The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we live our lives, as well as our social interactions and workout regimens. In the case of workout programs, ease of access has been and continues to be the primary issue. With gyms and fitness studios temporarily shuttered for safety reasons, workout classes are now done in online platforms.
Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook live streaming are among the popular options for a wide range of fitness classes from Zumba to yoga. Many of these classes are offered for free, too, while others are on a subscription basis. The shift from face-to-face classes to online sessions means that more people can enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of yoga.
Despite the shift, the old questions remain: What yoga classes will prove the most beneficial to you? What traits should you look for in a teacher? Which type of yoga will suit my mood now?
These are questions that new research can partly answer! In March 2020, Dr. Crystal Park and her team of researchers published their study on the effects of yoga on emotional well-being and mood. (Dr. Park is a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut. She also manages the Spirituality, Meaning, and Health Lab.)
There have been numerous studies about the effects of the different types of yoga on participants. Dr. Park’s study was different in the sense that it examined how the different types of yoga stimulated – or not – certain physical and mental health aspects. These included body consciousness, mindfulness, spirituality, self-transcendence, and social connectedness.
In the study, over 100 semi-experienced yoga practitioners were randomly assigned classes in fitness studios in San Diego, Boston, and Connecticut. The participants attended different types of one-hour yoga sessions, such as Iyengar, Bikram, Baptiste, yin yoga, and vinyasa flow, and afterward answered questionnaires. The questions asked about their body consciousness, mindfulness, and moods.
The study strengthened what many yoga practitioners likely already know: The different types of yoga have different influences on one’s mood, among other aspects. Dr. Park concluded that it’s possible to make a match between certain types of yoga and one’s needs. While there’s still more work that needs to be done, the following tips are useful in picking the right yoga class to suit your current mood.
How Practicing Yoga Benefits Your Health
Below are ideas to help you select the right yoga class base on your current mood.
Feeling Emotionally Depleted
Do you feel like you have hit rock-bottom in your life? Do you feel like your emotions have reached their lowest low and there’s no going back up? Do you feel spiritually numb like your faith has evaporated into thin air? You should then choose a yoga class with spiritual dialogue!
Keep in mind, however, that many yoga classes in the United States don’t actually have a spiritual element. These classes emphasize the poses, known as asanas, as well as the movements and breathing patterns.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy spiritual dialogues in these classes. Take note that yoga was originally intended for its practitioners to achieve spiritual liberation. You can achieve it, too, through meditation and mindfulness exercises at home.
With the social distancing measures, many people feel isolated from their family and friends even with technology at hand. You shouldn’t dismiss your feelings of isolation, too, since these are valid. Instead, you can engage in a yoga class that emphasizes synchronized movements and led by a warm and welcoming teacher.
We suggest the vinyasa yoga, a type of yoga that emphasizes the smooth flow between movements and the synchronized flow among its participants. You will actually see the other participants following the same movements and pace as you are! You will feel less isolated and more like part of a tight-knit group.
Your teacher will likely also be more invested in your personal progress and provide motivation for your growth. Such a more personal touch despite the physical distance will also contribute to your feelings of belongingness.
Feeling Low in Energy
If you feel your physical and mental energy ebbing, you should check into a rigorous yoga class. You may think that it’s counterintuitive since you’re feeling tired as it is. You won’t want to engage in a cardiovascular exercise that will make you more tired!
But here’s the thing about a rigorous yoga class: The more challenging its movements and pace, the less exhausted you will feel as the class goes on. This is because your body gets a shot of adrenaline and your mind becomes more aware. You will then be motivated to see the class until the end.
Suggested yoga classes include Baptiste, Bikram, and vinyasa. Be sure that your mind and body are ready for the rigors ahead. You will encounter more advanced asanas that will challenge your basic yoga skills.
Your mind and body will be calmer if you engage in a yoga class with an emphasis on restorative poses and breathing work. You will feel more grounded, less anxious since you’re focused more on your inhalations and exhalations.
But we must also say that it doesn’t really matter which type of yoga you will engage in. The more important thing here is that you’re into it and enjoying its benefits.
Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect: email@example.com