Do you know when to slow down?

Are you pretty good at knowing when to rest and take some time off?

Or are you one of those people who do more and more and more (usually from a very good place of wanting to be there for others) and end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed and tired?

I was teaching as part of a yoga teacher training yesterday and we were exploring the seated twist. 

As we were discussing the pose prior to doing it, one of the senior teachers reminded us of something really important:

There is absolutely no point in pushing ourselves into a yoga pose. 

Most of you who come to my classes are well aware of that fact. 

The body has its own intelligence and will stop before it gets too much. Progress will be made, but not overnight. 

And we learn to make our peace with it.

But are we as good at applying this to our day-to-day life? 

Or do we push ourselves when really we could do with a break?

Do we take too much on because we don’t really want to say no and we end up feeling overwhelmed?

I invite you to extend that same patience and kindness that you demonstrate in your yoga practice to the rest of your life. 

Self-care, relaxation, time off are crucially important for your wellbeing.

Stress is often the root cause of back pain and stiff joints, as much as it is responsible for anxiety or anger. 

The best remedy is to prevent stress from taking over. 

And the best way to do that is by including time to unwind EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Stop reading for a moment and answer this question:

What makes me feel good that I can easily do at home?

Come up with 10-15 answers to that question.

Write them down somewhere that you’ll have pretty much always with you.

Look at the next 5 days and pin down some time every day to do one of these joyful activities.

Let me know how you get on. I’d love to know. x

You deserve to be number 1

As I was growing up in Belgium, I got into the habit of starting a lot of my sentences with “Moi, je….”, which literally translates to “Me, I…”. 

My mother used to pick up on it pretty much every time and reminded me that I shouldn’t be starting my sentences with Me and I one after the other, as it was making me sound far too self-centered. 

With hindsight, I think she was mostly trying to correct my grammar, but it instilled me with the idea that I shouldn’t be putting myself first. 

The consequences of not putting yourself first

And I grow up to become an adult that would put everybody’s needs ahead of herself. And that usually included the dog and the hamster as well as my husband, friends, work, household chores etc etc.

Result: I became tired (no surprise), overwhelmed (again, no surprise there) but also resentful of the people I loved. 

I would resent my husband for going out with his friends when I was so busy doing things that I could have either turned down or chosen to do later.

I would pride myself on being “always busy” and I would look down on others who took it easy (in my eyes at the time: they were slacking off!). 

And the price at the end of the tiredness, the overwhelm and the resentment was a diagnosis of anxiety and a constant reminder from GPs and counsellors to take time for me. 

Reminder that I never listened to, obviously! 

Does that sound familiar?

It was developing a yoga practice that changed things for me.

Yoga taught me the importance of taking time for me.

It also taught me to relax. A word that wasn’t part of my vocabulary before.  

By putting myself first every day by doing some yoga, enjoying a relaxation or simply curling up with a book, I am a much nicer person to be around. 

No more resentment. 

No more anger.

And a lot less stress.

So take time every day, just for you. You deserve it!

How do you put yourself first?

If you are anything like me a few years ago, the very idea of putting yourself first might be so foreign that you have no idea where to start.

So here are some suggestions

  • Do at least 1 thing that you enjoy every day
  • Switch off your phone so that you are not tempted to answer emails etc after a specific time of the evening
  • Say NO more often (it might sound scary but people will only respect you more for it)
  • Every month, plan at least one outing that is purely for you
  • Do a daily guided relaxation. You can find a recording here.
  • Take a luxurious scented bath
  • Go to bed earlier than usual and read in bed before going to sleep

These are just some ideas. Let your imagination run wild with suggestions of things that you could do that would be really fun and enjoyable, even if not practical and useful. Especially if not practical and useful!

5 things you can do to sleep like a baby

After only sleeping 4 hours last night, I woke up this morning feeling grotty, stiff and tense. I usually sleep like a baby the second my head touches the pillow. Yesterday was exactly like that, until one of my daughters woke me up after having a nightmare. And it took a good deal of soothing to calm her down enough for her – and me – to go back to sleep. 

So today, when my alarm rang, I woke up with a start, feeling tired, tense, a bit anxious and pretty down. (It was raining!) 

I know that some of my clients find it hard to sleep well at night and always comment that the best night sleep they get all week is on the day they’ve had their yoga class.

The only time in my life when I didn’t sleep well was when my anxiety was at its worth. 

I remember lying in bed, with my body so tense it barely dented the mattress! My head was swimming with negative thoughts and what if scenarios about work (did I send the wrong quantity of product? What will I do if I have? I’ll have to check that as soon as I get in the office tomorrow) or family (another child was sick in Lara’s class today, what if she catches it? I don’t want to have to clean up sick of her bed. What did she eat for dinner? What if that didn’t agree with her?)

You get the idea!

That’s when I had had enough of the anxiety, and I decided to ask for help by going to my GP.

And she sent me to a yoga class!

The rest is history as they say.

Since those dark and worried nights, I have had very few times when I couldn’t sleep. And, on the rare times it happens, I do my own relaxation and that always works!

So, if you find it hard to sleep because your mind is too busy, because you are worried or because you can’t switch off, read on.

5 things you can do to sleep like a baby

Turn off your mobile phones/tablets/tv at least 30 minutes before bed

Ideally, you’d want to be off your phone etc a good hour before going to bed, but who does that! 

30 minutes is enough. And if that still feels too much, how about not making checking your phone the very last thing you do before closing your eyes. Read for a bit (even 5 minutes) instead. That already makes a huge difference.

Get outside during the day

Being outside, especially in the morning and especially if it is sunny, will help regulate your hormones so that the melatonin (responsible for making us feel sleepy) get released at the right time to ease you into sleep.

Avoid caffeine after 4.00pm

It might sound boring, but your late afternoon coffee or your strong cup of tea after dinner might be what is keeping you awake. 

Look for decaffeinated options. I am a huge fan of redbush tea with plenty of milk in the evening. 

Do some yoga

You knew that was going to be in there somewhere!

And for good reason.

Yoga helps you release the tension you have accumulated in your body and your mind over the previous day(s). It is that very tension that keeps you awake at night and stops your body from moving into rest and restore mode. 

If you are tense, the adrenaline will keep you awake as you remain in fight-flight-freeze mode. Not exactly conducive to a restful night. 

A yoga class will help release the stress from your body and soothe your mind.

Click on this link to access a mini “Sleep well” yoga sequence.

Practice the abdominal breathing

If you are lying in bed, wide awake, try and practice the abdominal breath. 

Simply place your hands on your lower abdomen and feel it rise and fall as you breathe. 

The abdominal breath is one of the most relaxing breathing techniques and will help you relax and let go, which is exactly what you need to enter the land of snores. 

To release the stress that is keeping you awake at night so that you can sleep better and wake up refreshed and with more energy the following day, you can join my weekly online wellbeing yoga class.

How can I reduce my stress levels?

stress, yoga, calm, relax

Being a yoga teacher, some of my friends can assume that I am always calm, relaxed and immune to the effects of stress.

Not quite. 

The advantage that yoga gives me is that I have built a buffer zone so that I don’t get stressed as easily as I used to, and when I do get stressed (Yes, even yoga teachers get stressed!) I have tools to help me deal with it.

So what is stress?

Stress is defined as the body’s response to pressure. 

This makes it very personal. No two people will experience stress in the same way, even if they are confronted to the same trigger. 

When feeling stressed, you might experience some of the following:

Emotionally, you might feel:

  • Anxious
  • Afraid
  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Overwhelmed

Physically, you might experience:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Aches and pains
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea

If you have recognised yourself in any of the above, yoga can help you reduce your stress levels and develop ways of approaching situations so that you don’t experience as much stress as you normally would

How does yoga help?

Relaxation

When you are stressed, your body is on high alert. As much as we can cope with short term stress and not feel any negative effects from it, we start to get into trouble if we experience longer time stress. 

This is when your nervous system stays alert for a longer period of time, slowly taking energy away from your digestion, your recovery system and your immune system. 

Daily relaxation will help you release the effects of stress so that you become less reactive and calmer. 

Try a seated relaxation by clicking HERE

Movements

Yoga poses and sequences are designed in order to release the physical stress that locks itself into your joints whenever you experience a stressful situation.

Done regularly, yoga will help you release the physical tension, enabling your body to not accumulate stress day after day after day. By releasing stress regularly, you will cultivate your body’s natural ability to cope to ensure that it doesn’t get overwhelmed by the things that go on around you.

Try a short yoga sequence designed to release stress by clicking HERE

Breathing

The breath is your champion when it comes to stress management. By breathing the right way, you can reduce stress, calm your mind and increase your ability to focus and make decisions. All of this put together will help you be in a better place to face up to situations that could be challenging at home or at work. 

A simple and easy breathing technique to help you feel calmer and reduce your stress:

Breathe in for a count of 4 

Hold your breath for a count of 1

Breathe out for a count of 4

Hold your breath for a count of 1

By combining movements, breathing and relaxation, yoga offers you a package of techniques that will help you release the stress you may already have accumulated, putting you in a much better place if something challenging comes up for you.

If you’re looking for a very targeted way to feel calmer, more relaxed and more able to handle what life sends your way, sign up for my 3 days mini course to become calmer and more peaceful. It is completely free and you can find the details HERE.

Autumn, Love it or Hate it?

I used to hate autumn… With a passion!

It meant the end of summer, the stress of back to school (that’s the thing when you are from a family of teachers, even if you are not one of them, September always has that stressful quality to it!), and the beginning of noticeably shorter days.  

For years, I would genuinely feel down, anxious and low for a good few weeks. 

It’s only this year that I’ve started to look at autumn differently. 

Autumn as a season of transition

I was reading an article that talked about autumn as a transition period, a little bit like spring between winter and summer. Rather than being a time of dullness and dreary days, which was always my perception, it presented autumn as a perfect time to do some sort of an “autumn clean”: sorting out a few things around the house, tying up loose ends at work and in our personal lives so that when winter arrives, we can properly enjoy the shorter days and the invitation to stay home warm and cosy.

Reading that, I realise that I really had been burying my head in the sand when it came to the months of September to November! I’d happily embrace the cosiness of winter, the new energy or spring and I would bask in the warmth of summer but I turned a blind eye on autumn!

So, this year, I am going to try and embrace this transition period. I have a few administrative things that I have been putting back for ages and that I am now planning on finishing once and for all. The garden also needs tending and usually, as much as I am an enthusiastic spring gardener, I procrastinate on the things to do at this time of year. None of that this year!

The simple fact that I have a few things lined up (with the promise of a quiet, cosy winter ahead) is making me feel a lot brighter and happier about this season. 

If you don’t like it, have a plan

So if like me you find this time of year challenging, you need to have a plan:

Have a look around you

What needs doing around your house that you have been putting back? Can you get some of that done now? If so, grab a piece of paper and write it down.

Have a think

Is there anything boring that you have been putting back? Filing paperwork for example, or clearing that cupboard in the guest bedroom that nobody looks at anyway but you know it is full of junk! Again, write down whatever you think of.

Have a look at the garden/garage/shed

Does anything need doing now so that you don’t have it hanging over your head for next spring? We always seem to accumulate a couple of boxes that never quite make it to the dump in the garage… 

Plan

Once you have a few things, have a look at your diary and pencil them in. Don’t overdo it and realistically try and find some time when you can do them. 

Let me know how you get on!

Act like a 4-year-old

A couple of weeks ago, I took part in a 1-day yoga training around the theme of creativity. 

Creativity is essential to our mental wellbeing as being involved in something creative focuses the mind and can have the same relaxing effects on the body/mind than a meditation. 

Creativity also has a positive effect on anxiety, stress and depression.

During the training day, we got into breakout rooms on zoom to discuss the question of how much creativity we actually exhibit in our day-to-day life. 

Creativity comes into so many aspects that we are not aware of

We can express our creativity in what we wear and the accessories that we might choose.

We express it in our choice of food, in cooking and baking.

We express it in our discussions, our sharing with others.

We also express it in allowing us to do stuff that we enjoyed each and every day

It isn’t a given

As we were discussing how much we let creativity into our daily life, it appeared that for some of us, it wasn’t a given.

The pressure of daily life, of juggling work, home and family had taken away some creativity and replaced it with fully planned days and a mind busy with to-do lists, which left very little time for expressing any creativity of any kind since everything was regimented.

And this in turn can lead to an increase of stress and anxiety as there isn’t the release of a creative activity anymore. We are entering a vicious circle. 

Can you relate in some ways?

Personally, I noticed that, at times, juggling the house, my business and my family time had stolen away some of the creativity I used to have and express. Looking back, this usually coincided with periods when my anxiety level would go up.

If you have ever found yourself with free time and didn’t know what to do with it (except for catching up with ironing/cleaning/paperwork…, you probably need to bring in some more creativity in your life. 

“Act like a 4-year-old.”

One of ladies in my group phrased it beautifully when she said: “Act like a 4-year-old.”

We can probably all find memories of seeing young children.

They are engrossed in their play, full of ideas, questions, not worried by what mummy/daddy or anybody else might think. They live their life with a sense of joy and fun in pretty much everything they do.

We can’t just go back to the complete insouciance of being 4, but we can definitely learn a few tricks from the fabulous four:

Have some fun every day

Of course responsibilities are important, but create yourself some fun every single day. Even if it’s just watching a funny video on Youtube

Don’t pay too much attention to what others say or do

We spend so much energy focusing outwards on what people might say or think about us. Let that go. Be you, do you, and don’t let the comments of others spoil your fun.

Try new things

Try a new recipe, a new style of clothes, change the furniture around, go for a different walk… These little things will bring a new sense of aliveness in your life. You will feel energised and more enthusiastic just by doing something a bit different from the daily routine.

See the world through the eyes of a child

When we are 4 years old, everything is magical: a bumblebee going from flower to flower, a place leaving its white mark across the sky, a daisy that was closed in the morning and is suddenly opened in the afternoon. Once we are adult, we can grow somewhat jaded and not notice the beauty of the world we live in. Try and see the world through the eyes of a child once more.

Be fully engrossed in what you do

Switch off the phone, tell people that you are busy and fully enjoy what you are doing. Treat it like a sacred time (the same way that a 4-year-old would see playtime: it’s sacred, don’t even think of asking me to do something now).

Make some of your decisions about you

You can’t please everybody all of the time. Sometimes, what you want to do for yourself might not please everybody around you. And I bet that, a lot of the time, you come to a compromise. That’s perfectly fine. Without compromise we wouldn’t get anywhere! But sometimes, don’t compromise. If something really matters to YOU (regardless of how unimportant it might seem to the people around you), put your foot down and stick to it.

Forget about the shoulds

You probably have an endless list of things that you “should” do. If you were to start making your way down that list, the next time you’ll sit down is probably at some point in 2023. So forget about the should.

Start applying some of these tips to your life and you’ll soon find yourself having more fun and feeling more relaxed, more yourself and happier. 

For more tips on developing a calm, relaxed and happy life that supports your wellbeing, join my Facebook group

The importance of being kind to yourself

In every single one of my yoga classes, I will say multiple times “listen to your body”, “make sure you are comfortable”, “don’t go further than what feels right”, and other sentences to that effect.

The key message can be summed up as “Be kind to yourself.” 

After all, one of the first principles of yoga is Ahimsa, which translates to non-harming. This applies both externally (not hurting others, being kind to them…) and internally (being kind to yourself, eating and sleeping enough etc.)

I respect this principle myself when I practice my yoga and meditation. I make a point of being kind to myself, not pushing too far, not expecting massive insights from each and every meditation.

Easy on the mat, harder in day-to-day life?

And yet, I find it a lot harder to apply in day-to-day life.

On Sunday, I was out in town with my husband for about 3 hours. The longest time we had been out in a while.

And out of a sudden, without any warning signals, I started to feel anxious and to find it hard to breathe.

Thinking back, I still don’t really know what came over me. 

I was talking about it with my husband on our way home and he said that I had to take it easy. 

Now, my husband isn’t the most zen and relaxed person on the planet, but he does have a fair bit of common sense.

I have always been a bit of an introvert and I loved the lockdown. 

Looking at a standard week, the most I am around people is when I walk my daughter to school, which takes me all of 10 minutes twice a day.  I know I’m really lucky that way!

Really, it’s no wonder I started to feel a bit tense and jittery after 3 hours in relatively busy and loud places surrounded by strangers.

But if it hadn’t been for my husband’s comment, I was going straight down the “what is wrong with me” approach. 

We are a far cry from ahimsa and not hurting!

So why am I writing all of this?

Well, I’d like it to have the same effect on some of you reading this as my husband’s comment had a me.

If you are judging yourself for something that you could have dealt with differently, STOP!

Rather try this:

  1. Can you figure out what is the source of whatever it is that didn’t go quite right (it could be environmental, or it could be more of a conditioning such as looking for comfort in eating chocolate). 
  2. Tell yourself that it’s ok. It might not be your shiniest hour, but it’s ok. 
  3. What can you learn from it? (in my case, I concluded that I need to get out and about more often for shorter periods of time and do a specific short visualisation beforehand).
  4. Do something that nurtures you. You have just done an introspection process that will slowly but surely rewire the way you behave so that you get closer and closer to that person you know you can be when you feel good. 

The key to change is to first accept where you are.

So, let’s say that you find it hard to relax and switch off:

  1. Why is that? Is it guilt? Are you actually procrastinating? Or do you “feel” that you should be doing something rather than sit down?
  2. It’s ok. That’s where you are right now. Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help.
  3. What can you learn from the experience? Maybe you need to be more organised and to have a clear plan about what you are doing when so that you know that you have the time to take a break. Or maybe, if you always “feel” that you have something to do, you could start by taking 10 minutes each day for you and build up to a longer break.
  4. What would feel good right now? Going for a walk, doing that thing that you have been pushing back, having a cup of tea, putting the timer on for 10 minutes and sitting down with your book..

For tips on how to relax and be kind to yourself so that you can feel happier, join my Facebook group.

I thought I had lost my bank card…

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I had lost my bank card.

For a while now, I had got into the habit of carrying my bank card into one of the slots of my phone case. And recently, the card had started to slip out of the case and I had several times found it in random places in the house where it had just fallen off as I was picking up my phone. 

Still I carried on keeping it in there.

And one Friday morning, a couple of weeks ago, I went to walk Diego before starting work, and while on the walk, I called the GP surgery to organise an appointment. 

It was a sunny day. I finished my walk, got back home and put my phone to charge in the kitchen.

A little while later, the Whatsapp alarm on my phone pinged and I picked it up to answer a friend. 

That’s when I noticed that the bank card wasn’t there anymore. 

I checked the little bag where I carry my phone when I’m out. No card.

I checked the pocket of my jeans. No card.

I looked around the house. Still no card. 

It looked like it had fallen off during the walk.

I picked up my keys and started retracing my steps, eyes firmly on the ground in the hope of finding my card.

Now, something interesting happened…

Rather than having that constant dialogue in my head: “Oh my God, why did I keep my card in there? I know they keep falling off. I’m such an idiot….”, which would have been my default in this kind of stressful situations I started to focus on my breath and go for the technique that always works for me:

Breathe in for 4

Hold for 4

Breathe out for 4

Hold for 4

And repeat. 

Quickly, I started to relax and to see the positive side of the situation: I was having a second walk in the sunshine, I had learned not to stress out, it felt already beautiful warm even though it was only 9.30. 

I retraced my step and didn’t find the card. 

I got home, had one last look around… And there it was, fallen on the side of the sofa!

This got me thinking.

Quickly, as I was getting stressed, I reached out for a technique that never fails to calm me down. It enabled me to feel a lot calmer and more in control of the situation rather than catastrophising. 

So, how about you?

Have you got that one technique that you can reach out in times of need?

If you haven’t yet, the best way to find one is to experiment at a time when you don’t feel stressed and to see how a movement, a breath or a meditation maybe affects you. 

Once you find one that gets you back to your centre every time, practice it when you don’t need it. Practice it before going to sleep, in the morning as you get dressed… 

Practice it so that when you do need it, it springs to mind quite naturally and you can use it to keep you calm, grounded and able to deal with whatever comes at you. 

Is your social anxiety stopping you from having fun?

Picture this.

You are in a restaurant having dinner with a friend for the first time in ages. You’re having a lovely meal and a catch up. And then, the waiter sits a noisy family at the table next to yours.

Before you know it, you start to become very aware of how busy the place is, your heart starts to race and you might even find it hard to breathe. All you can think of is how busy the restaurant is, how this family is stupidly noisy. Your friend is talking to you but you don’t really register what she is saying anymore. You feel trapped and you can’t find a way out.

What is social anxiety? 

Social anxiety is defined as “a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations”. It comes in a whole variety of levels from finding it hard to crowded place to not liking to be in any social situations.

I have noticed that, amongst my friends and family, one of the side effects of the lockdown is a low to medium level of social anxiety.

Whereas before people had no issues to be out and about – quite the opposite in certain cases, they loved it – now, they are hesitant to ventured outside and, when out, they can feel overwhelmed, especially in busy situations.

As always with anxiety, if you are one of the sufferers, you are faced with two solutions

  • You adapt your life to accommodate the anxiety and stay within your new comfort zone
  • You try and carry on as normal and look for ways of dealing with your anxiety

Both are valid. 

What kind you do about it?

I think that we all adapt our life to a point to stay in our comfort zone. So, if adapting your life to stay comfortable is your preferred option, l completely understand. 

Sometimes though, either you don’t want to adapt your life or, even though you would love to, you can’t.

If you are in that situation, I have a few suggestions of things that you could do when you are out and about to keep the anxiety at bay (or at least at a manageable level).

In for 3, out for 5

Your breath is an incredibly powerful tool to influence the way you feel. 

When the anxiety sets in, you are likely to breathe faster and in a shallower way that will increase your anxiety level even more. 

Taking your awareness to your breath will immediately have a calming effect. But, by extending your outbreath – aiming at making it about twice as long as the inbreath – you will be triggering the relaxation response in your body. 

The technique is very simple.

Breathe in as you count to 3. Breathe out as you count to 5. And repeat that for as long as you need. 

If you are in a place where you can close your eyes to take you away from the surrounding busy-ness, go for it. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. 

Shift your awareness

When the anxiety comes up, the likelihood is that your mind is going on a loop around some kind of nightmare scenario, or is focusing on what is making you feel uncomfortable.

What you can do in this situation is shift your awareness to something mundane and very concrete. It can be anything. If you are in a restaurant, focus on a fork, a glass, the placemat… In a shop, focus on a particular item or the pattern on the floor. 

From there, start to list in your mind everything you can notice about this thing: the colour, the way the light reflects on it, the weight, where it fits in with the rest of the things around it, where it can possibly come from, where it has been made, how useful or not it is, how much you like it or not…

You get the idea. Rather than giving your mind the space to drive at high speed down anxiety highway, take a detour and start meandering along slow, quiet side roads, looking at the scenery around you.

I have tried this technique many, many times and it does really work. There is something very grounding in focusing your mind to one single practical item to short-circuit the anxiety.

Gratitude

I know, when you feel anxiety raising its ugly head, the last thing you want to feel is grateful about anything. 

And that is what makes gratitude so powerful. 

Your anxiety is trying to convince you that you are in a dangerous situation and that you need to be ready to fight or run for your life. 

By starting to express gratitude, you stop the anxiety in its tracks

So, be grateful for everything you can think of: the sun (or rain depending on the weather), the roof over your head, the food you are eating, the people you are around, the fact that you can be out and about, your pets, your clothes,…. 

Say thank you for everything that is good in your life, and that will help to quieten the voice of the anxiety in your head, as you will quickly find yourself with a warm, fuzzy feeling at all the things that you have listed.

Next time you find yourself in a social situation that is triggering your anxiety, try one of these techniques.

For more techniques, have a look at my Youtube video on https://youtu.be/eEYqEqE1Dgg

The Crocodile – or the art of letting go

When I started yoga, I was probably the only person in the class who didn’t look forward to the relaxation.

As far as I was concerned, I came to my yoga classes to get toned and stretched… and to relax as well, but somehow I didn’t see the point of the relaxation. It was a waste of my time.

For me, relaxing in yoga meant concentrating enough on the poses and sequences that I wouldn’t think of what bothered me outside of the yoga studio.

It took a long time for me to start enjoying the relaxation and even longer to really let go. 

Letting go is scary

My first reaction to stress is to try and control it, to fix whatever it is that is stressing me out.

The very idea of letting go used to scared me so much! I would rather risk an ulcer by ruminating over – usually very far fetched – risks that take a breath and let go!

So whenever something triggered me, I would spend time (sometimes days) trying to control whatever was stressing me – and that usually was completely uncontrollable in the first place.

And every time, after some time, I would eventually get back to that same realisation: :”It’s not working, and it’s making me feel worse.”

As the famous quote by Randy Amstrong goes

“Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”

The first time I truly felt myself letting go took me completely by surprise.

It wasn’t during a relaxation.

It wasn’t even during a yoga class.

It was after after funeral.

I was back home just after a funeral and, as I got to my bedroom, I felt the urge to do lie down on the floor in Makrasana, the Crocodile.

Forehead resting on my hands, legs stretched out and heels rolling in, I settled on the floor (I didn’t have my mat with me).

And for the first time, through exhaustion and stress, I truly let my body go.

I didn’t hold on to anything anymore, I just let go.

I let my legs sink into the floor, my abdomen, chest and forehead rested down heavily.

And as I completely let go, I felt totally supported by the ground beneath me. I wasn’t holding on anymore and yet I felt stronger and more stable than ever before. 

It can get easier 

Do I now go with the flow no matter what??

Hell no!

When something pushes my buttons, my first reaction is still to try and control the uncontrollable but my recovery time is now shorter.

And that’s the point really.

Stress is a normal fact of life.

We are going to get stressed. That’s a given.

What matters is how quickly we recover from stress.

Yoga has been instrumental in reducing my reaction time and the beautiful Makrasana pose is a definite go-to for me in times of need.

Feel the strength of the Crocodile

Here is how to do it:

Lay down on a mat or on the floor, with your legs stretched out and wide with your heels rolling in.

Fold your arms, one hand on top of the other, and let your forehead rest on your hands.

And then, consciously let go. Completely relax the muscles of my legs, buttocks and arms.

Breathe deeply, letting your abdomen expand against the mat. Consciously relax your shoulders and your face.

Rest on your mat, completely and consciously relaxed.

Stay there for a few minutes or longer, depending on how you feel. Keep your awareness on your breath, feel yourself being held by the ground beneath you.

When you want to come out of Makrasana, bring your feet back to hip width apart and place your hands on either side of your chest with palms facing down.

Push up and back into the Child pose, with your buttocks as close to your heels as comfortably possible and your arms stretched out in front. Stay there for a few moments before uncurling back up.

So why don’t you give it a try next time you feel your mind or your heart twisting around something that is bothering you, refusing to let go and move on. Take a few moments for you, lying down on your front, feet as wide as comfortable with the heels rolling in. Place your hands on top of each other in front of you and rest your forehead on your hands. And just breathe, follow your breath in and out, conscious of letting go of any tension in your muscles.