Even if the dolphins in Venice turned out to be fictional, this pandemic is serving up continual reminders of how interconnected we are with our natural environment.
Yet with the onus on staying indoors and on-line meetings and deliveries shaping our days it is easy to forget that all nine million (or so) species on earth, from the goats in Llandudno to the boars in Barcelona, to the humans in their homes (!), share a single common ancestor that lived around four million years ago.
Humans have now been around for between 300,000 and 130,000 years and whilst we are slowly evolving, the basic requirements of our species remain the same. These include a need to feel safe, loved and accepted, get enough sleep, be part of a team and move the body in lots of different directions.
Many of these needs are harder than usual to fulfil at the moment, with extra time spent in artificial light, sitting in chairs, looking at screens and seeing only pictures of those we love. At the same time, our nervous system is, at some level, wired to an unfathomable external threat, and when we go out and about social distancing requirements mean our ‘fright, fight or flight’ response is more powerful than usual.
All this impacts our basic healthy mind/body functioning, with short term side effects ranging from insomnia to back pain. Left unchecked, this can eventually lead to issues such as autoimmune disease, chronic anxiety or IBS.
So, how can yoga help? Here are just a few ways…
- Moving the body. Yoga places lots of emphasis in moving the body in all different directions, not only to strengthen and stretch the musculoskeletal system but also to support the functioning of the digestive and the lymphatic systems, vital for immunity.
- Quietening the mind. Focusing on the breath, especially in the belly and on the exhalation coaxes our nervous system into its rest and digest mode, helping to counterbalance excess anxiety and stress.
- Enjoying life! Yoga teaches us to focus on the here and now; to feel the ground beneath our feet or notice how our shoulders move as we lift our arms. As a result, our worries tend to temporarily fade away, and when they re-surface we can approach them from a fresh, more balanced perspective.
Modern life does of course bring with it some amazing technologies and I feel so lucky to still see my lovely students regularly over Zoom. Whilst our class theme changes each week its basic attributes, of helping us to feel safe, calm and connected, at the same time as moving our bodies and enjoying being alive, remain the same.
On that note, thanks to everyone who attended last weekend’s workshop! The next weekend workshop will be a ‘Flow and restore’ Yoga and Qigong workshop on Saturday 20 June from 16.30 – 18.00, to celebrate the Summer Solstice. We will enjoy a 40 minute (or so) sequence of dynamic asana and qigong counterbalanced by a good half hour’s restorative yoga and relaxation. This workshop will be priced on a ‘pay what you can’ basis up to £14. Do let me know if you’d like a space!
Very best wishes,