As with many of us in 2020, the pandemic has made me feel tense and anxious. I tend to be an over-worrier anyway, but the pandemic left me afraid to step out of the comfort of my own home, made me fret over my family’s whereabouts when they left the house and led me to obsessively watch and read the news coverage on all things corona.
I knew this was negatively impacting my mental health and that I needed a distraction to help me get through this period, so I explored different activities that could help ease my anxiety. I love reading, and I found I was able to seek comfort in my novels, but there were times when I couldn’t concentrate on a plot. That was the same case when it came to watching TV shows and films – I couldn’t relax when I sat in front of my screen. My mind always seemed to be racing as I’d struggle to sit in one place – my restlessness was overpowering me.
Exercise had to be the answer if I needed to keep moving. I love high-intensity workouts, but I needed to do a form of exercise where I could relax without feeling exhausted or breathless, something to help me release the emotional tension I was holding. Eventually, I chanced upon Body Balance (also known as Body Flow), a class I’ve been familiar with before the pandemic, but now a class I heavily depend on for my mental and physical health.
So what is Body Balance? “Body Balance / Body Flow is a group exercise class that specializes in the use of Yoga and Pilates”, says Body Balance and group fitness instructor Nichole Eastman. “Body Balance is a time for you to relax your muscles, connect your mind to your body, yet empty your mind of thoughts, keeping you calm.”
The class begins with Tai Chi to warm-up the muscles and joints before progressing on to yoga movements: sun salutations, standing strength, and balance training. You then head into pilates to focus on your core – both abdominals and back. Lastly, you slow down further by returning to yoga and working on your hip openers, forward folds, hamstring stretches, before you relax and meditate at the end of the class.
“It doesn’t matter if you have experience in Yoga / Pilates or not,” Nichole says, “you can still enjoy this program and improve your flexibility, have the ability to calm and unwind, and have the time to yourself to relax”.
One of the biggest benefits I found with Body Balance is that I’ve been able to feel calmer and less anxious during these Covid times. I can refocus my energy on the fluidity of the poses and stretches, and have learned how important it is to take a step back and slow down. Pre-Covid, I was always in a rush to get from A to B – whether that’s working full steam ahead to meet a work deadline, running to catch the train in the morning and evening, or rushing to my meetings and appointments. Doing the Body Balance program during lockdown has taught me to be patient, look after my overall health and wellness, and manage my stress levels.
Whilst adapting to the current circumstances, Nichole explained that we find ourselves having:
-poorer posture due to sitting and working at home
-shortened hamstrings and hip flexors due to sitting more often, leading us to stiffen
-stopped us from connecting to one another
Body Balance helps eliminate all of those points. You’re given the space to breathe and wash away tension in the mind and body, improve your posture, and it enables you to connect to others through Group Exercise online.
After several months of doing the class, I can see progress in my flexibility and strength whilst I feel more at peace. Although I will still experience pangs of worry and anxiety (which I know is normal and expected during these times), I find I can manage it better than I had done at the beginning of lockdown. Body Balance has given me the chance to calm my mind and settle my restlessness with ease.
This has been my form of self-care that has instantly improved my mood, and something I know I will continue to do post-Covid.
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!