Let’s talk about stress…

All of us are well aware of the impact lingering stress plays in our lives. Anxiety, work pressure, relationship stresses. Not only do they affect our sleep, but if we let them they can impact how we eat, how we feel, our confidence and every aspect of our lives. So why is it that when we focus on our health and wellbeing we talk about fitness, physical exercise and nutrition but we often ignore the mental aspect to creating long lasting wellbeing? Yes we often feel better mentally when we exercise and eat well. But often when we slip into bad habits it starts with the mind, with stress with anxieties allowing the habits to slip back into our routine.

Starting to look at our mind state is one of the underlying teachings of yoga; Svadyaya – self study, but it can be overwhelming if we don’t know where or how to start.

Yoga has evolved over the last 5,000 years to become its modern day form. Originally created to remove dis-ease in the body and prepare the body in strength and flexibility to sit for extended periods of time in meditation and contemplation. Many of us have been to yoga classes, and we have experienced the effect the physical practice has on grounding us into our body, getting us into our breath and out of our stresses and thoughts. But how often as you leave class are we straight back on our mobiles, straight into a stress-full work meeting, or within a couple of hours back in our heads leaving that feeling in the yoga room as a distant memory until the next practice?

If this is you, then you know physical exercise isn’t always enough to give you balance and the overall wellbeing many of us are seeking. We need to be incorporating methods to maintain a healthy mindset and set ourselves up to do the inner work of the yoga practice to keep our balance in challenge and keep healthy.

Its when we start moving beyond just the physical yoga practice and into its teachings and philosophy that we can start to see longer lasting benefits to our yoga practice, that we are able to keep and apply to our lives more broadly for greater benefit.

So what can we do?

Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot, but when it comes to actually incorporating it into our lives or “living our yoga practice” we often don’t know how to do it. So here are 5 quick practices to help to start to incorporate yoga and mindfulness techniques as part of your overall health and wellbeing routine;

  1. PRACTICE PRESENCE – Practice being more present. Notice the time spent on autopilot and when you realise you are not in the present moment put down your phone and look around you and practice more presence. .
  2. DAILY CHECK IN – Treat yourself as someone you love. Take a moment each morning to check in. Close your eyes, tune into your breath, sensation and feel your body. Feel your energy levels and respect what you need through the day. Notice when things are getting on top of you and allow yourself time to slow down and feel. Stress is a part of life but it doesn’t have to take over every aspect of your life, have a break and give yourself space.
  3. PRACTICE GRATITUDE – Each day, take a moment to think of one thing in your life that you are grateful for and brings you joy.
  4. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS – Turn off any notifications that are not needed and set yourself time out periods, so you can allow yourself more brain capacity for what’s important. And that includes putting your phone away when you are with loved ones and friends – GET PRESENT!
  5. OBSERVE YOUR THOUGHTS – Watch the negative mind chatter. Every time you hear yourself say something negative to yourself, think of something positive. Don’t let your own thoughts be one of the things dragging you down, be your own cheer leader and help yourself  create more positive self talk.

Yoga is a way of life not just a physical practice. The practice is about cultivating good qualities, and challenging ourselves so that we can face our mental stories our limitations on our mat and find out who we are and unlock our authentic selves. How we respond to challenge in our bodies is often how we respond to challenge in our lives.

When we start to incorporate mindfulness and find deeper connection to ourselves, these simple techniques can have a tremendous implications for creating the health, balance and life we want to live. So make time to slow down, and spend more time being, and less time doing to maintain your balance and keep more joy in your life through life’s stresses.