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Opinion: Virtual meditation & yoga, just two ways to help manage Covid-19 stress

The coronavirus has caused a major shift in how we live. Mindfulness practitioners are offering ways to help us deal with that shift.

Image: Spiro Stergiou

It’s a difficult time for everyone, with the Covid-19 outbreak bringing severe and unexpected changes to our lives, along with new concepts like ‘social distancing’ and ‘cocooning’.

Amidst all the negative news there has been a growing community spirit across Ireland and an outpouring of empathy, particularly in the care of elderly and vulnerable people.

Technology is playing a part in keeping communities and families close, offering video conferencing calls, mindfulness and exercise classes to help everyone maintain their mental health.

Here at TheJournal.ie, we will be featuring some of these as time goes on and if you’re providing such a service to the public at this time, we’d love to hear about it at voices@thejournal.ie. Send us a message with “WELLNESS” in the subject line.

Today, we hear from yoga teacher Maura Rath and mindset coach, Justin Caffrey about their daily online offerings:

Maura Rath

17  03 20 Source: Spiro Stergiou

MY NAME IS Maura, I’m a Dublin based yogi originally from Wexford, just trying to share a little calmness over this pandemic period.

Last Thursday when the government closed the schools I could feel the stress in the air; a sense of panic and anxiety. Right away I needed to get on my yoga mat, my safe place. I moved through a sequence of yoga poses, each posture linked with another breath. After forty minutes of flowing on my mat, I finished with a short mediation. Yoga always makes me feel lighter in spirit and ready to take the world on again.

My journey to teaching yoga began with the desire to share with others what yoga does for me so on Thursday I knew I wanted to share the calmness, healthy routine and positive mindset I found in this new uncertain time.

I shared the idea of a free virtual yoga routine with my little yoga community of friends, family and regular students. The response was overwhelmingly positive and thankful, so I went ahead.

I decided to stream live classes from Monday to Friday 8 am and 5 pm, to keep with the majority of office hours and also to help people to start and finish their day with a positive yoga class.

Routine is so important for our minds and bodies, it throws down an anchor to rely on when it feels like you’re drifting out to sea. It’s also easy to forget the importance of physical movement when we’re focused on new challenges like working from home, amidst all the distractions that come with it.

The beauty of yoga is that it is about unity, and that doesn’t have to mean physical proximity. Yoga can give us a sense of belonging that brings mindfulness to the individual which in turn feeds positively back into the collective consciousness.

This togetherness and empathy is needed in abundance right now. We might practise yoga on our own, lead by a teacher but it helps us feel part of something bigger.

My live classes have been designed with a full heart, at a level that most people can at least attempt and create space and strength in their bodies and minds. We start each class with a slow breathing exercise, this helps to ground us, clear our lungs and bring them into use.

Our breath is the most powerful tool in everyday life. It is a tool we can have full control of especially in our physical yoga practice, no matter your ability. After we become aware of our breath, we build greater awareness of our body, how it moves and what it needs.

Then we start to move in a gentle warm flow that links breath to each movement. This style of yoga is called Vinyasa Flow.

Join me on the mat live Monday to Friday at 8 am and 5 pm. instagram.com/yogawithmaura

Justin Caffrey, daily meditation

pjimage

I am a former private equity and financial markets professional; an entrepreneur, who found Buddhist psychology after losing my son ten years ago. I needed to find a path to deal with extreme tragedy, trauma and anxiety.

I trained with some of the most incredible teachers around the world, and am extremely grateful to now be able to offer my skills to all who can benefit from them.

The approach used during our morning session is taken from ancient Japanese Samurai teachings used in battle. Those Samurai who were out on the battlefield needed quick guidance and tools to move away from their fear ladened stimulated state, back to a capacity of thinking straight and finding logic during stressful moments.

They are simple practices that you can take into your day and deploy when needed. I concluded Master Training with the Yamabushi in Japan. These spiritual and mystical mountain hermits provided guidance to Samurai warriors in the shogun era. I am lucky to be one of the few Westerners to have been trained by these wise and reclusive sages.

These sessions are the equivalent of a pep talk in the middle of an important grand slam tennis match, or how to calm the mind before kicking a drop goal in rugby with 80,000 people watching.

I will help you with your awareness of your stress response and triggers. Unless you are an experienced meditator, trying to meditate for long periods of time whilst your body feels like it is on a war setting, is incredibly difficult to do.

I hope that by deploying some of these simple breathing exercises to help with anxiety, it may lead some people to evolve a greater mindfulness practice when this crisis passes. We meet as a community each morning at 7 am online.

When you sit with me for 25 minutes, you are being joined by other like-minded people, who are also sitting, holding the same intention, and creating a sense of compassion within our group.

During the guidance, I also share some tips around self-care, the nervous system, nourishing the mind and body, and how to tackle the monkey mind. Some simple ideas around the language we need to use with ourselves and our children during these times.

Our children are also struggling and may not have the vocabulary to articulate how they feel. We discuss active listening and finding a space to meet them on their level.

I have taught global leaders, professional athletes and entrepreneurs how to hold their nerve and find a sense of calmness in the most turbulent of storms. Right now you cannot change the direction of this storm, nor can you influence how the wind will blow, but you can find shelter, you can navigate your emotions, and in time this storm will pass.
Start your day with us at 7 am, give yourself 25 minutes to connect to your body, to find a grounding before stepping into your day. My time from 7 to 7.25 am is being offered to you. I hope you use it and come sit with our tribe.

Having survived watching my son die, I found that the human spirit has a capacity to overcome even the most difficult of circumstances. We will come through this together.

Join me on Facebook LIVE and Instagram LIVE at 7 am

 

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