Originally posted on The Chopra Center
You may be feeling the worldwide worry about the developing pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Here are some grounding, calming and restorative poses to help you maintain your own health and immunity during this stressful time.
It is understandable to be flooded with worry about the developing pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19). News and social media feed the frenzy and the world is abuzz with uncertainty. Preparedness and precautions are recommended, necessary, and helpful, but did you know that medical experts have found that fear and anxiety actually weaken the immune system? Guiding yourself to be a beacon of calm during these unsettling times provides numerous benefits for yourself and others.
How Yoga and Meditation Can Help Boost Your ImmunityFortunately, you can take an active role in overcoming fear and anxiety and other overwhelming emotional states. The physical practices of yoga and mindful meditation can actually help boost the immune system. According to Yoga Journal Magazine, “Yoga helps lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system, while also conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulating the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body, and bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function.”
Yoga practices can help you stay calm—and staying calm is one of the recommendations for keeping the “greater good” during the outbreak of COVID-19. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, recommends four ways to “keep the greater good” during this difficult time of the coronavirus outbreak. Jill Suttie, who wrote the piece, describes that it is important to look to those who are helping for inspiration and optimism, stay calm and focused, show gratitude, and remember our common humanity and show compassion. Yoga can help you with almost all of these recommendations!
Yoga practices intentionally help you stay calm and focused and practice compassion toward yourself and others. During these panic-inducing times, you may ask, “How can I stay calmer and make wiser choices?” Suttie says, “One way is to use whatever tools you have at your disposal for keeping a cool head—like practicing mindfulness, which has been shown to both lessen emotional reactivity and help us make better decisions.” So! Turn to the ancient practices for well-being that have been shown, historically and contemporarily, to help us maintain health.
Even though local recommendations may suggest that you stay home from the yoga studio (or your local gym) if you are feeling well, you can certainly practice yoga on your own at home. Various online yoga resources such as Glo, YogaAnytime, or The Happiness and Bliss Online Yoga Kula provide easy access to a meaningful practice. You could put on a yoga video by your favorite instructor. Or you can create your own yoga space at home and practice solo. Linked here are some helpful tips for creating your own home yoga practice. Meditation, of course, can also be practiced anywhere, anytime.
Even though we are collectively going through this challenging time, it’s also true that stress isn’t all bad. According to psychology professor and author Kelly McGonigal, “New research shows that stress can make us stronger, smarter, and happier—if we learn how to embrace it.” You can transform anxiety into courage and take it upon yourself to boost your own immunity through healthful practices such as mindful handwashing, rest, and gentle yoga.
What follows is a simple yoga sequence designed to induce calm and promote immunity.
Each of these poses, practiced on their own from one to five minutes, can help relax the body. Practicing these poses together as a sequence will prolong the beneficial effects of restoring the nervous system. Try practicing these poses by yourself at home or with your family or a friend if everyone is feeling well.
Crocodile PoseThis pose is practiced by coming down onto the ground and resting in a prone position. The closeness to the earth makes this posture grounding and calming. The gentle pressure of the abdomen against the earth can be relaxing. The soft pressure on the forehead stimulates the pineal gland, or energetically, the third eye, and helps induce a calming response. Think savasana, but upside down.
Child’s PoseThis pose is practiced by kneeling on the ground and nestling your hips back toward your heels while bowing forward. The closeness to the earth makes this pose grounding. The gentle pressure of your abdomen against your thighs and the folding forward action can be reflective and restorative. The soft pressure on the forehead stimulates the pineal gland, or energetically, the third eye, and helps induce a calming response.
(originally posted on Chopra.com)
It’s a good time for a personal check-in:
In yoga philosophy, the Chakras are wheels of energy located throughout the body. Attending to the physical and emotional manifestations of imbalances in each of the seven main chakras helps bring your entire system into optimal balance. As you evaluate your life midyear, start from the top of the chakra system and work your way down to get grounded and centered. Use the following poses and positive affirmations to consider what the rest of this year can bring for your life overall.
Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)The Crown Chakra is located at the top of the head and one foot above the top of the head. The Crown Chakra is associated with your connection to the realm of infinite, universal energy. Stimulating and opening up the Crown Chakra allows you to remember that you are part of something greater than yourself. When you step outside of the minute dramas of your life for a broader perspective and remember that you are interconnected to everything, you can better share your gifts and work to make the world a better place.
Connect to the Crown Chakra by inverting—bringing your head below your heart—physically and mentally turning the world on its head.
Affirmation: I attend to my highest, best self and serve from a place of understanding.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottananasana)
Connect to the Third Eye Chakra by practicing focus, balance, and yoga poses or meditation with closed eyes.
Affirmation: I focus my awareness on my intuition, intention, and imagination.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Connect to the Throat Chakra with doing neck stretches, chanting mantras, and enjoying silent meditation.
Affirmation: I speak truth to others and to myself with clarity and compassion.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana) with Neck Rolls and Lion’s Breath
Connect to the Heart Chakra with chest-opening poses and shoulder stretches.
Affirmation: I am open to love.
Wild Thing Pose (Parsva Vashistasana)
Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra)The Solar Plexus Chakra is located at the abdomen and the sides of the waist. The Solar Plexus Chakra is associated with all of your thoughts and feelings about yourself. When the Solar Plexus Chakra is balanced, you feel secure and comfortable in your own skin and in the world.
Connect to the Solar Plexus Chakra with twisting poses and any poses that warm you up.
Affirmation: I courageously stand in my power and honor my strength.
Phalakasana Variation: Forearm Plank
Connect with the Sacral Chakra with hip-opening poses and flowing, dance-like movements.
Affirmation: I flow creatively with the tides of life.
Connect with the Root Chakra by stretching and strengthening your legs and intentionally placing your feet on the ground.
Affirmation: I am grounded, centered, and fully supported by life.
Broken Bridge/Active Resting Pose