The pandemic brought new rules, changes in lifestyles, and less socialization—way less socialization. For many, it also brought fear. Your flavor of fear might be different from mine or your neighbors. For some it was fear of catching the virus or worry about the health of a vulnerable loved one. Others were afraid of the vaccine–concerned about how it might impact their health or if they may be forced to get the shot. Still others felt concern about how to manage their kids’ education or whether their business would survive. Or for extra stress points all of the above.
But now, we’re stepping into a different version of life as we know it. Gone, for many of us, are masks and social distancing, but this new phase is still full of uncertainties. Should I wear a mask? Will my child be bullied if they wear a mask? What do the variants, like Delta, have in store for us? Is it safe to travel, and will I still have to quarantine?
Even with all this uncertainty, life goes on. Maybe you’ve toasted a bride and groom at a recent wedding, postponed from 2020? Or maybe you’ve eaten at a favorite restaurant, recently reopened or danced for hours at a live music event? I recently attended an art workshop a few weeks ago. I also hosted my first in-person yoga class at a local park after 16 months of zoom only. Both thrilled me, even as I felt a bit unsure.
With all that uncertainty comes stress. As animals we often respond to the unknown with shortened breath, tight muscles, upset digestion, and worried minds. It can be a setup for a stress eating, a night of staring at the ceiling, or a stiff neck. It’s not a setup for relaxed, purposeful living.
So what can we do to help relieve or even prevent this stress?
Yoga can help
Yoga returns us to our center, to our internal home, and to something beyond our physical bodies. That center is where we need to be if we want to live a purposeful life. I could make it complicated by giving you a series of poses. Right now I think we could all benefit from simplicity.
Breathe out, breathe in
Deep belly breathing resets our bodies to the part of our nervous systems that feels safe, the part that trusts in the moment. While there are countless yoga breathing protocols for changing our physical, mental, emotional, and energetic state, one of the simplest is abdominal breath.
First, find a relaxed position. Place your hands on your abdomen with your fingertips lightly touching. As you breathe in, feel a rise in your belly. Don’t force the breath. This is all about allowing. Even if you don’t feel much movement in your belly, that’s okay. You’re reminding your body of what relaxation feels like.
While fear is your ally and protector, too much of it impacts your health negatively. Plus it can impair your ability to take action. Musti Mudra is a simple hand position that you can use in conjunction with meditation or on its own throughout your day whenever you want a little less fear and a bit more courage.
To practice this mudra, bend your fingers so they come to the palms of your hands. Then bring your thumb across the top of your bent fingers so that your hand is in a fist position. That’s it. Musti Mudra supports strength and willpower. It also helps stimulate and support your liver and stomach, promoting good digestion.
Do what you can
We haven’t been given a guidebook about how to survive and thrive during a global pandemic. Except for a handful of evolved beings, most of us are going to feel fear during this time. The truth is that fear was and will be part of most of our lives with or without a pandemic. The good news is that we can employ some simple, no-cost yoga tools that help us feel more courageous, resilient, and healthy while living our best purposeful lives. I’d love to know if you found these two tools helpful. You can share your experience here.