Archives for posts with tag: yoga

I’ve been battling a few internal demons this last week – stuff from a LONG time ago that when triggered feels as raw as yesterday. This stuff has the potential to do some serious damage to my relationships and self-esteem, causes me panic attacks and periods of self-doubt and anxiety – so I consider it a priority to not shy away, but instead shine a light on, and bring awareness to what is going on inside.

As an ex mental health professional, I’ve been guilty of analysing this to death, and in some ways that has been useful – I think I have a pretty clear understanding of what happened and why I react to certain situations in particular ways. But I never quite managed to make the next step, into letting go. And that’s kind of the point really isn’t it? Work through it and let go. 

Just lately though, something seems to be shifting. As worries or stressful events have appeared on the horizon, my close family have been saying “Moll, go and do yoga”. Like I need any encouragement! But seriously, this yoga thing is helping – and my family and friends are noticing. Maybe it’s the breathing – I’m using it off the mat whenever I feel anxiety or stress building.  Maybe it’s the deep stretching which helps to release long-stored away emotions and tension. Whatever – it’s unexpectedly helping me through a process of letting go of old memories and subconscious emotions.  Just for once, I can’t really explain why.  And I think I’m realising – maybe I don’t need to. 

My three best tips for managing that anxiety moment: 

  • Alternate nostril breathing – hold down your left nostril with your right ring finger. Take a deep breath in through your right nostril. Close your right nostril with the thumb of your left hand and gently hold the air in briefly – then release your left nostril and let all the air out. Take a deep breath in on the left side, close off and hold briefly, then release the right nostril and let it all out. Repeat as many times as you like, best done in private if you want to avoid funny looks.
  • Be here, now. Reminding myself of the present moment is one of the most powerful tools that I use for relieving anxiety. Anxiety is a worry about the future – and the future never comes, it’s an imaginary idea! I use various approaches, one is to check in with my breath and body – where  am I right now? This helps my mind calm as I realise I’m not under any threat at this present moment, and slows my heartbeat. Our physical reactions to anxiety (rapid heartbeat, sweaty hands, shallow breathing) can feel as scary as the anxiety trigger itself, and spiral an even bigger stress response, so using this technique can be helpful in breaking that cycle.
  • Pigeon pose, childs pose, savasana. Pigeon pose should only be done with guidance from a yoga instructor, but childs pose and savasana need no instruction. Breath deep, calm your mind, and let go.

So after several requests/chats with people over the last few weeks, I thought I would do a post on the demon of modern life, stress.  I’ve been stressed, lived it, worked it, lost sleep because of it.  I was, quite honestly, rubbish at managing it, until I changed my career and simultaneously discovered yoga.  We are all forever on the search for answers about how to manage it, and there are a million and one websites, businesses, books out there on how to deal with it, but my basic go-to is this one:  Legs Up the Wall Pose. Five minutes in this pose, along with some deep breaths is amazing for calming, de-stressing and best of all providing a nice little boost of energy.  As a stay-at-home-mum I’ve often had those days (usually after a sleep-deprived night) where I’ve wondered how I’ll make it through to (my daughter’s) bedtime.  This works every time, and best of all Leela likes to join in!

I’m not a yoga teacher, so I’ll just show you a picture of what I do, but a quick internet search will give you a step-by-step guide. (sit next to wall, lie on floor with bum next to wall, raise legs up, breathe deep!).  Aaahhh!

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One of the things I’ve come to realise over the last year or so is that most of us carry a massive amount of guilt over the idea of self-care.  I’m not just talking about putting on make up or a nice outfit – I’m talking about taking the time out to really care for ourselves.  Mothers seem to find it particularly difficult to justify time to themselves, and even if they do take some time, it can be hard to go with the flow. The things I hear people saying are “I can’t switch off”, “my mind is always so busy” and “I find it really hard to relax”.  When we carry around this much busy-ness, when we don’t give our bodies and minds the time to unwind and unload, the result is tension – in our bodies and our minds! Which just adds to the sense of busy-ness and stress… it’s a cycle.

When we do yoga, whether it’s on the mat, or in day to day life, we give ourselves permission to focus on ourselves, even just for five minutes.  I love the moment when I get to my mat, make myself sit still and take a really deep breath – that moment is my self-care, when I’m reminded that by taking those few minutes to nurture myself and my body, I’m recharging and can go and be Mum/Wife/Friend again.  I love that if I don’t focus on what I’m doing on the mat, I will quite literally fall over!  It leaves no space to let my mind wander or race or think about my to do list.  And those five minutes of me-time create a whole load of new, fresh energy for being Mum again.  Five minutes to recharge – take a deep breath and see what happens…

Mornings can be an interesting time these days.  Since my daughter started at nursery a few weeks ago I’m never quite sure what to expect, be it tears (it’s hard to say goodbye when you’re three!) or giggles.  Either way, after the luxury of being a stay at home mum with no agenda for the last 14 months,  getting my little one washed,dressed, ready and out the door on time is definitely a challenge to my organisation skills!

This morning was different.  As I was gathering coats and boots together for the walk to nature nursery, my little girl asked if she could “do some Tara” – what she meant was yoga on youtube, courtesy of the lovely Tara Stiles.  I’ve always known that Leela enjoys trying out yoga poses with me, and she responds immediately to deep breaths and stillness when tantrums are imminent, but this direct request to do some yoga took me by surprise – and what a lovely surprise!  It really brought home the idea that our children respond to and mirror what we DO, what they see – and not necessarily to the advice we give them.  I figure, if she’s going to copy my actions, then it’s my responsibility to make sure that those actions are pretty AWESOME.  I won’t get it right all the time, but I consider yoga to be my way of being, applied to each and every moment that I manage to stay present (it’s a work in progress!).  Yoga is so much more than stretching on the mat – for me it’s about gratitude, self-care, intuition, movement, mindfulness – LOVE.  My hope is that Leela will pick up on all of these things, as well as the nice stretching – and know that anything is possible.

Love and light xo