Yoga prescribed
One doctor's personal testament of the benefits of the practice
Dr Yohann White

Yoga has been tried and tested for many generations and is a beneficial practice that has stood the test of time. I highly recommend it. There is something for everyone. When you're not sure about what your body can manage, you can check in with your family doctor.

I had been going to Afya, a yoga studio, on and off — "mostly off", as Sonita reminded me. To be fair, I hadn't been in Jamaica half the time. Fast forward to now, and Afya's new location places them literally five minutes from my clinical practice at 11 Cunningham Avenue. So, I can stop using traffic and 'a little off my path' as excuses. And if I had excuses about the schedule, well, now there are so many options during weekdays and weekends, both in studio and online.

Dropping in on their new 'lunchtime' classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12 noon is really refreshing, and helps me feel relaxed, recentred and re-energised, a feeling that takes me through the rest of the week. One Thursday afternoon, I had opted to join the 6:00 pm class with Tina doing kundalini (con-da-leeny) yoga. I had arrived at the studio very early, and had time for a light vegetarian meal and beet juice from a vegetarian store at nearby Seymour Park, and nearly two hours to digest it while I read a book ahead of the session. An interesting thing happened.

Kundalini

I had had an early start to the day (to beat traffic), and it had become a little intense with writing reports and doing updates with the team at work. Sonita, Tina and I engaged in a little chitchat just prior to the session, discussing the various types of yoga — from ashtanga to kundalini to yin and restorative forms, as well as vinyasa flow. I was not familiar with kundalini prior to then, but it quickly became clear that breathing technique was a very important aspect of it. Initially, we spent time breathing through one nostril at a time, while keeping the other one closed with the thumb, and alternating. A quarter way into my hour-long session, I started to feel a burst of energy. Except that it was not quite the right time for my creative juices to be kicking in, with my thinking of articles to write and how I was going to get creative in the kitchen when I got home. Even new work projects popped into my head. I realised I was drifting, and with the help of the calming voice of my instructor, Tina, I brought my attention back to my breathing, listening to and feeling the long breaths enter and leave my body. The power of this kind of deep breathing is why I have recommended yoga and deep breathing exercises to my patients, from those with anxiety to those with lost lung function from long COVID. The lungs are stretchy, but with our usual day-to-day breathing, we don't really use up all that capacity, and deep breathing helps us to deliver more air to our lungs and therefore more oxygen to our blood stream that then gets to the cells or building blocks of our bodies. Oxygen is important for releasing energy and making that energy available to our bodies.

Easy breezy

One of my favourite things about going to Afya for yoga is the smartphone application or app called Momoyoga. I created an account with my e-mail address and can see all the sessions, the types of yoga, and the respective instructors available. I can select a single session or a batch of sessions with a discounted rate, which I can pay at the studio or by online bank transfer. I get a confirmation e-mail when I book, and I can use the Momoyoga app to track how many sessions I have left from the package I purchased.

Dr Yohann White is director and workplace wellness consultant at Para Caribe Consulting. He can be reached at yohann.white@caribewellness.com or @ParaCaribeJa on social media.

Yoga and deep- breathing exercises can help people with anxiety to those with lost lung function from long COVID.Pexels
Dr Yohann White

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