Day 14 & 15: Yoga, Meditation and Stress

I originally combined these two as there was an error with my email distribution however I think they work nicely together so thats how I am going to share them.

Meditation is a practice where by we train our attention and awareness to achieve mental clarity. It is not a state of forced silence, it is a state of emotional stability and calm.

We have become much more aware of mental wellbeing and its importance – now we just need to action it.

If we lived in a more simple time where there wasn’t such a parade of stimulation and distraction we wouldn’t need to think so much about having a ‘meditation practice’ – but unfortunately we do. There is rarely a moment in our day where we aren’t responding, reacting, on hand or available.

Imagine your mind as a race car, you wouldn’t drive around at a million miles an hour without giving the engine time to rest would you? And we simply need that moment to recharge.

A Meditation practice can be part of your yoga class in three ways:

  1. Most classes tend to give you 5/10 minutes at the start to settle in, to regulate the breathe, to ask your self how your feeling / where and if you are holding any tension. Think of this as a self check up. You don’t need a studio setting though – take 5 minutes at lunch, before work or to decompress when you get home.
  2. The practice itself – a moving meditation. You are being guided by a teacher who hopefully knows what they are doing so you don’t have to think too hard or process too much. You can just be in that calm meditative state.
  3. Classes sometimes include a guided meditation, or sometimes even solely this and it is known as yoga Nidra. By guiding breathing techniques, using a script, offering positive affirmations your teacher will assist and support your relaxation. Note here it is perfectly acceptable to have a little snooze if you become so relaxed you drift off.

Yoga isn’t the only moving meditation. Head out for a walk, maybe don’t take your phone. Grab your trainers and go for a run, maybe don’t get your phone. You see where I am going. We are so dependent and exposed to technology that is half life changing, half… life changing. Work it out.

More on the physical practice of yoga to reduce stress. 21st century life is mayhem. Sunlight doesn’t run our day, artificial light does. We don’t wake after 5 strong sleep cycles, we wake to our harsh unforgiving alarm. We don’t rest, we just order an extra shot of coffee. We don’t leave the office, we carry our work and emails home with us. We don’t relax at the weekend, we squeeze in the social plans that work has pushed to the back of the week. You see where I am coming from?

We bombard our bodies and that’s okay to a certain degree but there comes a time you need to rest and reset. We have become so custom to the pace that sometimes actually sitting and resting is HARD, in fact not just sometimes.

Yoga classes are a great place to start. You are doing something (tick – for the busy bees amongst us) but its nourishing and beneficial. A class is usually 60 minutes. That is a whole hour where you aren’t checking your phone, you aren’t answering an email, you aren’t rushing from A to B. They provide you with the chance to just chill out, let someone teach you, hand over the reins. It isn’t going to shorten your to do list but it will help you realise things; emails, calls, bookings – they can all wait. You can go slower. You have to come first.

Our body can’t differentiate between physical and mental stress. So lets say this morning you say in a tonne of traffic getting more and more anxious about being late, then you get to work and it is deadline day, your boss is piling on the work load, stress levels continue to rise, you get home and a surprise speeding fine is waiting for you, insert more stress as you think about paying that off. And then on top of that your then telling me what your body needs is a high intensity gym class? And even more stress? I don’t think so.

If you are someone who likes to be doing, and trust me I think I know someone like you… then maybe on those busy evenings substitute your HIIT workouts for a vinyasa yoga class, you will still find it challenging but just with a softer more nourishing edge.

We have a threshold and when we hit that we open the door to injuries and illness. Yoga is one way to make sure that with all day to day life asks of us we stay safely under that threshold.

I have a few simple exercises for you, you can try them now or bank them for when your next feeling the pressure. If you have been to my classes they are nothing new or fancy, just three ways to let go of tension and regulate the breath:

  1. Breath – sit with the legs crossed & rest the hands on your knees. Take an inhale through the nose and your biggest loudest strongest breath out through an open mouth X5. Now just sit and take steady breaths X10. Notice the ease of the breath now.
  2. Shoulders – inhale & scrunch your shoulders up to you ears and really feel it, hold them there for a moment, notice the tension and the pressure. Now exhale and slowly unwind them back and down. Feel the pressure ease off x 5.
  3. Neck right arm up to the sky over head and place onto your left ear. Draw your head over to the right. Find the stretch into the left side of the neck and take 5 big deep breaths. As you do so feel the tension and the stretch into the side of the neck start to soften. Repeat this on both sides.

If you just tried that how do you feel? Magic hey!

Have a good day gang and we are nearly half way so anything I haven’t covered or you want to know more about let me know.

Jess x

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