ting’s, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work your muscles or help you become stronger. Holding certain poses can be quite challenging, and while you don’t have weights, you have to carry the weight of your own body. Yoga works your muscles, sense of balance, and most importantly, your mind.
What makes yoga special and perfect for corona-times is that it promotes mindfulness. By taking the time to roll out your mat and get on it sitting cross-legged, you are taking a break from your daily struggles to spend time on you. Taking some deep breaths, closing your eyes, letting the moment and your thoughts pass you by . . . With yoga comes ujjayi, translated as “victorious breath”. It’s actually quite easy to do: first, take a deep breath through your nose, and exhale strongly again through your nose as if you’re trying to fog up a mirror. When done right, it should sound like ocean waves crashing against the shore. Ujjayi is widely used in yoga and meditation for two reasons. First, it can have a calming effect by forcing you to focus on your breath and empty your mind. This is especially important in times of quarantine: when there’s an unknown virus roaming around, ready to attack at any time, it’s normal to feel scared and watch your body for symptoms more closely than necessary. Hypochondria during quarantine has been affecting a lot of people including me, and taking the time to allow my breath to come in and out easily has taught me to focus on what my body can do instead of how it can fail me. Secondly, ujjayi breathing helps you sync up your breath with your movements, allowing you to flow more freely between poses. (“Catch a wave,” as Adriene always says.) This way you can focus on your form and get the most out of your practice, especially if it’s vinyasa-style, which is the form of yoga that Adriene does and the one I would recommend.
As opposed to other styles like Bikram or hatha where there are a number of set poses you hold, vinyasa yoga is much less restricting. It’s all about breathing and moving at the same time; which poses you do does not matter. This allows you to focus more on mindfulness, being present in the movement, and flowing through the air. To me, it’s the best type of yoga to practice during quarantine because of this.
I am specifically recommending Yoga with Adriene not because she’s arguably the most popular yoga instructor on YouTube, but because I personally love the way she leads a practice. She is incredibly inclusive of all levels and makes sure to offer alternatives for people who are just beginners or who are more experienced. Her whole philosophy centers around making yoga accessible for everyone, not insisting on hyper-expensive equipment or extensive knowledge. Each of her sessions winds down towards the end, culminating in a meditative corpse pose that makes you feel grateful for your body and peaceful in your mind. With her 30-day program, you can definitely feel yourself getting stronger and improving every day; it may not be a visible transformation but you can sense the difference, which makes you feel great about yourself. Every day you get closer to your heels touching the ground during downward dog, or to your feet staying off the ground for more than a second during crow’s pose. In a time where we may feel defenseless against a virus we don’t know much about, it’s great to have a practice through which we can feel healthy and comfortable in our own bodies.
If you’re thinking about getting into yoga, I would strongly suggest that you check out Yoga with Adriene.