Do you ever feel like your life is a never-ending pursuit of something? Do you live for the weekends and have that Sunday night feeling every week? If you live in a city, are in full-time education or work, chances are the answer to both questions is ‘yes’. In this post, we will aim to help you relax, take some time to yourself and reclaim your wellbeing.
As a yoga teacher, I often talk to my students about the union between body and mind. Living in the western world and being exposed to so much noise, we often neglect to hear our internal voice which tells us when we’re off balance. Being at peace with yourself helps to be at peace with others around us so taking some ‘me’ time might actually be beneficial to your external world.
So how do you relax with yoga or meditation? Try carving out some time to yourself - turn your phone off (scary, I know!), make sure you are in a space where you won’t be disturbed, maybe put some relaxing music on, light a scented candle, have a cup of chamomile tea ... whatever it is that helps you switch off and quiet your mind. Sit down comfortably, close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose and a loud cleansing breath out through your mouth. Repeat it 2 or 3 times. Start inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Focus on your breath, you can count it if it helps to focus your mind. Acknowledge the thoughts that are trying to get into your head but don’t engage in them - they will be there when you are ready to come back to them. Sit in stillness focusing on your breath for about 5 minutes. When you’re done, gently open the eyes.
This is just one way to practice meditation - you can use it as a ‘warm-up’ for your mind before starting a yoga practice or extend it for a longer period of time to really get into a deeper state of relaxation. You will be amazed at how much clearer your mind is afterwards. You don’t have to be a spiritual person to benefit from meditation, just like you don’t have to be flexible to enjoy yoga. Flexibility is a ‘side effect’ of regular practice, not its aim. If you want to really benefit from yoga, here are my tips:
- Find a studio you enjoy going to - a beautiful space often helps to really get into your flow.
- There are so many different styles of yoga - fast, slow, powerful, restorative - find the one that works for you - you might be surprised how much fun it is.
- Find a teacher you like - we are all different, have different personalities and teaching styles - choose one who brings a smile to your face and really helps you through your practice.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the class - our bodies and abilities are very individual and yoga is not about the perfect pose but about how that pose feels for you.
- Have a ritual - choose one thing you do each day - just after you wake up or go to bed. Whether it’s a stretch, putting on a song, doing a quick breathing exercise, writing, drawing, rubbing scented oil on your wrists - or whatever else it is - make it into a habit - reclaim ‘me time’ from your busy day.
Most importantly, think of linking your mind and your body through your breath. If you’re participating in a class, listen to other people’s breathing, try changing the rhythm of your own breath and see how it affects you.