Staying Fit During Quarantine: Yoga Routines To Try

“Yoga is an art, a science, and a philosophy. It touches the life of man at every level, physical, mental, and spiritual. It is a practical method for making one’s life purposeful, useful and noble” – B. K. Iyengar, Founder of Iyengar Yoga

The word Yoga is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means to join, to unify, to bind together. The roots of this word go as back as the origins of the Upanishads in 800 BC. Yoga is the process of uniting the mind, body, and spirit to create individual energy which further unites with the universal energy. Yoga aims to awake the human self to the path of higher consciousness by unifying the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga leads to a calm, serene, and blissful state of life.

During this time of Quarantine, Yoga can be a powerful tool in the arsenal to help us keep our mind and body fit. Although the quarantine brings with it many restrictions, especially with regards to going outdoors or to the gym, Yoga can be practiced anywhere with little to no equipment, making it a perfect way to keep our immunity and our mind strong.

Yoga is known for its ability to help strengthen the mental abilities but also for the cardio-muscular effects it has on the human body. There are many yoga asanas, mudras, and deep breathing exercises you can do in this quarantine period to pave the way for self-improvement.

Stephen Cope, the renowned author of ‘Yoga and the Quest of the true self’ extensively talks about Yoga and further classifies it into four types. They are:

  • Yoga for recreation
  • Yoga for spiritual discipline
  • Yoga for Patanjali Yoga sutra
  • And Yoga for control of the body

Meditation is one of the key aspects that yoga in all its stages focuses on. With meditation, the person self-induces a trance where the yogi can channel their mental prowess towards clarity and focus. Vipassana meditation is one of the most sought after types of meditation as it aims at bringing a profound state of mindfulness in the body and the mind.

Let’s explore how Yoga and meditation can help us adopt a healthier way of life during these stressful COVID-19 times.

The benefits of Yoga during Quarantine

Quarantine periods can be monotonous, lazy, and boring with nowhere to go and nobody to meet. However, this period can be put to good use by learning effective yoga asanas, pranayamas, meditation techniques, and more to be in good shape, both physically and mentally.

The benefits of doing yoga at home are:

  1. It helps improve respiratory functions in the body.
  2. It helps prevent osteoporosis
  3. Regulates blood flow
  4. helps regular adrenal function
  5. Lays a foundation for a healthy lifestyle
  6. Helps regulate food intake
  7. Makes you a happy person
  8. Regulates blood sugar levels in the body.
  9. Increases your ability to focus
  10. Relaxes your systems
  11. Improves your motor functions
  12. Helps you cope with drug recovery and mitigates the chances of relapse
  13. Helps the body improve its digestion functions
  14. Improves sex-drive
  15. Helps in pain relief
  16. It improves the immune system of the body.
  17. Helps in muscle relaxation
  18. Prevents bones and cartilage from getting damaged easily.

Yoga is not just about regulating your breathing pattern. It is a culmination of Asanas, mudras, pranayamas, and a lot more. They collectively contribute to the development of the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga requires discipline, and like any other skill, it can only be practiced with patience. It helps to have a good yoga teacher on this journey.

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Why is Yoga the ultimate healer?

Yoga is not about breathing in and breathing out alone. Many yoga enthusiasts, teachers, gurus, and practitioners have shared their stories about the physical, mental, and spiritual healing abilities of Yoga. Here are a few stories to inspire you.

Yoga helps in beating Lupus:

A member of the yoga community was battling Lupus, and for 18 years she was taking medications that were both painful and stressful. She was advised not to indulge in any stressing exercises as it could result in elevated levels of pain. After years of pain, she took up yoga, and that has helped her immensely. She is now free of pain and seeing improved results in her lupus medication regime as well.

Yoga as an aid to the rehabilitation after cancer:

There have been many cases where the healing and restorative properties of Yoga have been effective in dealing with incredible pain such as in the case of cancer or autoimmune conditions. A woman based in New Jersey, United States was diagnosed with cancer and she turned to Yoga during the chemotherapy stage of her illness.

After the treatment, she found herself to be very isolated and inactive. In these times, a friend of hers suggested yoga, and there was no looking back after her first class. There was not a single day now when she did not meditate or do a few asanas. Eventually practicing Yoga on a daily basis helped her regain her mobility and also the mental strength to fight the condition.

Yoga helped deal with substance abuse:

A community member was coping from drug addiction and was struggling to remain sober. Yoga has helped her keep her sobriety and helped her channel her energy towards the positive thoughts and escape her earlier negative thought patterns associated with addiction. Practicing Yoga has helped her control her anxiety issues; which is what she thinks made her addicted to drugs in the first place.

Yoga Postures for Beginners

Now that you’re charged up to learn more about the ancient science of Yoga, let’s get you started with the basics. An asana is a posture used to channel energy to different parts of the body. As a beginner, it is essential to remember that these asanas could be tiring and the key is to not give up. Here are some basic asanas that will help you attain the level of flexibility and limberness to attempt advanced ones at a later stage.

Ten basic asanas for beginners are:

Tadasana

Tadasana or the mountain pose is a simple yet effective asana that helps in relieving stress, sciatica, helps improve posture, and helps in controlling inhalations and exhalations.

Vrikshasana

Vrikshasana or tree pose is one of the most well-known poses in the world of yoga. The posture benefits the legs & abdomen, and regulates breathing along with making your mind focussed. By practising this asana, your hips loosen up, and knees become stronger along with your tendons and ligaments in the foot. This posture also helps to improve your neuromuscular coordination.

Adho Mukho Svanasana

Also known as the dog pose, this posture helps in rejuvenating the body, helps stretch the muscles in shoulders, forearms & hands, helps regulate regular menstrual cycles, helps fight mild depression and stress, strengthens the bones and prevents osteoporosis. This asana also helps in improving the metabolic functions, respiratory functions, and blood pressure in the body.

Trikonasana

Also known as the triangle pose, this posture is practiced to stimulate and regulate blood pressure in the body. It helps loosen the hips, the groin joint, and back. This is also used to increase flexibility in the hips, arms, back, legs, and shins. This asana is also used to cure indigestion and regulate blood pressure, among others.

Kursiasana

Also known as the chair pose, this posture strengthens the entire body. Its effects are felt especially in the shoulders, thighs, and calves. This asana is also practiced to develop flexibility in muscles, joints, and ligaments.

Naukasana

Naukasana or the boat pose focuses on the core of the body, this posture helps in reducing belly fat, improve digestion, reduce gastrointestinal trouble, regulate blood sugar levels, and helps in regulating blood flow in the body. Long durations of practicing Naukasana can lead to the formation of ABS.

Bhujangasana

Known as the snake pose, this asana is known to increase the flexibility in the spine and reduce stress on the spinal cord. Studies show that practicing this posture removes impure blood from the back and helps in regulating the blood flow from the lower regions of the body. It also helps strengthen and tone muscles in the legs, abs, lower back, and lumbar region.

Paschimottanasana

Also known as the Seated forward bend, the posture helps in regulating blood flow in the body. In this posture, the blood flow is regulated to the head, thereby increasing the efficiency of the eyes, helping fight off mild anxiety and depression. This posture also helps strengthen the legs and lumbar muscles.

Sukhasana

Sukhasana or the easy pose is the basic framework over which experienced people perform more complex and difficult asanas. This asana helps strengthen muscles, improve posture, improve physical and mental balance, and helps in reducing anxiety. Like many other asanas, this posture also helps in regulating the flow of blood, helps digestion, stretches the lumbar muscles, and improves flexibility in legs, hips, and shoulders.

Shavasana

Also known as the corpse pose, the benefits of practicing this yoga asana (Yogasan) is to help the body destress and alleviate any stress that is caused to the body in the process of normal functioning. Shavasana is a practice recommended when one has to destress, deal with mental/ physical pressure or anxiety, deal with blood pressure problems, muscle relaxation, and fatigue.

Yoga for Weight Loss

There are different types of yoga that people can choose from as an effective method to lose weight. Depending on the nature of the practice, there are different asanas that one can practice to burn fat. The most prominent asanas are:

Paripurna Navasana

Also known as the boat pose, this posture helps flex the muscles in the hips, lower back, abdomen, and abductor muscles. The Paripurna Navasana helps improve the core function and adductor muscles. This pose helps with anxiety and blood flow.

Utthita Parsvakonasana

This is an extended side angle that helps different parts of the body stretch. It also helps in strengthening the quadriceps, biceps, and massages muscles in the lower back, especially in the lumbar regions. This asana also has a few therapeutic functions along with developing endurance in the body.

Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana also known as the four-limbed-staff-pose is very similar to the ‘Plank’. This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in the legs, shoulders, arms, and the core. It also helps tone the muscles in the anterior deltoids and major and minor pectorals.

Marichyasana

The Marichyasana is named after the sage Rishi Marichi, the first from 800 BC. This is a complex exercise that helps internal organs moderate blood and hormonal functions. The therapeutic benefits of this asana are seen in the treatment of constipation and obesity, among others.

Paschimottanasana

The seated bend is recommended to both beginners and experienced people. This exercise helps tone the muscles along with burning fat in the body.

Yoga for the face (Facial Muscles)

Practising yoga has shown proven results in fighting against the symptoms of ageing. The study states that performing Surya Namaskar yoga, Nidra yoga, Pranayama, Headstand pose, corpse pose, and other asanas.

Certain asanas can have promising results in as little as 20 weeks. It strengthens the face muscles and tones them to make them look younger by a few years. These exercises tap into the jaw movements, smiling, forehead skin and tightening them.

Yoga for Diabetes & Lifestyle ailments

Though practicing yoga is not a treatment for diabetes it can help with hormone regulation and obesity, yogasana postures like kapalbhati and pranayama have helped patients suffering from the condition manage it to an extent. People suffering from Type 2 diabetes are advised to practice this for 20-30 minutes on an empty stomach. Exercise in the form of Yoga helps the body absorb excess blood sugar that is released into the bloodstream.

Yoga for Healthy Heart

Yoga contributes significantly to maintaining a healthy heart. These exercises contribute to regulating blood flow and maintaining the structural integrity of the arteries by reducing the cholesterol build up in the body.

There are a variety of asanas that one can start practicing to have a healthy heart. They are:
Tadasana ( Mountain Pose)
Vrikshasana ( Tree pose)
Utthita Hastapadasana (Extended hands and feet pose)
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Marjariasana (Cat pose)
Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward facing dog pose)

While these asanas can help regulate the blood flow in the body, there are a few asanas that must be avoided by those suffering from high blood pressure and cholesterol. They are:

Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose)
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended triangle pose)
Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose)
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (High stand)
Virasana (Hero Pose)
Low lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Yoga for lower back pain

Lower back pain can be painful for people, and the condition gets worse when someone is experiencing acute pain in lower lumbar muscles. Yoga asanas help as a relaxant in the paraspinal muscles, thereby reviving the patient from the stress and pain. Practicing the following asanas can help with lower back pain:

Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana)
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Bridge pose
Ustrasana ( Camel Pose)
marjaryasana ( Cat Pose)
Bitilasana ( Cow Pose)
Dolphin Pose
Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward facing dog)
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended side angle pose)
Utthita trikonasana ( Extended triangle pose)
Agnistambhasana (Firelog pose)
Fish Pose (matsyasana)
Half Lord of the Fish pose ( Ardha matsyasana)

Yoga can sometimes be strenuous when done without supervision. Sometimes overdoing certain muscle groups or overstretching them can cause back pain too.

Deep breathing exercises and meditation

Deep breathing:

Deep breathing helps people with digestion, relieves pain, helps regulate the flow of lymph nodes, improves immunity, helps improve the immunity levels in the body, and regulates posture.

Ujjayi is a type of yoga technique that extensively speaks about the technique of regulating inhalation and exhalation from the diaphragm. The name Ujjayi is derived from the term ‘ocean birth’.

The benefits of Deep breathing are:

Helps deal with stress and anxiety
Regulates blood pressure
helps you feel energetic
helps in easy digestion
and increases pulmonary functions.

Anulom Vilom pranayama and Kapalbhati pranayama are the best yoga asanas for starting deep breathing exercises in beginner and expert yogis.

Meditation:

The benefits of meditation are:

It helps fight addictions
Makes you focus more attentively
Increases the span of attention
helps you control anxiety and other phobias
and makes you aware of yourself and your surroundings

There are many types of meditation regimes one could follow, depending on the level of mental discipline that is required to finish the activity. The most prominent forms are:

Chakra meditation
Sleep meditation
Yoga meditation

Incorporating Yoga into a holistic lifestyle

Yoga, unlike other forms of modern exercise or workout, is not very strenuous and does not demand a lot of heavy lifting from its pupils. It can be practiced from anywhere with little to minimum dependencies on other equipment. However, to incorporate yoga into a holistic lifestyle, you will have to commit to it.

Few main ways to incorporate yoga into your daily routine are:

Find the pulse that matches you.
It is essential that you follow discipline when getting into the world of Yoga. Decide on a specific time and duration every day and ensure that those sessions are not missed. Once you commit and make a schedule, it becomes easier for you to follow it for long durations till it eventually becomes your habit.
Find a place to do it.
A yoga mat is not mandatory. You can practice the tree pose while talking on the phone at home or practice stretching after washing the dishes or sweeping the floor, try regulating your breath when you are watching TV or Mobile or when you are waiting for the milk to get warmed up.
Try to include it in your work schedule.
You spend close to 60 hours a week at work. This time can be utilized at work by incorporating minor asanas which you can do while sitting on your chair. The next time you are in office, try the Cat and Cow asana or, the seated twist or, shoulder stretch, or stretching your hips or regulate your breath with anulom vilom pranayama.

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