Yesterday I shared with you 5 ways you can practice yoga in your life when you aren’t able to get to a yoga class.
Today I am going to share 5 more practices that you can integrate into your busy days. Today I will share 5 more ways you can find peace and calm in the midst of a hectic life.
Switch off your devices
The digital world offers a myriad of ways to distract and numb the mind from the realities of your emotions. It provides constant stimulation, and a never ending dopamine rush, creating more need for the highs you get from it. Notifications and the emotional roller coaster of TV and other entertainment prevents us ever having a moment to just fully be in the moment.
Switching off all your devices, and being exactly where you are right now, is a powerful way to allow your mind to rest. As we live in an increasingly digital world, I think it is going to become ever more important that we are able to function without them, to retain mastery over our own minds, and not allow technology to dictate how we behave. Try allocating time every day to step away from all devices, or consider things like not taking your phone with you when you are meeting a friend for coffee, spending time with the children, focusing entirely on the task you are doing, going for a walk, and going to bed. Re-acquaint yourself with boredom, with not having anything to distract and stimulate your mind, with being present with the person you are with, and living in the moment.
The first of the Yamas of Yoga is Ahimsa, or non-harming. This might seem like quite a simple thing to practice, but it is deceptively difficult. It requires us to treat all living beings with compassion, and not to cause harm to any. Including ourselves.
There are numerous ways that we cause harm without intending to in our day. We can cause harm with our thoughts, words, and actions. Alanis Morissette wrote a fantastic song called ‘Versions Of Violence’, in which she lists many of the ways that we can harm another, without realising it.
How many of these can you recognise in your own behaviour, both to yourself and others. How many harsh things have you said to yourself today? Have you taken out the stress of the morning commute on someone else? Did you shout at the children and now feel bad about it? I don’t want to list lots of ways you could have caused harm and make you feel bad, but I invite you to think about it.
Just for today, could you try to raise your awareness of how you are treating yourself and others, and make a concerted effort to act with a little more compassion?
As i mentioned above, the ability to sit and be with yourself is a vital one, and one that the modern world makes harder and harder. The main, original purpose of Yoga postures was to get the body fit to sit in meditative postures for extended periods of time. The modern world has made Yoga mostly about moving the body, but in truth, the essence of Yoga is in developing the ability to be still.
A daily practice of sitting quietly, focusing on the breath, training the mind to be still, is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. Research has found a wide range of benefits in this practice, from increased concentration, to better sleep, reduced stress and greater compassion to name but a few.
In this video I guide you through a 10 minute practice of sitting quietly. Try to fit in even a few minutes into your day every day, and see what benefits it brings.
Walking is a great form of physical exercise, and a wonderful way to see places you won’t see, and notice the little details that you don’t notice, in a car. Walking is also a fantastic way to keep mental health in check. Research has shown that it lifts the mood, increases heart health, reduces stress and much more.
Walking can also be a powerful way to reconnect with your body. As you go about your day, the chances are you don’t really notice or think about your body that much, beyond tending to basic biological needs, or feeding yourself. Modern life has separated us from ourselves so much that we rarely stop and appreciate what a truly magnificent thing the human body, in all its shapes and sizes, really is.
You can turn your walk into a mindfulness exercise by getting really connected to your body. While it is best to do this without any stimulation or digital interference, it can be hard if you are completely new to it.
In this podcast I talk a lot about the benefits of walking, and share a 20 minute walking relaxation you can download to listen to as you walk.
Beginners Yoga Club
As much as i advocate stepping away from digital distractions to increase inner peace and reduce stress, there are ways that technology can really help if you are struggling to ‘get yoga’ on your own. I heard from a growing number of people who were telling me a range of reasons why they couldn’t get to a class. Reasons included being too busy, not able to fit my times in with their time, social anxiety, fears of being in a room of people they don’t know, doing something they don’t know, being in the wrong country, and more beside.
I wanted to do something to help people access Yoga in a way that works, so I created Beginners Yoga Club. This is essentially an online Yoga studio, aimed at beginners. We will have weekly classes in which I will be teaching you basic loosening practices to help you to release the tension you have in your body, basic breathing practices, and relaxation. We will also do some simple postures. Each month there will be a pranayama (breath control) class, and we will have an online social space where we can get to know one another, learn from each other, share experiences and ask questions.
Beginners Yoga Club opens on June 1. Find out more at beginnersyogaclub.com