'real life stories' EDITION
DISCOVERING YOGA, MEDITATION & BREATH WORK
In the dark days of a wet, cold, January morning of 2006 I was at my lowest point. I went to work; my job was a veterinary nurse of which I loved but which also came with a lot of stress. I loved caring for the animals and knowing that I would be a part of helping them to get better. On this particular morning, my partner and I had just had an argument about a scratch on my car just before I got to work. I could not compartmentalise it and when I was in surgery, looking after the patient while under anaesthetic, my mind was wandering and not concentrating on the job at hand. Suddenly, the dog stopped breathing, although for only a minute, it felt like an eternity. He nearly died. There and then I woke up, I knew something had to change and from that moment, I needed to figure out my life and what was happening within it. Our relationship had always been good, but this one day, It was not at its best and I came home and said that we both needed a break from work and took 6 months out to travel the world together to find some semblance of happiness and to connect back to each other.
While out in Thailand I discovered Yoga and from then on, my whole world changed. By introducing yoga, meditation, and breath work into my daily life, I feel so much happier and able to cope with everyday issues that arise. What I’ve come to realise, is that by bringing in a little movement into your everyday life, this allows your body to feel calm, releasing the serotonin (calming hormones) into your body decreasing the cortisol levels (stress hormone) then making you feel 100% better.
Now, the past 18 months or so has been a rollercoaster of a ride for most of us. Especially with our relationships. My husband and I have been together for 21 years, and at times it can be hard and require some serious ‘me time’. If truth be told, all relationships are hard, seriously hard at times, but this is why communication should always be a priority. Unfortunately, sometimes we believe our partner just knows what we’re thinking, but neither party are mind readers, so you must talk. Communication does not just have to be about talking in a relationship. It can be physical touch and that does not just mean sex. Some people find it hard to communicate so ‘touch’ is a really good way of getting your point across.
PARTNER YOGA, BREATH WORK AND MEDITATION
Another great way to communicate is to do partner yoga together. This allows you both to reconnect with each other. Try doing some poses back-to-back and linking arms with each other. This is a fun way to bring back the fun into your relationship. Breath work and meditation is a really good way to really connect with your body, mind, and spirit. You do not have to be spiritually engaged at all, just by sitting with yourself and letting yourself think, listening to the environment around you and being with yourself, you can feel deeply connected.
To find your intuitive guidance, close your eyes, take in 3 big deep belly breaths, (pranayama breathing) inhaling through your nose and exhaling through the mouth and really feeling the belly rising using your diaphragm. Feeling the chest and shoulders rising. With your exhales through the mouth, really letting go of all the negative tension and energies surrounding your being. Then allow your mind to float off taking it to your happy place or where you feel most comfortable. This will then allow your guidance to come through and you can ask for anything. Say to yourself ‘Dear universe, spirit guides, god whatever you believe in, please help me in whatever it is that you need help with’. Feel a tingling sensation and a warmness within your body. This is your spirit rising and being in touch with your intuition. This will then allow you to make incredible decisions within your life, work, business, relationships etc. Trust yourself and trust your intuition.
Some people do not like to call it meditation and that’s ok, just call it sitting quietly and allowing you to be with your body. The best form of meditation is to be outside and breathing in fresh air. Breath in all that is around you. Take off your shoes, ground yourself to the earth and feel held and supported. Breath work really comes into its own when you are stressed, tired, sluggish and cannot sleep. When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to shallow breathe a lot of the time. This then does not get the full amount of oxygen to our cells and our brains that we need to function correctly. This is what makes us feel tired and sluggish. We need this fresh oxygen to help feed the cells and the oxygen within our blood. The more oxygen we have in our system, the better we feel, the less stressed we feel as our serotonin levels are higher, and our cortisol levels are lower which in turn allows us to make better decisions and get a better night’s sleep.
Take yawning for example, when we yawn, we are shallow breathing so by yawning it is telling us that our body needs more oxygen to the body to function better. By using every part of our lungs right down to the bronchioles (the tiny vessels within our lungs) we can use this to our advantage when taking in big deep full breaths. When we shallow breath, these vessels never get used so have stagnant air in them, making us feel tired. When they are used when we have fuller deeper breathes this is when the magic happens, and we start to feel better almost immediately.
So, if you are struggling with your relationship, know that the bigger deeper breaths you take, the better you will feel and the better you will be able to come at it from a clear head space point of view. Breathing really allows us to have a better posture, we feel more confident within ourselves, and we can come into a stressful situation knowing that we can use this to our advantage just by learning and using the correct breath work techniques.
Conjoining breath work with movement will really allow your whole body to feel so much more alive, allowing more oxygen to flow through your body, oxygenating the cells to making them flow easier getting more oxygen to the brain allowing you to think and feel better. This then allows your body to move better, and you will be able to think faster to get the desired results. Even if you have just three minutes to get started in the morning, by moving your body, you are waking up the cells creating more oxygen flow, in turn making you feel 100% better.
With relationships, if you do not know how you feel about your partner anymore or are having second thoughts, know that you can get through it, just by movement and breath work alone. You can find the confidence to talk about whatever it is that is bothering you. If you are anxious about talking to your partner, using a breath work technique will again calm your cortisol levels down allowing you to come from a place of calm rather than a place of stress and anxiety.
Journaling is another great way to help yourself. Now this isn't a case of just writing 'Dear diary' like we used to do in high school. This is a place where you can write anything down, get it out of your head and onto paper. This is called a brain dump. It can be whatever you want to write. Sometimes writing on a piece of paper has a calming effect on the body and brain which is what we are aiming for. You can write anything down that is in your head. Sometimes doodling or drawing really helps instead of writing, but do what works for you. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can start by writing the date, the lunar calendar (where the moon is in its cycle), where you are on your monthly cycle, how your body feels, what you have worked on today, what didn’t go right today, what went well today and what you are grateful for today. Always end on a positive sentence as this allows more serotonin to flood your body making your feel a lot calmer and content with life. This can be sentences or just one word. Whatever it is, know that whatever you write down will be a brain dump and you will have a clear head for whatever life throws at you. You can do this after meditation or after your morning stretch.
Now you might be thinking ‘what if my partner reads my journal?’ Yes, that is a valid point and if you trust each other this shouldn’t be an issue but for some couples this comes up quite a bit. Have it on your bedside table or somewhere you feel it is safe as this will be your safe place to write or doodle etc. Writing will give you the confidence to eventually talk to your partner and communicate with them, making you feel more able to get your point across.
When it comes to communication and talking to your partner, allow each other to have their say and not interrupt each other. If you interrupt each other, the whole situation gets out of hand and you both start to say things that are hurtful and damaging. Remember your breath work, come at it though a different angle and remember to stay calm and focused. Meditate on it first, journal it and then you will be in a much better head space to tackle anything you want to. But being able to stay calm is the best thing. Close your eyes, turn around, take in your 3 deep belly breaths, and know you’ve got this. You can do it and believe in yourself. If again you cannot get your point across, say ‘I’ve had enough, we aren’t getting anywhere here, and we’ll come back to it’ and then take in your breaths and walk away. Take time out from this situation and come back to it another day when the both of you are in the right head space.
CONNECTING THROUGH MOTHER NATURE
Relationship help in the form of nature is just incredible. Nature is truly our biggest teacher and healer, and we can learn a lot from her. Mother earth is here to guide us every step of the way, we just have to be open and honest with her and by bringing in yoga, meditation and breath work, we can connect on a soul level.
We are all made up of energy, each cell in our body is energy. Each particle in the air in the oxygen we breathe is energy. Mother earth is built upon energy so when we connect with this energy, we can find all sorts of answers and the answers we need are staring us right in the face, we just need to be open to receive them. Next time you are feeling a little lost with whatever is going on in your life, take a walk out in nature. Take a look around you and notice the sights, the smells, the symmetry around you. Look closely at the bark on the trees, the butterflies and bees hanging around flowers, look at the small things in life and be grateful for your life right now. The more we are grateful for our lives the easier it becomes and trust me, this is the best form of medicine.
With regards to relationships, go out together and take a walk. Turn off your phones and really connect with each other. Take off your shoes and walk together, connecting the soles of your feel to the soul of the earth. You really will feel a connection with mother earth and each other. This is where the magic happens. This is where we feel most at home because we are all made up of energy and so is everything around us.
By using yoga, meditation and breath work, you can know that you will be fully supported in any decision you make going forward with anything especially with your relationship.