Have you noticed your life to feel somewhat surreal because of the monotonous stress-infused intensity of your day-to-day? As you continue rolling with the punches, a sense of detachment from reality may make you feel like you’ve gone mad.
It may be soothing to know that you are not going mad, and you are not alone experiencing this. Feelings like that are called depersonalization: when someone experiences their own life and people around them as unreal, artificial, and lifeless. Talk about depersonalization may be especially relevant during our pandemic times. In the last 14 months, I certainly felt detached from my own self far more often than I’d like to admit. In these moments my yoga practice has been my savior. Even when my session is limited to five minutes, it really helps to get back into my skin and rid of depersonalization symptoms. Try it: just close your eyes and focus on your breath for five minutes.
This personal experience is supported by science. This study set to compare two interventions: group fitness activity and personalized yoga practice. Each of the two groups was comprised of randomly assigned junior doctors, who reportedly experience a lot of burnout. In addition to measuring the level of burnout, the scientists also measured level of depersonalization before and after eight weeks of either fitness or yoga. The results were thought-provoking: while both fitness and yoga reduced burnout in doctors, only yoga was able to reduce the symptoms of depersonalization. Moreover, yoga (and not fitness) increased compassion satisfaction, which is not only an important metric reflecting medical professionals’ wellbeing, but also a measure associated with quality of medical care and patients’ outcomes (Zhang et al., 2018).
In addition to going through standardized psychiatric test, the group of doctors who did yoga reported significantly higher fulfillment from the time invested in the intervention compared to the group of doctors who did fitness. In other words, the self-perceived wellbeing was significantly higher after yoga as compared to group fitness.
Although the study is limited to a group of 21 doctors, its results reaffirm statements you commonly hear in a yoga class: yoga has the ability to ground us in the reality. What’s important and novel coming from this research is that yoga may be doing this more effectively than fitness.
Curious to try for yourself? We offer community classes outside while building out our brick-and-mortar. Come join us on the mat! Follow us on Instagram or Facebook for updates on class formats and teachers, and sign up for our emails so you're always in the know!
Be well, love fiercely, and share your thought in the comments below :)