CINCINNATI — Researchers with the National Center for Health Statistics report this is one of the most stressful years the country has faced in decades. One in three Americans report dealing with symptoms of depression or anxiety.
What You Need To Know
- Vitality is a nonprofit offering low-cost training in “Healing Touch Yoga”
- The style of yoga teaches relaxation through movement
- The class moved online and outdoors due to the pandemic
- Interns graduated with certifications to teach yoga this October
Through months of limited social interaction, a rise in economic concerns and a quick-paced often negative news cycle, the American Medical Association is advising everyone across the country to pay close attention to their mental well-being.
While there’s no single answer to mental health, one Cincinnati group has been working for years to provide the physical and mental tools to help people find their own path to relaxation through movement.
Vitality is a nonprofit that’s been providing low-cost yoga certification training to interns across the Cincinnati area for the past 10 years. The particular style used is called “healing touch yoga” and Vitality’s goal is to make it as accessible as possible.
Lena Mamalis is one of 2020’s nine graduates.
For the past few months, all of her student teaching has taken place outside from a social distance. In a busy Cincinnati park, Mamalis said she has to accept outside interruptions like passing helicopters or screaming children at least once a class. Within that distraction, though, Mamalis said there’s a lesson you can apply outside of yoga.
“There’s always going to be distracting noises, so what is typically taught is to kind of let the background noises be part of the whole experience to not resist them,” she said.
Mamalis has plenty of practice being flexible herself. She’s been trying to get her yoga certification for years, but due to scheduling conflicts, philosophical differences with training or other barriers, nothing has worked out.
Even this year, a week before she was set to start training with Vitality, Ohio went into coronavirus shutdown.
“I thought, ‘Oh for sure this is going to be my fourth chance, my fourth try,’ and I thought it was going to fall through and I was really sad,” she said.
Instead, Vitality chose to adapt. During the six-month course, most of the classes took place online, and so did October’s graduation.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to be in person to really be in each other’s presence physically,” Mamalis said.
According to Vitality program director Brian Shircliff, that day will come eventually, but though the pandemic contact has been limited to online instruction, classes in the park or chance encounters while performing their service hours. Still, he said it was important class could continue in some form and now other studios are following Vitality’s lead.
“I know that I personally was very relieved to know that we were going to continue on,” Mamalis said.
While Mamalis believes yoga isn’t a fix-all for many of the concerns the Cincinnati community is coping with this year, she hopes the techniques she’s learned can help guide others through this stressful time.
“You can’t help everyone, but if you can be kind to yourself and you can make sure that your energy is good, you’re not going to spread anything other than kindness,” she said.
Now with cooler weather fast approaching, Mamalis expects that her outdoor classes are numbered. She plans to use her new certification to start teaching her own online classes soon.