Yoga as a means to improve post-pandemic mental health

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By By H. H. Swami Mukundananda, 

The adverse impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health of people around the globe cannot be underestimated. The increase in the rate of infections and deaths reached the point where each of us was personally affected by the illness or death of a loved one and forced to take extreme measures to protect oneself and family members.

Impact of the Pandemic on the Masses

The pandemic forced people to work from home, stay indoors with the immediate family, maintain social distance from extended family and friends, and forced people to make overnight adjustments in each and every aspect of life. Many also lost their jobs and the ability to care for oneself and their loved ones. These unprecedented changes took a toll on people’s physical and mental health.

Regardless of age, race, culture, and socio-economic status, people’s mental health challenges surfaced due to multiple adverse conditions that simultaneously occurred and lasted over 1½ years. Globally, people experienced various levels of depression due to no hope in sight for a cure, fear of becoming infected and dying, worrying about the health and safety of loved ones, and inability to find alternate solutions to maintain a normal lifestyle.

Perspective to Post-Pandemic Normalcy

Our duty as individual citizens is to stay tough from inside. Tough times do not last but tough people do. When facing a calamity, one of the biggest virtues is strength. Perceive these unusual circumstances as a window of opportunity to grow from within. Try to nurture your inner character, integrity, well-being, and divinity. The pandemic gave people an opportunity to rethink priorities in life – to shift from running from external accomplishments to growing from within.

People who strengthened the foundation of their inner divine qualities during the lockdown, have become more capable of tackling the challenges of the post-pandemic external world. They are focusing on doing good deeds for others with the attitude of service to God and humankind. A new challenge for everyone will be to maintain the focus on inner growth as you return to regular work routines and habits of social mingling. You can continue to focus on the inner self by setting aside a specific time every day to practice the art of integrating the body, mind and soul through the practice of yoga.

Power of Yoga for the Body, Mind and Soul

The word “Yog” means achieving a spiritual union with God. The practice of yoga (i.e., poses and postures), enables the connection between the body, mind and soul. The purpose of yoga is to manifest the inner divinity by reaching into the inner true self. The world just celebrated June 21st as the International Day of Yoga. In commemoration of this day, JKYog also conducted a week-long International Yoga Festival to raise awareness in the global community of the importance of the power of yoga for the body, mind and soul. How can you practice yoga for positive outcomes, especially your mental health?

First, establish a daily routine for yogasanas as a means to connect with your inner self. Learn from skilled yoga teachers the poses that are critical for overall health. JKYog’s Prem Yoga Wellness Center offers a variety of options for new and experienced yoga enthusiasts.

Second, along with daily yoga, set aside time for the practice of pranayam. Pranayam is a natural way to fill the body with antioxidants from the air itself. It also helps to relieve the mind of mental stress. When the mind is under stress, the body’s immunity is compromised, making one more vulnerable to external elements. Remember the importance of strengthening the body’s immunity through a proper diet when life returns to pre-pandemic ways. If you have to let go of some activity on any given day, make sure that it is not the all-powerful pranayam.

Third, engage in meditation as a spiritual practice to keep the body and mind relaxed and in a positive state. A combination of devotion and subtle body relaxation can help to decrease internal stress. Focus on the breath as the source of life from the all-pure and divine Lord of whom you are a tiny fragment. In conclusion, see yourself become a happier and healthier person by incorporating yoga in your daily life.

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