Yoga has its background in over 4000 years of history and, although there are so many views on what yoga is, in the Pantajali sutras Yoga is defined as: “Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah” which roughly translates as “The restraint of the modification of the mindstuff is yoga”… Huh? I hear you say… Well what this comes down to is working towards stillness in the mind. This is what I want to help you with today!
How you get there could be through so many different ways but the paths that I follow are these:
This is the practice of the poses which most would know as a typical yoga class that you would go to in the week. Whether this is Rocket, Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow or something else, all these asanas are helping you connect breath to movement. By focusing on the breaths (inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale) this encourages our mind to rest and anxiety to lessen as we are instead focusing on our body and our breath which gives us energy and life.
This is breath control. Prana is thought of as the life force and by focusing time on breathing exercises this can nourish the body and bring balance back internally. I personally love doing breathing exercises, I find that connecting with my breath allows me to calm my inner thoughts and anxiety even when I am doing my everyday living. Here are some amazing exercises that I use daily to help me calm my inner thoughts and lower my heart rate:
- Deep abdominal breathing: here literally feel yourself drawing the breath into your lungs – inhale for 3 and then exhale for 3. When this starts to feel more comfortable extend the breath in and out to 4,5 or 6 counts.
- Full yogic breath: I use this technique often as it is such a considered movement for me. As you inhale visualise the breath entering first your stomach, then lungs, then chest and then throat. Literally feel and visualise yourself getting totally filled by breath and your prana – this consideration of breath really helps me slow my heart rate and re-connect with my body when I am freaking out.
I tend to practice 2 different types of meditation, mainly the first, but I will tell you about a second option as it may appeal to you more
- Body scanning – I am such a visual person that this really appeals to me. I normally do this at night when I am panicking and struggle to breath and sleep.
Imagine that you see a bright light in the centre of your chest, in your own time move this light around your body starting in your body and move it around your body. Imagine when you first move that light to a body part the area is dark and you can see the light brightening and glowing lightening that area fully. At the end of this practice your body is glowing and filled with a wonderful bright light.
- Mindfulness – this word is so overused so I am slightly reluctant to use it – you could say that actually it is the practice of stillness – but that may be a bit fluffy! You can do this sitting or lying down but make yourself comfortable.
To begin with set your alarm for 3-5 minutes as this will help keep you focused, you can always build this time up! All we are going to do is to focus on the breath, inhaling and exhaling – nothing more. Any thoughts that come into your mind, just acknowledge them and then let them pass. Don’t focus on them, revel in the fact that you have 3-5 whole minutes to focus on nothing – all the other crap can wait! Be still, let your mind take a time out!
I really hope these help you – it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these have saved my life, I hope they go some way to helping you too.