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Stories from Inspire

Personal: Baptiste yoga helped me cope with COVID stress

by Voices Wellness 15 Jul 2020

In pandemic times, practice can help you regain courage and joy. By SOPHIE SANDERS. 

I’m not perfect — I don’t meditate, yoga or journal every day. Baptiste yoga has gotten me present to the understanding that I can yoga or meditate until the cows jump over the moon, and nothing will change. Unless I am willing to step up to my edge, and be in discovery of new possibilities.

The modern power yoga style was created by Baron Baptiste. Its physical aspects are inspired by the Hatha yoga teachings of Krisnamarcharya, and his students, BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois (whom Baron studied with personally from a very young age). The physical practice requires you to move from pose to pose, using a set sequence called Journey Into Power. We are encouraged to move according to how our body feels, not how we think we should look like in a pose. 

Baptiste yoga can get you out of stress and anxiety, but it’s no magic pill. You have to be willing to do the work. The work is in “yoking” the three practices of Asana, meditation and inquiry. After all, the word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root, ‘yuj’, meaning to join, that is to yoke or unite. 

To quote Baron Baptiste, “Asana is an access to power, vitality and freedom. Meditation is an access to getting present and awakening. Inquiry is an access to self-discovery and new possibilities.” 

Currently I’m participating in a 40 Days to Personal Revolution programme with Baron Baptiste, where “work” is mainly yoga six times a week; meditation, twice daily, and journaling. 

Meditation is part of the Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution programme. (Photo courtesy of Sophie Sanders)

Calm in chaos

Even though I’ve led programmes twice, and participated in others, thrice, it doesn’t get easier. I keep coming back because I am committed to my own growth. There is a desire in me to disrupt my status quo — those voices in my head that says, “I can’t.”

There is a different theme every week in the 40 days. And the week of Equanimity is one practice I think we are all in need of, in these Covid-19 times.

“Equanimity is the art of meeting life as it meets you — calmly with an open heart, without drama or fuss.”  — Baron Baptiste

We are all feeling anxious, and stressed about how we’re going to put food on the table; whether we’ll have a job or not; surviving home-schooling, while working at the same time. And if there is a history of abuse, even staying safe at home becomes a worry. 

Equanimity is the practice of being calm in the midst of chaos. Staying when we encounter something uncomfortable, and especially when every cell in our body wants to run. Baptiste says that rather than fighting (things we cannot change), it’s so much simpler to just accept that we aren’t in control of these things.

The key word is simpler, not easier. It is easy to react when we feel out of control. Like screaming at your partner or kids; or dashing out and panic-buying the whole store because we may run out of food and supplies.

The way out of reactivity, frustration and stress is to practice equanimity, and letting go of what you can’t control, and bringing your attention to what you can. Letting go or relaxing doesn’t mean surrendering. Nor does it mean you are weak. It requires courage. Courage for you to accept things (and people) as they are, and as they are not. With nothing to change, nothing to fix.

When you surrender and relax, it is an opportunity to create space for courage and joy, and reduce stress and anxiety.  

Equanimity is the practice of being calm in the midst of chaos. (Photo courtesy of Sophie Sanders)

The refocus

The year 2020 will be one I will never forget. It’s the year when the world fell apart. But we also see it come together again, with clearer skies, and humanity connecting in support. 

 Although it may sound weird, I appreciated the isolation. Not because of my introverted nature, but because it has made me appreciate my loved ones more, especially the ones I couldn’t hug. It also allowed me to ‘connect’ with my friends who live across the world, via Zoom and yoga.

“Staying focused on what you cannot do prevent you from discovering what you can do.”— Baron Baptiste 

I’m not good with changes. The uncertainty of this situation is teaching me to accept change with equanimity. Focusing on what I can control keeps me out of the negative whirlwind of my thoughts. I know it’s hard to be positive when you’re in a dire and hopeless situation, or you wonder “if it’s too late”. There was a poem circulating on various online sites, entitled “We Are Not In The Same Boat, But We Are In The Same Storm”. So I may not have the same experience as you, but in truth, we are all the same. 

To live life with courage and joy, you need to expand yourself. (Photo courtesy of Sophie Sanders)   

Be a yes

When you wake up every morning it’s an opportunity to begin, newly. You have the choice to expand yourself, or retreat into your disempowering thoughts. 

Baptiste says that “Yes and No are present in all things. When you are a yes to one thing, you are no to another.”

Ask yourself, what are you a yes for? Can you be a yes to what you want to make happen without having anything stopping you? 

Right now is the time. Right now is all you’ve got.

​Sophie Sanders is a certified Baptiste yoga teacher. She is passionate about empowering others — through yoga, meditation and inquiry — to live life courageously and with loving kindness. When she is not teaching, you can find Sophie working on her inspirational blog

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