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Wellness Wednesday: Two yoga teachers say there's never been a better time to roll out your mat

This week, two Dublin yoga teachers offer readers some advice and share their wellness knowledge.

TheJournal.ie Wellness

The Covid-19 changes have come bounding into our lives, upending them. We are being asked to make huge personal sacrifices in order to face down this pandemic. Those changes can bring physical and emotional shocks that are difficult to process.

Here at TheJournal.ie, we are running a weekly Voices column, ‘Wellness Wednesday’, in which we feature advice and information from mental health professionals, yoga teachers, mindfulness practitioners and more. We hope this weekly section will help you, our readers, navigate this unprecedented shift in how we live.

This week, two yoga practitioners tell us what they’re doing during the shutdown and what resources and advice they have to offer:

Aoife Mc Manus, yoga teacher, Dublin

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I HAVE BEEN teaching yoga for over five years. I teach in schools, community centres and gyms across Dublin. I also work as a personal trainer at Westwood Club in Leopardstown.  Since every venue in which I teach is currently closed, I decided to take my yoga classes online to YouTube.

It’s taken off really well and surprisingly so. These times are very stressful and uncertain for many people and I thought now is the time we need yoga more than ever in our lives.

I really wanted to connect as many people as possible and having an online platform has been invaluable. I hope I can continue to reach out to many more.

At times like this, it is so important to look out for others while also remembering to look out for yourself. Take the time to do something for you. Yoga is such a great way to release any stress or anxiety that you might be feeling or even going for a short walk if you need a little space outside the house.

Some days you might just not feel like doing anything and that’s ok, too. I believe it is so important to listen to your body. I do recommend taking five minutes out of your day to sit comfortably and allow yourself to just breathe.

I like to think of my breath as a wave in the ocean, inhaling and exhaling lifting and releasing as it floods through the body.

Aoife’s resources

I am extremely passionate about exercise for kids, particularly yoga. It is hugely helpful for children at this time. There routine is different things can feel uncertain for them to just as it does for us. I decided to post my Yoga Kids classes on YouTube. My last video Jungle Safari has had great feedback from parents.

Parents sent me some lovely pictures and videos of how they and their kids practised together. I am so delighted with this. My adults’ classes allow parents and teens to practise together. Maybe this could be something that you and your family could practice together, too?

Allowing them to slow down and focus on their breath can be really powerful. It will help to release any high energy that they might be feeling and allowing them to find a sense of calm.

All my classes online are free on YouTube for all levels you can find my Youtube channel by my name Aoife Mc Manus. I post new classes on Mondays, Fridays and Yoga Kids on Wednesdays.  I would love you to join me on the mat anytime. Be kind to yourself, sending lots of love and light to you, Aoife Mc Manus.

Niamh Keogh, yoga teacher, Dublin

pjimage(3) Source: Niamh Keogh

For me, the ancient practice of yoga is an all-encompassing avenue to living a healthier, happier and more mindful life. I discovered this to be the case several years ago, and I’ve transitioned from curious class drop-in to a newly graduated and full-time yoga teacher.

Amidst all of the pandemic mayhem, myself, like many others, cling on to some sort of normality, daily structure and routine. Otherwise, the perceived lack of control is enough to send anyone into a tailspin!

Source: Niamh Keogh/YouTube

For me, that all starts with structuring and starting my morning with a daily yoga practice. A daily check-in, breathwork and mindful movement will set me up for optimising each day, syncing my body and mind, and starting my day with more awareness.

Unfortunately, the sudden change of events with the Covid-19 shutdown meant that studio practice for us all was no longer an option with all facilities forced to close.

Initially sceptical about teaching or providing content online, I made a quick decision and began offering to others what yoga gives to me, through alternative means. It has been working really well.

There are many silver linings to be acknowledged during all of this uncertainty, the nation’s prioritisation of health and wellbeing being one of them. I am fortunate to have brought my classes and students online.

I wanted to extend that offering and give everyone beyond my current students the chance to practice self-care through yoga. YouTube allows me to provide easily accessible, all levels of classes varying from 15-45 minutes in length, requiring no props, that could be practised from the comfortable surroundings of your own home. 

Source: Niamh Keogh/YouTube

I incorporate breathwork and yoga into each video. These combinations have proven to benefit mind and body, helping to alleviate stress, aid our digestion, increase our overall physical health, and much more.

Practising with no expectations other than enjoyment, acknowledging your limits before you begin and working from there, these videos are open to both seasoned and novice yogis, and there’s never been a better time to roll out your mat.

Aoife McManus is a yoga teacher in Dublin. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Niamh Keogh is a yoga teacher in Dublin. Find her on YouTube and Instagram.

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