If expert opinion is anything to go by, social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic is here to stay for the near future. And this restricted social interaction only makes way for more restlessness to crop up in daily life. In such a challenging and uncertain time, it's a need to not let your mental health affect your physical immunity and vice versa. And how do you do it?
By hitting the mat and embracing the ancient science of healing — Yoga.
On this International Yoga Day, 26-year-old Soumya Pathak, a yoga practitioner and tutor, expounds on the tools of yoga that allows one "to release the toxic emotions and energy we keep collecting within our mind and bodies."
Why is yoga needed during a time like pandemic for the mind and body?
We all have been very quick at collectively picking up on anxiety in this stressful time. Due to lack of physical activity and social interaction, physical and mental health is taking a huge toll on us. In times like these, Yoga provides tools to manage both. Through the practice of asanas and pranayama, one can help himself by keeping the body healthy. Meditative techniques can take care of mental health.
When did you take up yoga and how has it helped you?
My journey with Yoga started in August 2017. To put in the simplest of words, in every aspect possible, I am no longer the person I used to be before I stepped into The Yoga Institute, Mumbai for my training. Physically I am healthier at 28 than I ever was. But most importantly the change has been significant in my mental health. I wouldn't say I am all saintly now, however, I am much more aware of my thoughts and how to deal with them without allowing myself to fall into the spiral of negative thoughts.
How did you rise up to become a yoga influencer?
Honestly, I somehow don't like the term "influencer". I started my page with the intention to share my journey with people. It was never my intention to become an "influencer" of any sort. Although it always felt rewarding when there were immense appreciation and support from people for my content. My husband, who I was dating then, has motivated me from the beginning and always given me insights on how I can grow my profile in a better way. I think, consistency and posting good quality content really helped me grow myself on social media.
How effective is yoga in managing stress and anxiety?
It is one of the best tools one can have to manage these two. The contemporary time has brought with it a lot of lifestyle-induced ailments, stress and anxiety being the biggest ones. Yoga gives the tools to release the toxic emotions and energy we keep on collecting within our mind and bodies. The asana practice not just makes the body healthy, it provides a safe space for the person to be who they are without any judgments. The experiences on gains from the yoga practice are a huge support to deal with day to day stressful chores.
What is that one message you have for people on the International Yoga Day?
The more you surrender to Yoga, the more you rise. Yoga practice requires and demands a lot of surrendering, letting go and faith. But once you have given it your all, you can see your life transform in front of your eyes. Have faith both in your practice and in yoga.
Tips for our readers who are new to yoga?
For those who want to start their journey of practising — there is no substitute for a teacher. Just as you learnt to read and write full sentences by learning the alphabets first from a teacher, consider yoga to be the same. If you want a long term, safe and strong practice, find a teacher who you can connect with and let him/her guide you through the journey. For those who are just starting to teach — start small. Keep on studying constantly. There is no shame in accepting that you don't know something. That's how you will grow. By accepting that there is something you have to study for and work on. And most importantly, always find time for your self-practice. We as teachers, don't have the right to teach if we don't practice.