Although Coronavirus has forced fitness studio owners to close their doors temporarily, yoga instructor Laura Leathers has continued to lead her class of yogis through the use of technology. She says yoga at its foundation is a mental practice and can help people to feel more relaxed during this hectic time.
"A lot of teachers study the yoga sutras, which define yoga and tell us what yoga is," Yoga instructor Laura Leathers said. "It says 'Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah' – which means 'Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind.' Yoga is the calming down of the turnings of the mind."
According to licensed professional counselor Calyn Crow, yoga is an excellent practice for mental health. She says the deep breathing alone can offer someone a sense of peace and help them to remain in the present moment.
"It focuses on your breathing, it helps you get back into your body, it helps you set an intention, and I'm a big believer that what you focus on gets bigger," Counselor Calyn Crow said.
That's why Crow says it's essential to focus on the positive instead of the doom and gloom. Nonetheless, it's clear this virus and the disease it causes are at the forefront of everyone's minds.
"I've been talking about it with just about everybody in every single session," Crow said.
Mental health wellness can be challenging when we're stuck at home, potentially without a job, and facing so many unknowns about the future. However, Crow says there are steps we can take to keep our minds at ease. It comes down to our basic needs.
"Eating foods that are good for your brain and your body, getting enough sleep, getting enough rest is important."
Crow says it's also essential to know when you need to take a break and maybe go for a walk. Time outside in the sunshine can make a big difference when you're feeling down. It may also help to know you're not alone in your feelings, and it's ok to be feeling sad or anxious.
"We all experience these types of thought processes and thinking when we're under stress. It's just natural for our bodies to go into that flight or fight mode," Crow said.
Crow says it's a matter of whether you're able to re-calibrate your thoughts and go back to a natural state of mental well-being. For some people, that's not so easy. So now is a critical time to offer friends and family members extra patience, forgiveness, and grace. Even if we feel out of control right now, those are qualities we can control.
"You are in control of how you respond to the people in your world. You are in control of what you're thinking, the stuff that comes out of your mouth, how you impact other people."
In the end, you know your body best and what it needs. For Leathers, yoga is a practice that feeds her mental well-being, and she'll continue offering online classes until we can all meet in person again.
"We don't know if this is something that's going to be happening for two weeks, eight weeks or a few months," Leathers said. "So what we have to do is take this long-term view and start implementing tactics that will maintain this strong level of mental health for us right now. The way to accomplish that is through breath, movement, and focus."
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.