Yoga is invaluable during the pandemic

Yoga mats in shelves at the Rec Center. Photo courtesy: Jordan Nix

A little more than 18 months have passed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the entire globe to its knees. Practically overnight entire countries had to figure out how to not just survive, but thrive in this new contactless world. For a lot of countries that meant almost immediate quarantines with no definite end date in sight.

Many of us left school, clocked out of work, and went home almost a little grateful for an extra break, but who knew it would turn into an ongoing series of unfortunate events in almost complete isolation.

The University of Toronto conducted a study on 129 participants to see the psychological effects of quarantine. The study concluded that 28.9% of participants had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 31.2% showed symptoms of depression.

All over social media you could find people posting their experiences being hunkered down and locked inside. while some had a comedic take like Twitter mom, @mommajessiec

“Quarantine day 6: Went to this restaurant called The Kitchen. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.”

Others took the time to work on their spiritual, mental and physical health. On the hit app TikTok, #Sicktok has 39 million views. The hashtag is filled with  GenZers sharing their experiences being stuck in quarantine and their tips and tricks for healing.

One popular “sick”  toker, Mei Pang, promotes yoga as one of her favorite ways to recoup, relax and promote good health all around. Her feed is littered with videos of her in various poses showing her followers all the joys yoga can bring.

“Morning stretches and sun = bliss,” Pang captioned one of her yoga videos.

In a separate study conducted by the Neuropsychiatry Journal of London, and reported on by U.S. Health News, 15 participants with major depressive disorders were assigned to a particular yoga curriculum with five exercises to be completed throughout the week. After 12 weeks, using brain imaging and mood measurements, the participants’ symptoms of depression were not only reduced, but matched the levels of people without depression.

This study is the first to show how certain yoga poses and breathing techniques can increase the presence of GABA, a neurotransmitter that may play a role in depression by blocking impulses between nerve cells in the brain.

“Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration,” says Natalie Nevins, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini yoga instructor in Hollywood, Calif.

If the past year and change has taught us anything, it’s that in a moment everything can change. There’s nothing like a pandemic to get your priorities in order, and there is no time like the present to take care of yourself. Whether it’s cooking, yoga or just lounging around, taking the time to take care of yourself is vital for a happy and healthy life.