No Yoga or Spin Classes to Reduce Stress? Online Versions Can Help with Physical & Mental Health

Apr 1, 2020

In-person yoga classes are cancelled for now. But the health benefits are even more important and you can seek them out in other ways.

Keeping our bodies and minds healthy can be a challenge when many of us are concerned over the Coronavirus and the impacts it’s having on our lives.  In our last segment, we told you about how parks can help.  Today, we look at something some of us are missing that can be replaced by something that can keep us healthy.

People who go to yoga or Pilates or maybe spin classes in a gym certainly do so for the workout, health reasons, but there’s also a form of community there, energy in the room, that’s probably part of why you keep coming back.  I had a chance to talk with Sophie Tashkovski, owner of Syracuse Yoga and she can’t really provide that to her customers any longer.  She’s been able to stream some classes on Facebook live and offer others as yoga videos.  But something is certainly missing.

Sophie Tashkovski, owner of Syracuse Yoga, says exercising the body can calm the mind, improve sleep and reduce stress during these times of anxiety over Coronavirus

“Unfortunately with that platform there’s not a lot of interaction between teacher and student.  People log into their Facebook; they find our live broadcast.  Then they say ‘hello, I’m here’ and it pops up who’s … watching.  The teacher can say, “hey, it’s great to see you.’”

She feels like these ways of getting her and her instructors out to their clients is filling a gap – even though people could get similar content on their own.

“Honestly, people have been grateful for the content.  The thing is people can do yoga online with just about anyone.  So many teachers around the country and world are offering meditations, yoga classes, yet, out students at Syracuse Yoga, they want to see their teachers.  They want to see us.  We have a real sense of community.”

Of course, the online workout, whether you’re trying to join the live version or just following along with a video, is another way to get health benefits that are critical during this time when most are feeling stress and anxiety.  Tashkovski would like to see people do any type of activity to help cope.

“Whatever that is: online workout, yoga, going for a walk, going for a run, with appropriate social distancing, right?  Yoga specifically ties the brain to the body.  So if we can tire the brain, we can tire the body.  And if we can get both to rest, maybe we’ll have less anxiety and stress in this situation.”

She also takes it a step further.  So our physical health is affected by stress and we want to reduce it.  Part of the mental health side of the impacts we’re feeling comes from isolation. 

“I think we’re all searching for ways to stay connected.  Right now, that’s being taken away from us -- or is it?  Maybe this is an opportunity to find even deeper connection.  I think people are appreciating even more, ‘Wow, I really enjoyed going to that yoga class; I really loved the energy there.’  It’s going to be back.  So right now we have to work with what we’ve got.” 

So for now,  it’s back in front of a camera, maybe on a smart phone, and a little microphone to connect as best as she and her colleagues can to whoever’s out there on the yoga mats in their homes and apartments. 

“This is o.k. for right now because it’s the best I can get and it’s keeping me engaged in my practice.  I can’t wait to get back to Syracuse Yoga with the plants and the jokes and the energy. … That’s how I know the business will survive because we have such a strong sense of community.”  

Tashkovski has managed to keep paying her instructors a small fee for the online classes to keep them going.  Clients of Syracuse Yoga are paying for some content and being asked for donations for the live streamed classes; some with monthly memberships have continued to pay.  Health resources such as the Mayo Clinic agree yoga can effectively reduce stress and has other health benefits … and The CDC adds stretching and other exercise for mind and body can help deal with fear and worry many are feeling for their own and loved one’s health.
(Find CDC advice and test on your stress level here)

Next up, we finish our series on wellness during the pandemic with a local nutrition expert who has suggestions on how to eat to reduce stress and stay healthy.