5 things happy people do in the morning

Are you responsible for your own happiness? Or does it depend on how things go around you?

One of the hardest lessons I learned, when I started delving deeper into general psychology and yoga psychology, is that we are responsible for how we feel.

Not our partner.

Or our children.

Or the traffic lights that keep turning red as you approach them (and you’re already late).

Nope. 

You are responsible for your happiness.

And I am for mine….

Hurts, doesn’t it?

I didn’t like the sound of it when I first realised that. That meant I suddenly couldn’t start blaming my husband or my kids for getting me angry… It was all on me.

The positive flip side of that particular coin is that we can choose to be happy

We can choose the way we respond to things. 

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. And I’m definitely not saying that I get it right all of the time (ask my daughters!) but it is empowering to know that if we want to be happy, we don’t have to wait for something to happen, we can make ourselves happy. 

And it all starts as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.

You can dedicate 15-20 minutes in the morning to set you up for a happy day.

How does that sound? 

There are 1440 minutes in a day. Surely, you can spare some of that to live a happy day – every day.

Morning routine for happiness

Start with happiness in mind. 

What stops us from starting our day with an expectation that this will be a great day? 

Nothing at all. 

One of the easiest ways to start your day with happiness in mind is to repeat to yourself a positive affirmation as you open your eyes So why not pick one of the suggestions below, or write your own, to prime your mind to look up for the good in everything that comes your way.

Examples are:

For general happiness

Today is going to be a good day.

I am making the most of today.

I am going to cherish every moment of this new day.

I am attracting happiness today.

I am going to see the positive in everything.

If you are working with something specific, you could opt for a more precise affirmation:

For success

I am a success magnet.

I am worthy of success.

For confidence

I believe in myself and my abilities.

I am going to be the best version of myself today.

Don’t skip breakfast

Your body has effectively been fasting throughout the night (hence the name break-fast coming from breaking your fast with the first meal of the day).

By the time you wake up in the morning, your body needs to replenish its energy and a nutritious breakfast is the best way to do it. Especially if you don’t want to suffer from being “hangry” later in the day.

Move your body

Your body is made to move. 

If you want to fire up the good mood hormones around your body, a little bit of exercise will go a long way.

Spend a little bit of time doing some movements before you start your day of activities: do some yoga, go for a walk, put some music on and have a boogie… The choice is yours. 

See each day as a new day

How many days have you wasted ruminating about things that have happened in the days before or worrying about what might happen in a couple of weeks?

If you’re anything like me, probably a few!

And this is another thing that we can control.

We can choose to see each day as a new entity of 24 hours during which we intend to be happy and do our best with whatever comes our way.

Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are brilliant at exercising this particular “being in the present moment” muscle in our brain. 

If you’d like some easy practices that you can do in just a few minutes in the morning, click on the link below:

Don’t check their emails/Facebook/Instagram… first thing in the morning

It is so incredibly tempting to reach for our phone and have a little look at Facebook, Instagram and the like before getting out of bed.

The problem in doing that is that you are turning your attention immediately outwards as you wake up. You make whatever the social media algorithms have chosen your main focus, rather than starting the day focusing on you.

And you open the door to envy, FOMO and worry even before you step in the shower! 

Why would you want to do that when you could start the day in a calm and relaxed way and take some time to feel strong and replenished on the inside before you open the door to all of that. 

So here you go!

You can choose to be happy, each and every day. 

And all it takes is a few tweaks to your morning routine so that you are more centred, confident and brighter to start your day. 

5 benefits of a regular yoga practice

regular yoga practice
5 benefits from a regular yoga practice

I started having a regular yoga practice when I was a stay-at-home mum with our daughters and the income from my husband’s job was under threat. He had been told that his contract was not going to be renewed and he had to find something else fast. I couldn’t contribute financially, and my stress levels went through the roof. 

By that point, I had been going to a weekly yoga class for 3 years but having a home yoga practice had never crossed my mind.

And there, in that moment of complete stress and anxiety, of feeling powerless and not knowing what tomorrow had in store for us, I reached for my yoga mat. 

Actually, I didn’t even own a yoga mat at the time. 

I just practiced on the bedroom floor. 

So what made me do it?

My weekly class had been my way of staying sane while I was still juggling work and being a mum (I had only stopped working 4 months before that), and at that point I felt that if I didn’t do something, I would fall back into the dark world of anxiety at a time when my family needed me. 

I had to find a way to cope.

And yoga was that way. 

I only remembered a few sequences, so I reached out to those.

I would get up before my husband and my daughters, go in the spare bedroom and start moving. 

Sun salutations pretty much every day, the tree pose, some cat and tigers. 

And those moments doing my yoga were my lifeline. 

They were giving me the emotional strength to go through the day, to support my husband, to play with my daughters. 

All of that happened 7 years ago and my daily practice is still with me. 

Thankfully, I don’t have the dire need of it that I had at the time but it still supports me in so many ways both emotionally and spiritually. 

So what are those amazing benefits of a regular practice:

Reduced anxiety and stress

That’s the very reason why I started! 

Yoga has been proven to be incredibly effective to help manage stress and alleviate anxiety. Several researches have proven the effectiveness of yoga for stress and anxiety and yoga is recommended more and more by GPs to support a mental health treatment. 

Stress and anxiety can be triggered daily and this is where a regular yoga practice comes into play. 

Just a few minutes of yoga helps to balance your nervous system and makes you less reactive to stress. These effects are also cumulative. The more you practice yoga, the better you will be able to handle stressful situations.

Better sleep

Keeping people awake for days on end used to be a method of torture. And no wonder!

You just have to remember how you felt after a night or two of broken sleep to realise how much sleep is crucial to your wellbeing. 

As soon as we are tired, we are more prone to get angry, anxious, agitated. We may also have craving for sugary foods as we need to find the extra energy somewhere. 

By balancing the nervous system, yoga helps you to sleep better. Yoga makes it easier to fall asleep. You are also more likely to sleep more soundly.

My clients say it to me every week. The best night sleep they have all week is always on the day of their yoga class. 

So why wouldn’t you want to try and do that every day?

In order to sleep well, you need to have been physically active during the day and your mind needs to be in a relaxed enough state that you can drift into sleep without having thoughts racing around your mind about things that you should have done differently (that used to be a favourite of mine just as my head touched the pillow!). 

By practising yoga, you do both at the same time. Not only do you move your body, but you move it in such a way that it helps calm your mind. 

All you need after that is to curl up in bed!

Improved concentration and memory

Have you had those days when you can’t focus on anything for love or money?

It is frustrating. 

It makes decision making a nightmare and makes everything that you try and do take much longer than it should.

Well, it might not be an obvious benefit of yoga, but it has been proven to improve concentration.

Researches have shown that yoga affects the neural pathways in the brain in such a way that it improves your ability to concentrate and also your memory.

And it doesn’t even take that long. Just eight weeks of regular yoga practice is enough to notice a marked improvement in both concentration and memory. 

Better immune system

One thing I noticed when I started doing yoga regularly, is that I seemed to catch a lot less colds and coughs. 

And I am not an isolated case. 

This benefit is linked to yoga’s efficiency at reducing stress. 

Stress has a negative impact on our immune system. When we get stressed, stress hormones are released in our body, which suppress our immune system and makes us more vulnerable to catching whatever viruses might be around. 

By lowering the level of stress hormones in the body, yoga helps us keep a strong immune system. 

When you start practising yoga regularly, you systematically release stress from your body and prevents it from affecting your immune system negatively. 

More energy

I remember a conversation with a colleague a few years ago when I was telling her that I was waking up around 5.30 to do my yoga before getting the girls up and ready for school.

As the conversation went on, I realised that I actually had more energy in my late 30s with 2 kids, than I did when I was 20 something with nothing much to do but go to work.

Being the research freak that I am, I looked into that and it turns out that I can thank my regular yoga practice for my increased energy. 

It has been proven that just 25 minutes of yoga can improve energy levels “significantly”. 

That is due to several factors: release of endorphins, increased blood flow to the brain, and less energy being spent on worrying and ruminating.

So, a better immune system coupled with increased memory and concentration, more energy, less stress AND sleeping better!

All of that from 20-25 minutes of yoga a day. 

And if you think that you can’t find the time, I invite you to join me next week on the 26-30th April for the 5 days Body & Mind Reset.

Every morning, you will receive a 15 minutes yoga practice that will bring you all of these amazing benefits and get you started in integrating yoga in your daily life. 

Oh, and it’s completely FREE! 

Click on the link to find out more and book your space. 

How yoga can affect your mental health

Our mental health has been under serious pressure recently. The general situation with Covid has been very anxiety-provoking, and of course, many of us have been impacted directly by the pandemic with job losses, reduction in income and either catching Covid or having close ones getting ill. 

No wonder that the medias keep reporting now on the toll taken by our mental health as we slowly start to see the end of lockdown and the return to “normal”. 

I believe that yoga can play an important role in helping us feel better, calmer and more able to handle the world we live in. Yoga is much more than a stretch and provides a holistic solution to our wellbeing

I first came to yoga under the advice of my GP as I was struggling with anxiety. At the time, the waiting lists to talk to a counsellor or therapist were incredibly long and I needed help to help me feel better there and then. 

And this is when she recommended that I try and find a yoga class as it could help me feel less anxious. 

She was completely right and, as a yoga teacher myself now, I can tell you from personal experience – and from the comments of my clients – that yoga definitely has a positive impact on our mental health. 

Yoga calms the mind

Our anxiety and stress come from projecting ourselves forward into scenarios that we don’t think we can handle; or in reminiscing on past situations that we think we should have handle differently.   

Yoga puts an end to that. Through the combination of movements and breath work, it brings you fully in the present moment

Yoga also impacts directly our nervous system to stop the fear response that is the source of stress and anxiety and gently coax our body and mind into feeling more relaxed and peaceful.

Yoga promotes better sleep

When we feel stressed, sleep can be very elusive. And not sleeping makes us more reactive to stress and more likely to experience negative emotions such as anxiety. 

It can feel very disempowering. 

By releasing tension from the body and the mind, yoga helps you sleep better and thus contributes to your overall quality of life

Yoga fosters a positive mindset

You just have to switch on the tv or look at a newspaper at the moment to have plenty of reasons to feel stressed, anxious or negative. This negative mindset has a tendency to self-perpetuate and to make us notice even more of the negative side of life, sometimes to the point where the positive aspects of our lives pass us by.

Because the way we think, the way we breathe and the way we act are all linked, yoga can influence our mindset (the way we think)

Another very important element of a yoga class is the relaxation. You have probably all experienced feeling more negative and easily annoyed when you feel tired. We all have busy lives and tiredness (or its close relative overwhelm) is often present and will influence our perception of things.

Relaxation is at the core of a yoga class, which enables you to recuperate and puts you immediately in a much better position to have a positive outlook on things. 

Many of my clients have reported feeling more positive about life in general as one of the main benefits that they got out of attending yoga classes.

Yoga helps you break unhelpful patterns

As I said earlier, we are pretty much what we think. In other words, our thoughts will directly influence what we do and how we interact with the world.

We all have patterns of thinking or habits that don’t serve us. 

Taking myself as an example, my pattern for years was fear. When something wasn’t going right in my life or if I had to stretch my comfort zone, I would be frozen by fear and anxiety, secretly hoping that somebody or something could come and solve the situation for me. 

Not a very effective way of thinking when you are in your 30s with a job to hold and a family to look after!

We all have these habits that have probably served us in the past but are not being particularly helpful at the moment and might even be causing us a lot of distress.

Practising yoga can help you become aware of these habitual ways of thinking or acting. And once you have noticed something, you can choose to try and do things a little bit differently. 

A common example is realising, like I did, that you have a tendency to feel anxious and start using breathing techniques that will help you take the level of anxiety down when you are in a stressful situation. 

Overall, yoga has done wonders for my mental health and the mental health of my clients. I have been practising yoga for many years now. And I have come to rely on it to see me through emotionally difficult times in my life. 

If you are struggling with your mental health at the moment, be it through anxiety, depression, or just a sense of everything being a bit too much, I would like to invite you to my 5 days Body & Mind Reset yoga programme on the 26-30 April. 

It is completely free and you will be able to directly experience how yoga can contribute to your mental and physical wellbeing and overall quality of life. 

Click on the link below to find out more.

5 yoga myths that might be standing in your way

5 yoga myths
yoga myths that stand in your way

I started yoga when I was 30. I had just become a mum and was suffering from severe anxiety. 

I looked for a yoga class on the advice of my GP and, I was so desperate for my anxiety to get better that I overlooked all the reservations I had in my mind at the time. 

I would have tried pretty much anything to feel better.

It is a proven fact that we don’t feel comfortable stretching out of our comfort zone, even if sometimes great things are right there for us just outside of our cocoon. (And that usually is the case).

When I talk to my clients about what reservations they had before they started yoga, there are a few common myths that I would like to address.

I’m not flexible enough

Pretty much every person I currently teach started by telling me that they are not very flexible and that they’re not sure how much they can do.

When you hear the word yoga, images of young, super bendy – and pretty – women in skin-tight clothes folding themselves into complicated version of human pretzels probably come to mind!

And that can be pretty daunting if you don’t fit that “perfect” image.

Like pretty much everything, the images on the cover of magazines and in the medias are not a reflection of yoga.

I had never liked PE or sports in any shape or form. 

I was about as flexible as a plank of wood when I first started yoga, and my forward bend didn’t get me much further towards the floor than the level of my knees.

My point is that yoga is for everybody. 

The flexibility is a by-product of yoga

As you practice it, you will become more flexible – but that isn’t the point. 

Yoga is a holistic approach to complete wellbeing. It helps align body, breath and mind so that you can be more yourself than ever before. 

The first principle of yoga is to be kind to yourself

For me, it means that if you want to try yoga, try yoga. Don’t let any preconceived idea of “I’m not good enough” or “Everybody else will be so much more flexible” get in your way. 

I’m not young enough

I was chatting with a friend last week who has never tried yoga but would like to try. 

The first question she asked me was: could she start something new in her late 30s ?

It is a common question.

Often, we go through our 20s and sometimes 30s without really thinking about our wellbeing.

We are busy going to university or college, or getting a job, looking for a place to live, maybe start a family or a pet, and life just carries us along.

At some point though, something might happen that makes us look at our life differently. 

We realise that we don’t have the energy of our early 20s anymore.

We get fed up with feeling anxious and overwhelmed trying to juggle work and life. 

 And we want more for ourselves. 

Yoga is famously good at relieving stress and promoting a sense of overall wellbeing. 

But we might get scared at the idea of starting something new in our 40s, 50s, 60s or above

We’re in our comfort zone of what feels safe, and anything new – no matter how good it is – has the potential to feel scary.

Yoga can be started at any time. I started in my 30s. Many of my friends started in their 40s and a lot of my clients joined my classes in their 50s or 60s. 

As I said above, the first principle of yoga is kindness. And kindness needs to start with us. 

If you want to start something new, just do it. Nothing is stopping you but your self-doubts and your fears – and they are not you.

So if you want to try, no matter your age, try. 

If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. You would have tried and won’t be left wondering “what if I had given this a go”. 

Yoga is only stretching

Oh no it isn’t!

It is easy to believe that yoga is just stretching. After all, that is how it has been presented in the Western world for decades.

But yoga is much more than that. 

Yoga is a holistic approach to wellbeing. The aim of yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit. In other words, yoga helps you be the best you that you can be by freeing you from patterns and habits that stand in your way.

It does that at a physical, mental and emotional level. 

By leveraging the interconnection between body, breath and mind, yoga is a system that can help you overcome any difficulties that you might come across.

Amongst other things, yoga can help boost your self-confidence, release negative self-beliefs, help you develop the inner strength and stamina to work towards long-term goals. 

It also releases stress, improves your energy level, promotes better sleep and a better body image. It can be the trigger to a healthier and more balanced lifestyle that suits your wellbeing

All yoga classes are the same

All yoga classes are the same, and the last one I tried didn’t work for me.

There are many different yoga styles, even more yoga schools, and more yoga teachers every day.

Not all yoga styles will suit everybody. 

Personally, you will never see me in a hot yoga class and I’m not a huge fan of vinyasa either. 

What attracted me to Dru Yoga, the style of yoga that I now teach, is its flowing movements and its inclusivity. 

Everybody can do Dru Yoga. 

I also like the way the sequences work in systematically releasing the various energy blocks that we have around the body. An energy block is created whenever a negative input (negative emotion, stress, self-belief) creates a “knot” in your body because of the tension it generated. 

The blockages stop your energy from flowing smoothly and naturally through your body. As a result, you may feel more tired, more anxious, easily overwhelmed and have a negative outlook on life.

I have personally noticed how potent this style is at helping you feel better, stronger and more yourself, while remaining completely accessible to all.

The bottom line is: if you want to try yoga, have a look around and pick a class to try that feels good for you. If after trying it once or twice, you realise it isn’t for you, try something else.

Yoga is just another exercise

In the same way that yoga isn’t just a body stretch, a yoga class isn’t just an exercise class.

Again, you could easily think that since they have been presented as gentle exercise classes for a very long time.

But there is an extra element in a yoga class that you will not find in an exercise class.

Yes, you will get the body stretch and you might get your heart to pump faster depending on the yoga class.

But a yoga class will get you to a place of harmony between mind, body and spirit that you will not get from a standard exercise class. 

It will also help you develop new ways of approaching your life as well as skills that you can use to promote your wellbeing off the mat, such as breathing techniques and the use of affirmations and visualisations.

I hope this article has put to rest some of the preconceived ideas that you might have about yoga – and that might be standing in your way if you want to give it a try.

For a first-hand experience at the magic of yoga and its impact on your overall wellbeing, join me on the 26thApril for a 5 days Body & Mind reset to experience how yoga can help you feel happier and more confident. 

Click on the link below for more details:

5 yoga techniques to help you release stress

Stress…  We are all familiar with it, but did you know that not all stress is bad.

Stress enables our body to react fast and efficiently to challenging situations. As something stresses us, our body moves into fight-flight-freeze mode and enables us deal swiftly with whatever is in front of us.

Think of a near-miss as you are driving home or a conversation at work when you need to make you point. 

Or an approaching deadline.

In these circumstances, stress will help you react quickly and efficient; and will also give you the extra stamina and motivation to do the job.

Without stress and the fast and furious way of our body to react, there would be a lot more accidents, missed deadlines and frustration as you didn’t manage to make your point.

Stress becomes a problem when it lasts for a long period of time.

Our body is geared for short bursts of stress to get over a challenging situation. Once that situation has been resolved, our body wants to relax.

You have probably experienced the intense tiredness after a heated conversation with somebody or after you have nearly avoided a car crash.

This tiredness is your body wanting to switch off the stress response and take some time to recuperate.

Unfortunately, our busy lifestyles tend to present us with many stress-inducing situations, but very little occasions to let it fade away.

Results of long-term stress are many: anxiety, depression, high-blood pressure and a weakened immune system to name a few.

Signs of stress

Fortunately for us, our body sends us clear signals when there is too much stress. It is up to us to recognise them:

  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Catching coughs and colds regularly
  • Trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night and finding it hard to fall back to sleep
  • Change in appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

If you start noticing some of these signs of increased stress in your body, it is time to start doing something about it before it becomes more serious.

Yoga is a great stress reliever, and some yoga poses are particularly good at helping us release the stress from our body and mind.

Top 5 stress-busting poses

Cat

This posture is amazing at releasing blockages anywhere along your spine. It promotes a sense of positivity and wellbeing and can also be very meditative when you focus on timing the movements to your breath. 

As it releases the blockages in your spine, this posture will let your energy flow freely.

The technique:

You can perform it on your hands and knees; or standing with your knees bent and your hands resting on your thighs. 

Start with your back in a neutral position, in other words, not curved either work. 

Engage your core muscles on an outbreath. 

As you breathe in, lengthen your back from the tailbone all the way into your neck. As you next breathe out, round the spine from the tailbone into the neck. 

Keep this flowing movement going, making sure that you start each wave from the base of your spine. 

Visualisation to support it: As you focus on the movement of your spine, you might want to visualise a river of golden light running up your spine with each spinal wave.

Affirmation to support the pose: I flow with life. 

Lying down twist

Twists are excellent at releasing tension from the lower back, helping you feel more in tune with your body and your emotions. 

The technique:

Start lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat against the mat. Take your arms out at shoulder height with your palms facing up. 

As you breathe out, take your knees over to the right side and, if it is comfortable for your neck, turn your head to look in the opposite direction.

On an inbreath, take your knees and your head to the centre. As you next breathe out, take the knees over to the left and turn your head to look along the right arm.

You might want to experiment with the pose.

You have the choice between staying in the twist for a little while and using the outbreath to relax into it more deeply, or you might want to move from side to side with your breath. 

Affirmation: I relax. I am grounded. 

Sitting forward bend

The sitting forward bend is such an amazing pose for letting go. It also helps you release fear and anxiety and amplify your courage and inner strength. 

The technique:

Before getting into this pose, you might want to stretch your hamstrings (back of your thighs). For this, lie on your back and stretch your right leg up in the air. Get hold of the back of your thigh or the back of your calf and pull it gently towards you until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh. Repeat on the other side.

For the actual pose, start by sitting with your legs out in front of you and your feet pointing up. Make sure you sit with a nice tall back and that your sitting bones are pressing against the mat. Have your hands resting on your lap, palms facing up. 

Breathe in and stretch your spine up, taking your hands to the level of your heart with the palms facing you. As you breathe out, start stretching forward over your legs from the base of the spine. 

On your next inbreath, scan the outside of your legs with your hands and take them back in front of your heart. Make sure you lengthen the spine as you come up. 

Repeat this movement with your breath. Breathing out to move forward and breathing in to come back up and lengthen the spine. 

As you breathe out and move forward, feel yourself letting go of any stress and tension. 

Breathe in a sense of peace and calm. 

Affirmation: Outbreath: I let go. Inbreath: I am calm. I am relaxed.

Standing forward bend

Easier to do when you have a few moments and without unrolling your yoga mat, the standing forward bend has the same benefits of helping you let go of stress and tension. It is the perfect pose to calm an anxious mind. 

The technique: 

Start in your mountain pose, with your feet hip width apart and crown of the head pointing directly to the sky.

Place your palms on your thighs. Breathe out to engage your core muscles. As you breathe in, lengthen the spine. On your next outbreath, start bending forward from the hips, let your hands slide down your thighs and pause with your hands at the level of your knees and your back parallel to the floor. 

Breathe in here and as you breathe out, fold forward into your lowest comfortable forward bend. 

Allow your arms, hands, neck and head to hang down. Stay in this position for a few minutes and focus on relaxing and letting go with each outbreath. 

To come out of the pose, start by breathing out to engage your core muscles. Bend the knees and as you breathe in, uncurl back to standing. Take your time as you come back up. 

Affirmation: The more I let go, the stronger I feel. 

Crocodile

The crocodile pose is a relaxation pose. It is perfect to fit in when you have a few minutes (2 minutes is enough) at some point in your day. It enables you to completely let go and to surrender to being held by the earth beneath you. 

In order to preserve our energy levels, and bolster our resistance to stress, you would ideally want to take some time every day to completely relax. 

The technique:

Start by lying down on your abdomen. Have your feet at least as wide as your mat, with your heels rolling in. Bend your arms and place your hands on top of each other. Rest your forehead – or your cheek – on your hands.

Take your awareness to your breath. Feel your abdomen expand as you breathe in and relax as you breathe out.

Stay there for as long as you feel comfortable.

Allow yourself to relax and let go a bit more with each outbreath.

Affirmation: I am supported.

I have tried and tested these 5 poses in a variety of stressful times in my life and they have never disappointed me. 

To learn another 3 techniques I have used again and again to manage my stress and anxiety, click on the link below:

It just has to be right!

Does this sound familiar?

You have planned something, done it as well as you could, asked for feedback, changed a few things to make it just right, got some new feedback (this time all positive), made it that little bit better… and yet, you still find yourself wondering if it is good enough.

Does that resonate?

Maybe it’s an email you are sending. 

Or it can be something at work.

It can even be something like choosing the new colour for your living room!

When I used to go to interviews, “I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist” used to be my stock answer to the unmissable question “Are there any areas that you need to improve?”

Admitting to perfectionism was a safe answer because being a perfectionist meant that I always did the very best that I could. And that, occasionally, I could get a little bit carried away on refining my work.

That’s all well and good but it turns out that perfectionism isn’t as innocent as it sounds.

Underneath the need to be perfect (and what is perfect by the way?!) there usually is a fear of not being good enough. 

What if it’s not good enough?

There is a fear that if what we do isn’t good enough, it means we are not good enough and it then follows that we are at risk of being rejected. 

As human beings we have an intrinsic need to be accepted, liked and seen as a valued member of society. 

As a result, we may restrict what we do. 

We don’t go for the new job.

We don’t approach the partner of our dreams.

We procrastinate.

We are scared to stand out and be ourselves for fear of being judged. 

“Your playing small

Does not serve the world.”

Taken from Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson 

What can we do to stop giving in to the perfectionism and the fear behind it?

We need to take imperfect action…

Scary… Right!

It sounded seriously scary to me the first time I came across that concept. Something like “What do you mean imperfect action!? What if it doesn’t work? What will people think? I’m going to make a fool of myself. I have to make sure it’s right first!”

I have come to realise that imperfect action is the only way to do anything. 

There is no such thing as perfection. What might seem perfect to you may not be perfect to somebody else. 

The only thing you can do is be yourself and accept that there will be times when things don’t go as planned.

It doesn’t mean that you have failed. 

It is only a sign that you need to redirect, to change something and to try again. 

Everybody who has ever done anything valuable has failed a few times along the way!

And with its integration of body and mind, yoga can come to your rescue to help you come to terms with your perfectionism and start taking imperfect actions towards your goal, whatever that may be. 

Try these at home

Anahata breath 

Anahata is the heart centre. It is the centre of love towards yourself and others. It is also linked to compassion. 

By working with this breath and activating this centre, you are cultivating love and acceptance for yourself as you are, regardless of the results of whatever action you put out into the world. 

And by developing this self-acceptance, you will find it easier to take risks and to make decisions and take imperfect actions in the knowledge that you are loved and that the fruit of your actions doesn’t have any impact of your loveability. 

The technique

Sitting or standing, have your arms open at the level of your heart with the elbows soft and the palms turned towards you (as if you were holding a huge beach ball between your arms just in front of your heart).

As you breathe in, take the hands in towards your chest. As you breathe out, turn the palms away from you and gently push the hands away from you. 

Examples of affirmations: “I love and accept myself.” “I am enough.”

Peace pose (aka standing forward bend)

The forward bend is amazing at calming your mind. It can help you let go of the worries and fears that feed the perfectionism.

The technique

Start in your mountain pose and place your palms on your thighs. As you breathe out, engage your core muscles. 

Breathe in to lengthen the spine. 

On your next outbreath, start bending forward from the hips as you slide the hands down your thighs. Pause when your back is parallel to the floor and your hands around the level of your knees. 

Breathe in again to lengthen the spine and as you next breathe out, fold completely forward into your full forward bend. 

Stay there for a few breaths. You may want to visualise that, with each outbreath, you are letting go of all your fears and worries. 

Affirmation: “I let go of the need to be perfect.” “I release my fear of what people may think.” 

Shrug

Sometimes we just take things far too seriously and aiming at being perfect stops us from taking any action at all. 

Another way of dealing with perfectionism, and the weight of responsibilities that it involves, is to shrug it off.

You’re not shrugging your responsibilities or your goals away, just that heavy need to be perfect.

So, next time that you feel yourself being paralysed by the fear of getting something not just right, shrug it off. 

The technique

Breathe in as you shrug your shoulders up towards your ears. As you breathe out, release the shoulders fully by completely letting them go. Repeat that a couple of times. 

Then, breathe in again to shrug your shoulders, and this time, as you breathe out, release your shoulders slowly and with awareness. 

As you do so, feel yourself letting go of that need to be perfect. 

4 breathing techniques to help you worry less

When it comes to stopping the worry cycle, breathing is one of the best tools ever.

First of all, you’re always breathing, so you can easily use it to your advantage. 

You just need to know how – and to think about it!

A little note on that one. Try and practice the breathing techniques below as often as you can (and especially when you don’t feel particularly nervous or worried) so that when you do need them, you think about them and know exactly what to do. 

Another reason why breathing is so powerful is that the techniques are really easy. Anybody can do them. 

So, have a go at the 4 techniques below. You will probably find that 1 or 2 of them feel more natural to you or seem to work better for you. If that is the case, focus on these ones. You don’t need to do all of them. 

All of these techniques revolve around one central idea: when we feel tense or worried, our breathing becomes very shallow. 

This is a natural reaction to the stress hormones being produced in the body when we feel worried or scared. 

And a shallow breathing perpetuates the worry and tension as it sends signals to the brain that there really is something to worry about. 

If you carry on breathing in that way, you will make yourself even more worried. 

So, to break that worry cycle, you want to change the way you breathe.

And the 4 techniques below have been proven to have a positive impact on reducing stress, worry and anxiety.

Diaphragmatic breathing (aka belly breath)

I love that one. It is so relaxing – and very very easy!

You can practice it lying down, sitting or standing. 

If you are new to practising this technique, it is usually easier to start lying down. 

The technique:

Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen (one hand above the navel and one hand below).

Breathe in and notice if you feel your abdomen rising as you do so. As you breathe out, you will feel the action of your diaphragm (just underneath your lungs), pushing the air up and out and your abdomen will lower down.

It can be tempting to try and force the movement of the abdomen, especially if you don’t notice much of a rise and fall but try and resist that temptation.

As you carry on breathing normally and just observing the breath and the movements of your abdomen, you will notice that the rise and fall become more noticeable.

Practice this for 5-10 minutes before rolling over to one side and coming up to sitting. 

Once you are comfortable doing it lying down, you can proceed in the same way while sitting up or standing. 

Alternate nostril breath

This method is probably one of the most efficient of all breathing techniques to help you calm down. 

I have personally used it many times when I could feel a panic attack coming on. And it has never let me down, every time I practised it, I managed to avoid full blown panic attacks. 

You can practise this technique lying down, sitting or standing.

The technique:

If you are new to this one, it is easiest to start practising while sitting up. Place your right thumb by the right nostril and your little finger by your left nostril. 

Start by closing the left nostril and breathe in through the right. 

Close the right nostril, open the left and breathe out through the left.

Breathe in through the left nostril, close it with your finger and breathe out through the right.

Start the cycle again by breathing in through the right nostril.

Try and practise for up to 5 minutes.

If at any point during your practice you feel uncomfortable, return to your normal breathing. 

Brahmari breath (aka humming bee breath)

This technique is brilliant at calming your mind and alleviating the physical manifestations of stress. It also diffuses anxiety and other negative emotions

Personally, I also find it very uplifting.

The technique:

Sit comfortably, breathe in and as you breathe out, start to gently hum. Keep your exhalation slow and at an even pace.

Practice for up to 5 minutes. 

A word of caution: Do not practice this technique if you have an ear infection. 

Equal ratio breathing

You might have noticed while practising the diaphragmatic breath that your mind still wanders and that it isn’t quite enough to calm you down and dissolve the worry.

If that is the case, adding breathing ratios should really help

Sometimes, I find that, despite focusing on my breath and practising the belly breath, my mind still manages to keep worrying somewhere in the background. Adding the ratio has always helped me to really focus on my breath and to let my worries slip away.

You can practice this technique lying down, sitting or standing.

The technique:

Breathe in for a count of 4, mark a very short pause at the end of your inbreath and breathe out for a count of 4. 

It is that simple. Count to 4 as you breathe in. Take a mini pause. Count to 4 as you breathe out. 

Stay with this practice for as long as comfortable. 

You might find that as you practice any of the above techniques, your breathing capacity increases and a count of 5 or 6 becomes more appropriate. Do what feels right for you. The main thing with this technique is to ensure that the outbreath and the inbreath are the same length. 

These techniques have literally changed my life as they have enabled me to manage my stress and anxiety so that it doesn’t stand in my way anymore.

Click on the link below to get my 3 tried and tested ways to stop the worry cycle so that you can get in the driving seat of your life. 

When was the last time you sat down and did nothing?

relaxation, seated relaxation, inner critic, low self esteem, self esteem, relax

I just can’t relax…

So many of my clients say that to me.

And I can relate!

I never used to be able to just switch off and relax. 

When I first started going to yoga, I considered the relaxation a complete waste of time! 

I know, right!

Crazy!

When I look back, I can completely understand where my clients come from. Not being able to relax is actually not being able to allow yourself to relax.

So, are you a “I can’t relax” type?

You think that you need to be busy to be a “good” person

The cult of “busyness”… When I was working in an office, being efficient and leaving work on time wasn’t valued as much as being busy and working extra hours, even if it wasn’t really needed!

To the question “How are you?” replying “Busy” was like a badge of being worthy. Of having stuff to do. 

If you have stuff to do, that must mean that you are valuable. Which means that if you are not busy and taking time to chill out, well, you can’t possibly be that good or valuable…

Such a toxic way of going through life, but still such a prevalent way of seeing things in this day and age. 

The solution:

You are not your job, to do lists or achievements. You are worthy no matter what you do. Every day, pencil in your diary at least 15 minutes for you to sit down or go for a walk.

Affirmation to support you: I am worthy of loving myself and taking time for me.

You feel guilty the second you sit down

You might not think that being busy is the way to go, but you might still feel guilty as soon as you stop. 

That was me. 

I felt the need to be constantly on the go. Mostly because sitting down actually felt uncomfortable! I would feel so guilty because there always was more stuff that I could be doing! 

And there always is!

If that is you, getting organised is the way to go.

The solution:

Plan your day. In the morning, make a list of what MUST be done on that day. Organise these tasks during your day (and make you that you give yourself some extra time in case anything gets in the way). As you organise yourself, plan 15-20 minutes for yourself. You will see that you can get everything done in the day AND still take time for you.

Affirmation to support you: I deserve to relax. 

You sit down but your mind doesn’t stop

The monkey mind is sometimes so uncomfortable with all its thoughts and worries that it’s no wonder you don’t want to slow down.

Your body needs to rest and your mind needs to relax though. 

Nobody can keep going for days without time off. 

The solution:

Mindfulness! If your mind doesn’t let you relax, the solution is to train your mind so that you can relax.

Try this exercise:

Pick a flower or a leaf from the garden. Sit comfortably with the leaf or flower in front of you. Set your timer for 5 minutes and for these 5 minutes keep your mind focused on the flower or leaf. If your mind wanders to anything else, bring it back gently to the flower/leaf. Notice the colour, the texture, maybe the smell, anything that you like as long as it is related to what is in front of you.

If you don’t have the opportunity to go out and get a flower or leaf, you can do the same by following your breath in and out for 5 minutes. Keep your mind focused on your breath. Follow the inbreaths and the outbreaths. Don’t try and change the breath. Just observe it.

Practice this exercise 2-3 times/week and you will find that little by little your mind will be quieter.  You will also develop a stronger ability to bring your mind back to the present moment so that you will be able to relax after all.   

Affirmation: Here and now is where my power is. 

Taking the time to relax every day changed my life:

I have more energy

I am more relaxed

I am happier

I am a nicer person to be around

The shift happened when I started to take 15 minutes every day to do a relaxation.

If you want to give it a try, click on the link below to receive my FREE seated relaxation directly in your inbox. After just a few days, you will feel so much happier and have so much more energy!

4 yoga poses to worry less and feel confident

How would you feel if you could change your state of mind at will?

confidence, worry, self doubt
4 yoga poses to end the worrying

If you could go from being worried to feeling confident and positive about things?

It feels like a dream come true doesn’t it!

But it isn’t just a dream.

Yoga is powerful enough to shift your state of mind so that you can let the worries behind you and move freely towards the next big thing you’d like to do.

Too often, we can let worries stand in the way of what we want. 

We worry about what others will think

We worry about “what if it doesn’t work out”.

We worry that if it works out, then what are we going to do!

The list of things we can worry about at any given time is endless!

And the end result of that?

We don’t go after our dreams.

We agree to things that we didn’t actually want to do.

We push away our ideas and inspirations because they seem too big or too scary.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stop that cycle?

Wouldn’t it feel great to feel confident, to stop worrying and to stop doubting yourself?

When I started to live in this way, it made everything so much easier.

I went from being a complete worrier and control freak to being a lot more easy going, to enjoying the process (and not just the end result) and to accept that sometimes for things to work, they have to fail the first time around!

Have I got it all sorted? 

No!

Am I always confident and never worry anymore?

Nope!

But… worry is now something that doesn’t stand in my way anymore. 

And I have 4 specific yoga poses to thank for moving past the worry.

Flowing Tree

The flowing tree is almost magical in the way that it mesmerises you out of worrying! 

Not only does it bring you in the present moment, it also helps you flow with things and let go of the worry very efficiently.

How to do it

Stand in your mountain pose. 

Transfer the weight to your left leg. Breathe in and let the arms rise sideways until they come into prayer above your head. As your arms reach shoulder height, lift the right foot and rest it wherever is comfortable on the left leg. If balancing is a bit tricky, you can keep the ball of the right foot on the floor and rest the right ankle on the left leg.

Breathe out, take the arms down in front of you to the level of your heart.

As you next breathe in, rotate the wrists so that the fingers are pointing forward. Breathe out and stretch your arms forward. 

With your next inhalation, open your arms sideways and as you breathe out, take your arms down by your side and lower your right foot back on the floor. 

Repeat the same sequence on the left.

An affirmation to reinforce this pose

I flow with life.

And if this affirmation resonates with you, feel free to use it as you go through your days. Especially if you feel the worry coming up, remind yourself that you flow with life.

Warrior

You cannot do a warrior pose and not feel strong and confident as you are doing it.

How to do it

Start with your feet about 2 shoulder widths apart. Turn your right foot at 90 degrees to the right and push your left heel back at 60 degrees. Make sure you engage your core muscles.

Breathe in and lift your arms up to shoulder height.

As you breathe out, turn to the right from the hips, bend your right knee (check that it doesn’t go past your ankle) and raise your arms above your head until the palms meet overhead. 

As you breathe in, reverse these 3 movements: straighten the right knee, turn your body back to the front and lower your arms back to shoulder height. 

Repeat these movements several times with your breath. 

As you flow in and out of it, I suggest that you really feel the strength in your legs and your abdominal muscles. 

The physical strength that comes from practising this pose has a direct positive impact on your emotional wellbeing and your level of confidence in yourself. 

If ever you doubt yourself or you worry that you are not good enough for something, the warrior pose will remind you that you are strong, powerful (more than you think) and that you can do this!

Affirmation to reinforce this pose

I am strong. I am confident. I am powerful.

Standing forward bend

Nothing like a forward bend to let go of worries, insecurities, self-doubt and any other negative mindset that might be influencing you.

How to do it

Stand in your mountain pose. Place your palms on your thighs. As you breathe out, engage your core muscles.

Breathe in and lengthen the spine.

As you breathe out, bend forward from the hips and slide your hands down your thighs as you do. 

When your hands reach your knees, pause and breathe in. Feel your spine lengthen as you breathe in. 

As you next breathe out, carry on folding forward until you reach your lowest comfortable point. 

To come back up, bend your knees, pull your tummy in and slowly uncurl your spine.

If you feel comfortable, you can stay in this pose for a few moments. Take your focus on your outbreath and feel yourself letting go more and more with each outbreath. 

Visualisation to reinforce this pose

As you breathe in, imagine that you are breathing in the nurturing energy of the Earth up the back of your legs and into your buttocks. As you breathe out, visualise that Earth energy flowing down your spine, through your arms and fingers, taking away any negative emotion with it. 

Anahata breath

This gentle movement allows you to let go of worries and self-doubt and replace it with confidence and self-love. 

How to do it

Stand in your mountain pose. Stretch your arms out in front of you at the level of your heart with your elbows slightly bent (as if you were holding a beach ball in your arms). 

As you breathe in, bring the hands towards your chest. Feel your chest opening as you do so.

As you breathe out, turn the palms away from you and push the hands away. Make sure that you keep the elbows slightly bent. 

Repeat this movement with your breath for as long as you want. 

Affirmation to reinforce this pose

I breathe in love, I breathe out fear.

These 4 poses (either put together or on their own) will completely change the way you deal with your worries. 

To get access to my tried and tested mini worry-busting yoga sequence, click on the link below:

5 yoga poses to sleep better

Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy when you have a tendency to have a busy, and sometimes worried, mind.

Not only does it make it harder to fall asleep, it also makes it harder to stay asleep.

Sleeping properly is an important aspect of our physical and mental wellbeing and not sleeping well enough will have detrimental effects if it happens too often.

Amongst other things:

  • It affects your memory and ability to think and concentrate
  • It affects your mood and can decrease your ability to deal with stress
  • It weakens your immune system

No wonder we feel rubbish if we don’t sleep enough!

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. 

My clients always comment on how well they sleep after a yoga class. 

And I have experienced that personally as well. 

I don’t have any issues sleeping anymore but years ago, it was another story. 

Here are the poses I recommend if you have trouble sleeping. You can try them as a sequence or experiment with a couple of them and see which ones work best for you.

Cat pose

Start on all four with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Breathe out and engage your tummy muscles.

Focus on starting all the movements from the base of the spine.

Moving from the tailbone, start by rounding your back until your head naturally hangs down and you look towards the floor.

Now, start at the base of the spine as you start to lengthen the back and follow that stretch up the length of the spine until your head starts to lift.

Breathe out as you round the back and look down.

Breathe in as you extend the spine and look forward. 

Repeat this wavelike movement of your spine for as long as it feels really comfortable. You are aiming at relaxing your body, not putting it under any extra strain.

Extended Child

Start on all four with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly under the hips. 

Take your bottom towards your heels and extend the arms out in front of you. Your forehead is either on the floor or close to it. 

If you like, you can have a cushion ready to rest your forehead if you can’t quite make it to the floor. 

Seated forward bend

Sit tall with your legs stretched out in front of you. Check that your sitting bones are resting against the floor and engage your tummy muscles. Keep your shoulders back and your sternum lifted. Have your hands resting on your lap.

As you breathe in, lengthen the spine and take your hands up towards your chest. 

As you breathe out, turn the palms away from you and stretch the arms forward towards the feet (don’t worry about how far you go!).

As you breathe in, scan the outside of your legs with your hands and come back up with your hands in front of your heart.

Keep this movement going with your breath. Focus on starting the movements from the base of your spine.

And don’t worry about how far down your legs you reach! 

Again, we are trying to relax the body. Not start a mini war with it.  

When I practise this pose, I like to use the outbreath to let go of anything that has worried me or caused me some aggravation. Why don’t you experiment with that?

You can also experiment with a cushion underneath your buttocks if you find the stretch a bit uncomfortable. 

Another modification you can do to make it work best for you is to gently bend the knees. This is especially good if you have tight hamstrings. 

Bridge

Lying down on your back, start by tilting your pelvis so that your lower back is directly against the mat. Engage your abdominal muscles.

As you breathe in, lift the tailbone of the floor and as you breathe out, relax it back down. 

If that felt comfortable, the next time you breathe in, you can lift the tailbone and a little bit more of your back off the floor. Always relaxing down on an outbreath. 

Keep working your way up your spine and remember to always keep it comfortable. 

Try and keep your mind focused on the movements of your spine. Feel it moving one segment at a time, both as you lift up and as you relax down.

After a few repetitions, either rest in Savasana or move on to the lying down twist. 

Lying down twist

Lie down on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the floor.

Have your arms stretched out at shoulder height with your palms facing up. 

As you breathe out, take your knees over to the right and – if that feels comfortable for you – turn your head to look to the left. (You can just take the knees to the side and keep your head looking up if you prefer).

Stay there for a few moments if that is comfortable and simply watch your breath.

On an inbreath, take your knees and head back to the centre.

As you next breathe out, take your knees to the left and turn your head to the right. 

Stay in this position for a few breaths if that feels good to you.

On an inbreath, take your knees and head back to the centre.

And get ready for Savasana.

Savasana

Lie down on your back, with your feet about a yoga mat width’s apart. You want the legs to be relaxed so have your heels rolling in and the rest of the feet rolling out.

Have your arms by your side, palms facing up.

Check that your whole body is comfortable. You might want a cushion under your head and/or under your knees. And you definitely want to have a blanket on you. 

You can even get in your bed at this point, as you might very well fall asleep during your practice. 

All you have to do now is to close your eyes and take your awareness to your breath.

As you breathe in, feel your abdomen and chest expand. 

As you breathe out, consciously allow your body to relax.

Keep your awareness on your breath. And with each outbreath, allow yourself to let go and to relax.

If thoughts come up in your mind, acknowledge them and let them go. Don’t get involved with them.

Stay in this position for as long as comfortable. 

I have used these poses many times. Either as a whole mini sequence or just 1-2 individual poses and I can tell you that they really help to relax your body and mind so that falling asleep (and staying asleep) is much easier.

For a good night’s sleep, check out my mini sleep well sequence:

PS: check out my Facebook group for more tips and advice on living a life free of the impact of worry and fear.