If your intention for 2022 is to start yoga or commit to a more regular practice, it can seem challenging when we consider how to actually fit a yoga practice into our busy lives. Even though the benefits of yoga are so beneficial for helping reduce stress and anxiety (which then has a profoundly positive knock-on positive effect on things like immune health, blood pressure and longevity) all too often many of us tend to put our own needs after that of others. Especially if you have a demanding job or a family to care for, an hour-long yoga class can seem like an unrealistic luxury, so if you want to get the brilliant benefits of yoga without taking too much time out of your day, read on for 5 simple ways to seamlessly fit yoga into your current lifestyle!
- Morning Pranayama
Jumping to switch off the alarm clock is a stressful way to start the day, so having a simple tool to calm your nervous system before you even get out of bed is one of the most valuable things you can do in order to feel better for the entire day ahead. Before you get up, practice 5 rounds of sama vritti pranayama or ‘equal breathing’, which can calm the body and mind, and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the ‘rest and digest’ system – and when we’re relaxed, the body functions a whole lot better. To practice, inhale for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five, and hold again for five, then repeat 4 more times. Do Breathe by Michael Townsend Williams can help you understand the importance of healthy breathing, whilst The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi will give you more pranayama techniques to explore depending upon the affects you want to induce.
- Sun Salutations
If you fill the kettle in the morning, it takes between two to four minutes to boil, so whilst you’re waiting for your morning cup of organic Pukka Revitalise Tea, move through a few rounds of surya namaskar or ‘sun salutations’. Surya Namaskara by Swami Satyananda Saraswati explains how these traditional yoga postures and movements effectively help stretch and strengthen the entire body, increasing circulation, lymphatic flow, and therefore boosting your health before you’ve even sipped your first cup of tea or coffee! If you’re trying to reduce caffeine by the way; Pukka Fresh Start Organic Tea is a naturally caffeine free choice to awaken your day.
- Mantras On The Move
Whilst you’re travelling to work – as long as it’s totally safe to do so – a simple mantra practice is a yogic technique that utilises the power of sound for big benefits. Mantras like ‘Om’ or ‘Aum’ or even simple humming help communicate to the vagus nerve (a long nerve running from the brain to the gut, connecting to all the vital organs along the way). The vagus nerve constantly senses our breathing rate, heart rate, gut health and even whether we’re mentally stressed, and then tells the rest of the bod how to respond. When we’re humming, we communicate to the vagus nerve that it’s ok to relax, thus moving the body into the ‘rest and digest’ mode, where our immune system and digestive system work best. Humming also increases nitric oxide, which can help lower blood pressure, increase athletic performance, and reduce muscle soreness. Play mantras to sing along to in the car, or bring Mantras In Motion by Erin Stutland with you on your commute to discover a multitude of mantras for everything from relaxing to focusing, to boost energy or prepare for sleep.
- Yogic Eye Exercises
If you spend your work day in front of a screen, you’ll know how tired and irritated your eyes can become. We evolved to be looking up and around and lots of different objects near and far throughout the day, not at one single object at close range, which can cause eye strain, headaches and migraines. Taking a quick break every so often at work can go a long way to refreshing your brain, eyes, and can reduce that familiar fatigue at the end of a long day at a desk. Just as our circadian rhythm influences our sleep-wake cycle, we also have smaller ultradian rhythms that cycle throughout the day. One of these ultradian rhythms influences our bodies and minds in a way that means on average, most of us are able to focus on a task for about 90 minutes before we really need a break. Knowing this can help us be far more efficient when we need to be, and helps us give the body a vital moment to re-set too. Set a timer for 90 minutes (you can of course also choose 30 or 60 minutes if you know that suits you better), when the timer ends and it’s time to take a break, turn away from your screen and close your eyes for a moment (the eyes drain around 20% of our energy throughout the day). Then, open your eyes and visualise a clock in front of you. Move your eyes to 12, 6, 9 and 3 on the clock, then 12, 6, 3 and 9. Next, move your eyes all the way round from 1 to 12, then backwards from 12 to 1. Next, look at something far away from you, then something in the mid distance, and finally something close to you. This can all help replenish and revitalise the eyes and help re-set the brain’s ability to focus too. To soothe your eyes at the end of the day, use the Hydrea Relaxing Bamboo Lavender Eye Pillow and block out sleep-disrupting light at night with the Spritz Wellness Liberty Print Aromatherapy Eye Mask.
- Mindful Pre-Bed Moments
At the end of a long day, we might turn to a glass of wine, Netflix show or bar of chocolate to help us switch off, but all of these things come with their own negative effects. For a soothing pre bedtime balm, practice just a couple of restorative yoga postures such as Balasana or ‘Child’s Pose’ and a supported restorative backbend using a Yogamatters Hemp Mini Buckwheat Bolster. You can practice these postures whilst mindfully moving your awareness through your body and relaxing each limb – if you have young children to keep an eye on, invite them to practice these vital self-care techniques that they can bring with them through the rest of their lives too. A gratitude practiced just before going to sleep can also help enhance mental and emotional wellbeing, so keep your Gratitude One Line A Day Journal on your bedside table for some pre-sleep scribbling.
Are you planning to make yoga a part of your 2022? Do you fit yoga techniques into your busy day? Or do you commit to a regular studio class with a favourite teacher?