So if you’ve been following my journey you will know that I have taken on my yoga teacher training this month in Sri Lanka. Its a 200 hour intensive course where we spend the day doing 90 mins of Pranayama (breathing) and Meditation, followed by 2 hours of yoga and a further 4-5 hours of lectures – pretty full on if you ask me. But absolutely GREAT! We’re learning SO much about ourselves and our bodies. As we approach the end of day 5 of our training I have been reflecting on the my experience so far. I’m vlogging the whole trip for you guys so I will let you know when I post it! For now I wanted to shed some light on my experience of the meditation aspect…
Interestingly enough, it’s been the part I have found one of the most challenging about the yoga teacher training. Each (and every!) morning we sit in total stillness for our hour and half meditation and pranayama (breathing) practice. Whilst you’re encouraged to move if needed, to truly still the mind it helps to keep in a still state. You can either sit in a crossed legged position – “Pleasant Pose” (Sukasana) or in what yogi’s term “Hero’s” pose. If you’ve been practicing a while you may even sit in the ultimate meditation pose: Lotus pose. Since I’m not at the stage of full Lotus, I spend my time alternating my seated position from cross legged to hero’s or half lotus intermittently. What I’ve found? My meditation skills are definitely not on point! My legs pretty much die a slow and painful death most sessions so far! Waaa. I’m told this gets better in time – I completely appreciate 5 days is not a lot of time. But still for a newbie ouchie it’s not fun. When we’re instructed to ‘jump up’ to stand up I pretty much want to keel over from pins and needles in my legs and feet (mega lols for everyone else…me not so much!) I definitely need practice at this!
For me personally, what I’m finding is that, once comfortable I can sit still and concentrate and eventually find some sort of stillness. I feel a huge benefit when I get to that point. My super active, but also super stiff bod coupled with the fact that I’m someone coming from a Western “chair culture” society is definitely my fall down. In my day to day life I rarely spend more than an hour sitting on the floor completely still. More likely (as many other Westerners) I would sit in a chair for that period of time. By sitting in an upright seated pose on the floor it challenges the bodies usual posture. It makes use of completely different muscles to keep yourself sitting up straight. You can feel it immediately in the use of the core, the upper back, the need to ground through the seat, open the shoulders. As of now I’m vowing to make more of an effort to get my body used to sitting in this position and to factor meditation in my day to day life. But why? Meditation has the power to benefit every area of our life.
Find out my 5 top reasons why we can all benefit from a meditation practice (even if it’s as little as 5 minutes!) below…
1) It Stills The Monkey Brain
In life we are constantly bombarded with the problem of what the yogi’s like to call “Monkey Brain”. The constant chitter chatter that goes through our minds. Our inner thoughts. From the minute your alarm goes off our minds have been programmed to switch on. What am I doing today? What shall I have for breakfast? Let me check my phone or watch TV – yet more messages going round our already jammed packed (info overloaded) brains.
By meditating you can press the pause button on all the chitter chatter. When your mind has space to breathe, you can access your greater potential. You can focus on the here and now. You can be present. It will also help the memory with all that less clutter going on! The lack of “monkey brain” will do wonders for your sleep! Lack of sleep is directly caused by how much we have going on in the mind. You quieten the mind, sleep will come easier. Ultimately meditation will impact a number of other areas of your day to day life.
2) It Allows Focus on the Breath
With our constant rushing from one place to the next we often forget to breathe. A body without efficient use of breath is a malfunctioning body. Every aspect of your being will function less efficiently. From your organs, to your muscles, to your mind. By gaining control of your inhale and exhale (as done in meditation and pranayama) you can regulate your breathing. If you can regulate your breathing then you can use this in stressful situations where the breath will calm and focus you. Some studies have suggested that meditation can cut back on anxiety by almost 40% – pretty mega! When you meditate, you’re able to override a part of the brain responsible for the fear mechanism (which releases cortisol, the damaging stress hormone that’s responsible for a whole host of health issues).
3) Even Outs Your Mood and Energy Levels
This means not only a better time for you but others around you! Time spent with your nearest and dearest you will be much more present in. When any unwanted feelings or tricky situations arise it will help calm the mind and body. If you’re in a relationship it can even make sex better (not kidding!) – in one study, women that added meditation to their lives experienced a boost in arousal and satisfaction! Get on the meditation girls (and guys!)
4) Your Workouts Will Be Better
Yes you already know I’m that fitness type of girl! I want as fiery workout as the next girl. What we seldom think of however is how much these hot and fiesty workouts do a number on not only our muscles but our central nervous system. We all know (but perhaps don’t listen to!) how much we should recover. Meditation allows you to rest your body and mind very deeply. By removing the stress from the body it is the perfect way to damage control those workouts and set you up in the best physical capacity for your next training session!
5) Tone Down That Temper
As Korda sums up perfectly….“If you’re aware of your mind, body, and breath, you can calm yourself and step away from the initial reaction and begin to think of different ways to respond to the situation,” he says. “The more inner awareness you have, the less you’re going to be triggered by other people”.
Clearly I’m such a newbie and only at the beginning of my meditation journey, but I can whole heartedly see the benefit of it. I hope you guys can too!
But where to start?
Meditation can be as little as 5 minutes! It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out commitment. If you have time to scroll Instagram you have time to meditate! Prioritise your brain. Prioritise your body. I certainly plan to! I’m as guilty as the next person for saying “I’ll get on to that meditation thing”. The app “Headspace” is a great starting point for fellow newbies. As for me I’m fortunate to be in a situation where it’s not an option, I have to meditate to pass my yoga training course! So me and my poor legs will persevere on! If you’re struggling to get to grips with it, especially the sitting on the floor thing – I FEEL YOU! Let me know how you get on! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my new found yogi treasures! Wish me luck! For now…
Sending health & happiness,