Fitness Magazine

Covid Times Self Care, Part 2: Tools and Techniques

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Beth

Covid Times Self Care, Part 2: Tools and Techniques

Calm by Fujishima Takeji

What can each of us do to climb out of our Covid Times mental and emotional stress-mess sinkhole? A lot. We have choices.In Covid Times Self Care, Part 1 covered the ‘what and the why’ we are experiencing an uptick in stress, and discussed the importance of stress hardiness as a way to deal with it. In this post, I’ll offer some ‘how-to’ accessible yoga self-awareness practices to build stress hardiness.
It starts with understanding the mind.
The conscious mind consists of everything inside our wakeful awareness. This dimension of mind is what we use when we pay attention to our physical body and our surroundings. At this level, the mind is primarily concerned with our need to:
  • Avoid pain
  • Repeat pleasure
  • Connect with others
All of these have been difficult or impossible during Covid. Turn on the news and we witness and feel compassion for the pain of those who have lost loved ones and the trauma experienced by overworked and under-resourced health care and other essential workers. We find it hard to repeat pleasure and find the time and space to re-charge when we’re in lockdown with our families. It’s also hard to watch our world go through racial, cultural, and political upheaval. And of course, contact with others on an unmasked, in-person level has been difficult. Thank goodness for Zoom! 
And thank goodness we can take concrete action by focusing our attention on the first two layers of self-awareness:
  • Physical body
  • Breath/energy
Both of these layers are connected to and interrelated with the mind. So when we choose ways to witness and work with our body, breath, and energy, we will also be boosting our mental wellbeing. Here are some tools and techniques to try.
Physical BodyBody Stretch and ScanThis technique helps us tune into messages and sensations the body sends that our minds may not notice if our attention is focused on doing instead of being. I recommend doing this exercise before getting out of bed in the morning. The whole process takes less than five minutes and can be done in any order.Body Stretch Instructions:
  1. Stretch and wiggle your fingers and toes.
  2. Roll your wrists and ankles in little circles in one direction and then in the other.
  3. Inhale as you raise your arms overhead and stretch your whole body.
  4. Roll onto one side and stretch or twist in any way you like.
  5. Roll onto your other side and stretch or twist in any way you like.
  6. Roll onto your back and bring both knees into your chest. If that is not comfortable, open the knees toward your armpits (right knee to right armpit, left knee to left armpit.) Place your hands behind your thighs or below your knees, gently press and hold for a few breaths.
  7. Release your knees and find a comfortable position to scan your body.
Body Scan Instructions:In this exercise, you bring your attention to each part of your body and look for sensations such as comfort, discomfort, openness, contraction, pain, warmth, coolness, pulsing, heaviness, lightness, etc. If you notice nothing, just notice that. I start with my toes and work upward, but if you are drawn to scan your body from head to toe, go with it. When you feel complete, take a few long deep breaths. Then take another full body stretch, let your feet hit the floor, and begin your day.Legs-On-the-Chair-Pose
Covid Times Self Care, Part 2: Tools and Techniques
Props: a sturdy chair, a pillow or folded blanket for your head, a timer, and a music source (optional).Instructions:
  1. Select a carpeted area or use your yoga mat to practice this pose.
  2. Set your timer for 10 – 15 minutes and start the music if you choose to use it.
  3. Sit down close to the chair, swing the legs up and place your calves on the chair seat so your body forms 90-degree angles with your knees in line with your hips.
  4. Place the pillow or folded blanket under your head.
  5. Close your eyes and breathe normally.
  6. When the timer goes off, bend the knees halfway toward the chest and roll to the side, using your arms to sit up slowly.
Variation: If getting up and down on the floor is difficult, try this in bed with your legs on a stack of pillows.Breath/Energy
Relaxation BreathIf you are feeling anxious or stressed, try exhalation pausing. Find a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes or, if you want to keep them open, soften your gaze and look downward. Inhale normally and then exhale. After you exhale, before inhaling again, pause at the end of your exhalation for about two seconds (silently count “one thousand one, one thousand two”). Then inhale normally and repeat exhalation pausing for 2-3 minutes or longer. This breathing technique brings awareness to your breath, slows the number of breaths you take per minute, and lengthens the exhalation, which calms your nervous systemFake It ‘Til You Make itGesture of The Inner Smile is a global positioning system (GPS) energy exercise for cultivating a feeling of lightness. It is called Hansi Mudra in the yoga tradition and is helpful when your spirits need a lift.
  1. Touch the tips of your index, middle ,and ring fingers to your thumbs.
  2. Extend your pinky finger straight out.
  3. Rest the backs of your hands on your thighs or knees or raise your hands out to the sides of the body with the pinky fingers pointing upwards.
  4. Relax your shoulders and keep your spine comfortably aligned.
  5. Breathe naturally.
  6. Hold Gesture of the Inner Smile for two to five minutes, or longer if you are comfortable.
It may also help to remember this Chinese proverb: "You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

Beth's self-awareness newsletter is published six times a year. It features informative, inspiring and entertaining tips for finding clarity, contentment, and resilience in a complicated world. For more information and to sign up for the newsletter go to

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