At a challenging time like the coronavirus pandemic, when a constant restricted human contact takes a toll on your mind and body, it's imperative to embrace the ancient, powerful and healing effects of yoga.
On the International Yoga Day, that calls for 'Yoga at home, Yoga with family', let's hear out the words of Monika Rai, a 33-year-old yoga teacher, who found her respite in asanas, pranayama and meditation as a child after suffering from depression and hormonal imbalance.
Going by the Instagram name, yogawithmonika, the Bangalore based tutor shares her journey as a yoga teacher and highlights the potential of yoga in managing stress and anxiety.
1) Why is yoga needed during a time like pandemic for the mind and body?
Yoga is always needed because it keeps the mind and body balanced as well as healthy. It becomes even more important during a pandemic, because this is a more challenging time. There is an increase in the level of stress & negative emotions like fear & uncertainty in the environment. It depletes our emotional & mental health even more, which affects the physical health too. During the pandemic we need strong physical health to support our immunity. Since physical health is impacted by mental & emotional health, we need to keep those in check too. Regular and mindful practice of yogic tools like asanas, pranayama & meditation helps improving our overall health. Although this pandemic will see an end someday, but with an improved physical immunity, we need to have strong emotional immunity too to be able to come out of the pandemic stronger.
2) When did you take up yoga and how has it helped you?
I was introduced to yoga as a child. I used to practice it off and on. But, a consistent regular practice started in 2016 when I was suffering from depression & hormonal imbalance. After having tried many different ways to overcome my health issues, I finally gave a try to yoga. It changed my life. It supported my healing from depression. It also helped in balancing my hormones. I am a much better and balanced person now in all areas of my life.
3) How did you rise up to became a yoga influencer?
After having experienced the life changing benefits of yoga, it became a natural desire to be able to share this ancient, powerful and healing practice with others too.
4) How effective is yoga in managing stress and anxiety?
If practiced regularly & mindfully, it can help in managing stress to a great extent. Breathing practices like Vashishtha pranayama, Samavritti pranayama are very helpful in activating the parasympathetic nervous system and this helps taking us out of the fight or flight mode and allows us to relax and release stress. Advanced practices like yoga nidra are really powerful in helping us manage stress as it works on a deeper level. Even a simple yogasana session can make you feel better. Practising of asanas not only helps at the physical level, but if practised with proper breathing, alignment and awareness, which it helps you beyond the physical level. Yoga helps in bringing us to the present moment. Yoga has the power to release our old limiting patterns.The key is to be regular and mindful.
5) What is that one message you have for people on the International Yoga Day?
Yoga is for everyone. You don't have to be flexible to practice yoga. You don't have to be able to do the advance poses to get the benefits. Yoga practice requires patience, dedication and mindfulness. Practice regularly and mindfully to experience the difference.
6) Tips for our readers who are new to yoga?
These tips are not only for beginners but for everyone: Always, always and always listen to your body. Never force or strain yourself.
It's always best to practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher, especially if you are new to yoga. If you are a beginner, always start with the basics. Be patient. In case of any medical conditions, always talk to your doctor first before starting any workout, including yoga.
This interview is part of our series #YogaTalks where yoga enthusiasts who have built a community, share with us their experiences with yoga during the pandemic.