What resilience we have all demonstrated. The last 18 months have challenged everyone, but we have survived and, in some cases, thrived. We have pulled together, cared for relatives and neighbours, home-schooled children, assisted colleagues and kept businesses running.
To remain resilient, we need the chance to recover and restore our personal wellbeing. It’s time to invest in ourselves, to recharge our batteries and to get things back in balance.
At the heart of Indian culture is a belief that each one of us has the inner power to improve our mental, physical and spiritual health. We believe that these three elements are linked and practices, including yoga and meditation, focus energy on restoring balance.
Unifying Body and Mind
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice. It was first mentioned in the Upanishads scriptures and is a way to cultivate inner peace and optimise health. Yoga includes a series of poses that aim to:
- Improve posture
- Encourage energy and blood flow
- Boost metabolism
- Maintain flexibility
- Strengthen the muscles
In the west, we often believe that exercise has to be high intensity to work the muscles and be of benefit to our health, but this is not the case. Yoga can work on every part of the body, building core strength and stability.
Yoga is an option for people of all ages and abilities. You are in control of how far you take each move. You will find some poses come naturally to your body and others are more challenging. Focusing on the moves and extending the poses as far as your body is able is part of the process of clearing your mind of the distracting thoughts and ‘noise’.
Central to yoga practice is controlled breathing. We instinctively breathe through day and night, yet typically our breath is shallow. Yoga teaches us to use our breath to calm or re-energise the body. With a flowing breath, we are better able to expel carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen, which is an essential fuel for wellbeing.
Clearing the Mind
Does it feel as though you can never switch off? Your head is full of to-do lists and other people are constantly making demands. You need to keep up with the latest news, trends and scores. You just need some time out, but there is no time for that.
Ironically, we often bypass opportunities to switch off, because they are seen as unproductive. The reality is, that we cannot remain productive unless we rest both our mind and body. Meditation is an opportunity to step away from the daily demands.
Meditation is often practised whilst seated crossed-legged on the floor. Away from external distractions, the mind is encouraged to focus inwards. It takes practice to keep your mind from wandering, but when you become better at clearing the mind, it aids emotional control when dealing with life’s challenges.
In India, chanting sometimes accompanies meditation. The rhythmical pattern and vibrations of low chanting help some people to reach a meditative state. It also forms a connection between people, which also has an energising power.
Side Step Everyday Life
Mindfulness is a word we have added to our vocabulary in recent years. It draws on a similar idea but is more accessible to those who are not used to traditional meditation. The aim is to fully focus all senses on the activity you are currently doing. You could be on a walk in the park, making a pot of tea, dancing to your favourite music or upcycling a piece of furniture. What you want is an activity that fully absorbs your attention, engages every sense and lets you sidestep everyday life for a while.
The Power of Nutrition
We all know that what we put into our bodies has an impact on our health. A diet rich in natural ingredients and colours is going to give us the nutrients our body needs to function effectively. In Hindu culture, many people are vegetarian and a Satvic diet is favoured. This includes fresh, simple, natural foods including fruit, nuts, spices and wholegrains. We all enjoy a treat and this is fine in moderation, but there is no denying that food plays an important role in optimising our wellbeing.
Give it a Go: Yoga & Meditation Taster Workshops
Aylesbury’s Festival of Lights is designed to lift everyone’s spirits. Our showcase of colour, music, dance and community is a great way to switch off from the usual routine. Travel may be restricted, but you can step into another world on your doorstep!
You are also welcome to book our yoga and mediations taster sessions, led by The Art of Living. Take time for yourself and feel the uplifting benefits of an ancient Indian tradition.