By: Lubaba Mahmud, Staff Writer
Like most people, I’ve been a little burnt out by the challenging social and economic conditions we find ourselves in on top of the usual stress of work and school. Because of this, I’m always looking for a way to disconnect from the world and reconnect my mind and body — even if it’s only for an hour or two.
Before the COVID–19 pandemic forced most of us into social distancing, I found SFU Health & Counselling’s Yoga for the Mind to be a great option for reducing stress. Yoga for the Mind is one of the many drop-in style wellness programs that SFU Health & Counselling offers. It is meant to be a gentle yoga class that teaches relatively simple stretching and breathing exercises, as well as some meditation techniques.
I attended a Friday offering of the class that was taught by Kealani. She began by conducting a Sun Salutation routine that consisted of backward bends and forward folds. These served as a quick warm-up and helped get our blood flowing in preparation for the rest of the class. Following the warm-up, we were introduced to common yoga poses such as Warrior I and II, Downward-facing Dog, Cow Face, and Camel. The bulk of the class time was allocated to practising these poses in a complementary order. This combination of exercises helped students get a deep stretch of shoulders, spine, ankles, calves, hips, and thighs. I found this section particularly helpful since it also helped to correct posture and strengthen the body.
Next, we moved on to the breathing exercises and meditation portion of the course. Here, Kealani instructed us to focus on different parts of the body, one at a time, while breathing slowly and deeply. This practice is based on the philosophy of yoga nidra (known as yogic sleep), which guides participants through a meditative process of becoming self-aware of each part of the body and the sensations within it. This was a great way to end the class, as it gave the body some time to rest after the deep stretches while invigorating the mind at the same time.
If you’re interested in trying Yoga for the Mind once the social distancing and self-isolation measures related to the pandemic are lifted, classes are normally held at the Burnaby campus on Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. You can check the Yoga for the Mind website for the most recent updates on class times and locations.