Managing Our Mental State

Why yoga can beat the black dog

According to the Black Dog Institute, ‘Australians have been impacted by fear, anxiety and panic about coronavirus (COVID-19). Following on from the bushfire disasters over summer, the community has been in a heightened state of anxiety and struggling to manage the uncertainty surrounding the possible spread and impact of COVID-19.’

If you overlay these recent stressors to our mental well-being with the day to day worries regarding employment, finances and existing mental and physical health issues then it is apparent Australians of all age and gender need to be more proactive about their mental health.

And you don’t need to have deep pockets to access ways to support your mental health. One of the most effective ways to benefit your mental and physical health from the comfort of your own home is through yoga.

It is something that has played a central role in my life and helped me navigate the challenging moments and crises that I have experienced in both my professional and personal life.

Calm the mind

Being raised in an Indian household, yogic philosophy and culture has helped my family through times of change and stress – and most recently it has helped support the demands of being an actuary during COVID-19.

Yoga works by developing strength and flexibility. As part of a regular exercise plan it is proven to promote better health, better sleep and provide an increased sense of wellbeing. Yoga is low impact, can be practiced indoors with only a small space.

Yoga helps calm the mind through pranayama (breathing techniques). It brings peace and stillness to our busy minds using various meditation techniques. In a yoga class, you might be bending or holding a pose for a length of time you are not accustomed to. This creates some degree of stress. So, the use of breathing techniques enables us to be able to better handle stressful situations by focusing on the breath and staying still.

It pays to remember the first few classes are always the hardest and gradually the body will become looser and more flexible. The more continued practice of yoga leads to greater benefits for the body.

Why yoga and being an actuary go hand in hand

I relate to yoga on many levels – cultural, spiritual but also interestingly from a career perspective. You may be wondering why on earth a fully qualified actuary and principal consultant is interested in yoga so much, but I see great synchronicity between the two – and am reaping the benefits.

For me teaching yoga, has taught me a new set of skills that have become invariably handy in two main areas of my life – being a successful consulting actuary and being a parent. It literally doesn’t matter what is going on in my head – and there is invariably a lot – when I walk into a yoga class or a client meeting my goal is to present myself as a calm and collected individual.

Here are a couple of free yoga sites to help you practice yoga in your own home: