Yoga & Mindfulness Through a Pandemic – Part 3

Shared by Danja Yoga Co-Owner & Lead Teacher Training Facilitator, Daniel Sernicola, with written reflections by our Yoga Teacher Training students.

The following is the second of five short essays written by our Danja Yoga Teacher Training students. These students are in the middle of a 200-hr training that began in September 2021. They graduate in June 2022. Covid-19 has changed much about the yoga world. There’s been opportunities along with set backs for our students.

The words of our teacher trainees share both vulnerability and the realness of this situation, and how practices of yoga and mindfulness can really be an antidote for the pandemic at hand. I feel hopeful to have these teachers emerging into the world at a time where self-care, wellness, and mindful teachings are very needed. Daniel Sernicola

The prompt: 

How is yoga influencing your time during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

What are you learning about yourself during this time? 

How can we use the Danja Yoga 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training to be of service to our communities and the world right now?

The world we live in today is one that we thought we would only see in the movies, alas the COVID-19 pandemic lifestyle has come to be the new normal. This new way of life has required quite a bit of adjustment for many people. Some of the changes that occurred have come with benefits, while other changes have disrupted the lives of many. Although there have been many changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a practice that has been around for years and although this practice may not seem like much, if done consistently, it can be the antidote to many of these disruptions. What is this practice, you may ask. I have the answer, yoga. 

Yoga is a practice that can be the antidote for many of the problems caused by COVID-19. How can bending yourself into a pretzel possibly be a solution right now? Well, here’s the thing, bending into a pretzel, or attempting to, can have many benefits. Moving into yoga poses, if done correctly, can make your body feel so much better. One example of this is child’s pose. This pose has you essentially kneeling on the floor, while bowing forward to rest your head on the floor. This process is a very simple one, but one that can make you feel very calm and relaxed. If you’re starting to feel stressed out with the new tasks that have been created from this remote work environment, you can take a minute, or three, and relax down into child’s pose. Resting your forehead on the floor will tell your nervous system to relax and after destressing, even if for a few minutes, you will be able to think clearer and tackle the task at hand. 

You may be thinking, “Child’s pose does sound nice, but that is no pretzel that I seem them folding into in a yoga class!” Well, child’s pose is just one pose. There are many others, each with their own benefit and some of the more difficult one will take some time to work into, or rather, work into the variation that is best for your body. Working into some of these poses can be a goal for you to focus one and every time you move a little bit farther into the pose you will feel a little more accomplished with yourself. These poses can be fun goals to work for and can motivate you to practice yoga. The more you practice the better your body will feel and let’s face it, who doesn’t like their body to feel great?

Before I get too carried away with the moving part of yoga, I should let you know that movement is only a small part of yoga. There are a seven other parts of yoga that can help you during these times. Other parts of yoga include your interactions with yourself and others, meditation, mindfulness, and breathing, just to name a few. How do these parts help? Well, breathing, for one, can also help you to calm down, or energize you. One of breath practices that has really helped me is taking a slow deep inhale, followed by a slower exhale and repeating this several times. This again, helps the nervous system to relax so when you’re in a face-to-face meeting and that mask is just really starting to bother you, you can just take some easy breaths in this manner. 

Sure, breathing makes sense, but how do meditation and mindfulness help out? Meditation is great because it allows you to sit with your thoughts and just accept them and let them move on. The more you meditate, the more likely you are to respond to many situations in a calm manner. Mindfulness can go with this in a sense. You need to be mindful of why are you are meditating; you’re there to focus on you and not the laundry list of chores you wanted to start before your next Zoom meeting. The more you practice mindfulness, just focusing on the task at hand, the better you will perform. Working smarter is so much better than working harder and being mindful of what you are working on is one way to achieve this.

Yoga and mindfulness have been a great at helping me to adjust to the pandemic times. Yoga has provided me with goals to work towards and I genuinely enjoy going to a yoga class every time I go, even if I didn’t work on any of the “pretzel” poses. I’ve learned I have a lot more determination than I ever knew and I\’m able to push myself and work towards my goals. 

Many of these benefits I’ve come to realize by taking a deeper dive into my yoga practice through the 200-hour yoga teacher training offered by Danja Yoga. This program is one that helps you to realize your protentional. Along with working on yourself, part of the program consists of what is called Karma Yoga. This type of yoga is about going out and helping those in need. This can be as simple as helping to plant a garden in communities that are in need of more accessible nutrients. Karma yoga can be as simple as shoveling your neighbor’s driveway, even though they never asked. 

Part of yoga and Danja Yoga is about going out into the world and trying to benefit others in any seemingly small or large way that you can. COVID-19 has brought about some gloomy times, let yoga bet the ray of sunshine that helps to brighten your day. Remember, yoga is a practice and while you may not think you’ll ever be able to do yoga, will you really know unless you try? Also, you won’t get any better if you never practice, so roll out that mat, give it a try. 

Edwin Clark (he/him)

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