These days, if you aren't doing some kind of exercise, then you must have been living under a rock, not that its mandatory, however, if you want to find ways to improve your lifestyle, be able to spend quality time with your family, run around after your grandchildren and live comfortably with as much joint mobility and comfort as possible, then its worth trying to get some kind of exercise. Then comes, what shall I do - First off, don't try to do everything, but start slow and take your time finding what works for you.
For more insight into yoga and meditation, Joan gives you the 101 on yoga and meditation and how it also worked and formed a major force in her lifestyle.
Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuji’ meaning yoke or union, yoga is an ancient practice
that brings together both body and mind. Yoga incorporates movement, breathing exercises and meditation and can provide many benefits for both mental and physical health. Yoga can help to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, inflammation, chronic pain and migraines. Yoga can also increase relaxation, flexibility, balance, strength and improve heart health, breathing, quality of sleep and quality of life in general.
People can be drawn to yoga due to physical or emotional pain. I have been practising
yoga since 1997, the year I had prolapsed discs in my lower back and couldn’t walk or do anything physical for 3 months. I had months of osteopathy which helped a lot. However, I had to do something else to both strengthen and relax my body and mind to aid my recovery and prevent further injury.
I started a yoga class for beginners and although I was in my mid-20’s, I found it quite
difficult. The restrictions in my back made it difficult to get into and hold the yoga postures. I had a wonderful teacher who was half Greek, half German so although she was very precise, shewas also a lot of fun. Although I didn’t find it easy, there was something about it that was helping me free up the tightness in my body and relaxing my mind, so I started attending 2-3 classes a week.
Over the years, I have tried many styles of yoga and if you are curious about trying yoga or
if you find yoga ‘difficult’, I would advise trying different styles of yoga until you find the style(s)you enjoy as that will serve your body and mind well. It’s also important to find a teacher you
connect with, who is well qualified and who you can trust. At different times in our life, we may
need to practice different styles of yoga.
I make an appointment in my diary to practice yoga. I treat it like an important meeting, a
conscious meeting of my both my body and mind. In addition to yoga being a physical practice, it helps me to go withIN, connect to my body, brain and breath, shifts my energy and informs me what I need to pay attention to. Yoga offers me time to ‘listen’ to my BE-IN-g.
There are several ways to meditate and you can use practical tools that support the mind
and guide the body through the use of breath, mantra, mudra, and focus. I see meditation as a
cleansing exercise, like a flossing of the mind. If you are new to meditation just start with 2-3
minutes. It’s not about having an ‘empty mind’ as thoughts will start to appear and if you let
those thoughts just come and go, that IS your meditation. Once your mind starts to find some
stillness, you will start to feel more peaceful and at ease.
There is a misconception that when you sit to meditate, you should be able to empty and
quiet your mind. The mind generates thousands of thoughts per second. When you sit quietly and turn the focus INward, you become very aware of the distractions going on in the background of your mind. There is no need to evaluate or react to these thoughts. Be patient with yourself and allow them to pass. Meditation can sometimes feel blissful as the meditative mind helps you to become more conscious and INtune with your being. But sometimes meditation can feel difficult. The important thing is to find a meditation style that suits your life style and have a regular daily practice even if it starts with 2-3 minutes.
There is a wonderful free app called Insight Timer that has 1000s of free guided
meditations. This is a great resource to try different styles and support you to getting started with a regular meditation practice and it can track the number of meditation minutes you practice over time. I have been using this for a long time and currently clocked 29,200 minutes of meditation so far so why don't you try it for yourself and see how it will work for you.
My in-person classes are quite early in the morning and late in the evening. I often take
some dark chocolate beads or small bars to class with me for the yogis to enjoy on their way home or when they arrive home. Dark chocolate is a superfood that has fibre and minerals and can help lower the stress hormone cortisol, and lower epinephrine which can raise levels of stress and anxiety. It can also increase the levels of serotonin and endorphin in the brain that can boost your mood. I like my yogis to leave class with a small sweet hug of greatness to help them start their day, or wind down their evening.
What’s not to love about yoga, meditation and chocolate? They are all full of benefits,
feeding your body and mind more of just what you need.
If you have any questions or would like any guidance on how to get your yoga and
meditation practice started, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Curran, R.G.N., BSc (Hons) Psychology, Human Potential Coach, Hatha, Kundalini,
iRest® Yoga Nidra Teacher, Roll Model® Method Practitioner and U.K. Athletics Leader in Running Fitness.