Merry Christmas yogis. Happy Winter Solstice. We can now look forward to gaining a little more daylight each day.
I hope that you can all take some time out for yourselves over the next few weeks. There is a lot of anxiety at this time of year and stress levels can soar. We know how damaging stress can be to the heart, respiratory system, nervous system and your immune response. Try to decrease your stress each day by finding, even a couple of minutes for yourself.
My first suggestion, which I know many of you already do, is to use coherent breathing. There are lots of free apps that do this or you can just count the length of the inhale and exhale. Notice your breath and try to bring the inhale and exhale to the same length. Time yourself and aim to reduce your breathing rate to 5-6 breaths per minute. Continue this for 5-10 minutes as this is when the body produces the neurotransmitter GABA which calms us and acts as a painkiller.
There are plenty of candles around and open fires so it's easy to spend a couple of minutes just gazing at the flames. If you haven't practiced this with me it is a form of meditation called Trataka. Stare at the flame until you need to blink, then close your eyes and see what image you get inside your eyelids. When it disappears you stare at the flame again.
Have a go for about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to remove glasses and contact lenses.
Body scans are great for stopping ruminating thoughts and get us out of our heads for a short while. You can do this anywhere, sitting, standing or lying. To encourage your connection to your body move the joints to help you connect. Start with the toes and wiggle them, become still and see how they feel. Move to the ankles and do the same. Continue up through the body, making sure to finish with the jaw as we hold a lot of tension here.
My last suggestion is to move. Go for a walk, dance, cycle, run, anything that raises your blood pressure and allows your body to release 'happy' hormones! Simple stretches that don't require any equipment are good too.
Standing with your weight in both feet equally, stretch your arms up as you breathe in. Interlink your fingers and exhale as you stretch to the side. Inhale back to the middle and repeat on the other side. Exhale to release the arms. Inhale, reach the arms up and exhale to fold forwards from the hips, bringing your arms down and bending your knees slightly. Allow your top half of your body to just hang, like a ragdoll. You can hold opposite elbows and gently swing the arms. Release your neck and shoulders. Inhale to come back up slowly. Make any movements your body feels it needs and be ready to face the day.
Many of you have had a go recently at my balance challenge and I did say I would post the details of timings for you, so here we are!
You are aiming to stand on one leg, this can be a pose, such as tree, or just lifting your foot.
Average length of time for adults, eyes open:
For even more of a challenge, average times with eyes closed are:
EVENTS FOR 2024
Detox Retreat 13-14 Jan
Summer solstice Retreat 21-23 June
I also have lots of ideas for workshops, get togethers and wellbeing sessions. I will provide a link so that you can vote for your favourites and then put them in the diary.
To give you a taste:
Level 1 Reiki Teaching and Attunements (2 half days)
Yoga Brunch (Sunday)
Wellbeing Day (reflexology, reiki, massage, meditation)
Mindfulness and Crafting
Yoga Therapy group taster
Thank you for all your support this year, I am so grateful for it. I look forward to welcoming you back on the mat from 8 January.
I send you restful, calm, joyful and healthy wishes for 2024.