How do you practice yoga with a face mask?

In many parts of the world, it is now mandatory to wear a face mask while exercising in a public group setting. Wearing a face cover can not only be very uncomfortable. It also can be quite distracting, especially during a yoga practice where we have such a strong focus on the breath. Here are some tips for you that hopefully help to wear your mask with more ease.

Tip #1 Prop up

Consider your mask as a yoga prop, not a handicap. 

Everyone, beginners and advanced practitioners alike, can benefit from using props. They support and assist the physical shape of a yoga pose and enable the practitioner to practice accordingly to their abilities. It may sound illogical at first, but why not using your face mask as a supportive tool for your breath? How many times during a yoga class do you ‘forget’ to breathe? It happens, right? Now with the mask softly touching your nose and mouth, it should be a nice little reminder for staying connected with your breath. The moment you feel the fabric, come back to your breath and be extra focused on slow, deep inhales and exhales through the nose. Let the breath flow as naturally as possible. (By the way, you know that your inhale was too deep when the mask got sucked into your nose. No need to be ashamed; it happens to the best of us. Just keep breathing.) 

Tip #2 Sporty chic for sweaty people

According to the World Health Organisation, sweat can make a mask wet more quickly, making it difficult to breathe and promote microorganisms’ growth. So choose a sports or performance mask to wear during a yoga class. Those masks are designed with athletes in mind – they are made with different layers that allow airflow while also offering protection. Depending on the company, some of those masks have an antimicrobial treatment and a filter. Most of them are fast-drying and made of thin, comfortable fabric. They are a little bit more pricy than ‘every-day’ masks but washable and reusable. 

Tip #3 Glasses are a mask’s best friend?

No, they aren’t. Do you wear glasses? I do. I have tried my best to practice with both, but it wasn’t fun. The fabric lets the frame slide down my nose like melting ice from a roof in spring. If I manage to keep the glasses where they belong, they, of course, fog up. You get the idea.

If you have the same problems, try to practice without glasses or wear contact lenses. If you thought for a second to give up on the mask favouring sharp vision, forget about it. Several studies on masks’ efficiency have shown that mask mandates led to a slowdown in the daily COVID-19 growth rate. Case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, namely when close contact cannot be avoided. So, wearing a mouth-nose cover during a public yoga class doesn’t only benefit you, but everyone else in the room. 

Tip #4 3D Brackets

If you need more breathing space, and wear your glasses while practicing yoga, try a silicone 3D bracket for face masks. These brackets can add more distance between mask and face so that sucking in the fabric, fogged glasses, and sweaty skin against material is no longer an issue.

Bonus Tip: Trust the Science

Yes, masks can be very uncomfortable, especially during physical activities. It is indeed a fact that the World Health Organisation does not recommend masks when exercising, as they may reduce the ability to breathe unrestricted. Significantly affected are people who experience occasional breathlessness due to chronic lung and breathing issues and people who cannot use a face cover because of disabilities or if it causes them severe distress. For the average healthy person, though, it is safe and recommended to wear a mask in public places whenever they are in other people’s companies. It is a myth that carbon dioxide from exhaling gets trapped and causes unhealthy build-up or even poisoning. Research has also shown that masks do not even decrease the oxygen intake. 

 

Ressources: World Health Organisation I International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health I Science Daily

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