Yoga is a mind and body connecting practice, steeped in history. It has existed for more than 5,000 years, and originated in India. But even though it began so long ago, its popularity around the world is only continuing to grow. Many people think of yoga as just a physical activity, but there’s more to it than just that! It’s also extremely powerful for stress relief, calming anxiety, preventing injuries, and finding inner calm. The core components of any style of yoga, including virtual yoga, are the physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
There are many different styles of yoga that developed both long ago in India, and more recently as the practice has evolved in the West. There are over 100 styles, or schools of yoga now. The great thing about this, is that there’s something for everyone! Different styles of yoga have different benefits, and it’s important to find the type of yoga that helps you feel calm, connected, and relieves stress and anxiety. That answer will be different depending on what your body and brain need. You might even like a mix of different styles, depending on what you need that day.
For those that are interested in a stronger class that flows through a lot of movement, Vinyasa might be the preferred practice. For students seeking relaxation, Yin yoga or restorative yoga classes will be the perfect way to achieve calm and quiet. Iyengar yoga can be great for students with physical limitations or injuries, as well as those that enjoy very detailed instructions. Hatha is a nice balance of movement and stillness, and is a more gentle practice. Ashtanga is a very traditional practice, with set movements and challenging postures. It also includes breath practice and meditation woven into the set series. Or, if you’re looking to try something fun and playful, new styles of yoga such as Acro Yoga (partner yoga movements), Aerial Yoga (yoga practiced in hanging silk slings), or even Goat Yoga (baby goats hopping on your back while you downward dog?!) are popping up all the time. So whatever you’re looking for, there’s something that will meet your needs!
The Health Benefits of Yoga
No matter what style you practice, you’re bound to start seeing the health benefits of virtual yoga in your life. And similarly to other healthy habits such as brushing your teeth, meditation, or drinking enough water — consistency is key! The more consistently you get on your yoga mat and move, the more benefits you’ll experience. Some benefits you may enjoy from your yoga practice.
- Improved strength, flexibility and fitness – Some results of a yoga practice are improved posture while sitting at a desk, and alleviating lower back pain by strengthening muscles that support core strength. It’s also wonderful for increased flexibility, which can help open up tight hips and lower back — a common result of desk work.
- Improved mental health – Taking time to breathe, slow down, and focus on yourself each time you practice yoga can help with mental health. In fact, multiple studies have shown that it can decrease the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, lowering stress levels and controlling students’ perceived levels of anxiety.
- Improved respiration – Breath practice (traditionally called pranayama) is a huge part of many yoga traditions. Healthy breathing means more oxygen traveling through the body, which contributes to all our bodily functions, and can give you more energy.
- Protection from injury – Regularly stretching and moving the muscles, ligaments and tendons of our bodies is a great way to prevent injury. Increased flexibility helps to prevent injuries as well.
- Reduced inflammation – Some studies have shown that yoga may reduce inflammation in those who practice consistently over a few years time.
- Yoga may also manage chronic conditions – Such as heart disease, and high blood pressure, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
While virtual yoga is great for most people’s health, there are a few contraindications. If students have existing health issues such as herniated disk, severe balance problems, osteoporosis, or uncontrolled blood pressure practicing yoga might pose a risk for them. If a student has medical issues or concerns, it’s advised that they seek out advice from their doctor regarding whether yoga is a good idea for them.
If your doctor recommends yoga while you’re experiencing an injury or a medical issue, it’s important to find a yoga practitioner that is familiar with your medical condition or injury. Most yoga teachers can propose alternate postures and props to help keep you safe during your practice. For example, if you have balance issues you might still be able to practice chair yoga, remaining seated throughout your practice, or if you’re pregnant a pre-natal yoga instructor will be able to recommend poses that will be easy on your body.
Virtual Yoga Therapy
While all these benefits are exciting, with COVID-19 keeping us all at home, it might be harder to start or stay consistent in your yoga practice. For those that are just starting out with yoga, it’s best to have a teacher to guide you. A teacher can make sure you are moving safely and correctly, to lower risk of injury. Even for experienced yoga students, practicing alone can be hard to do! Having your classmates nearby and a teacher guiding you through often makes staying consistent much easier. But just because we’re all practicing yoga in our homes instead of in yoga studios doesn’t mean we can’t get wonderful lessons from professional practitioners. Your living room is the new virtual yoga studio!
To meet the needs of this unprecedented time, many amazing teachers are now offering online classes. That means you can still enjoy all the health benefits of virtual yoga, with a teacher there to observe your practice and give any corrections you might need. This class feeling can help keep you motivated in your practice, and showing up on your mat.
Virtual yoga is also accessible for anyone, anytime. So that makes it a great resource for those experiencing mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual yoga can compliment EAP counseling for these types of issues. Companies can even offer virtual yoga as a service to their employees, to help them deal with increased stress and anxiety so that they can get back to work feeling more focused and productive. This helps keep staff safe, healthy and working.
If you are looking for a way to help your employees with 24/7 customizable, proven financial, mental and physical wellness counseling, plus guided meditation and virtual yoga give us a call. We’re confident if you have an existing EAP, we can beat its utilization, while providing better care for your team.
So confident in fact, that we’ll match your EAP’s pricing for six months so you can try us out.
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