Benefits of a regular yoga practice

Benefits of a regular yoga practice

Ahhhhh yoga – even the very thought of it floods my body with relaxation signals that tell me everything is going to be okay, just like a patient parent soothing a child when things feel a bit overwhelming, yoga is always there, a tonic for the soul.

The documented benefits of Yoga are wide and varied and it’s so pleasing to see that modern Science is now catching up with ancient wisdom and can credibly demonstrate how powerful a regular practice of yoga can be for the body and mind.

A great number of research articles can be found on places like Google, but I’d like to share some of my personal thoughts of how yoga has helped to shape me.

What has yoga taught me?

Patience

I am a typical Aries, with a longstanding tendency to ram into things, wanting results now, now, now, faster, faster, faster. Yoga has taught me to slow the F down and that long lasting change comes from small incremental steps repeated thoughtfully and consistently. Learning to slow down to see changes in my body and mind has given me a new appreciation for stability. At first it was a real challenge when I discovered that I couldn’t just rock up and use enthusiasm and sheer force to get into desired poses. Instead I learnt that strength and flexibility need to be built up slowly over time – creating a powerful and sturdy foundation that is supportive for the whole body. and system. This experience has wonderously spilled over into daily life and rather than trying to get somewhere or something fast, I’ve started to appreciate the benefit of applying patience, knowing that I will get there in my own sweet time through commitment, consistency, and dedication – not through ego and force. It’s a far more sustainable approach.

Self-compassion

As the name of my blog may suggest, I am not the most graceful human to have ever walked the earth. It’s taken me a while to accept this but ironically nothing has helped me more than stepping into a yoga class full of seemingly perfect graceful yogis. The first instinct (and understandably so) may be to run away but stick it out, I promise its worth it. With time I’ve learnt to accept that other people’s bodies may trigger my insecurities and that that’s ok, as you dive deeper, the benefits of yoga far outstretch fancy looking poses and instead offer us a powerful opportunity to come face to face with our vulnerabilities. We get to experiment with how to treat ourselves in the face of insecurity. Instead of criticising myself for being shallow or judgmental,I’ve now become more comfortable to let these feelings flow and have been compassionate with myself whilst they are bubbling. The mat can be a transformative place if you are willing to notice what comes up honestly and with compassion.

Discipline

No one likes being told what to do, even by myself (C’mon, I mean, who does really?)…ironically yoga has helped me find a new level of discipline. Getting up at 5am every morning for meditation and a yoga class before work has been a hell of a struggle. Admittedly its taken me 5 years to achieve the morning routine I aspired to in my mid twenties, but it has happened nonetheless. What I’ve noticed is that it’s set a template for behaviour that I have applied to other things, learning self discipline and consistency through my practice has enabled me to be more measured in other areas of my life. I don’t get it right all the time but I know it is possible which spurs me on. It doesn’t matter how many classes you commit to in a week, its the behaviour of going when you say you’ll go that will make all the difference, it also helps that your discipline gets rewarded with a delicious rest at the end of class.

Less bound by destructive behaviours

Although not solely responsible, my love of yoga has definitely helped me quit cigarettes and alcohol and dramatically change my diet. One of the beautiful things about yoga is that it helps you to turn inwards and deeply connect with and feel your body. You develop a new level of body awareness and appreciation which makes it far easier to notice the effect of behaviours and choices off the mat. It may take time, patience (that word again!) and consistency to notice these profound changes but as our awareness becomes more subtle, it is a lot easier to make beneficial tweaks that positively impact our sense of health and wellbeing.

Expanded comfort zone

Yoga expands as you do – no matter what your level, there will always be a challenge for the taking (and at times the challenge will be not to take the hardest variation). Because it’s unusual to go from beginner to headstand queen/king (I’m still not there) in a few classes, the practice demands that we push our comfort zones just a little bit each class to build on our previous skill level and repeat this consistently over time. In this way it becomes normal to try and fail attaining a pose a couple of hundred times before mastering it – and sometimes it may never be achievable and that’s okay too. This has taught me to have fun getting uncomfortable and to worry less about failure and instead generate an attitude of giving it a bloody good go. Yoga encourages us to always remain a student and to try new things and risk getting them wrong for the joy of trying something new and expansive.

Up next:
How does a meditation class work?

Looking for a personal yoga session? Find out about our one on one yoga sessions in Melbourne.

Mindfulness at work

Mindfulness at work

Starting my first big corporate job, straight out of university was on the outside a massive societal achievement – ‘Yes’ I thought, my hard work is being rewarded with a 9-5 in the big smoke. What could be better?! Friends and family applauded my win and I finally thought I was going to feel ‘legitimate’ now that I was officially recognised as an adult, worthy of being paid to do a job!

In reality, the new responsibility had the opposite affect. This new challenge, while a huge opportunity, also brought with it a range of anxiety issues such as constant worry, good old imposter syndrome and fear of failure – I’d lie awake at night dissecting every conversation I’d had during that day and wake every morning with a pounding heart wondering if today would be the day I’d really fuck up and be fired. Hey I was a tad dramatic in those days! Cigarettes and cider provided a temporary numbing agent but the feelings would always re-emerge, never far from the surface.

My manager at the time recommended that I try the meditation app headspace to cope with feelings of overwhelm and rumination and it started me on a path that I’ve continued with over many years. Mindfulness has been especially useful (although much harder to apply) in high stress situations – and not just when on holiday, or relaxing or when you’re supposed to be truly present, like on special occasions. When shit feels like it’s really hitting the fan, and stirring up all of your insecurities, it is these moments where mindfulness can offer a helping hand.

For example, your boss wants to see you and you’re sure its because you’ve done something wrong, that common feeling just before a presentation when you genuinely think your legs are going to give way and your mouth is filled with cotton wool or that general uneasiness when we’re staring at our screen wondering if this is all there is to life, anaesthetised from the boredom of responding to yet another email.

This post is not all doom and gloom, I promise. From a place of struggle, I’ve emerged happier and healthier at work simply by learning to take a step back from overwhelm and insecurity. Here I share my top mindfulness tips that have helped me improve my ability to mange the day – because lets face it, problems will always exist but its how we deal with them that defines our experience. Although simple, these potent suggestions when applied regularly can really transform your day and mindset – increasing your energy, improving feelings of calm and allowing you to connect more deeply to what is happening here and now. It takes commitment and practice to make these things habitual but before long you’ll wonder how you coped without them!

6 mindfulness at work tips

Add a password reminder

I love this tip that I read somewhere years ago. Set your computer password to a quality that you wish to cultivate during the workday. It could simply have the word ‘mindful’ in it, or a character trait you’d like to focus on, I mean we could all do with a little reminder to be more ‘patient’ when we receive the 100th annoying email of the day.

Take three blissful sighs

When feeling symptoms of stress, find somewhere quiet to take three deep breaths in, sighing the exhale out loudly. This rapidly sends a signal to your brain that its okay to relax and you will immediately feel soothed and back in your body. Try it now and sense the difference for yourself. There is something deliciously simple about this one.

Do an afternoon meditation

The afternoon is a great time for a meditation, helping you to avoid the afternoon slump and revitalising you for the rest of the day. Book a recurring daily meeting in your diary and make the commitment that it’s a non-negotiable part of your day. Your colleagues will thank you for it!

Add some natural nourishment

Set your screensaver to beautiful images of nature and trees or get yourself a nice desk plant. Green plants have been shown to improve satisfaction and concentration levels. Sometimes just getting absorbed in nature for ten seconds can help us unravel.

Take a 2 minute breather

Start team meetings with two minutes of breath focus, consciously making the in breath and out breath the same length, counting as you go. This will help everyone to ground themselves into the moment and will rapidly change the energy in the room. You may feel a bit silly instigating this at first but encourage people to give it a go and you’ll be amazed at how good it feels. You may even notice attendance levels magically soaring!

Try a walking meditation

I’ve started to go for a walk when I feel my exhaustion or boredom levels starting to creep up. It can be done in as little as ten minutes yet you feel totally refreshed afterwards. Head out for a walk, ideally somewhere leafy but if not the street will do just fine. Start to take in all the things you can see – shapes, colours, patterns, then tap into the soundscape naming of all the sounds you can hear – simply enjoy the feeling of attending to your sensory experience. To top it off I like to imagine that my body is really heavy, letting my arms dangle from the shoulder, luxuriating in the fact I’m outside and moving my body. Also a great tactic for those times when you receive a trigger email, a little break allows you to come back to your inner wisdom before hitting send on a potentially career limiting (although totally justified Im sure!) response.

Up next: How does a meditation class work?

Want to add mindfulness into your workplace? Ask us about our corporate wellness services.

How does a meditation class work?

How does a meditation class work?

It’s very common to feel both curious and nervous about your first meditation class. First of all it’s important to do some research before to ensure that you choose a style that resonates wth you in principle. Meditation comes in a huge variety of forms, from traditional lineages like Buddhist and Vedic to more modern styles like guided and movement meditations. A bit of research on YouTube may help give you a flavour before you commit time and money to a course.

All meditation classes will be different depending on the style taught and of course the teacher. Here I summarise the top 5 things you can expect from an AM wellness course or workshop.

5 things to expect from a meditation course with us

A warm and supportive environment

Learning to meditate or honing your practice with a community of others can be extremely powerful, not to mention fun and enjoyable. As you and others discuss your experiences and learnings, you get a far deeper understanding of the practice and the multiple experiences that meditation gives you access to. Having a regular support group means you are far more likely to continue with the practice because you will have people to hold you accountable and offer support and encouragement along the way.

Insights backed by credible research

Backed by credible scientific research, you will learn techniques to help you manage stress, increase focus and awareness and effectively settle an overactive mind; providing a sense of clarity and calm

Its for busy, time poor people just like you

Let’s face it, we’d all like more hours in the day to sit under a tree and meditate for hours on end. However we must be realistic that modern life is busy and for new skills to stick they must be easy to integrate into daily life. Expect to learn tips and tricks that can provide calm in less than a couple of minutes.

Makes meditation fun and enjoyable to learn

Each class/workshop breaks down the key concepts and principles into bite sized pieces and is packed with exercises and meditations so you can discover the benefits directly from your own experience in a fun and supportive environment.

You will develop skills to…

  • Quickly and easily relax your body
  • Calm your mind and improve focus
  • Rest deeply and fall asleep
  • Think clearly and creatively
  • Understand your thought patterns and develop a deeper sense of self
  • Effectively monitor and manage emotions
  • Integrate meditation and mindfulness easily into a busy schedule

Up next: Benefits of a regular yoga practice

Ready to meditate? See our personal wellness packages here.