As you may know, I’m doing a series of posts on coping with stress in London, because I think London can be a stressful place to live. Previously, the wonderful Helen Perkes talked about stress from a psychotherapist’s point of view, but today I asked Dylan Ayaloo, instructor at the place I do yoga, Hot Power Yoga in Clapham, to talk about ways a yogi deals with stress.
I’ve talked about How Power Yoga before, and I do find it really helps me – loosens my body, slows me down. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also want rock-hard abs and a toned body, but when I practice regularly I find it really calming. I should point out however, that I’ve not actually found any time to practice in weeks, oops, so I also asked Dylan to suggest ways in which busy people who can’t find time to practice can de-stress the yogic way. Here’s what he suggested:
Dylan Ayaloo, Yoga Instructor at Hot Power Yoga (www.hotpoweryoga.co.uk)
1. Practice yoga at least 2 times a week. We store tension and stress in the body as a result of our lifestyles. Yoga helps release the tension and toxins in the body while creating a balance of strength and flexibility giving rise to a natural state of well being.
The breathing technique we use at Hot Power Yoga is called ujjaii breathing. The breath builds heat from within, allowing the body to sweat and release toxins. Its an audible breath which anchors the mind to the present moment. This allows the practitioner to release any attachments to the worries of the mind, anxieties, stresses and any to-do’s lists which all exist either in the past or the future.
We store stresses and tension in all parts of our bodies, mainly shoulders, neck and lower back. The sequence taught at HPY is an intelligent, time tested and highly effective sequence which takes the body through a journey of releasing tension and stress. Each pose builds onto the next, opens, stretches and strengthens the body in a safe manner. While the sequence is not fixed, a regular practitioner will know enough of the structure of the sequence to bring the practice onto their mat at home or when they’re travelling. This is one of our goals, to teach independence so our students can take this practice anywhere.
If you’re caught in a busy cycle and have very little time to do yoga, simply rolling out the mat for 15-20 mins to do a few sun salutations before you start your day – this will have a profound effect on your day. Some people find it more conducive in their bodies to practice in the morning before they start their days, while others prefer to practice in the evenings when the body is less stiff. There is no fixed formula, it is really about connecting with your body and listening to what your body needs. If for some reason you’re too busy for a few days to even roll the mat out for a short practice at home, then we recommend that you at least stick to your daily meditations.
2. Meditate daily – at least 5 mins in the morning and 5 minutes at night. Use a simple method of following the flow of breath in and out, not trying to block out or stop thoughts but simply noticing them as they arise and letting them go.
3. Keep your mind focused on the present moment. Stress is a projection of the mind of what may be in the future, we go through what-ifs in the mind and identify with thoughts of what hasn’t happened yet. Stay on task and keep the mind focused on the very thing you’re doing in this moment, to every fine detail of this moment, live each moment fully in the now and here, and stress will not have a place to exist.
NOTE FROM SASHA: All photos used with kind permission from HPY’s facebook page. HPY offers free taster classes for newbies – please say you read about it on The Happiness Project London. And let me know how you get on!