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Yoga Lab: How to release stress and boost vitality

Part two of our three-part Yoga Lab series with instructor Elena Romero focuses on a routine of particular benefit to those working from home

These last few weeks we have all been in a state of continued flux. Our circumstances are changing on a daily basis and this often causes stress and anxiety.

In part one of Yoga Lab, we discovered how to be more present in the moment. Now, in our second yoga tutorial with Elena Romero of Practice Yoga in the Anu Centre in Herbert Place, Dublin, we look at how to reduce stress and boost vitality in the body during this time.

This mainly sitting sequence can be done fully from a chair and will be of benefit to the many of us now working from a makeshift office at home.

During the sequence, Elena will warm up the spine, the neck and shoulders, and the lesson ends with a practice to alleviate emotional tension.

It is important to keep moving and to find ways to bring balance into our lives

Elena tells us how yoga can help with our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing right now. “From a purely physical perspective, yoga provides a full range of asanas (physical poses) that can bring balance to all the bodily functions. Asanas improve mobility and flexibility, improve balance and posture, they build strength and increase breathing capacity.

“Considering that we lead very sedentary lives and that most of us now need to stay at home, it is important to keep moving and to find ways to bring balance into our lives with other activities such as yoga, so that we are not just going from the home desk to the sofa to bed,” she says.

Ordinarily, Elena teaches a class full of students, so online videos are something that are as new to her as to those she is teaching.

The breath is the most powerful tool we have in yoga. Every breath is an opportunity to be present

“My drive to stream classes comes from the desire to create connection. While a lot of people might live in a family environment, there are many people that may be living alone or away from their family home right now. Yoga can give you some structure, an appointment to show up for,” she says.

“The breathing techniques help us to calm the mind and stay present. With time they teach us to cultivate awareness. They help us to reduce stress and anxiety as we instruct the sympathetic nervous system to let go of its dominance. The breath is the most powerful tool we have in yoga. Every breath is an opportunity to be present,” she says.

Meditation techniques require practice, but they will improve over time, she reassures.

“You can start by setting an intention to be absolutely present and aware, while gardening or vacuuming for example. Observe the breath while doing these tasks. Meditation can help us to calm the mind and enhances our ability to be focussed and to concentrate on the work at hand,” she instructs.

For someone coming to yoga for the first time, Elena insists it is for everyone, young and old: “if you can breathe, you can practice yoga.”

“There is a preconception that yoga is for young bendy people, or that yoga is for yogis. While I congratulate those who have committed to the practice and who can touch parts of the body most of us can’t, I really want to emphasise that yoga is for everybody!”

As with all exercise programs, when using our Yoga Lab videos, you need to use common sense. To reduce/avoid injury, please check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program. By performing any fitness exercises, you are performing them at your own risk.

Practice Yoga now has online classes:

  • Early morning; Wake up Yoga: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8am - 8.45am   
  • Mid-morning; Gentle Yoga: Thursday from 10am - 11am 
  • Evening; Strength, Flexibility & Balance: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6pm - 7pm  
  • Weekend; Yoga with a Smile: Saturday from 9.30am - 10.30am