A blog about Yoga and Yoga breathing? On a website selling ladies’ scarves and pashminas? Let me explain! So, in addition to my 9 to 5 job in marketing at Scarf Room, I’m also a qualified Yoga teacher. I’ve been teaching for over 14 years but practising all my adult life. This week’s blog is a little window into my world.
I think one of the most valuable lessons that Yoga has taught me is to take time out EVERY SINGLE DAY to listen to the body. If you think about it, we spend most of our day in our heads, with what seems like a million different thoughts whirling round and round. Constantly. We only really think about the body when we’re looking at ways to improve it (!) or when it’s unwell and we need to get it better.
And because we spend all our time in our head, we miss so many of our body’s vital signals and signs. Or we just ignore them!
Your Body is Intelligent
A simple example. It’s 10pm. You’re sitting on the sofa. You can feel your body getting tired, you’re yawning and your eyes are beginning to close. We’ve all been there a million times. BUT there’s a brilliant film on that you want to watch. So you stay up until after midnight and end up feeling exhausted the next day.
Or you’re out having a meal and drinking with friends. You know after a couple of glasses of wine that you’ve had enough. Any more and you are going to regret it in the morning. But you still have another. Or two. Your hangover the next day comes as no surprise.
Over time, ignoring the body’s intelligence begins to undermine our health and wellbeing. We lose our glow and begin to notice increasing fatigue, headaches, constipation, a myriad of aches and pains.
Rest & Relaxation
At this time of year, one of the things our body craves most is to kick back and rest. We only need to look at nature to see that it is in full R&R mode. Some animals commit to this ONE HUNDRED PERCENT by hibernating. But we humans do the opposite, especially over Christmas and the New Year. Parties, late nights, drinking, overeating. Sound familiar?!!!!!!
Thankfully, the body is pretty resilient and we CAN get our glow back!!! We just need to slow down a little and start to listen to and respect its cues. And learn how to breathe. A superb way to begin to do this is with Yoga (you knew I would say this) and, specifically, with Savasana or the relaxation pose, one of the most incredible poses in the Yoga repertoire. Not only does Savasana connect us to and improve our breathing, research has shown that it improves our immune function, restores our vitality, helps us sleep better and gives us that all-important time out to get our glow back.
Want to try it for yourself? Have you got 10 minutes?
Find a comfortable and warm space where you will be undisturbed. Switch off your phone and lie down – on a Yoga mat if you have one or, if not, on a thick towel or blanket. Stretch out and adjust your legs so that they are comfortably wide apart. Allow your little toes to flop out to the sides. (If you have a back issue, you may be more comfortable with the knees bent and the feet on the floor). Feel the hips gently ease open. Now extend your arms out to the sides a little away from your body and turn over your palms so that your palms are facing the ceiling. Adjust your chin so that the neck feels very comfortable. Gently close the eyes. Relax the face, the chin and the jaw and soften that little space between your eyebrows.
Invite your body to be very still and peaceful.
Now (unusual as it sounds) find your breath. Start by becoming aware of the breath in the nostrils. The incoming breath and the outflowing breath. Notice that the air is cool as it comes into the body and a little warmer as it leaves the body. Become aware of the length of your breath. The texture of your breath. Even the soft sound of your breath. Stay with this for a few moments.
Next take your awareness to the breath in the abdomen. Observe how the abdomen gently rises and falls with the breath. Observe the abdomen rising on the in-breath and falling on the out-breath. When the mind begins to move away from the breath, guide it gently back. Know that with this simple practice, you are allowing your mind to rest. Research has shown that this mindful breathing helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. Think of it as giving your mind a little time out.
And now, using your creativity, imagine that you are lying on a beautiful soft, velvet cushion and each time you breath out, feel your body sinking a little deeper into that cushion. Feel that each out-breath softens your body and lets you sink deeper and deeper into that soft, velvet cushion. Rest with this awareness for a little while.
Very slowly allow this visualisation to float gently away. Bring the awareness back to your physical body. Become aware of your breathing once more – the breath in the abdomen and the breath in the nostrils. Then become aware of your physical body lying peacefully in Savasana. Begin to notice all the little sounds around you. Move your body. Have a long stretch and a yawn to energise you for the rest of the day. Roll on to one side and, in your own time, come to an upright position.
NOW – GO GLOW!!!
Ciao bellissime. A presto.