• Ishani Nandedkar

Tale 13 : Anxiety and Yoga in the times of Corona

Namaste beautiful people!

When I last wrote a post here, the world was a totally different place, no? We used to go out, hug each other, watch movies in theaters, and do so many other 'normal' things. So the first thing I want to do is ask you, how are you doing, dear ones? How are you feeling today? I'm here to listen if you want to talk. You can email me anytime at to get in touch.

It feels like Mother Nature gave us all a kick in the butt forcing us to slow down and think about our way of life, our actions and their consequences. She brought us down to our knees because otherwise, we wouldn't have listened to her subtle pleads. Mother Nature had been patiently watching us march ruthlessly, taking all things that came in our way, consuming, devouring, never stopping to look back; who got hurt because of our insatiable ambitions.

Honestly, as a Type One diabetic this isn't the best of times for me, as I am at a very high risk of falling seriously ill because of the virus. I am being extremely cautious and taking good care of myself, and thankfully, I'm surrounded by people who understand what they need to do to keep all of us safe. Yoga and meditation have come to my rescue again, supporting me physically and mentally, and I am so so grateful for these ancient practices now, more than ever.

I'll tell you a short story. After three months of not stepping a foot out of the house, I drove to meet my family, who stay a couple of miles from my home. We had a great time talking, laughing and eating good food. But when I came back home I was struck by such overwhelming anxiety, like I've never felt in my life. I suddenly started feeling terrorized by my own action of stepping out of the house and guilt took over me. I thought that I had made a huge mistake and put myself at the risk of dying from the virus. Anxiety often works like that. A small thing takes on a big meaning and the toxic chain reaction of negative thoughts shuts off our rational brain. Even though I had worn a mask throughout and not stepped out of the car till we reached our destination, my emotional brain kept telling me how awful my actions were.

I kept ruminating on these thoughts the whole night and the following day. I couldn't bring myself to eat, practice yoga or sleep the next day as well. After two whole days of feeling anxious and terrorized I finally forced myself to sit on my meditation cushion. I started by closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths; in through the nose and out through the mouth. After a few minutes of deep breathing my mind had settled down. When I started feeling more in control of my mind, I replayed the entire sequence of events starting from when I stepped out of the house. I realized that even though stepping out was a risk, I hadn't been reckless. My body loosened up and my muscles softened as I kept breathing deeply, acutely aware of all the sensations arising in my body and mind.

After sitting for almost an hour in meditation I finally started to feel okay. Meditation saved me from my own toxic thoughts consuming my mind once again. The tools that yoga gave me to deal with difficult emotions and sensations have come in handy so many times through these three months of lockdown. In a way, I am grateful for this time that we've all received to self-reflect. Answers to questions like, how our actions affect ourselves and those we love, how do we show up in the world from here on, how do we treat the earth and her earthlings....would need deep soul-searching from each one of us. We all can either show up in the world with love and grace or we can continue with our self-serving and thoughtless actions. Mother Nature has plenty of time but we don't. Our words and actions have deep reaching consequences, and we all can use tools such as yoga and meditation to develop self-awareness which would minimize the damage done by them in the future.

Here is a short practice that you can do when you feel anxious:

. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and loosen up your whole body from head to toe.

. Mentally scan your body, part by part, and notice if you feel tightness or discomfort in any part.

. Take a deep inhalation through the nose and as you exhale out through the mouth, mentally send that exhalation to the part that's tight.

. Repeat this a few times till you feel the body part loosening up.

. Place your right hand on the abdomen and start noticing your natural breath.

. As you inhale, notice the abdomen going out and as you exhale notice the abdomen going in.

. Try to keep all your attention on the movement of the abdomen with your breath.

. It is natural for the mind to get lost in thoughts, but you can gently bring the mind back again and again to the breath.

. Sit for five minutes just observing your breath and when you feel like opening your eyes, do so by first placing your hands on the eyes and then gently open your eyes inside the cupped palms.

. Do this practice everytime you feel anxious by connecting with your breath and giving yourself the gift of loving awareness.

Stay safe and healthy, dear ones. And remember your responsibility towards yourself and Mother Nature, for when we talk next, the world might yet again be a totally different place as a consequence of the collective love and care that we put-in during this trying time. :)

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