Liverpool based Yogi and the creative force behind the acclaimed online Self Care Sanctuary, Kayleigh Woolvine, talks us through a few easy techniques to help you embrace the power of yoga and meditation into your daily routine…
Having spent many years travelling around India, the Philippines and Thailand studying Eastern philosophy, meditation and yoga, Kayleigh has spent the last few years developing a bespoke online resource aimed at professionals who have limited time to work on their own well-being and mental health.
With a strong emphasis on empowering women, her ethos and belief in the benefits of her teachings have helped entrepreneurs and business leaders to improve their mental fitness, become curious again and harness their own personal power.
Running your own business or being stuck at a desk 9-5 (which usually means 8-6!) can deplete your energy and heighten stress levels. Finding time to relax and work on your fitness and wellbeing is critical, especially when set against the backdrop of the pandemic and all the additional pressures that brings.
If ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘work comes first’ are your mantras it’s time to change your attitude, make some sacrifices and explore the benefits yoga can make to your physical strength, creative mind and inner peace.
Do 5 minutes of breathwork
Practice first thing in the morning. mid afternoon and evening. The breath is a powerful tool to cleanse and heal the body and mind. It’s the master of our movement practice in yoga, we call it pranayama which literally means ‘life force’ or ‘energy source’. A simple breathing technique to practice is called full diaphragmatic breathing or 3 part breathing- breathing deeply into the abdomen, rising under the ribs finally into the chest. The exhale descends from the chest, down to ribs to the tummy. Just 5 minutes of Full Diaphragmatic Breathing promotes relaxation, lowers heart rate and blood pressure and helps with stress, anxiety and Improves mood and energy levels.
Take a 60 second Meditative Walk
Research proves we should get up every 30 minutes and move to prevent the risk of chronic health problems, even better throw in a super mini meditative walk to completely reset your mindset. As you start to walk, don’t change the way you walk just notice how the body feels. Become aware of your posture and the way you are carrying yourself. Try to stay in the body, noticing anything from the air brushing again you skin to the warmth of the sun on your body to the way the soles of your feet gently connect with the earth. There’s still no need to think about any of these observations. Simply notice, acknowledge, and let go. As soon as you realize the mind has wandered, gently guide your awareness back to the sensation of the soles of your feet.
Eat mindfully – away from your desk
Eating Mindfully promotes you to slow down, bringing you back to the present moment and placing yourself in the right mindset to continue your day. Find a spot, if you can away from your desk, if this is not possible turn away from your computer. Get comfortable, set up your meal in a quiet environment, take a few deep breaths before eating and enjoy the texture, colour and smell of the food. Chew your food at least 10 times, eat slowly and put your fork down in between bites. When your mind drifts come back to your senses and reconnect with your meal.
Stretching can improve posture and muscular balance, soothe tight muscles, aches and pains and promotes a positive state of mind – helping to reduce stress and fatigue. Some easy movements you can practice next to your desk are seated twists, cat and cow, downward facing dog and warrior 2. Stay in the poses for 5-10 breaths and notice the difference in your body and mind after just a few minutes.
Respond instead of react
When we’re busy, feeling frantic, overwhelmed with tasks, duties and to do’s we can allow our thoughts to arise in the body and automatically react from that place of mindlessness. As a result, shortly after we feel unhappy, we can make others unhappy and make the situation worse. There’s another way. We do not always need to respond to things instantaneously, we have the choice to pause, to take a breath, to perceive and then act based on what we really believe to be the next best course of action. Reactions are instinctual, responses are more thoughtful. You can explore in your mind the possible outcomes of your reply before saying a word. You always have a choice, in every moment – to respond or react.
Yoga is not just a physical form of exercise and stretching – it’s much greater that than. This ancient practice is a powerful technique which helps to increase mental fitness and stretch your mind to limitless possibilities. The synchronization of movement with breath, connecting to mind/body wisdom and intuition is a clear gateway to concentration and pure present moment awareness.