Finding new ways to relax during COVID through yoga

As people continue to spend more time being sedentary and on screens for a majority of the day, many seek a way to break up this screentime with a relaxing activity to slow down their mind. One way to do this is through yoga. Yoga combines both mindfulness and stretching to achieve relaxation for the whole mind and body and is used as a way of resetting and re-centering oneself. 

Marcia DiMercurio has been practicing yoga for ten years and currently teaches yoga at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). “To be honest, I wish the interest in meditation and stretching was higher right now. It seems like people are so worried about the pandemic that they are forgetting to take care of their bodies as a whole,” DiMercurio said. “The need for meditation and self care is higher than ever.” 

Many students and staff may be worried about their flexibility or if yoga is the right fit for them. However, according to DiMercurio people can do small things to start practicing mindfulness like setting intentions in the morning to do positive activities such as calling a best friend or walking around the neighborhood. “Just start with very little amount [of exercise] every day,” DiMercurio said. “For example, walk around the block, stand up and stretch for a little bit- if you do a little bit every day your body and mind will be healthier and you will feel much better about yourself.”

Most yoga moves can be modified to the current fitness level of the individual. DiMercurio reminds her students that their balance and flexibility is different everyday and not to overwork themselves.

Below are some videos containing yoga demonstrations. Anyone from beginner to expert can follow these videos to increase their flexibility and re-center themselves. All you need is a yoga mat or soft blanket.

Child’s Pose

Sit on your knees and then bring your forehead to the mat in front of you. Stretch your arms to the top of your mat. Your forehead may not actually reach the mat or your bottom may not reach your heels and that’s okay. Feel free to stretch from side to side or stay in the middle.

Cat and Cow

From a tabletop position, inhale and sway your back while looking up towards the sky. Begin to exhale and shift to round your back and look at your thighs. Repeat this several times.

Downward Facing Dog

From a tabletop position, tuck your toes and extend your legs so that you push your hips up. Your tailbone should point to the sky. Keep your spine long and straight — bend your knees if you have to. Your heels likely won’t touch your mat and that’s okay. Feel free to pedal out the legs.

Tree Pose

Start by standing tall. Ground one leg and place the sole of the other foot on your grounding leg. The foot may be placed at the calf or the thigh but never the knee. Bring your hands to the heart center and slowly work to extend them as “branches” above your head. Remember to breathe and focus on a point in front of you to help with balance.

Videos and descriptions by Elke Windschitl, former National Student Exchange Student at CSUMB.

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