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Why I’m Still Going For Yoga In A Time Of Safe Distancing and Covid-19

Know the risks, take precautions, and do what feels right for you.

As we enter the Nth week of living with the Coronavirus outbreak and struggling with the new Normal, I’ve realised there are two groups of people — those who are super-cautious and choosing to stay at home unless they absolutely have no choice, and those who try to have a semblance of a normal life, albeit cautiously. I guess I belong to the latter. To be fair, I didn’t leave the house for a week after Dorscon Orange was declared, but now, with a lot more information than before and with the government putting up multiple lines of defence to guard against local spread of Covid-19, my family and I have been doing things like going out to restaurants, playgrounds, shopping malls and the beach.

Of course, the Coronavirus situation is changing every day, and if and when Singapore has wide community spread, I’m sure everyone, including us, will lock themselves up at home. But for now, I’m still hitting the yoga studio one or twice a week. It’s a calculated risk.

Is this necessary equipment for yoga class? An exaggeration, but it pays to be careful.
First, the pros.

1. The benefits of exercise and keeping fit and healthy in both mind and body cannot be overstated. Yoga, especially hot yoga, makes me feel healthy in mind and body. Without it, I might not be exercising at all.

2. Yes, you can yoga at home with apps and YouTube videos. But unfortunately I can’t heat my home like a hot yoga studio can.

3. Yoga is non-contact. You don’t have to touch anyone or anything, if you bring your own mat and towels, which I do. And I have to trust that when my yoga studio says they sterilise equipment like blocks and floors and other surfaces, they are doing a thorough job.

4. Many yoga studios have taken the measure of reducing class capacities and increasing the space between mats, mine included, after the government introduced new guidelines for safe distancing. When I went for class this week, there were clear marks on the floor where mats had been for a long time, as they had been moved further apart. I am definitely more than one arm’s length away from my neighbour. And that’s further than the person probably standing rightbehindyou in the queue for some hot ticket food item or restaurant table.

5. You don’t have to linger, socialise or shower at the yoga studio. I minimise contact with lockers, door handles and toilets. Basically, do your thang and get out.

Breathe. Relax. Wash your hands.
Then, the cons.

1. Yoga is done in closed, poorly ventilated rooms. This is, obviously, bad. According to a doctor we spoke to about which activities are still safe with the virus outbreak, yoga is one of those with some risk. He tells us, “If you're doing hot yoga, there is moisture in the air, so that one might be a risk, if the temperature doesn’t kill the virus. We still don't [have complete information] about this virus, but viruses generally do not like high temperatures.”

2. Some yoga studios still seem to be packed. Standing shoulder to sweaty shoulder with your neighbour is not acceptable these days. And when you have to stretch sideways, you may actually touch. Eek!

3. You may pick up germs from shared surfaces, even if you bring your own equipment. Door handles, lift buttons, shower and toilet facilities — these are all places where the virus may lurk. But then again, these dangers exist wherever you go — school, office, shopping mall, supermarket, food centre. As always, wash hands, sanitise, and don’t touch your face.

At the end of the day, you have to make your own decisions and do what makes you feel comfortable. If practising yoga at a studio feels dangerous to you, practise at home instead. Until the government declares a shutdown of restaurants, cinemas, shopping malls, gyms and other lifestyle locations, like in many places in the US and Europe, we can assume that they still intend for people to patronise these places. And if the day comes when we have widespread local infection, let’s all ohm at home instead.

Keep a safe distance from your neighbour at all times.

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