Yoga and Meditation

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Sunday was my second class with Mieke and her “Yoga Therapy” class. I was tempted to not attend as I have had a very stressful week and didn’t really feel like venturing out for a two hour class when I wasn’t feeling like it. That was also the very reason why I ended up going.

The first week, we spent a lot of time focusing on our breathing and the Ujjayi breath, which is used throughout yoga practice and in some meditative practices and as it was the first week the focus was on introduction; of the course, ourselves and practice which may not have been done before. I left the Tabernacle with a lot of information and feeling well rested. As the week progressed, however, with personal circumstances getting increasingly difficult I felt my daily practice was difficult and I struggled.

It took me a while to relax and the tightness in my jaw wasn’t disappearing by the time we had started the class and lay down on our mats for a few minutes in an attempt to centre ourselves. I persevered and did feel a little better by the time we moved onto the yoga. Every week we start wilt sun salutations at a fast pace to encourage an increased heart rate and warm up the body. We’re encouraged to use Ujjayi breathing to aid in that warm up and by the time we follow through a series of five or six rapid sun salutations, I definitely feel invigorated. We also explored breathing in more depth this week with Lion and Skull Shining breathing; the latter of which can be quite stressful if already in an anxious state. After bringing our breathing back down a little and then move into yoga practice. This is both challenging and a time of reflection. Last week it was much easier and I feel this was due to my mood, this week was definitely more challenging although the practice was almost the same. We go through a series of postures where we hold the pose for a prolonged period of time, this is because the same part of the brain that deals with stressful situations is in play. Warrior II isn’t necessarily a difficult pose to be in until you’re holding it for a few minutes. By staying in that posture and remaining there even when it becomes difficult, we’re strengthening both the body and the part of the brain that deals with stress, therefore making both more resilient. I found that while I was standing in Triangle Pose and wanting to step out of it, I was reminded of the week I’d just undergone and wanting to give up, which I didn’t and this helped me remain in the pose until we were able to come out of it. The rest of the yoga was challenging, but I felt a sense of relief and achievement by the time we moved into shoulder stands and finishing the yoga portion of class. Meditation felt a little difficult this week with trying to clear my mind fully, with the chanting I did feel it was much easier for me and I relaxed better with it. Practice is a fluid thing and I understand that some days it will be the easiest thing to do and feelings of euphoria are met, and some days the complete opposite will occur, it was very apparent that this week’s class was the latter, despite having good intentions of doing my best.

I’m taking time this week to keep trying without any expectations as I do want to improve my mood, I aim to use reflection with my meditation practice to help. Next Sunday’s theme will have us looking at reflection so the next few days I will start thinking about that and creating space.

If you’re thinking about meditation and it seems a little daunting, even just sitting somewhere quiet for five minutes can make a huge difference. I wrote about meditation back in July. Over the course of the next two months I will also be writing about my meditative practice a little here.

Love and light.

Hold on, I’ll be five minutes …

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This is technically not a fitness post, but I’ve been known to throw in a couple of curve balls here and there so bear with me. Whilst I’m an advocate of exercise and being healthy, I extend this to the mind. I suffer with depression and have made efforts to ensure that the bouts I have are few and far between, staying active is a HUGE part of that. There is also another way that I work on staying in a good place and that’s through rest and relaxation, particularly meditation.

I know you probably now have images of me sitting in a room full of floaty curtains, pillows and such like, but unfortunately I don’t have a pretty room like that in the ghetto lol.
Jokes aside taking five minutes out during work hours, before bed, on the way to a meeting to put away your phone, closing the laptop and concentrating on just breathing does wonders.

Research conducted by a university in California which was part of a Telegraph article showed that meditating for five minutes before class saw a significant increase in the concentration and grades of the students. In a busy world where there “isn’t any time” to do anything, taking five minutes out a day could impact you in a positive way. You don’t have to rush out and buy whale sounds, incense and pillows with little mirrors on. Yourself, a chair and five minutes is all you require. Shoot, you don’t even need the chair!

So try this: during your break at work; turn your phone off, find a space if you will have someone trying to talk to you and break your focus, get relaxed and just sit for five minutes clearing your mind of the stresses of the day and see whether or not you feel better afterward, you may just be surprised.