Breath in, breathe out: how yoga and meditation can help deal with isolation

Kat Schamens is a U.S-born, Berlin-based yogi. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, she now offers her Vinyasa, Yin, psychic development, and breathwork online classes on Zoom (Urban Sports Club members are still able to check-in for classes remotely).

TOA: What do you recommend people do begin their days to ensure they’re grounded and can be productive?

KS: I think the first thing is self-care. My routine might not fit for someone else’s life. I make sure that I move my body every day, make a cup of tea, and then sit down with my thoughts. Sometimes I wake up feeling inspired and write down my goals for the day. It’s important to implement a routine and look inwards.

TOA: In terms of yoga and meditation, what sort of practices and techniques would you recommend?

KS: I find that gratitude meditation is one of the easiest to do because it’s accessible for everyone. The way it’s laid out in the eight limbs of yoga, the first two steps are living your life as a yogi (yama and niyama). Come into the pose – your meditative state (asana) – before connecting to your breath (pranayama) then draw your senses inward (pratyahara). Concentrate as you withdraw your senses (dharana). Move into the meditation (dhyana) and you’ll ultimately reach consciousness (samadhi).

For some, just concentrating on the breath can be a bit challenging because thoughts are still streaming in. That’s why I like incorporating a gratitude practice in which you’re connecting to what you’re grateful for with every breath you take in, and as you exhale you allow it to connect.

I’ve been really encouraging people to share what they’re grateful for. We’re so scared in these times about our security, our survival, and our freedom – everything is being jeopardized. People get stuck and it’s really hard to get out of. So I think it’s important to understand that there’s always something to be grateful for, and that that will shift your perspective.

TOA: Do you think meditation is more important to individuals’ well-being than ever, given the pandemic’s effect on the global economy and society at large?

KS: I feel like now people are addressing the issue [of the economy] and they’re talking about this or that. This is not the time. We have to raise our consciousness.

There’s the mind, and the subconscious mind, which is basically how we’ve been programmed based on our upbringing and environmental influences. There’s this thin layer, the analytical minds. And then there’s the conscious mind. We have to dissolve this analytical mind. That happens when you do meditation. We’re overthinking right now, which impacts the analytical mind – we’re actually creating a thicker barrier between conscious and unconscious. So you have to meditate.

My teacher always says, “when you have the time, go inwards.” Well, we’ve been given the time now. Hopefully we can tap into the collective consciousness as well. That’s why this is such an important time. We can really uplift, tap into something greater, make the world a better place, and elevate ourselves as a whole.

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