Feeling stressed? Try Yoga...

The fast pace of modern life can leave us with little time to unwind and truly have a moment of peace and stillness, so it's no wonder stress levels are on the rise. Your yoga mat can be a great 'quiet space' to escape to and reconnect with ourselves. Even if its just for a few minutes, yoga can be a restorative practice, after all, its all about bringing our body back into balance.

Yoga is rooted in spiritual practice originating in India some 5000 years ago. Its not just an exercise; in its pure form Yoga describes a way of living to link body, mind and soul in order to achieve enlightenment and divine bliss. Sounds good right? The use of breathing techniques and meditation can help to reduce blood pressure, lift mood and release endorphins to give us a deeper sense of calm than most other forms of exercise.

Breathing is the essence of life, it brings the vital energy needed for all life functions. Our breathing has a natural rhythm that can be very soothing if we can tune in to it. It is thought that many aches and pains in our body can be linked back to dysfunctional breathing. Learning to control this takes time and practice.

Try this simple breathing exercise:

  • Begin by switching your phone or other distractions off and sitting or lying in a comfortable position with your hands on your belly.

  • Breathe in through your nose and our through your mouth. Close your eyes and feel your belly rise with each in breath and fall with each out breath although don't try to force this movement.

  • Spend 2-3 minutes focusing only on this (it's harder than it sounds not to be distracted!) Notice other thoughts that pop into your mind but try not to be diverted by them - keep coming back to your breath. You should feel both connected to yourself and to the present moment.

  • As you get used to this connection you will be able to link it into your Yoga practice by letting your movements flow to the rhythm of your breath.

The asanas (postures) in yoga are also designed to bring our body back into a balanced state. For example sun salutation work on both flexing and extending the spine equally so we develop strength and flexibility in a well-rounded way. Some poses are particularly good at grounding us, for example Childs Pose or forward bending poses can be very soothing.

There is often a specific time for meditation at the end of each class however the entire practice of yoga can be a mindful process. You will come across positions that challenge you on your mat, much like you come across other challenges in daily life. Use these opportunities to become mindful of how you respond to difficulties and to explore alternative options. For example perhaps not 'ploughing on through' in a way that may lead to injury on the mat and exhaustion in daily life. But explore softening, relaxing and begin to open your body and your mind.

If you are interested in trying a yoga class or 1-2-1 contact me now to find out more.