Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Yoga gear

Wednesday morning and I hope you're having a great week. It's a stormy autumn day here, strong winds and rain, not much motivation to get outside, so with this in mind here is a little inspiration for taking care of yourself inside. 

Yoga gear is not only ideal for those times that we make it onto the mat, but can also be perfect for lounging at home, like this long line waterfall cardigan from M&S [1], perfect for days at home too. And for a real treat the Neom Organics range is pure luxury for indulging at home. Created by a woman I worked with years ago in magazine publishing in London, the products also make a great gift for this time of year. 

With all this in mind I wanted to share an article I wrote for the studio I teach at [www.yogaaththereach.com], not just about yoga, it's also about the importance of making time to switch off, however you manage to do that. 

See you on Friday.


1. Active yoga wrap cardigan, Marks and Spencer | SHOP NOW |
2. Reebok Icon ladies watch, Watch Warehouse | SHOP NOW |
3. Real luxury bath and shower oil, Neom Organics | SHOP NOW |
4. Anusara yoga vest, Sweaty Betty | SHOP NOW |
5. Asana sticky yoga mat, Yoga Bliss | SHOP NOW |
6. Resolution yoga pant, Manuka | SHOP NOW |

Making time and taking time.

Finding time for our yoga practice can sometimes feel like we’re adding more pressure to our already overscheduled lives. Full time jobs, children, elderly parents; often our list of obligations, commitments and priorities can feel overwhelming. The truth is that this is when we need our yoga practice the most. With a full schedule, comes a full mind, but if we take a moment in our day to calm the mind and restore the body we can be stronger, more focused and productive the rest of the time. 

Most often in yoga class we focus on our asana practice, the wonderful physical movements that create space and energy in the body, elevating our mood and lifting our weary spirit. But dig a little deeper and there are much more valuable lessons to learn from the teachings of yoga that can help in life. 

Much of our modern yoga practice is based on the Yoga Sutras written around 2000 years ago by the Indian sage Patanjali. In this ancient text Patanjali wrote a philosophical outline for a balanced yoga practice described as the 8 limbs – only one of which was the asana practice of postures. The first few limbs begin by addressing our behaviour in the outside world, before the focus shifts in the later limbs to our internal lives. The Yamas, or restraints, are the first limb and refer to how we exist in the world. In today’s teachings they can be translated as kindness, truthfulness, abundance, continence and self-reliance [although different texts translate them differently]. The first, kindness or Ahimsa, is one of the most important lessons we can learn both on and off the mat. Patanjali was teaching the importance of non-violence not only to others, but also to ourselves. Taking time out of our busy day, whether it is 5, 15 or 50 minutes can be part of this process, after all how can we do our duty, or dharma, in the world if we never take time to restore ourselves? 

I learnt this the hard way when my son was born. 4 weeks early he had a voracious appetite and an exhausting sleep schedule, only napping for 40 short minutes at a time. I quickly became tired, emotional and irrational. At 3pm one afternoon my mum knocked on the door to find my son and I crying in the living room. I hadn’t showered, or eaten that day, my husband having left early for work that morning. Thankfully she scooped my son up and told me to shower and eat, restoring my energy and my mood in a few blissful moments. By not taking care of myself I was not just neglecting myself, but also my son, so I started to take time each week to do gentle exercise and rediscovered my regular yoga class. Later as a full time Mum those few hours away from my son gave me more energy and enthusiasm in the time that I was looking after him. 

When making time for your yoga practice, be kind to yourself, be realistic about what you can manage in your day. A weekly yoga class is a great place to start, and perhaps it is feasible to get up a half an hour earlier to make time for a short practice? Or would you benefit more from a longer practice before bed instead of watching the news before your head hits the pillow [after all which is going to make you feel better?]. Focus on a sequence that will restore and revive you, and don’t rush. Take your time in each posture to really enjoy the benefit of the practice. Switch off your phone and allow your mind to focus fully on your breath. Set this time aside for you and try to avoid interruptions. 

Who knows, what starts as a 10 minute round of sun salutations in the morning before work might soon stretch to a half hour practice, but it is also important to consider the second Yama of truthfulness. Your practice shouldn’t feel like a chore or an added stress in your life. Yoga is a life long practice and the only way to pursue it for a long time is to do it with enjoyment and honesty. Acknowledge where your life is at this moment and focus on enjoying where you are now, both in life and in your postures. 

For more information on my teaching and classes visit www.yogaatthereach.com.

I'll be running a special evening of yoga, relaxation and Reiki with my friend Debbie Sutherland on the 22nd of November in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer. For more information visit www.justgiving.com/restandrelaxatthereach.


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