Slow Down with the Seasons

At this time of year it often feels like there is a subtle pressure building to a crescendo as the holiday season looms and an expectation of how we are supposed to behave. 

Therefore it is a good time to think about how to ensure that you are looking after yourself so that you can give your best to your loved ones. To achieve this you need to take care of yourself and make sure that your mind and body are being supported fully 

Sometimes as we come up to the holiday season all those jobs that have been avoided suddenly seem to be the most important things to finish. Before you go manic, ask yourself, “do they really need to be done now?” Make a list and rank them in order or importance, then start crossing off those that really don’t need to be finished. Know your own limits and work within them. A job done quickly and badly is not worth doing.

Take moments throughout your day to realise how lucky you are; anything from just looking up at the sky on a crisp winters day, to noticing the beauty of a fallen leaf on the ground. 

Perhaps make a conscious effort to give something to the homeless person on the street, to donate unwanted items to your local charity shop or spend time talking to someone who needs you to listen

As mentioned in a previous blog, make sure you are looking after your health by keeping hydrated, and nourished with food that is sourced ethically and is good for you. It is hard to avoid “treats” at this time of year, so take time to really taste and savour them and you may find that one chocolate is enough!

Be aware if you are spending time with people who drain your energy, may be unintentionally, but who rely on you, so arrange to see them when you feel full of energy yourself. 

Try meditation before you get up in the morning, even for 5 minutes, you might be surprised how much better you feel for taking the time to do so before starting your day.

Plan to go to a yoga class on the days you feel you need a lift, perhaps a Wednesday to give you that extra boost for the rest of the week, and may be a more gentle class at the end of the week to ease yourself into the weekend.

We all know that getting enough good quality sleep is known to be one of the most important things for your health. Different age groups require different amounts of sleep. Children between 14 & 17 year old on average require; 8-10h; 18-65 year olds an average of 7-9h and 65 years and older an average of 7-8h.

It is important to pay attention to your sleep hygiene. This includes keeping to a regular sleep pattern, even at the weekend. Avoid eating within a 3 hours of bedtime; try to keep all electronics, computers and phones out of the bedroom (perhaps get a manual clock for Christmas); make sure the room is maintained at a steady temperature, ideally at 21C; reduce light pollution to a minimum and ensure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow.

If you have trouble getting to sleep there are yoga sequences that can help you relax into a deep quality slumber that use the knowledge gleaned from Traditional Chinese Medicine based on the meridians that are also used in acupuncture. The example below is aimed to work with the gall bladder, liver, lung and large intestine meridians at the times where these meridians are most energised. 

Aim to be in each pose for between 5 and 8 mins. 

Intention: To release all negative thoughts from the day and replace them with positive thoughts about tonight’s sleep which will re-set your mind ready for tomorrow. Mantra “this is the first night of complete quietude and peaceful sleep”

At any point in the practice feel free to repeat the mantra to yourself.

  1. Seated cross legs, 10 long settling breaths, thinking about filling your lungs to their maximum capacity and totally exhaling all the air from your lungs. Repeating the mantra as you breath

  2. Take your legs into knee pile with eagle arms, folding forwards to hold for 5-8 mins on both sides

  3. Child, resting your arms 

  4. Ease yourself up and gently hold sphinx, the head can relax

  5. Transitioning through a very gentle down dog with really bent knee come into Pigeon pose, hold for 5-8 mins then change sides

  6. Lower yourself completely on the mat, extend your left arm out at 90 degrees to the body then take the right hand near your chest to gently ease yourself away from the floor to allow you to stretch out the left shoulder joint. Hold for up to 5 mins. Then go onto the other side

  7. Roll onto your belly then ease yourself up to all 4’s and as you inhale pull the belly towards the floor and on exhale push the back towards the sky (cat/cow) repeat for 5 rounds

  8. From all 4’s position take the right hand to the sky out to the side then thread the arm underneath the left arm through to your shoulder, inhale and lift the arm up, exhale and thread underneath. Repeat 4 time on each side 

  9. Come onto your belly, take your hands on the floor and extend the elbows into Seal and hold for 2 mins.

  10. Lie down onto the belly, take the your hands underneath your forehead palms facing downwards and rest your head on the back of your hands