The search for alternative ways to exercise, stay healthy and maintain well-being while in lockdown and stuck at home has led many people to consider yoga.
In Western society yoga has been commercialised as a lifestyle choice. It has a reputation for promoting an idealist ‘yoga body’ that isn’t representative of society and isn’t representative of what yoga is and does for you.
Like most things in life, if you look a little deeper you discover yoga has very little to do with striking an impossible pose with a perfect body at the top of a mountain while watching the sun set.
Birchall Blackburn Law works with a charity called ICUsteps Chester, which is a support group for anyone who has experienced critical illness with a stay in intensive care. As part of its rehabilitation support the charity started an online yoga class during lockdown. The session proved so popular and beneficial the support group added a second yoga class less than a month later.
What proved cruicial in ICUsteps Chester’s decision to add a second yoga class was the fact that the usually cynical male members of the support group found the yoga sessions very beneficial. It really helped them physically and mentally.
Cheshire West & Chester Community Response Fund and the Westminster Foundation even awarded ICUsteps Chester a grant to run the yoga sessions every Wednesday and Saturday. These classes are run by a highly qualified teacher with experience of working with people suffering from stress of various kinds, including PTSD.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to support your physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga uses a series of posture movements designed to improve the health of your whole body, including the mind.
The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago and is for people of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and fitness levels.
Many scientific trials have been published on yoga and most studies suggest yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There is also some evidence that regular yoga practice helps reduce high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains, depression and stress.
Don’t take our word for it
Amanda Sellar, from the Serious & Catastrophic Injury Team, started yoga a few years ago when she just decided to go to a class at her gym. She has not looked back since.
Amanda says, “Since the beginning of lockdown I have been doing online yoga as part of my daily routine. I find it helps me switch off from the stresses of real life.
“I feel much more positive once I have done a yoga session. I also find it helps physically – building stability and flexibility in the different poses.
“Tips for beginners would be to not push yourself to the point of pain. Most yoga classes provide a range of poses to suit ability. And the most important thing is to concentrate on breathing.”
If you want to start at home then Amanda recommends ‘Yoga with Adrienne’. If you go to Adrienne’s YouTube channel there are loads of free video sessions including beginner tutorials and various 30-day challenges.
It’s also worth checking out the main UK yoga association, British Wheel of Yoga (BWY), which is the Sport England-recognised governing body for yoga in the UK. It has loads of advice and links to local classes.