Coming from a corporate recruitment and sales background, I think I can safely say that I know a thing or two about stress. Working 12 – 14 hour days was the norm and once I set up my own company, weekends were often spent ‘catching up’ too, and not the fun with friends variety! When I first stumbled across yoga, I had such a huge release during savasana at the end, I know this happens to a lot of people, just being able to stop the chatter and move your body with the breath and then do absolutely nothing for 5 minutes at the end, it was pure bliss and I had a little cry, in a happy way! I had finally found my off switch 🙂
Fast forward a few years and I am so lucky to have turned my passion into a brand and set up Lost in Yoga. Our ethos is all about moving the body in a way that feels good and not caring if it looks good, check your ego at the door and come do some yoga! Our aim is to bring communities together through yoga and chats, breaking down the barriers that you have to be a certain type of person or look a certain way to do yoga, yoga is literally for everyone and has such a huge power to heal and unite.
I am not going to say I don’t get stressed any more as that would be a lie so here are my 8 top things to do when I am feeling stressed for almost guaranteed calming results, check them out!
- Breathe! Anyone that follows me on social media will know I talk about this a lot, but it is the most important thing! Not just because we would be dead without it but because just taking a minute to tune into the breath and taking long, slow and mindful breaths in and out through the nose can have profound effects and will make you feel calmer almost instantly. Don’t have a minute to spare? Even 5 breaths will help you!
- Stop what you are doing right now and take time out. Step out of your routine, get outside if you can and just walk mindfully and really observe the miracle that is around you (even if you do live in Elephant and Castle, there is still a lot of magic!) When we change our routine we have a chance to press reset and stop stress levels spiralling out of control.
- Practice gratitude. Our thoughts and beliefs are hugely powerful and can have psychological and physiological changes, the more positivity we can cultivate, the better the effects will be. Get into a habit of trying to think of 5-10 things you are grateful for at least on a daily basis, really focus on each thing and the feelings that gratitude evokes, over time you will rewire your brain to naturally be more grateful and to take pleasure in the simplest of things 🙂
- Positive affirmations. Change your negative thoughts around by repeating positive phrases over and over in your head or out loud. Just like with gratitude, our words have a huge amount of power to become true, the more we repeat positive things, the more our mind begins to believe it and it becomes self fulfilling. So if you are feeling down or stressed out, turn those words into positives. If you are feeling that you are not loveable you may want to repeat “I am loved” over and over, if you feel that you are out of your depth at work you might want to repeat “I trust in myself and my talents” or a nice allrounder “I am exactly where I need to be” Sit down with a pen and turn those worries into positives right now 🙂
- Do Bhramari Pranayama/Humming bee breath – I teach this a lot in my classes and despite it feeling a bit silly when you first do it, most people absolutely love it when they realise the amazing effects it has. Here is a great exercise to introduce you to it – Find yourself a comfortable seat and inhale slowly in through the nose, then on an exhale, make a mmmm humming sound out through your mouth. Keep the hum for as long as possible before taking another inhale and repeating for 6 rounds. Then return to normal easy breathing, close down the eyes and observe the sensations in your body and mind, notice if there is any change. Humming stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system producing calming and relaxing effects and soothing the mind, give it a go now!
- Smell something nice! Nice smells can lift your mood and either energise you or calm you down, you can rub aromatherapy oils on your pulse points (make sure they are safe to go directly onto the skin) or put them in your diffuser, smell your favourite food, make a pot of fresh coffee, bake something, there are so many options! My favourite? Getting outside the house and taking a great big inhale in at the beautiful smell of fresh air, even in London it’s pretty good!
- Practice this systematic relaxation technique, it can be done anywhere where you can relax safely, even on the bus, people will just think you are sleeping. Using your most comfortable, tired, drowsy voice simply say each of the following to yourself out loud or in your head.. Now I relax my eyes.
Now I relax my jaw.
Now I relax my tongue.
Now I relax my shoulders.
Now I relax my arms.
Now I relax my hands.
Now I relax my chest.
Now I relax my stomach.
Now I relax my thighs.
Now I relax my calves.
Now I relax my feet.
Now I relax my mind.
Pause to notice the feelings and then, if you wish you can repeat it over again. Stay with the feeling as long as you wish. You will be able to return to full waking consciousness, refreshed and alert, as soon as you are ready.
- Do some yoga – obviously, I had to put this one in! Yoga doesn’t have to be about fancy postures or touching your toes, yoga is simply moving the body and breathing; an exploration of the self. The combination of moving the body and breath work has been seen to significantly help reduce stress levels in many studies.
If you have never been to a yoga class we will be running a beginners workshop at Yoga Arch in Camberwell, London on the 23rd March. This will be a 2.5 hour introduction to yoga, we won’t take it too seriously so just come along, have a giggle and meet like minded people, we will have tea and biscuits afterwards (optional!) We also run regular 6 week beginners courses, the next one starts on 28th March and we have twice weekly Yoga for Beginners classes so come get Lost with us! x