Post-COVID19 Era

This ‘thing’ — the global virus wave, struck my town out of the blue and it came in when I was planning and preparing to take off for a long bike tour. I am sure this is what most of us feel around the globe, like being punched in the belly. It helps little being cooped up in a 21-day lockdown, which may extend up to 90 days. Today is Day 4 of the 21-day lockdown here in my city of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.

I can still tinker with my bikes and make small rounds in our housing complex campus. But, that is about it. Going out is risky and I intend to stay put unless it is absolutely necessary.

To tell you the truth most experts think that this virus is here to stay and will keep hitting us in waves. I feel it’s going to change our lifestyle in many ways, some for the good. The noise, air, and water pollution levels are almost normal here, down from the very unhealthy peaks. Nature is also reclaiming spaces slowly but surely. I truly think we had botched up this planet in a bad way with our selfish materialistic pollution-spewing lifestyle. It all came back to us with a vengeance. Do we deserve this? Hard to say.

About this virus ….. Its highly infectious, even more than the flu. Some claim that the infection rate is explosive. It has a name — SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it spawns is called as COVID-19. It started off in a city in China called Wuhan. It is NOT the flu. The virus belongs to a different family. Symptoms are flu-like, but they can be quite severe. There are no clear patterns as to whom it strikes the hardest, but people in the 70+ age group seem to be the worst off. Fatality rates are highest in the elderly having multiple underlying issues. It’s likely to infect a lot of people around the globe, the virus vaccine will take about 18 months to be in the market, could be earlier. Till then, it’s going to be like being in the middle of a hurricane.

For cyclists like me, it’s hard. But, I have so many fond memories of my previous bike tours that I think I can bank on these through the tough times. It was the best time of my life, those tours. To tell you the truth many of those around me thought I was a bit cranky and off-world. ‘Why bike when you can drive?’  ‘This is a “foreigner” thing to do, why are you doing it?’ ‘It’s a waste unless you are getting some money for it.’ These were the usual remarks and queries. They didn’t think that soaking in the beauty of forests/villages, mountain streams and talking to people in far off remote places was worth it. I hope people change their minds if we make it out through this.

I will write a lot while trying to cope with this lockdown here. I do think that when we do emerge out of this maelstrom our planet will be more beautiful and lovely than the trash can that we had turned it into.

Yoga — No Pretzels Here

Yoga is an ancient Indian form of physical practice. The common man’s definition — yoga involves physical postures and poses that help relax the body, stretch rigid muscles and improve blood circulation. Worse come to worst you end up being a pretzel with limbs winding around your torso. Ok, that was a joke.

To aspiring sports enthusiasts like me yoga is a tremendous exercise to loosen up those taut rigid muscles and improve breathing techniques. I remember starting off yoga in a rush and ending up with discomfort. Yoga is not meant to be played around with. This was a few years back. Down the tunnel of time, I have learned a few things about yoga. Just wanted to share this with the reader. By the way, this article is not going to be a compendium on yoga as I am no yoga instructor or expert. It’s just a few tips on how to go about yoga in a better fashion.

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                     Yoga is all about getting your breathing and your posture right.*

That’s lesson number one. Yoga is not meant to be an activity where you do your split leg stance at the first go or happen to have your legs snaking up your torso and the feet jutting out next to your head. Start off with the easiest yogic postures and be relaxed while going about it. It’s more like giving your body a break that it desires. The man in the pic up there has the right cross legged sitting posture, including the arms and fingers. That is a pranayama posture and is a good way to start off on your yoga trail.

The first thing your body needs is slow relaxed breathing and the pranayama posture helps you attain this. Breathe in slowly using your expanding belly to fill in air and then give out a slow relaxed exhale, while contracting your belly. Several variations of pranayama exist. But, your focus should be on easy relaxed breathing. This is important. People start off by breathing fast or holding their breath too long and this can result in complications for some people, like those having high blood pressure.

Lesson number two; if your body is groaning while going into a yogic posture, you are overdoing it and should stop it. Don’t do it even if a yoga instructor is trying to make you take up that posture, have seen this resulting in injury. People with a prior history of joint or spinal injuries are particularly susceptible. Even if you were injury free, it takes years of practice and diet control to get to the point of being a pretzel. Yes, you heard it right, diet control leading to a slimmer physique helps with yogic flexibility.

Which brings me to lesson number three; yoga and simple living are closely tied. Simple living and yoga complement each other tremendously. The simple living principle entails good food and sleep habits. It means checking back with your body almost continuously. Am I sitting at the computer too long ? Maybe that is why my neck is complaining ? Time to take a break and some neck, arm flexibility exercises. There is no gain if you are abusing your body several hours a day, gorge on fatty and sugary stuff, have poor sleep patterns and then hope that yoga would sort all that out.

That wraps up this article on how to go about yoga. You don’t even have to be formal about yoga, just do it where ever you can. Follow this up with more exercises, slowly increasing the tempo and listening to your body all the while. There is a wealth of information on the internet. In addition I will be starting off a video series on ‘simple yoga’ shortly. If you do have pre-existing medical conditions or a history of serious injury, then, you would require a certified yoga instructor and would also need to consult a qualified physician from time to time.

Do keep checking back for more on this !

*Photo by Ruslan Alekso from Pexels