As a registrar with the WSFT public health team, Grace Norman is only too aware of the importance of taking care of our own health, as well as looking after our families and the whole community through our work.
For Grace, a spell of leave over Christmas after an incredibly busy year work-wise made her focus on how she was going to take care of herself in the busy months ahead working from home. "I realised 2021 would be just as busy, and asked myself how I was going to be less sedentary, move a bit and find some brain space" she said.
Grace had a friend who was in a similar situation and they met over Zoom one evening after work to do a ten-minute YouTube yoga session. "It was probably 15 to 20 minutes overall with setting up and chatting," she said. "Just doing one session and with a companion made it easier to do it again."
The web content Grace is using is Yoga with Kassandra, and the YouTube channel includes a 30-day programme of ten-minute videos that can be followed at any time, with no need for equipment or even much space. It is free and there is no commitment - Grace suggests children could join in too.
"I have been doing these day by day, sometimes more than one if I have time," said Grace. "It is so easy to pick up and do any time - you don't get hot and sweaty, or even have to get changed. It's mainly stretching, but it gets the blood moving and really warms me up. I find I get cold sitting and working at a laptop all day."
Grace said she is already more flexible, and believes the yoga will improve her core strength and also help with an existing knee problem. "I feel less stiff, much more free. It's just ten minutes, and you only have to do what you can. Listen to your body and if something hurts or you feel you can't stretch that far, then you can skip that bit and stop."
Doing yoga every day has also helped Grace to feel calmer and more centred. She said: "Breathing is an important part of yoga too. I've realised recently that slowing down my breathing is a good way to help me feel calmer in times of stress. Some longer YouTube videos have a minute or two of lying down at the end; it's nice to be given permission to have that time to myself to just 'be'."
There is a great deal of choice on the internet, stressed Grace, and while Kassandra's sessions work for her, there are others available or there is always the option of finding a teacher. "It's good to find someone you like, and do make sure you are careful if they are doing things you are not able to do. I'd recommend trying some YouTubers out, or ask for personal recommendations from friends or colleagues," she said.
"Whether you are working at a desk sitting down all day, either from home or at an office, or working on the frontline and on your feet all day, you may benefit from taking time to sit, breathe properly and just be," said Grace. "We are all super busy, but it is so important to give yourself permission to take a few minutes for yourself. We prioritise everyone else, but we're not so good at prioritising ourselves."
Want to try out some online classes for yourself?
The NHS website has a "fitness studio", which offers a range of instructor-led videos, from yoga and Pilates to belly dancing. There are classes to suit all levels of fitness and tackle specific issues.