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The Mental & Physical Benefits Of Practicing Yoga During The Pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — In an ever-changing world, it may be hard to find time for yourself. Intermountain Healthcare’s Chanda Vaniman said that’s exactly what we need.

“So, taking a moment to check in and say, ‘Hey, what am I feeling today? What is all this anxiety that’s getting created from all this stuff I’m reading, all the things I’m hearing? And what’s the future going to be like? And is my family OK? And am I OK?’” she said.

Frankly put, she said you deserve it. “This is a way to care for ourselves. And self-care, I would say, probably for most of us, goes out the window,” Vaniman said.

She explained you don’t need to be in a studio to practice yoga. You can find the health benefits from stretching and tuning in with yourself in your own home.

KSL TV health specialist Aley Davis follows along through zoom for a yoga practice with an Intermountain Healthcare exercise specialist.

Vaniman encouraged people to tune into their bodies and identify where they hold onto stress. She suggested you ask: “Is it in my shoulders? Is it in my head? I have a headache. Where’s the tension coming from?”

By paying attention to your physical needs, Vaniman said, you also care for your mental health. She added releasing tension in the body also affects the mind.

“For me, at the end of the day it’s about connecting mind and the body,” she emphasized.

Vaniman said when someone’s anxiety is running high, it’s typical for them to feel like they are hyperventilating. “So, not being able to breathe and the panic that comes from that,” she described.

That’s when she encourages people to focus on their breath. “I’ve just got a moment … I’m going to take a nice deep breath in and a deep exhale,” she demonstrated.

“You can literally feel the tension release,” Vaniman said.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Chanda Vaniman says it’s important for the body to be moved frequently to relieve stress.

She said you can practice yoga first thing in the morning, midday during a break from work or right before bed to help you sleep better. Any way you do it, she said your practice doesn’t have to be long or fancy.

“Whether you stay seated in a chair, you stand up, or you’re on the floor, anybody can do it,” she said.

She encouraged people to just get started, adding that your body and mind will thank you. “Our bodies feel that (release of tension) and it’s like, ‘It’s going to be OK. We’re going to make it,’” she said.

You can find free “at-home” yoga videos through Intermountain Healthcare’s LiVe Well Center at or tune in for in-person or virtual yoga classes through Intermountain Healthcare.

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