Stephan Hein is a holistic health & wellbeing practitioner and yoga teacher who leads Yoga Nidra classes for our gay men group. We caught up with him, to hear his thoughts on dealing with the current situation, and his tips and ideas for good health and resilience.
While, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is a dramatic and scary global situation, what positive thoughts can you share at this time?
We certainly live in unprecedented times that can feel scary especially because nobody knows what the future holds. Anxiety and depression have taken on epidemic proportions. At the same time we are forced to reach out into the unknown for new solutions.
So how do we best support ourselves? Well, first of all I want to quote from the wisdom of yoga that states that we are NOT our emotions nor the mental states from which all our emotions emerge. When we practice some form of mindfulness, meditation or yoga we create inner distance from the endless chatter, worry, or anxiety in our minds. This frees us up from fearful reaction to situations that we have no control over. Instead our awareness expands and grows into feelings that give us stillness, resilience, stability and peace.
I recommend this as one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves from the hysteria around us and instead to stay “cool, calm and collected”.
I believe this lock-down situation is quite an opportunity to SLOW DOWN, to be with oneself, to listen into oneself with curiosity and new positive interest. I can choose to see this as an invitation to discover what truly matters in my life. This is a very precious opportunity – to ask some deeper questions.
Yes, I realise, it can be challenging, but in this “enforced stillness” we have ample opportunity to do what we perhaps always wanted to do, like taking up a hobby, reading a good book, learning a new skill for the future, speaking to family & friends we haven’t spoken to for a long time etc.
We are very lucky to have the internet, both to connect with people in the whole world and as a great resource for positive information and learning. All free of charge. Many organisations now offer free zoom online classes now to nurture self-healing and community – the world over. I recommend checking out sites like www.healthflix.online or the meditation app “headspace” on google.
What advice would you offer people in terms of their health and wellbeing?
We have best opportunity now to look at our lifestyle and explore how to live healthier and happier lives, taking things into our own hands. This includes looking at diet (eat fresh and healthy food, cook your food with love or try new recipes), get enough sleep (to build your immunity and resilience), take multivitamins that includes high doses of Vit C, Zinc, K2 and D3 which is considered to help immunity to stay resilient and strong against COVID19 (ask in your local health food store about this), stay hydrated and sip plenty of pre-boiled, then cooled down water throughout the day, cut-down or cut out too much coffee or tea, alcohol, recreational drugs and smoking. It is also helpful to listen to soothing music or watching a film that you feel inspired by.
Do things more mindfully and practice things like meditation and Yoga (our Yoga Nidra here is great practice to balance our bodies and our minds), reach out and nurture loving relationships with your social networks connections and peers. Most important of all remember to SWITCH OFF the news channels when you feel overwhelmed by the negativity in the media. Instead focus on being kind to yourself and others. Today’s situation WILL pass, and life DOES moves on.
Why Yoga Nidra?
I already mentioned Yoga Nidra as an excellent tool that helps to balance us in body, mind and soul. Yoga Nidra means “Yogic sleep” that puts our body and conscious mind into sleep state but connects us to heightened states of consciousness that are very creative and positive.
Research now confirms that mindfulness practices incl. Yoga Nidra slow down the “fight-and flight” response of our nervous systems, activating the relaxation response and the “feel-good” part of our nervous & endocrine systems. This deep therapeutic effect helps to balance our biology, it calms the mind even further, making us feel more joyful and calm. This in turn opens us for reaching out to deeper and more fulfilling social connection with others that can nurture us emotionally. Hence Yoga Nidra is also a great way to remedy feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Yoga Nidra can indeed teach us that the experience of healing is never more than a thought away.