Some of you might say that yoga is to slow for your exercise, but do you know what, back in 2006 I was so stressed out my hair was falling out, so my husband and I decided we needed a long holiday so went on a world backpacking trip. While in Thailand we saw 5 Thai people practising really weird things all in unison. That turned out to be Yoga.
The thing that struck me the most was just how happy, relaxed and calm they all were after this hour. I’d seen things about yoga before, my nan used to do it and loved it but I’d always dismissed it instead opting for running, swimming and cycling to get exercise.
This hour of watching those five people on the beach made me realise that yoga isn’t about exercise, it’s about finding inner peace through movement.
You might say do you know what, I’ve got such a busy life I don’t have time to reinvent myself and become this fitness person. Do you know what, I completely understand, this is the exact same challenge I faced when I started on my journey because just like you, I was under the impression I needed to do 30 – 60 minutes every single day hard core in the gym however what’s really exciting research has shown you only need to dedicate 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week to see the phenomenal benefits to your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Also what’s really fabulous, research has shown that usually we’re spending 22 hours a week watching TV, doing things that we don’t get pleasure out of but just because we’re so exhausted.
The catch 22 of it is that we generate energy by moving so if we’re exhausted and not moving, we now wont feel good. Doing some kind of movement gives your body the fuel it needs to function and we often we get trapped in this cycle.
Each time we feel down, and we have so much cortisol in our system, that’s our stress hormone. To reduce this, we need to find some kind of movement which will then allow the serotonin and dopamine, that’s our happy hormone and our calming hormone to be in our system. By having this in our system, we feel so much better.
Even if its just 5 minutes in the morning, then that will help you get up and get your day started the right way.
There are so many different forms of yoga and it is very accessible now. Hatha is a calming class whereas Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga Yoga is very fast and moves with your breath. Vinyasa Flow is a sequence of poses put together using breath work.
Ashtanga follows 41 poses. Both are quite a sweaty practice but the more you sweat, the more toxins are being released from your body. Then you have Restorative yoga, for a more calming yoga experience. There are so many different forms and you just need to find one that fits you and your needs.
Breath work is incredible to help you feel calm. In everyday breathing we tend not to breathe correctly, we shallow breathe a lot which is actually beneficial for us because we are not getting the right amount of oxygen in to our blood stream and cells.
Our blood needs oxygen to function and when we breathe correctly, we are filling our bodies more with good oxygen which in turn will then make us feel better and less sluggish. If you feel that your mind is getting away with you and that you cannot control your emotions and feelings this is where breath work comes in.
There are so many different breath patterns you can do but the main go to one is called Square Breathing and here is how you do it. Sit and close your eyes, Inhale through your nose counting to 4 slowly. Hold your breath for 4 counts and then exhale through your mouth for 4 counts, hold again at the bottom and repeat 3 times.
This is incredible at releasing your happy hormone and calming hormones. Whenever you feel stressed and like your world is crumbling around you, always come back to this breath pattern.
Breath work and meditation go really well together. Now you might be thinking that meditation is boring or that you won’t be able to sit still for more than 5 minutes. Well do you know that if you’ve only got 5 minutes then that’s great.
Meditation really helps to bring a sense of awareness to your body and will really channel your thoughts to an area of peace and calm within your mind. Just by sitting and being still, breathing. Find a comfortable space to sit in without any distractions, close your eyes and breathe. Take in 3 big deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Soften through the shoulders, the face and jaw.
Let your thoughts drift away and take yourself to your happy place. Visualise you being in that space, notice how you feel. Keep breathing. Allow your thoughts to come to you and if you want to ask for guidance then this is the time to do it. Notice the energy around you.
Notice how you feel and how your body feels. If you’ve got any areas of tightness, send your breathe towards those areas and imagine that area being nourished by the oxygen.
You might find that actually sitting and being quite and still for 5 minutes or more is actually really hard to do. But the more you do it, the more you will get out of it. Thoughts will come through and sometimes they won’t mean anything but if you practice more often and try to do it once a day, your whole life will change. Once you have meditated, then journal your thoughts.
Journaling is another great one for you to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Or if you are not one for writing then say your thoughts into the voice recorder in your phone. Sometimes our heads can feel so cluttered up with emotions and feelings that we just get so angry with anything.
Journaling is a really great way to help with this. Just spending 5 minutes per day writing down how you feel and where you are within your monthly cycle (if you are a women) will really help with channelling your thoughts. You don’t have to write pages and pages, just a small amount and trust me you will feel so much better afterwards.
Being At One With Nature
Another great way to feel good and have a good mental wellbeing is getting outside and going into nature. We need to reconnect with mother earth, and she is here to help us. We are all made up of cells, mother earth included so when we feel we are feeling overwhelmed by our thoughts and feelings, we need to take time out and go outside.
Go for a walk in the woods, in a field, by the sea. Wherever you are, take it all in. Notice your surroundings, notice the little things like birds singing or the wind blowing on your face.
Take your shoes off and notice the ground under foot. Reconnecting with nature is the number one go to for mental wellbeing. Take a moment to stop, close you eyes and breath. Notice how you feel.
The more you start to become aware of your surroundings, your thoughts and your wellbeing, the more you will feel connected to your body. You will start to notice, if and when you are feeling stressed. You will start to notice your bodies triggers as to when it is asking for help.
Finally, is nutrition. A good balanced diet will help you hugely with your mental wellbeing. Have you ever eaten a cake or a biscuit and then about an hour later you then have a sugar low? Yes, me to. We then feel sluggish, tired and do not want to do anything.
By eating a balanced diet with fresh foods that will nourish our bodies, we will then start to feel better. The more we eat fresh less processed foods, the more we feel good.