I recently read a social media post that had been shared many times. The post showed a letter from a head teacher to a particular group of pupils. When the pupils returned to school on Monday morning they were due to sit examinations. The letter detailed the head teacher’s expectations of the pupils for the weekend.
Where are you reading this musing? At home after a long day? On your mobile during a commute? Or have you stumbled upon it by chance when looking for something, or someone else, to stimulate and entertain you?
Being caught up in the activity of ‘doing’ may bind us to a life of busy activity with little space to stop and pause. There are, of course, some activities that we cannot shirk, be it going to work, taking care of family members or fulfilling previously agreed commitments.
Each time you create a ‘to do’ list how often does the heart sink at the nature and breadth of those actions? Perhaps you create separate ‘to do’ lists, one for work and one for home. How often does your ‘to do’ list include something to make you laugh, bring joy to your heart or make you want to skip down the road?
Lest you’ve forgotten or are out of the habit of finding fun in the everyday here are just some of the tips from the head teacher and a few of my own:
• Ride a bike just for fun
• Curl up on the sofa with a drink and read a book for as long as you like
• Pick up the phone to a friend or friends and arrange to go for a swim during the ‘fun session’
• Laugh till your tummy hurts (one from the Head teacher and possibly my favourite)
• Rest, rest, rest
• Eat ice cream
• Play in nature and build a den
Fun and play are essential parts of life as they bring us to laughter and joy. As the sun shines and lightens the day make sure that you take time to open your heart, take a hold of your inner child and bring him, or her, out to play.
Water has an innate power: the ferocity of the sea wave or the undercurrents that flow beneath the Thames. It is also the essential element for life. Such is the delicacy of the human body that it cannot last much beyond three, or perhaps five days (www.thewaterpage.com) without it.
In the UK it is quite easy to take water for granted as falls so readily from the sky that days can be of full of, or punctuated by rain. In a rain storm people walk down the street hunched into waterproof coats, under umbrellas and braced against the worst that it can offer. It’s rare to see strangers make eye contact as all seem focussed upon their final destination.
During the summer it’s possible to observe slight changes in the way people respond to a rain burst; scurrying for cover to avoid the worst excesses, perhaps a briefcase or carrier bag held aloft to protect the individual. In taking water and rain for granted and greeting it with a shrug of the shoulders you can miss a complete sensory experience.
The next time you are caught in summer rain open all of your senses and note how summer rain has its own particular flavour? Its own smell? That when it touches your skin it announces its arrival with delicacy?
And if that doesn’t appeal to you then I offer you this challenge: get out your wellies and go splashing about in puddles. The humble Wellington boot is as essential in a British summer as suntan lotion and if you can’t remember the last time you stepped in a puddle just to see the size of splash you can make, now is the time!
Greet rain with a smile, take joy in the moment and open out to your innate joy and happiness.
I recently attended the wedding of two dear friends. The day was filled with love, laughter and good cheer for the couple, their family and friends. Many had come together to make a contribution to the day through cooking, decorating the hall or giving their time and energy to make the day special. During their speech the bride and groom took time to thank individuals for their particular efforts.
Gratitude appears so simple to offer and yet can bring forth complex emotions. Another friend grew up in a family where love was in abundance and money in short supply. She wrote very movingly of small boxes of groceries being left on the doorstep and not knowing who gave these donations. Each time a box was received the family enjoyed and gave thanks for the generosity of the unknown benefactor. More complicated emotions were present when equally well-meaning individuals stood on the door with offerings. She said how somehow ‘thank you’ never seemed sufficient and that her sense of discomfort and humiliation continued to this day.
Practise giving thanks for all that you receive each day. You may wish to start with that which is ‘taken for granted’: give thanks for your sense of smell, sight, hearing or well-being, love and joy.
When an opportunity arises to be kind and generous to others, remember to say a silent ‘thank you’ and offer your gift with humility and honesty. After all one day you may be the recipient and then how will you feel?
“Summertime and the living is easy” so says the song and it’s easy to see why. The days are longer, the sun usually shines and the mood is lighter. Holidays are taken to spend time with the family and go away to explore somewhere new, paddle in the sea or laze around on the beach.
What would like for your perfect holiday?
Climbing a mountain, a pile of books and no interruptions, sailing in a yacht, a traditional seaside family holiday, long walks in woodland, train spotting in a refurbished railway carriage, staying in an ice hotel; the possibilities seem endless.
The more people, adults and children, friends who go away together the more opinions are available on what constitutes a perfect holiday.
Take a moment to consider why do we seek the ‘perfect’ holiday? Is it more a reflection of the desire to escape from daily life?
Everyday life comprises the ordinary and extra-ordinary and it’s easy to see holidays as a time of escape. No matter where you go there’s no escape from self however a holiday is a wonderful time to stop, take time to contemplate and to re-charge: to me that is a perfect holiday.
September is a time of change and the start of the new academic year. Students, whether walking into the first day of school or leaving home to start university are alert to the new adventure that awaits them. For some this will be tempered with anxiety while others are full of the excitement for experiences that stimulate the mind and body.
Education in all its forms depends on those who stand at the front of the class room or lecture hall and fulfil the role of teacher. Teaching has often been derided and its professionalism questioned by politicians, parents and some students. I believe that teaching is an honourable profession; one that requires dedication, energy and the capacity to engage students curiosity and attention.
As a teacher of yoga I am stimulated and challenged by the students that attend Peaceful Yoga classes. Enquiries about classes are often opened with the phrase “I want to be more flexible and relax; be able to manage my stress”. Each session is designed to follow the traditional structure of a yoga class and incorporate a focus on the breath, the body and the mind.
Peaceful Yoga encourages students to remember that yoga is a practice that has no goal, just the ability to open the mind and hold a spirit of enquiry to the messages that the body and mind have to offer.
Although I am a yoga teacher, I am also a yoga student: always learning, always growing, always welcoming all that yoga has to offer.
This month’s article is written by Tracy, who with her husband David, work as farmers and run the farm shop Bucksum www.bucksum.co.uk
Tracy explores the motivation to be vegetarian and how that can be combined with an occasional foray into eating meat.
It was A Level Biology which finally tipped a whim and passing fancy into the reality of becoming a vegetarian, 28 years ago for me. It was not the frog dissection which was still common in those days or the lung dissection complete with teacher making the pig squeal by blowing through the windpipe but worm dissection, when having carefully encouraged our worms to the surface we were told to drop them in boiling water before carefully slicing them open. The sudden realisation that I was being asked to kill something contributed to an absolute and stubborn refusal and when the teachers retort was “well you eat meat don’t you?” I liberated my earthworm out of the nearest window to the flowerbed below and vowed never to eat meat again. Returning home and announcing to my mother that I was now vegetarian I was met with another wall; I would have to cook for myself, thus began some serious lessons!
What I enjoy most about my mainly vegetarian diet (more on that later) is eating with the seasons. I am lucky enough to have married a Market Gardener /Farmer and we grow a good range of vegetables and sell them in our Farm Shop. This means that I get to grow vegetables, talk about vegetables and share vegetable recipes a lot of the time. Dinner always starts with “what have we got that didn’t sell/needs using/is fresh picked?” Every plateful is connected directly with the plot, the season and the prevailing weather: there’s nothing like washing mud off your freshly dug carrots on a filthy wet, cold day and then eating them in a warm comforting meal that evening, or picking the first of the wild garlic in the spring and filling the house with the smell of the promise of summer.
Early vegetarian meals involved a lot of packets and ‘meat substitutes’ because back then meals were mostly meat/substitute and two veg (one of which would be potatoes). Much early veggie food looked and often tasted unappetizing and as soon as I had mastered cooking I found that my student house was filled with hungry friends. They often became vegetarian too, not because I pushed, cajoled or preached, but simply because I could cook and share good vegetarian meals and none of us missed the alternatives. Nowadays an average week might include a seasonal risotto (say squash and sage), a lasagna or pasta dish (we do a particularly tangy pasta, feta and kale with chilli flakes). Maybe some beetroot burgers or beetroot falafels, a lasagna with mushrooms, spinach and squash or those lovely nutty puy lentils: a delicious selection of curries, carrot & cashew nut, sag aloo, mixed veg and cauliflower pilaf, some homemade pizza with fresh mixed salad leaves, a range of delicious vegetable soups for lunch, the whole lot finally ending with some roasted squash or stuffed mushrooms, served with a huge platter of mixed roasted veg and mushroom gravy on Sunday. Just writing this is starting me thinking about everything that’s coming soon, growing in the propagator ready to go out when the days lengthen and the temperature rises; peppers and aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes, all of the wonderful summer food with its associations of eating outdoors again.
Now a confession, when I met my farmer husband he asked why I don’t eat meat and I explained that I don’t like the way most animals are kept and the fact that people are disconnected from what they are actually doing by eating packaged joints and meat products. I said that if I had reared something and knew how it had been kept and had the stomach to deal with it myself then I would consider eating it; Ok he said lets’ get some piglets and I had to eat my words!
Five years on we are onto our third set of piglets, I feed them and care for them and know their likes and dislikes. They eat leftover veg from the shop and this pair are particularly partial to Squashes while the last two loved celeriac. Pigs can’t eat leeks (which give them mouth ulcers) and must not be fed any scraps from any kitchen (this was instigated after the concerns of farm animals being fed on other farm animals resulted in the BSE epidemic). The pigs will go and be ‘recycled’ as part of the circle of life here on the farm and will be shared amongst other local friends and farmers. Our pork will be the only meat I eat, last year we couldn’t find any piglets so ate no meat for a year. Soon my stomach will once again be struggling with the far harder to digest meat I’m offering it. After over 20 years my first experience of eating meat was a hilarious (to my carnivorous son) experience of rolling around on the floor in agony like a newborn baby with colic! So it’s a mostly vegetarian diet for me with a bit of role modelling and two edible discussion points for the farm shop thrown in.
On an early morning walk towards a London park a tent was pitched on the pavement with cardboard beneath it for additional insulation. The flap of the tent was partially open and visible was the lower arm and hand, clasped between the fingertips a roll up cigarette. Slowly a man’s head emerged and lent out of the tent took a drag and lay back down, his fingers still holding the cigarette, remained outside.
As I took a second to absorb this one moment in this man’s life the word respect floated into my mind. I have been contemplating why this might be so ever since.
Respect is defined as holding something or someone in particular regard, consideration or esteem. In spite of his circumstances the gentleman appeared to be holding his sleeping space in particular regard and in that he is no different to countless other smokers who can be seen standing outside pubs, offices and houses catching a quick puff.
How often have you heard someone say ‘he (or she) has to earn my respect’? It implies a judgement on an unexplained criteria as though the speaker is conferring or bestowing their regard. I am led to wonder if the speaker has considered that everyone they meet may be operating in the same way. So easily an interaction between two people becomes founded upon an underlying wariness or suspicion, a lack of trust or respect.
‘Do to others as you would be done to’ is an ethical principle found in every major religion encompassing acts of kindness, truthful conduct, consideration and respect. It is easy to feel hopeless and helpless in the face of the major issues of the world and yet we all have power in our daily conduct to make a positive contribution to our family, friendships and community by choosing to act with kindness, compassion and respect.
Make a pledge to yourself to be respectful in all aspects of life, without judgement and see the change it brings.
Over the past few years a trend has developed to cover an act of kindness under the guise of ‘Pass it on’. A school boy got on to the bus and when told the cost of the fare to his destination he realised he was short of money and going to be late home which would worry his Mother. A woman standing close by noticed his concern and offered to pay his fare, to which the student asked for her address so that he could pay her back. She replied that when he is older he will be presented with opportunities to act with care and in that moment he could repay her by passing on the kindness.
A public act of kindness begins with a thought or an impulse that recognises a situation is one in which a gesture from one person to another may bring ease, comfort or joy to another.
Moving from a kind thought to enacting the deed has a positive impact on the recipient as well as the instigator. Put simply kind people are happier people.
It appears that kind people also experience a strong sense of gratitude which appears to have a reciprocal influence upon happiness (Otake et all, 2006).
Am I asking you to step out into the world always looking for ways in which to be kind? No, I’m not. A first step may be to notice how often your thoughts are either unkind or judgemental, not just to others but to yourself.
Building kindness towards yourself begins by noticing your own thoughts, judgements and beliefs that may be caught in an ongoing spiral of negativity. Note the unkind thought “I’m not good enough”, then the opposite “I am confident”, stay with the positive affirmation and see how it acts upon your mind. Practise it daily before taking kindness out into the world.
After all the Dalai Lama said “Be kind whenever possible, it is always possible”.
Otake, K, Shimai, S, Matusumi-Tanaka, J and Otsui, K, Fredrickson, B. Happy people become happier through kindness: a counting intervention kindness intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2006 Sep; 7(3): 361–375. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1820947/
“The thing with you Sarah is that you’re 53 going on 35!”
So said a friend to me not long after my 53rd birthday. I heard a tone that was partly admiring, partly bemused and partly exasperated. I took her comment as a compliment and that having an outlook on life that is not dissimilar to the one I had at 35 was fine by me.
Peaceful Yoga classes attract students from a wide range of backgrounds and ages. Consequently there’s also a breadth of physical abilities in the room which can pose some challenges to the teacher. All students have one aspect of class that they greet with pleasure, final relaxation and meditation.
As a teacher I delight in the mix of the yogi students watching how they share their experience of the class: frustrations about the ability of their bodies and how meditation can be an elusive concept and practice. People come to yoga for a variety of reasons including being in the company of like-minded people.
The population in the western world is aging, some are well and happy while others experience a diminished quality of life through infirmity and disease. The human body is a remarkable organ although rather remarkably the normal process of aging begins after 30.
No matter how you currently view older people and aging, with good fortune most of the people reading this article will have a long and healthy life. Research has shown that the most significant factor in aging well is formed through attitude (1). A negative outlook is associated with poorer health outcomes even when the individual is receiving appropriate treatment. Meanwhile a positive attitude has been linked to better health outcomes, quality of life and longevity (2). Isn’t it nice when research validates the attitude that “53 going on 35” is a good way to be for a healthier life?
We now live in a time when many older people are carrying on working or volunteering long after retirement age. Spend any time in the company of an older person and you may hear the refrain “I don’t know how I had time to work, I’m busier than ever”. One such person is Dr Muir Gray who in response to being 60 wrote a book (unpublished) about being 60. Ten years later he did much the same with ‘Sod 70’ which was subsequently published to excellent reviews. The website, www.sod70.org followed and shares much of the recent research on aging.
It has fabulous and straightforward tips on staying fit and healthy through physical activity and meditation. It doesn’t matter what age you are when you start to pick up your level of exercise, it will have a positive impact on your health and well-being. Meditation assists to keep you focussed in the present moment and to set aside memories of the past or thoughts of the future.
Whether you choose to go to yoga, train to run a marathon or take a daily walk greet each new step with a positive frame of mind and grateful that you have taken the decision to enhance your life.
Bring Peace into Your Life
The sound of silence
Threatening, warning, coming unbidden and unwelcome
Silence punctuated by the dull drone of traffic and planes overhead, always intruding, never welcome….
The sound of silence
Delicate, warming and spacious
Wrapping the body in a cocoon of its embrace
Where is silence?
Last month I wrote about New Year resolutions, making them realistic and achievable. In his book ‘The Book of Dharma’ Simon Haas re-counts a story that his teacher shared with him and I quote it for you.
“My teacher told me the story of a boy in Mathura who was addicted to sweets. Every day he would consume large quantities of delectable confections such as laddu and jalebi, finding all manner of creative ways to procure them. The boy gradually gained a lot of weight. He also began suffering from boils. His mother tried to get her son to stop eating so many sweets, but without success….nothing could alter the boy’s habit. She asked the family guru to speak to the boy. “I would like to help” the family priest said “but I’m sorry, I cannot speak to the boy right now. Give me a month. I will be able to help him.” The mother agreed.
One month later, the family priest returned. He had a short talk with the boy, and the boy did not eat another laddu or jalebi again. The mother was delighted and bewildered in equal measure.
“What did you say to my son?” she finally asked. “And why did you insist on waiting a full month before speaking to him?”
“You see, since childhood I have been addicted to sweets myself” the priest confessed. “If I told your son a month ago to give up sweets, I would have been a hypocrite. Also, my words would have carried no potency. To help your son, I first needed to help myself. I needed some time to understand how to give up sweets. Having learned an effective way to overcome my own habit, I was able to help your son overcome his.”
The family priest is guided by understanding his own foibles, the temptations of sweets and the need to approach his interaction with the boy with honesty and integrity.
Like many thousands of other people I made a resolution to drink very moderately throughout January. A couple of weeks ago I had time to ponder my own resolve as I had spent a lovely Saturday night with friends enjoying a little more than a glass or two of wine. It was a night that stretched the definition of moderate. The following day I went for a long walk and considered the advice that I offered through this column and the reality of my practice.
Each day we face choices, some will be easy while others may test our willpower. A lapse from a decision to make a personal change, may be just that, a lapse. It can provide new impetus to renew your commitment to yourself. Everyday staying true to that self-discipline reinforces the power of your decision.
In case you are wondering I am once again staying true to my original commitment and enjoying a glass of wine with friends……..in moderation.
In 1582 the Gregorian calendar was instigated with the aim of bringing some consistency to the celebration of Easter. This was adopted by most Western countries and the 1st January was adopted as the first day of the New Year.
The eve of New Year can be a time of reflection on the year passed, times of challenge and joy, relationships and friendships that have been tested and strengthened, successes at work and play. When you look back the last year what do you see? Perhaps you adopt the attitude that all in the past is gone and not worth re-examination or you analyse and re-analyse each and every situation.
There’s merit in both approaches. For some the past is so dark and difficult that ignoring it or putting it behind is a way to manage difficult emotions. Deep analysis takes an intellectual approach to exploring life and can be undertaken with the support of a therapist or counsellor.
The New Year is celebrated as a time for looking forward with a sense of hope, of new beginnings and it is in this context that New Year resolutions are made. Resolutions made at the New Year can be over laid with heightened expectation of new starts, positive changes and transformation. Have you made a New Year resolution? Have you made them in the past and managed to stick to the change for a limited period of time to falter as everything seems just a bit too difficult to sustain the pledge you made to yourself.
Take a look at your resolution and ask yourself ‘Is this realistic for me?’ For example if you drink a couple of glasses of wine each night and more at weekend, how realistic is the resolution ‘I’m going to stop drinking completely’?
Framing your resolution as a positive statement ‘I drink one glass of wine each evening’. This is the starting point for the resolution and can be amended as the changing habit becomes part of everyday life. It can be helpful to seek the support of relatives or friends, choosing those who will be positive and empowering. You may wish to incorporate a small reward at designated times when you have remained true to your resolution.
I have written before about how easy it is to be self critical and this is particularly strong when making a change in behaviour. This voice becomes louder when our resolve is not as strong as it can be and we deviate back to the pattern we are trying to change. Acknowledge this critical voice and be fully aware that it exists, then turn back to your resolution and re-affirm it to yourself. You may wish to re-affirm your resolution by speaking it out loud or writing it down. Pinning up the piece of paper where you can see it and be reminded of your resolve will be a useful daily prompt to hold true to yourself.
As the New Year begins I wish you all happiness, be bold in your resolution and hold to the truth of the change that you are initiating.
For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere we are heading towards the shortest day, 21st December, when daylight in the UK will be somewhere between six and seven hours. For the ancients of Britain and the countries of Europe the winter solstice meant that the time of transition in the cycle of the year had come to an end. From the 22nd December the day begins to lengthen through winter and towards the spring equinox, 21st March. In anticipation of the winter solstice evergreens would be brought into the house, fires and candles lit to bring light into the darkness and encourage the sun to gain in strength.
Light features within a number of religions and observed by believers of the Sikh, Hindu and Christian faiths. The festival of Diwali 2015 began on 9th November this year and concluded on 13th November, with a firework display on the third of the five days. Lamps and candles are lit within and outside the home.
Passing by houses in December decorations are visible inside and outside. In some windows a menorah or hanukiah, the nine branch candelabra can be seen. For those of the Jewish faith this candelabra is a symbol of Hanukkah, the Festival of Light. Each candle is illuminated over an eight day period which will begin at sunset on Sunday 6th December and end on Monday 14th December.
The annual celebration of Christmas on 25th December is central to the Christian calendar, marking the birth of Jesus Christ and his entry into the world. In the gospels Mathew and John provide an accounts of Jesus using the metaphor of light to followers of Christianity including “You are the light of the world” and “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.”
All religions including those featured here incorporate a strong social dimension where families come together to celebrate often through the sharing of a special meal or foods; the exchange of presents and felicitations. However there are also an increasing number of people who are alone at Christmas, perhaps this year you will issue an invitation to someone you know and share your table.
This time of year can be challenging for many people. Short days and impending darkness can be a precursor, or exacerbate seasonal affective disorder (a type of depression that begins in the autumn and continues through the winter), depression and low mood.
Central to all of these beliefs is the place of light, guiding the way to an inner understanding, strength and tranquillity. Light, be it that of the sun, a lamp, or a candle has the power to lift our spirit, guiding us to find a way towards peace.
By finding time in each day to walk in the fresh air your skin will be exposed to the light and even on the cloudiest of days a combination of exercise and light can lift your mood.
A practice of meditation or mindfulness will help you to access your inner light and peace. Take a candle and place it on a solid, flat surface and light the wick. Place yourself where you can be in a comfortable, supported seated position, facing the candle. During meditation the body temperature drops and it can be helpful to add an extra layer of clothing or blanket so that you are really snug.
Take several slow deep breaths, each time making the out breath just that bit longer than the in breath. The out breath is connected to rest and relaxation, helping you to bring your awareness to the practice. Now focus on the flame of the candle, your breathing calm and steady. Each time your mind tries to distract you by wandering off bring your focus back to the candle.
Bringing a daily meditation practice into your life through focussing on the candle and it will assist you in finding your way to peace and tranquillity. I close this feature with the invocation ‘namaste’ which means “I honour the light in you”.
At the end of October the clocks went back one hour granting an extra hours rest and the knowledge that the evenings will be drawing in as the season moves deeper into autumn. While the days get shorter and the light is not so strong there is also a radiant colour palette on display as the leaves change and show a richness on the spectrum of red, orange and yellow. The contrast between the changing leaves and the summer hues of green turn gardens and woodland into a vivid natural gallery that can lift the spirit.
Here is a quick challenge – describe your character or personal characteristics in five words or phrases. I wonder where that question took you. Did you note your physical being, your role(s) or aspects of your personality? Take a look at your list and consider how many of the words you used have negative or positive attributes.
All too often we default to a position of viewing ourselves through a prism of negativity. Pejorative self-judgement is articulated through a myriad of expressions. Phrasing and sentences that begin “I should…..” or “I must….” set a standard by which we judge ourselves. Looking around at friends and neighbours a pattern of comparison and expectation can enable the ego to latch onto further negative thinking undermining our self-esteem and draining our energy.
Every negative thought or self-judgement will gain power only if you choose to spend time caught up in that particular thought or emotion. Go back to your list and this time write five words to describe yourself in positive language for example ‘I don’t manage my time’ becomes ‘I am helpful to others’.
Review your list of positive attributes and take a moment to smile. Smiling brings forth a flow of the natural stress relieving hormones, helps the shoulders relax and the breath to flow. Take a moment to be grateful for all that is good in your life and I suggest starting with gratitude to yourself for recognising all that is positive about you.
The Dalai Lama once said “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Begin by demonstrating kindness to yourself and acknowledging all that is positive about you. Practising kindness within can then be shared to your family, friends and community.
On a recent Saturday morning I was helping in the Bucksum farm shop, www.bucksum.co.uk, thoroughly enjoying meeting all the wonderful people, adults and children, who had come to buy their groceries. Mid-morning I was called upon to participate in a rescue mission. A dragonfly had, somehow, managed to get the final third of its body caught between the edge of the bonnet and the main body of the Bucksum van. This glorious creature had beautiful fine black lace wings that were in contrast to the bold black and green stripes of its body.
Contemplation of the dragonfly came to an abrupt end when it became apparent that, with the aid of Ellie, the Saturday girl we would be able to set this poor creature free. Placing our fingertips under the bonnet we were able to lift the bonnet sufficient millimetres to enable our trapped friend wriggle free. Whereupon it flew as far as Ellie’s sweatshirt and needed to be persuaded to step onto a twig and then, placed at the edge of the herb boxes the dragonfly rested from a most stressful experience.
Human beings can be like that dragonfly. We find ourselves trapped in situations, relationships or workplaces not quite sure how we got there, experiencing stress and unhappiness. Stress has a direct impact on the physical body, the mind and a sense of contentment. When we are stressed a series of chemical changes takes place in the body that can compound the experience.
As a response to stress the body, through the sympathetic nervous system, releases adrenaline readying the body for ‘fight or flight’; a primitive or evolutionary response to some form of threat to the sense of safety. Blood starts pumping around the body as the heart rate and blood pressure is raised ready to respond to the threat or danger by either ‘fight or flight’. This response is extremely useful if the circumstances or situation requires it.
When the body is subjected to too much stress there is a risk that harm can occur including headaches, being irritable, tiredness, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and low self- esteem. If the body is exposed to stress over a prolonged period of time the effects can be even more detrimental to mental and physical health.
Fortunately the body also has an inbuilt system, the parasympathetic nervous system, to help us rest and relax. This system works to enable us to rest and recover from highly stressful situations, the blood pressure and pulse come back to a range that supports health and well-being.
Much like the dragonfly we can arrive a point when we need assistance to set ourselves free. It is in this context that the supportive practise of yoga can enable students to move gently into understanding of the body and mind. Yoga, particularly final relaxation or Savasana pose (the Corpse) help to bring the body and mind to a place of peace.
If you are new to yoga try a local class and set free your inner dragonfly free……..
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