Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Lessons from yoga- small changes, big difference

In our every day lives, small things can make a big difference.  Feeling stressed? Breathe deeply for a minute or two for instant calm.  Feeling fed up? Try smiling- your brain does not know the difference between a smile that is not meant and one that is and so soon you will genuinely feel like smiling.  

If you work at a desk, try taking a 5 minute break in every half hour.  Far from 'wasting time' this will increase your productivity and be beneficial for your eyes.  If you use the time to do a few stretches, that time will help your circulation and reoxygenate your blood.  Other small changes that might a big difference include a daily foot massage. Please see the video on my YouTube Channel, 'Foot yoga'-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzAySsBMHQI or a few eye exercises (especially if you work at a computer, this can help reduce headaches. Please see the video on my YouTube Channel, 'Eye yoga'-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHLJRB5FA5A)

Small changes in your eating habits too could make a big difference.  For instance if we all had at least one meatless meal each week it would go a long way to reducing greenhouse gases, slowing climate change and feeding our growing populations.  If you eat eggs, please eat organic which means that the hens are free to roam, not caged. Similarly if you eat meat choosing organic means that the standard of animal welfare is high and it is better for you too as the meat will not have antibiotics/hormones in it.

A few minutes meditation each day has scientifically proven benefits for the brain- it increases grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex which improves cognitive function, focus and concentration.

But the small change that made the biggest difference to me was starting a yoga practice. When my lung was first damaged by chicken pox, I could barely leave my chair without collapsing in a breathless heap.  Then I started doing a few yoga stretches - I couldn't do much at first but slowly my strength returned.  I realised how far I had come one day while out walking with my daughters.  'Wait' they shouted, 'we can't keep up'.

Within our yoga practice too small changes can make a big difference.  Good alignment is key to how good a pose feels. For example lifting your chest and drawing your shoulders away from your ears can transform Sphinx pose and breathing into intense sensations in a pose can not only help hold the pose longer but also help create ease while you effort (please see he video on my YouTube Channel, 'Lessons from yoga-Balancing effort with ease'- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HplCA0-XBe8 for more on this).  Please note however that sensation is one thing but pain is another entirely and you should come out of the pose if you experience pain. Using props is another small change that can help your body open up gradually without creating tension in your body.

In this week's yoga video we will explore some small changes we can make that might make a considerable difference to your practice. We begin with a slower paced more mindful Sun Salutation. This allows you to be more aware of the breath and calm the mind.  In contrast a faster paced Sun Salutation will be more aerobic.  Sometimes in our yoga practice, as in life, a little support can help your body open up gradually making a big difference to your experience of that pose.  In our yoga practice the support would come from the use of props, and in life support might come from family, friends etc.  We continue in our yoga video to see how small 'tweaks' can make a big difference to a yoga pose.  We end with a simple meditation. You can find this week's yoga video, 'Lessons from yoga -Small changes, big difference' on my YouTube Channel-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtvXNb4a64I

Janet x

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