There’s no other way to say it: 2020 has been a hard year. Little did we know when those first inklings of something called the novel coronavirus trickled across our TV screens and social feeds in January that COVID-19 would be a phenomenon that would change our lives so dramatically. The isolation and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the measures to contain the virus have had profound impacts on the physical and mental health of adults and children alike.
In the midst of this incredibly stressful situation, some proponents of the ancient practice of yoga recommend it for its mood boosting effects.
Yoga has been practiced for more than 10,000 years for attaining and maintaining physical and psychological health. The term “yoga” is derived from a Sanskrit word – “yul”— which means “to unite.” This is a fitting name, as yoga is meant to unite a person’s consciousness with their body and soul.
Valley Children’s Dr. Vini Vijayan and Dr. Sukesh Sukumaran recently co-authored a research article summarizing the effect of yoga on physical and mental health, including its benefits for anxiety and stress reduction. In their article, Drs. Vijayan and Sukumaran note that the World Health Organization defines health as a holistic term, including all aspects of physical, mental and social health. This, Drs. Vijayan and Sukumaran explain, is really the strength of yoga at its core: not only might the practice of regular, structured yoga improve one’s physical health, it aims also to reduce stress, improve overall psychological health, and help one feel at peace – united – between mind, body and soul.
While yoga has ancient origins, it has many benefits for those of us living in 2020, too. Yoga requires no special equipment. It can be done alone or with others in your home. You don’t need any prior training or specific athletic abilities, only the openness to try something new. It doesn’t cost anything (there are a wide variety of yoga programs for all skill levels available for free on YouTube). Plus, yoga is a great choice for all ages; even kids can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of yoga.
Right now, we’re all grappling with the stress and uncertainty of life in the age of COVID. For some, yoga might be the perfect prescription for our minds, bodies and souls.
For more family activity ideas and resources for mental and emotional health, visit valleychildrens.org/covid19.
Click here to see the original article by Drs. Vijayan and Sukumaran.