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Practicing with A Yoga Face Mask

Since face masks are now a part of our daily lives because of the new normal, questions inevitably arise (especially when doing Yoga): Is it necessary to wear a yoga face mask? Is it safe? How can I practice yoga with a face mask on? Would the exercise ought to radically change to accommodate the need to wear a yoga face mask?

Let us answer the above questions in turn...

IS IT NECESSARY TO WEAR A YOGA FACE MASK DURING YOGA PRACTICE?

It is indeed evident that wearing a face mask is among the most effective and efficient way of preventing the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The mask constrains the airborne transmission of our respiration, which, if infected, can carry the virus. Worth bearing in mind here is that even though there are no symptoms, some people may have already gotten infected. Therefore, they could spread the disease just about as quickly as someone who feels sick and has all the symptoms, and perhaps even faster since they do not know that they are already infected, and they will still act somewhat carelessly.

 We must wear a face mask whenever we are indoors since the air circulation stagnates more than outdoors. This need is amplified when sharing a room with others, as with during a yoga class. It is further magnified when we breathe a lot, like when there is too much talking, exercising, and doing breathing exercises. The confluence of factors equates us to genuinely believe that we should wear yoga face masks if we do it in a studio or an enclosed space with other people, regardless of whether we are practicing social distancing.

IS IT SAFE TO PRACTICE WITH A YOGA FACE MASK ON?

The primary concern we have when wearing a yoga face mask is with regards to safety. Yogis are concerned whether or not it will hinder the ability to breathe effectively and if it is possible to do yoga with a mask since it focused on deep breathing. Some even worry that wearing a yoga face mask will somewhat diminish the value of Yoga. 

But amidst all the doubts, the simple answer to this question is that you can still effectively practice yoga even with a mask on. Although wearing a yoga face mask will undoubtedly somehow compromises the practice of deep breathing, but except in life-threatening situations, exercising or doing yoga while wearing a yoga face mask is not harmful.

When exercising with a face mask, there are two main things to pay close attention to the heart rate and lightheadedness. It is expected that the heart rate will be a little higher when wearing a yoga face mask, but the cause for this is not evident yet. Keep a watchful eye on this when in a hot room, as heart rate will already have been elevated to help the body cool down. It would be a smart move to cool the room a little. 

Lightheadedness during exercise can result from a lack of oxygen as well as anxiety. This will result most likely when actively performing challenging postures and movements. There seems to be no significant danger of this in a yoga class, as there is not much oxygen demand than an Olympic sprinter. Nevertheless, be cautious, as there is a need to breathe more when performing challenging exercises and positions. Resting in between postures for a longer time is a sensible idea.

The great news is that wearing masks does not in itself significantly affect the ability to cool. The body is cooled down by two different mechanisms, both of which will be through the skin. Firstly, the skin's blood vessels dilate to carry blood to its surface. This is the reason why the skin will get red when we feel hot. Second, the body cools down by sweating. Sweat evaporation takes away body heat. Wearing a yoga face mask does not affect any of these processes; therefore, there is no real reason to fear overheating much more than usual.

CHOOSING A YOGA FACE MASK

Think about how particular you are to the clothes you wear to practice yoga or exercise. Over the years, yogis have already found the perfect materials or fabric to get the right shape and texture to suit their needs. 

The very same rules will apply when it comes to yoga face masks. Using paper masks when exercising is not advised because heavy breathing will cause it to disintegrate, decreasing their efficacy. Cotton masks are not ideal for sweaty yoga because, just like a shirt, they will absorb and hold on to the sweat. Using synthetic athletic materials, just like those that comprise yoga clothes, is highly recommended. Just as you carefully select your clothing, you will want to put a little effort and thought with yoga face masks.

HOW TO DO YOGA WITH A FACE MASK

There may be a need to modify the approach of doing yoga when wearing a yoga face mask. Below are some suggestions for the changes.

  1. Modify breathing exercises or, better yet, skip them.

There are two main reasons for doing this. The first one is that heavy breathing significantly increases virus spread. Second, wearing a mask has far more impact than anything else concerning breathing. The best way to adapt is to slow down and lengthen every breathing exercise, such that the air will not pass as fast in its way in and out.

  1. Take a longer rest time.

During and shortly after, challenging postures or workouts is when the body's oxygen demand will be heightened; therefore, there would more strenuous breathing. Since a mask will hamper the ability to breathe, consider getting a little more extended rest to recover before continuing along to the next exercise fully. This will also help prevent being overwhelmed during a physically exhausting exercise.

  1. A cooler room temperature. 

Yoga practice in a hot room will bring the heart rate up to help the body cool down. This, in turn, will make the body a little more stressed. With the added stress of wearing a yoga face mask, which tends to reduce the airflow, and anxiety may overpower the mind. Try cooling up the room a little bit to avoid this. This will help in lowering the heart rate and relaxing the mind, eventually offsetting the mask's added stress.

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