As we head into this brave new not-quite-post-pandemic world it’s fair to ask about the need for yoga teachers. Now that we’ve adapted to doing yoga online, should we just be posting Youtube videos and letting people get on with it?
There can be no denying that over the past eighteen months the yoga industry has adapted to the demands of a global pandemic, moving classes and workshops online. This has meant that people could access yoga classes and teachers and feel that they were still supported. But has it come at a cost?
As we adjust to life after Covid, will the aftershocks mean that we are in more need than ever of well-trained yoga teachers, to help people to holistic health?
A Post-Pandemic Obesity Crisis
A new Public Health England report on the nation’s eating and exercise habits has shown that while more people exercised during lockdown (no surprises there), overall, the nation’s fitness levels have not increased since before the pandemic (which IS surprising).
Also, despite obesity being a known risk-factor for Covid, levels have not reduced despite the Department of Health and Social Care for England announcing a new obesity strategy in July 2020, which emphasised the increased risks associated with Covid-19. As stated in The British Medical Journal; “Excess weight is one of the few modifiable factors for Covid-19 and so supporting people to achieve a healthier weight will be crucial to keeping people fit and well as we move forward.”
Keeping fit and well, i.e. choosing a preventative approach to health – as opposed to fire-fighting when symptoms of ill-health emerge – is what a yoga lifestyle is all about. Yoga is a sustainable way to keep moving, active, and encourages healthy choices, and being a yoga teacher means that you are on the front line of encouraging your students to not only commit to classes, but take up a home practice too.
Working from Home
When the first lockdown happened all those eons ago in March 2020, many of us joyfully embraced the benefits of working from home, and sunbathing in the garden. But as the months have worn on (and the sun went in – for the year) the negative effects of working from home have started to show themselves.
The Royal Society for Public Health conducted a survey in February this year which showed that while there were benefits to some people, there were also negative effects. The most common were ‘feeling less connected to colleagues (67%), taking less exercise (46%), developing musculoskeletal problems (39%) and disturbed sleep (37%)’. These four negative side-effects can all be alleviated through yoga.
For those that are still working from home getting to a yoga studio and practising yoga with like-minded people is a way to feel connected again, improving our social wellbeing.
Yoga is a sustainable form of exercise for all body types, and there is a yoga methodology out there for everyone.
Musculoskeletal problems are often linked to poor working set-up. According to the survey, ‘nearly half (48%) of people who work from a sofa or bedroom said they had developed musculoskeletal problems’.
Sitting with poor posture while concentrating on computer work is known to be bad for our health, but now that so many of us are working from home, it seems to be unavoidable. Stretching out the body (and fascia) through yoga is a way to counteract the damage done by poor posture.
And finally, disturbed sleep can also be helped by yoga. The practice of yoga is shown to help our quality of sleep through a combination of improved mindfulness, exercise, stress-reduction and deeper breathing from the practice of pranayama. [Also check out our Yoga for Sleep CPD if this is something you’re interested in.]
Mental Health Problems
Data analysis by the charity Mind has revealed that more people in the UK have experienced a mental health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic than ever previously recorded. In fact, the data shows the nation is in the grip of a mental health emergency.
This mental health crisis has been down to a number of factors, a huge part of which is obviously lack of access to support during the lockdown, but the other key factor has been an increase in lonliness. And according to the data, this has inadvertantly affected young people – “9 in 10 young people have said that loneliness has made their mental health worse during the pandemic.”
Yoga might not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to loneliness, but there are multiple ways that yoga helps. Firstly, (and the clue is in the name) yoga is about union. When we practice yoga, we connect not only with our inner selves, but all the other yoga practitioners in the world.
Those that practice kirtan, or other forms of devotional yoga join their voices to symbolise this union. Yoga is also about community and even when classes were online, yoga teachers kept in touch with students that didn’t make the transition online, or sent out regular newsletters. Yoga teachers have compassion for others at the heart of what they do.
Healing through Yoga
Nationally and globally, we have been through a lot, and none of us have been immune. There needs to be a collective sense of healing, and yoga teachers are part of a spectrum of wellbeing services that will be seen as more and more important, not less.