Regardless of the circumstances, find a moment of calm is essential to our health and wellbeing. As a yoga teacher and Pilates teacher I help people feel calm from the inside-out. Working on your body and mind together can help to promote positive feelings that stay with you for the long term.
At the moment you may be working from home. Maybe this is new to you or maybe this is how you always work. As a self-employed person, myself, I can understand that working from home can be distracting and may feel more stressful than being able to work from an office or space away from home. It’s really important to separate work from home, so as well as some yoga and pilates calming techniques, I’m going to offer a few suggestions to help you create some calm in your environment.
1. MOVE YOUR BODY
Movement is an amazing way to release tension, shift your energy and mood and help your body to work efficiently. Here are a couple of easy and effective pilates exercises that you can do sitting in a chair or seated on the floor.
Firstly, warm up by gently turning your head from side to side, roll your shoulders a few times, circle your wrists and shake your arms.
Side Bends. An excellent way to stretch your upper body, open your lungs, stretch your shoulders and create movement in your spine.
Take an inhale into your ribs.
Bring your left hand on to your left hip if seated in a chair or on to the floor next to you if on the floor.
Exhale to slightly pull your belly button in (engage your ab muscles) and stretch to your left side. If it feels good you could raise your right arm overhead to increase the stretch.
Inhale to come back to centre.
Repeat on the other side. This is one complete round.
Repeat this exercise up to 5 complete rounds. If it feels good to hold the stretch for a few breaths this can be great to help you release tension deeply.
Twists. Perfect to keep your spine moving in a different way, great for the digestive system and really nice to gently stretch the mid spine.
Options: Palms together with thumbs resting in the centre of your chest / hands to elbows, lift elbows in line with your shoulders / stretch your arms out to the side, shoulder height.
Inhale to lengthen your spine.
Exhale to gently engage your core and rotate to the right side, keeping your thumbs at the centre of your chest/arms in line with your shoulders.
Inhale to come back to centre.
Exhale to repeat on the other side. This is one complete round.
Repeat this exercise up to 5 complete rounds.
Yoga is an amazing way to calm the mind and body. You may think that yoga involves lots of big, impressive poses. Well, often the most effective ones are the most simple and easy to practice.
Childs Pose. This is such a lovely pose, its super nurturing, soothes the central nervous system and can be practiced in lots of different ways.
Seated on a chair: Bring a cushion or a few on to your lap. If you can, slide your feet back under the chair so that your thighs can stretch. Cross your forearms on top of your cushions, round your back and rest your forehead on your arms. Let yourself relax into the pose.
Seated on the floor: Bend your knees and draw your legs in towards you. Hug your arms around your legs and bring your forehead into your knees, curling yourself into a little ball.
Traditional Childs Pose: Sit on your heels. Fold over your legs bringing your forehead to the mat (if your forehead doesn’t go to the mat/floor, use a cushion or stack your fists under your forehead to support your head). Either reach your arms beside your body, reaching towards the feet or stretch your arms forward. Remember to relax your shoulders.
Laying on your back: On your back, hug your knees to your chest and your arms around your legs. If it feels good, you could rock gently from side to side.
In all options stay for as long as you like, breathing steadily and allowing yourself to relax into this as much as you can.
The breath is one of the most essential parts of life – it keeps us alive; it alerts you to danger, it helps to calm you down, it helps you to release toxins and maintain health, vitality and wellbeing.
This technique is great for adults and kids and I taught this in the most recent kids yoga taster on the National Online Wellbeing Services Facebook page.
Lotus breathing. The lotus flower opens its petals as the sun rises for the day and closes itself up for the night. We’re going to to the same thing with your hands. Imagine that the inhale is the light the brightens and wakes you up and the exhale is the nighttime that helps you to relax.
Place your palms facing upwards with your fingertips touching, like a closed flower bud.
As you inhale breath in deeply to slowly open your fingers and give them a stretch; just like a lotus flower opening for the day.
Exhale to slowly close the lotus back into its bud (and relax)
As well as the areas we’ve explored above, I always feel nourished and calm after taking a moment to sip my favourite tea.
You’ve probably heard of the word meditation, but did you know that you can turn anything into a meditation? It’s not just about sitting quietly chanting Om. By bringing mindfulness into something as simple as enjoying your hot drink you can help your mind slow down, notice how lovely your drink is, give your taste buds and digestive system some nourishment and be more present.
All you need to do is this:
Make your favourite drink - tea/hot chocolate/coffee/cold drink. Notice all the steps you have to take in order to make your drink. It’s might be very simple or maybe there a a few things that you need to do.
Before you take your first sip, hold your cup in your hands and notice the temperature. Bring the drink to your nose – what does it smell like (what intensity in the smell, does it smell different to how you would expect it to etc.).
And drink – take a slow sip. Hold it in your mouth for a few moments and notice how it feels, is it fizzy? Is it hot? Is it freezing cold? What flavour is it – does it have a few different flavours that you can notice?
Repeat this until you’ve finished your drink and then take a moment to close your eyes and notice how you feel now.
Your external environment is just as important as your internal environment. As we spend most of our time at home, it’s easy to feel a little claustrophobic, stressed out by working from home and not being able to separate your work/home life or perhaps the kids or your partner have well and truly taken over!
By creating a little calm space for you to retreat to you can take that moments peace, let go of your ‘work day’ and help your mind to differentiate work and home life. You could do this for yourself, and maybe each person in your household could do the same? Here’s some suggestions for calm spaces:
- Make your bed extra nice with comfy cushions and blankets.
- Lay your yoga mat out – creating a designated yoga/pilates/exercise space. If you have candles/incense have them somewhere nearby so that you can give the area a yoga studio ambience.
- Put a few cushions on the floor/chair with your favourite book nearby, calm music, an eye mask if you want to retreat inwards and get easily distracted.
- Create a space surrounded by indoor plants – plants are amazing at helping us humans feel more grounded, connected to nature and they give off calming vibes.
- Have a designated no screen area – no phones, TVs or computers allowed!