It's #WellnessWeek!! As we navigate through our series of empowerment, self-love, and financial awareness, we also wanted to connect and align with our health and wellness goals.
These times have been very hard. It seems like everyday we are faced with more bad news, uncertainty, bad luck, racial discrimination, and lack of hope. You all have been asking what can we do to manage our mental health? How can we overcome these terrible times and maintain positivity and hope? We sat down with business owner and Yogi extraordinar Cassandra Farnan to discuss ways to manage stress, depression, and our mental health while in quarantine and beyond.
1. How are you coping while being in quarantine?
I’m trying to stay busy, working on my yard and house, hanging out with my husband and dog. Some days are easier than others but I miss my family and interacting with people in person.
2. How can we destress and unwind from home?
If you live with people, make a corner or section completely your own. For some people it’s space to do yoga for others it’s gardening or playing music. Find something you truly enjoy to do that’s not work. It might take effort but allowing your mind to be focused or engaged in something can help alleviate stress. Sometimes just taking a moment to be still is all we really need.
3. Why is it important to stay active and maintain a healthy diet?
Staying physically active and eating well helps develop a healthy mind. Of course, they’re good for the body. Think about how you feel when you wake up hungover, it’s the worse! A day after working out and eating well, you’ll probably wake up with a restful night’s sleep, ready to take on the day.
4. How can our mental Health be affected while in quarantine?
How couldn’t it? Being told to stay home, stay away from all of our friends and family, all while people are getting sick and dying. This is a major stress. I work mainly from home. While my lifestyle hasn’t changed much, being told I can’t do things has been challenging. While I understand and respect why, it’s still difficult. You might feel like your thriving one day and the next need to melt into the couch. All feelings are validated and real. It’s okay to feel them. Yoga helps us acknowledge them for what they are and not hold onto them or let them take over.
5. What are good beginner yoga poses we can do at home?
1. Easy seat - Sitting on your railing, spine tall, legs can be crossed or out stretched. This is great for meditating and centering yourself. If you feel unstable you can always sit in a chair or lean against the wall.
2. Child’s pose - This is a must know pose that you can take any time you want. Start in a table (explained below). Bring your knees are as wide as your mat, big toes to touch, release your tailbone down to your heels, your head down to the ground or pillow. Extend your arms so that your palms or finger tips are touching down. As you breathe in, make space in the belly. As you breathe out, let your hips sink deeper down.
3. Plank - Wrists under shoulders, engage the core
4. Down dog - Making an upside down ‘V’ with your body. Tailbone is high and your head is hanging heavy between your biceps. Your hands and feet should be as far away from each other as they are when you’re in plank. While your in down dog you can shake out your legs, your head. You can do as many steps as you need to come back into your forward fold.
6. How many minutes or hours per day should we be active?
This varies for everyone, even in quarantine everyone’s schedule is different. 30 minutes to an hour is ideal for me depending on the activity.
7. What are good breathing techniques we can do to manage anxiety?
There is a breathing technique called 4-7-8. You inhale for the count of 4, hold your breath in to the count of 7, and exhale to the count of 8. This may seem difficult at first, don’t worry. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to breathe. You’re bringing full awareness to your breath, your life force. As long as you are breathing, you can overcome whatever is causing your anxiety at that moment.
8. How does yoga as a practice manage depression and anxiety?
It brings your attention back to your breath. Yes, it might make you more limber, physically and mentally. And when your body feels good, typically your mind does. Personally, it has instilled a major sense of detachment. We can acknowledge everything that we are feeling and thinking but that doesn’t mean it has to consume us. You can flow through a practice or meditate and think about everything that is bothering you in every aspect and then leave it there. On your mat. Thinking something through, putting it out into the universe and then letting life go on. Again, this might not happen the first time you sit on your mat. It comes with practice.
9. What advice do you have for those who are trying to cope with being home for long periods of time?
Get some fresh air. If you can’t take a stroll around the block, sit on your front or porch. If you can’t do that, sit near a window. Breathe in fresh air. If possible, stand in grass, dirt, water, sand, barefoot. Literally connect with the earth. And then call your best friend and vent. Ha! Then let them vent! Everyone still needs to be heard.
10. Any last thoughts or words or encouragement?
I hope this was helpful. This is a crazy time in history. We all need something. Yoga is for everyone, all bodies, all minds. There are so many different types of yoga and there is an accessible practice for everyone. It’s okay if you can’t touch your toes or do a handstand. Breathe. You just did yoga. Also! If you don’t like yoga, don’t do it. Find your yoga: play music, garden, bake, whatever keeps you centered, that’s your yoga.
For more yoga and meditation techniques follow Cassandra Farnan on Instagram @saltwateryoga.nj www.saltwateryoganj.com