One of the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic’s shutdown of nonessential businesses is staying physically fit. For people used to going to the gym several times a week it can be hard to replicate their regular workouts. The weights, machines and other special equipment at the gym aren’t available for most people at home. And the camaraderie for those who have workout buddies is lost because of social distancing.
I see a lot more people out walking, running and biking in public spaces, which is great, as long as the weather is good. If you have to exercise indoors, your options are more limited.
There are tons of websites, apps and online videos devoted to all kinds of exercise routines. I wanted to find something that didn’t require a lot of space or any special equipment. Yoga seemed like an activity worth investigating.
My research into the ancient practice reveals that it is a deep — and some believe mystical —pursuit with many branches and even more unpronounceable terms. There are many grand claims of yoga’s ability to heal all sorts of maladies, from back pain to cancer. I’m not yet interested in magical powers or becoming one with the universe. I just want to learn a few routines that will improve my flexibility, strength and balance, and if it also increases my peace of mind, that would be fine.
After reviewing several sites, I settled on yogajournal.com. There’s enough free instruction on the site for a beginner like me to dip his toes into yoga. You can pay to become a premium member, which offers an ad-free experience, but the ads on the site are not unbearable.
The home page has several feature articles that lean toward the “yoga can fix anything” aspect of the practice, with subjects such as essential oils, dealing with energy vampires, boosting immunity and igniting creativity. I have no doubt that exercise plays a vital role in overall physical and mental health, but many of the claims about yoga strike me as hyperbole.
What I was looking for is in the top menu bar under Poses. This section has an extensive library of poses from beginner through advanced. They are organized by type (sitting, standing, lying, etc.), benefit (anxiety, energy, fitness, etc.) and anatomy (abs, back, legs, etc.). Each pose has a photo and detailed description. There’s also information on its benefits, who shouldn’t attempt it, and what poses work well before and after it. Many poses also have a video demonstration of the correct way to do them.
The top menu has links to all the features on the site. Most of the sections consist of videos, some of them up to an hour or more, that demonstrate routines for different physical or mental scenarios.
The site has a light and airy design that is easy to navigate. The content, look and feel of the site suggest its key demographic is women, but the information is valuable for anyone interested in learning about yoga.
Kevin OʼNeill has been a staff artist for The Times-Tribune since June 1993. In addition to doing illustrations and infographics and designing pages for the paper’s print and electronic publications, he writes InSites, a weekly column about websites and apps. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5212