As the Coronavirus continues to spread, state and local governments have closed schools and businesses, and have limited the size of public gatherings. For businesses that rely solely on attendance, like yoga and meditation studios, the pandemic has been a devastating blow. However, despite these restrictions, studios across the country are continuing to provide live-stream programming in this time of need. As someone who uses yoga and meditation to maintain his mental and physical well-being, Peter Schieffelin Nyberg is here to share his best tips on how to maintain your practice during social isolation. As an avid practitioner himself, Peter has seen the direct stabilizing benefits of yoga and meditation and believes it can reduce anxiety, stress, and worry during this difficult time.

The Benefits of Practicing Yoga and Meditation

There are many uncomfortable physical symptoms of panic and anxiety, including feelings of tension, tightness, and pain sensitivity. Yoga and meditation are just two of the ways that you can ease the physical discomfort caused by social isolation anxiety. Since the 1970s, meditation and yoga have been studied as possible treatments for depression and anxiety. By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems—lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rate, and easing respiration. Peter Nyberg believes that there has never been a greater need for the calming effects of yoga and meditation. Whether you are new to yoga/meditation or are looking to replace your existing practice, Peter Nyberg suggests building a schedule to get started.

Maintain a Schedule

Whether you are working from home or have been laid off, maintaining a steady schedule can build structure into your day, keeping you accountable and helping you stay productive. In addition to breaking up your day, Peter Nyberg has found it useful to select a time of day to focus on meditation and yoga. For some, yoga and meditation can be a great way to start the day, allowing you to set an intention for the day, or can be a great way to end the day—or both. Peter Schieffelin Nyberg also suggests practicing yoga or meditation at least three to four times a week to see the benefits.

Find a Space to Practice Solitude 

For many, social isolation means being at home with your partner, children, and pets. As yoga and meditation are often silent practices, Peter Nyberg suggests finding a space in your home that allows you to practice in solitude, like closing the door to a spare bedroom, practicing on your balcony, or putting on a pair of headphones. If you live with other people, a singular moment of solitude can help you return to a state of calm. 

Use a Yoga App

While most gyms and studios have closed their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are dozens of free apps, videos, and online class subscriptions that can help keep you on track. For Peter Nyberg, yoga has always been a great way to meet other people and feel connected to a sense of community; just because studios are closed, does not mean you cannot connect with these communities. Almost overnight, the $100 billion fitness industry has gone virtual. Over 350,000 fitness instructors and trainers in the United States have had to launch online businesses. Almost every yoga and meditation studio have found innovative ways to share their programming online. Whether it is through Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Zoom calls, or other video conferencing, there are dozens of ways to continue your practice with a licensed instructor.

Peter Nyberg understands that practicing at home can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can create an atmosphere you feel comfortable in, lighting incense, wearing your pajamas, and choosing your schedule. However, it also presents a set of challenges: a lack of equipment, appropriate space, and a sense of community. But Peter Nyberg believes in making the best of a bad situation and encourages you to use whatever objects you have available to you. You may want to sit on a stack of pillows, use a DVD boxset as a yoga brick, or use a hallway rug as a yoga mat. Peter Nyberg explains that if you are willing to adapt to a new set of circumstances, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

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