With the current Pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in place, finding calm in the chaos is vital for our mental health. Since the beginning of lockdown, there has been an increase in feelings of worry and anxiety. The Office for National Statistics reported a sharp increase in levels, with 39% of married / civil relationships reporting high levels of anxiety – up 20% pre-pandemic.
While we cannot change or control what is happening in the world around us. We can be proactive and do things to help ease the effects on our mental well-being. The following can be done for free, from your own home, without fancy equipment and with the whole family.
Yoga is a great way to move the body, raise the heart rate and increase strength & flexibility, with minimal equipment, in the comfort your own home.
Start off by creating a space in your home or garden where you can switch off and relax. Get some comfy clothes on (or do it in your pjs) and set out a mat if you have one, open the blinds & windows to let the natural sunlight & air in or light candles and draw the curtains – whatever you need in that moment. Put on an album your feeling or find a playlist to suit your mood, maybe even make a hot drink to sip in between poses or to sit with before you practise.
Sun Salutation A – investment: 10 mins +
Surya Namaskara A is a simple and effective flow to get the energy and blood pumping while working on upper body and core strength. You can do as many or as little as you like – by using the breath to guide you it can act as a moving meditation.
Tips & Adjustments
- Try matching your breathing to movements- inhaling up and exhaling down. Inhaling up, exhale fold/twist.
- Take a wide leg Downdog to start and walk your dog out for the first few goes at least – try bending into the knees and coming up on to your toes. Move in a way that feels good for you.
- If upward facing dog/cobra is too strong on your lower back – stick to Sphinx pose.
- Instead of coming into Chaturanga or a press-up position – come to the knees while in plank and keeping the elbows tightly tucked in to the side and slowly lower the chest down to the floor. Try to be as controlled as possible as you come down.
Breathing Techniques for Finding Calm in the Chaos
Breathing techniques have been used for centuries as an antidote to stress, encouraging mental, physical and emotional stamina & bringing awareness to the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Breathing deeply with long exhales signals our parasympathetic nervous system which allows our bodies to rest and relax, taking us out of a state of fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system).
These can be done whenever, wherever! They can be so helpful to have in your toolkit when strong feelings arise. When we are anxious, upset or angry our breath can become shallow and this can have major knock-on effects on our whole body & mind. Try the following techniques & explore what works for you.
Investment: 10 mins +
Set up: create a lovely clean, warm space to sit quietly for 10minutes (or longer)
Asana (pose): Sit on the floor/block/meditation stool in Easy Pose (legs crossed) or sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Keep your spine straight during this process, bringing the shoulders down and back, the crown of the head towards the ceiling & chin tucked.
Drishti (gaze): Eyes are closed.
Mudra (hand gesture): Relax your arms and either place them on your knees in Gyan Mudra (the tips of the thumb and index finger of each hand touching each other) or palms facing up, resting on your knees.Ujjayi Breathing
Mindfulness & Relaxation
With new worries added to an already long list, it can often be difficult to switch off from it all, to log out and shut down all the tabs. Meditation and relaxation techniques can help to bring awareness to the present moment, instilling calmness and helping to aid better sleep.
Shower/waterfall meditation is the simple practise of using water to wash away anxieties, stress and negative energy from the body. Visualising these thoughts, feelings and energies being washed away with the water and swirling down into the ground below can help us shift out mindset and is an effective way to either restart the day or rest and calm before bed.
One of my favourite relaxations to use in savasana is a body scan. It involves bringing awareness to each body part in turn, starting at either the tips of the toes or crown of the head, Relaxing each part as you move through the body. Body scans can be accessed as part of a Yoga Nidra or as a stand-alone before bed listen. There are tonnes of free guided body scans available on youtube, this is one I have returned to often.
5 senses meditation in nature
Finally, take time to get outside and connect with nature. Find a secluded outdoor spot you can walk to or spend time in your garden. The outdoors can provide the perfect setting to practise mindfulness. Close your eyes and go through each sense in turn, what can you hear? feel? smell? taste? Retreat to nature regularly and watch it grow and change throughout the seasons. Nature can teach us many lessons in letting go, patience, change & transformation.
Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by M. Williams & D. Penman
A fantastic introduction to mindfulness, revealing simple but powerful practises to incorporate into everyday life with a step by step programme to follow. You may find certain practises appeal more than others, this is an opportunity to explore what resonates with you – Opening a door to new awareness, presence and perspective. Also available to download in audible & kindle.
Meditation apps are great for late-night stressing or when you need a little calm on the go. Headspace & Calm are really well made, engaging apps but require a subscription fee of £9.99 a month, they do however offer a free 30-day trial so this may be something you want to try.
For a free option – try Insight Timer, It offers many free audios ranging from Yoga Nidra to sleep music & also tracks your practises. As well as apps there are plenty of playlists to explore on Spotify, Audible and Youtube.
I hope this helps a little in finding calm in the chaos. If you are looking for 1-2-1 sessions to work on yoga, breath and mindfulness and would like to create your own individual plan. Get in touch to see how we could work together via the form below.