Benefits of Mindful Meditation During COVID

Karen Weeks

Benefits of Mindful Meditation During COVID and How To Make the Most of Them

There is no denying that 2020 was a stressful year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to face an unseen enemy. Political tensions and social unrest added to the upheaval of stay-at-home orders and business closures.

Out of the chaos, mindful meditation emerged as a powerful tool to combat stress and promote calm acceptance. This guide from Yoga Mike can help you uncover the benefits of adding meditation to your life, why that matters right now, and show you how to develop a practice of your own.

What To Expect From Basic Meditation

Contrary to what many believe, meditation is not rooted in mysticism or religion. It is simply allowing yourself to focus on the present moment and be fully aware of your presence in it. There is no right or wrong way to achieve a meditative state, but certain meditation practices tend to be more popular than others. 

Mindful meditation is a popular form used in the western world, and it is widely researched for the numerous health benefits adherents experience. Per Mayo Clinic, a few of the benefits you can expect to see include:

  • Healthier sleep habits
  • Less pain 
  • Stronger immune response
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Lower blood pressure

Why Those Benefits Matter Right Now

Pandemics are incredibly stressful events, and COVID-19 is no exception. The continued sense of uncertainty and pervasive fear within communities can take a serious toll. The pandemic has upended life for people worldwide, leading to an increased demand for mental health services. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization reports that most countries have seen their mental health services disrupted during this time when they are most needed. Preserving your well-being through self-coping strategies is imperative under the circumstances.

How To Make Meditation Part of Your Daily Life

One of the best ways to incorporate mindful meditation into your daily routine is to create a stress-free zone in your house where you can meditate without the craziness of life intruding. Start by decluttering your space. Disorganized rooms lead to increased stress and a lower sense of well-being. Donate or throw away the stuff you haven’t used in the past year at home; chances are you probably will not use it in the future.

Pick colors that speak to your personality when designing a space for meditation. Color psychology suggests blues and greens are calming, or perhaps you might want to choose a vibrant red for empowerment. These colors evoke nature, which has tremendous healing power. Welcome more nature into your home to harness it. Add a few houseplants, put a few drops of essential oil into a diffuser, and open up the windows to let some fresh air into your meditation room.

Try to carve time out to start each day with an inward focus. Use it to generate awareness of yourself, how you feel, and where you are right now. Incorporating some yoga into your routine can be as simple as stretching out in your space and following along with a useful app like Calm or Headspace.

Remember that habits don’t solidify overnight. It takes about two months, on average, to form a new habit in the real world, so be patient and persistent. Reflect on an uplifting thought and set a positive intention for the day. You may find it productive to put your efforts into motion. Certain forms of exercise, such as Tai Chi and yoga, have deep connections with meditative practices. They can also help build strength and increase flexibility, which may be sorely lacking after months of couch surfing.

Individuals are not powerless against increased stress levels and anxiety. Start by educating yourself about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and what you can do to reduce your chance of contracting it to regain a sense of control. Make the most of the tools and resources, like meditation, that are available by incorporating them into your daily routine.

Look to Yoga Mike for more information and inspiration to help you through the pandemic and beyond.

Yoga Instruction

Meditation

Sthira sukham asanam ~ Patanjali

Which ever pose helps you to be still and steady with ease can be called as Asana.

If somebody were to ask you, “Can you sit still for an hour doing nothing?”, what would be your response? Some people may respond with “Oh! that is easy and I would love that” where as some other may respond with “I cannot sit idle for that long. I would rather do something productive”

Here is a small exercise for you in case you are not habituated to meditation. Take out half an hour and absolutely free yourself. Make sure you block out every appointment, switch off the phone and if required lock yourself in a room.

Promise yourself that you would sit still for 15 minutes and try not to move a single muscle. Try to concentrate on the breathing. I am recommending to concentrate on breathing since this will make this task easier; but it really is up to to you. Purpose here is not to practice meditation, but to sit still and see the effects.

Once you start this exercise you would soon see how difficult it is to sit still even for 5 minutes. You start thinking about various events in the past and also what is likely to happen in future. You will suddenly feel like finishing some urgent task.

Then, if you notice carefully, you would be able to observe the uneasiness in the body also. You may feel itching sensation at various places, or little uncomfortable in the back, or stiffness in the legs. You will soon feel like just moving or straightening the back, or adjusting the neck a little.

The urge to move the body parts is very strong and you will feel see how difficult it is to sit idle. Basically the mind does not wants to allow you to sit idle.

When I first learned about yoga, several years ago, I was skeptical — In my mind it was more of an exercise form, and that too not very impressive since everything happened so slowly; don’t we need to be active for the exercise to be good and gain more benefits, and isn’t yoga suitable only for lazy people who pretended to exercise?

Today, I’m happy to say I’m a complete fan of Yoga, practice it and love it and also sit still.

Why Practice Sitting Still
Lot of people associate sitting still with idleness, but it is far from true. Practicing stillness is very important to progress in Yoga. This prepares the body to be stable, mind to calm down and gain strength in the back. This will help in meditation since most of the meditative poses are sitting poses. Sitting or remaining still is a pre-requisite to meditate and sitting poses are the easiest poses to remain still.

Vipassana, which is Buddhist meditation, or any other meditation practice requires you to sit for very long duration of time without moving. When we move, the awareness comes out to outer state from the inner state which disturbs the meditation. Hence it is important to practice keeping the body still.

How to Practice
Start with simple pose which ever is comfortable to you sitting on the floor, like sitting cross legged. Sit for 5 minutes without moving. Then gradually increase the time. When we do this for long time, gradually back will gain good strength and the knees will also have improved tolerance to remain sitted. Constant practice is the only way to do this. keep yourself determined to sit the duration which you have decided. Gradually it will become easy enough for you.

Few Tips

You can sit with a wall as support.
Sit on a Pillow.
Sit in Vajrasana Pose. This is easier to sit on compared to the cross legged poses. Also you can sit in this pose after meals and it will also help in digesting the meal.
Sit in Padmasana Pose. This is the pose which is recommended in many books and by many people as the most suitable for meditation.

Yoga Instruction

Bikram Yoga Explained

Bikram Yoga is a 26 postures sequence performed in a heated environment. Bikram Yoga is a comprehensive workout that includes all the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss. The founder, Bikram Choudhury, was a gold medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963 and is a disciple of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda.

The 26 poses were selected and developed by Choudhury from Hatha Yoga. It has been proved and experienced by millions that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.  Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits.

One of the unusual but most beneficial aspects of Bikram’s yoga practice is the 95-105 degree temperature which promotes more flexibility, detoxification, and prevention of injuries. This was one of the first yoga styles that specialized in using the heated environment, although more types are available now.

Yoga Instruction

Yoga in Sports: Congratulations Travis Baltz

Colts-punter-Travis-Baltz

We congratulate one of our yoga students Travis Baltz on signing with the Indianapolis Colts. Yoga is so important not only for professional athletes but for all of us weekend warriors as well.

The list of professioanl athletes and pro teams who practice yoga is long and stretches acrossed many sports.  The Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Cubs, and Colorado Rapids hold yoga sessions for their full rosters and the number of teams are growing. Pro golfer David Duval, soccer veteran Ryan Giggs, football stars Eddie George, Ricky Williams and Shannon Sharp, NBA powerhouses Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups and Emeka Okafor, and driver Danica Patrick, all regularly practice yoga – just to name a few.

So why do professional athletes practice Yoga?   It increases flexibility, strength, reduces pain and prevents injury.  It also supports mental focus and fortitude.  So, it’s no surprise that a number of athletes are using the practice to support and maintain their performance.

Did you come to yoga as training for a sport?  Has yoga helped improve your game?

Yoga Instruction

Private Yoga Classes in Toledo Ohio

The Benefits of Private Yoga Classes

Yoga classes are typically taught at health clubs or yoga studios in a group setting, with students of various skill levels. Private yoga classes at home allow you to relax and focus in the environment you are most comfortable. Also, it allows more time for the teacher to give you the attention you need to develop and deepen your practice at your own pace.  Private lessons are for all levels of students from complete beginners to advanced students and even yoga teachers. With an individually tailored program, clients can progress continually and gain the benefits of yoga – creating vibrant health and clarity of mind.

Mike Zerner is available for private yoga classes in Toledo Ohio and Northwest Ohio.  Contact Mike Zerner at 419.467.8141…for more information.

Yoga Instruction

Outdoor Yoga Classes at The Old West End Arboretum

Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.   — Kahlil Gibran


The young Summer has brought Toledo a bright sun and warm breezes so I am  getting out of the studio and into nature!  I will be leading outdoor yoga classes at The Old West End Arboretum starting June 5th at the corner of Delaware and Glenwood on Mondays  from 5:30pm to 7PM.
Come join us for this wonderful world of yoga in this great park!

Yoga Instruction