Strong Body, Strong Mind

I’ve mentioned way back in my Life Update post, that I had changed while away in Bali.  Well today, we’re talking about that – mental and physical health to be more precise, I want to work with my body in getting stronger on all fronts, my head and my body.  For years I have practiced yoga but never quite “got it”.  I always focused on the fitness and stretching side of things and if that’s your focus, that’s grand!  It was only while I was in Bali, practicing in a dedicated studio with instructors that had the time to really help, that I finally had a moment.

I’d got off an online meeting, a bit angry over something petty.  I stormed off to yoga and I allowed myself to get swept away by my emotions.  I’d been learning to focus more on my breathing in previous classes, something I’ve always struggled with as I often pushed my body and sometimes my breathing would end up restricted in my bid to stretch that wee bit more.  Missed the point a bit there.

So in this particular class I really focused in on my breathing, particularly breathing out all of my bad feelings and negative nonsense.  I actually ended up silently weeping as I spent over an hour moving through the various poses, really coming into my body and really breathing – filling my lungs and letting it all go.  I had a lot of built  up stress and issues I’d not really dealt with, so they clearly all came flooding out.  After the class I felt better than I had in a very long time.  My head was clear and I felt light on my feet, as well as a wee bit exhausted!

Since then I’ve been practicing my yoga pretty much every day, which has been a few months now.  I tend to follow along with a video from Yoga With Adriene – I’ve finished her 31 day revolution playlist and now I’m on to the bootcamp playlist.  I get very excited when I get to practice outside in the sunshine – although it does result in squinty face as I’m blinded by the light, but it feels good to have the sun on my bones.  I’ve also not had any pains in my knee in over a month – considering I had pain daily, this is a vast improvement.  My legs are still very tight but my body moves well again.  I’m slowly getting stronger – although I have put on about a stone since coming back in England – I’ve been overeating and not walking as much as I did while we were away.  I’ve recently roped Simon into coming for walks with me every evening when he gets in from work in a bid to move my body more and also to save my sanity – it is not good for anyone to be in the house all day!  I’m also considering adding in a full on cardio workout a few times a week – I sit all day and work from home.  This is not healthy for my body.

In Bali I started meditating and I’ve been doing it almost everyday since, it has had such a big impact.  Between the yoga and meditation, I’m much more at peace with myself, I’m less angry – I used to secretly seethe.  I’m also just a lot calmer and although I was pretty happy, this is brought that to a much more consistent level.  I notice if I miss a few days of meditation, I start to get stressy again and worked up over nothing.  So clearly something I need to practice regularly to keep on top of it.

While I was in Bali I picked up a book called the Mindfulness Journal*, which is a book filled with exercises and general advice on meditation and being mindful through various situations and life in general.  I’ve read it all the way through and now I use it as a reference book, so if I want to work through something, I read up on it before I sit down to meditate.  I don’t use anything fancy, you don’t even have to buy a book, I just fancied having a reference book.  I set a timer on my phone and then close my eyes, focusing on the black behind my forehead and breathing deeply.  That’s it.  I do it sitting up, or laying down.  As long as I’m comfortable.  If I’ve something to work through I do, if not, I’ll just have a few minutes of calm.  If a thought pops up, I notice it’s there and then I bring my focus back to my forehead.  I used to be only able to do this for a few minutes when I started.  I’ve gradually been doing it for longer and I can now happily meditate for 10minutes.  If I don’t have lots of time, I’ll just take a few quiet minutes in the morning.

The point of all of this?  I want to share what I’ve been doing to help my mental health, I really recommend meditation.  You don’t need anything to start, other than a timer maybe – hooray for phones!  You could google some meditation exercises if you fancy?

I also want to share that I want to lose a bit of weight – for nobody but myself, I move better when I’m not carrying an extra 11lbs, I feel myself getting stronger and I want that to continue.  I’ll still have a few “treats” if I fancy but I’m becoming more aware of the food I’m putting into my body and thinking about what I do and don’t need.  When I’m not rolling from one sugar high to the next, I feel a lot better!  Surprise!  I recently ate lots of gluten and dairy – I was sick for a few days – hence the radio silence recently.  I think this was a red flag from my body to tell me to stop being so lazy in my food habits!

So that’s it.  I am hoping to do updates on this and how I progress.  I’ll let you know what cardio I find that I enjoy – ideally I’d love to dance again, but it’s not an option at the minute.  So maybe I just find a Zumba workout or go back to popsugar videos for now.  I need to pick something I can stick with either way.  Recommendations are very welcome!  I want something fun!

For now, onwards!  Give meditation a try, seriously, it rocks. Also yoga – yes it’s excellent for the stretching and strengthening, but if you can really connect it with deep breathing and using it to let go of some mental health baggage, do it.  What regular movement do you do that makes you feel better?


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