Because life pulls us in all directions and chaos floods our mind, mindfulness is much needed to give us clarity and peace from within. Mindfulness is awareness infused with intention. It means to hyper-focus on purpose, on the present moment with a clear headspace. The practice of mindfulness will offer us a new perspective to view our life afresh, to create a novel relationship with our own mind, body, and people around us.
Not that keen on the usual and formal meditation? There’s no need to sit on a cushion with your eyes closed; the key is syncing your breath with your movement as you prep for your workout. Give your workout a mindful makeover because it will:
Here’s what we recommend.
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An asana practice is the perfect place to put your mindful thoughts in motion. Rather than a system of separate postures linked together with breaths, mindfulness will allow your vinyasa to become the moment to moment awareness - one breath per movement. So brush the dust off your mat and start taking that refreshing breath as you start on yoga.
Ready, set, stretch! Infuse several simple stretches into your day because stretches are not just a precursor to actual real exercise or a post-exercise formality. It allows us to slow down and tune into our bodies in a way no other movement does. But all too often, stretching takes a backseat to our other pursuits which are viewed as more result-driven and useful. Try a short and sweet stretch as quick as pandiculation. Bring both palms to your shoulders, raise your elbows, open your mouth and let out a satisfying yawn to stretch out your ear drums. Let mindfulness seep into your stretches as you bring your attention into the area that you are stretching and breathe into the muscles with ten slow breaths. Notice how your focus and breath will support your body to open up and expand with greater ease.
If you are stretching on a mat, also ask yourself how the mat feels, to develop a deeper connection and attachment to your stretch routine.
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Think of breath as mini meditation, a time and a skill to help you deal with stress, negative emotions and sharpen concentration. Mindful breathing has an accumulative impact so the more you practice, the more you benefit and reap. The act of taking a single purposeful breath can make a meaningful contribution to managing stress as well.
It may be better to set aside a designated time to inhale and exhale but feel free to suit your needs. Breathe to this GIF by Mindful to calm and soothe out your stress.
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Get up and go for a walk. It could be outside in the outdoors or back and forth in a large room. All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other at your natural pace and focus. Attend to what is around you, think about the weather, the various smells in the air, if you feel tense of stiff (adjust your posture if so) because these are all essential cues to mindfulness.
As hectic as life can get, even a mindful walk to fetch your caffeine fix will make a difference! Go with the flow and make up your own mindful moment-to-moment experience.
Every now and then, you need a cup of tea to help you relax and continue the journey of mindfulness. Nilufer Tea has the perfect calming tea: Lemon & Chamomile Tea. Chamomile is a well-known flower that helps to soothe your nerves, and the citrus perks your mind and body.
Overworked and lacking sleep? What are you stressed about? In our day-to-day routines, stress is inevitable. Your poor soul feels bruised and battered by the various catastrophes on the flip side of the globe or stressful situations in your personal backyard. Your blood boils on a regular basis because of a horrible work environment, strained relationships or even a wearisome commute to work. All these sources of stress exist beyond our control, but we can stop, slow down and de-stress. Here are 5 ways you can regulate your stress and keep your well-being in check.
Don’t operate in your stressed state all the time, mind your breath whilst you can! You may roll your eyes as we tell you to take a deep breath but it takes a mere few seconds and it will allow your troubled mind to relax in under two minutes. Breathing is our second nature and it’s an all-natural chill pill, so no matter where you are or however difficult the situation at hand may be, pause for a moment and do a short breathing exercise. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, holding each breath for seven counts or seconds. Repeat the cycle three times to calm yourself down quick! You can thank us for this fuss-free solution later.
And ah, our favourite method to decompress and reduce stress. Sip your way to leisure and soothe stress-related ailments with some tea, a traditional relaxation technique used to combat stress for centuries. We love a regular cup of white tea (for additional protection against oxidative stress) or a gentle herbal infusion that you can find at Nilufer Tea. In times of crisis, there is nothing else but to keep calm and drink tea. Bonus points if you pick up organic teas from sustainable sources.
Allow your tensed brain to reset and recover with exercise as it reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphin, a feel-good hormone that can help foster relaxation. Take a moment to walk through a green space with an abundance of fresh air, swim or attend a yoga class. A short stroll may do wonders to your mind too!
Akin to processed carbs and refined sugars, the vast world of social media will elicit cravings and provide an initial boost of pleasure. Each new notification triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which drives us to seek rewards, so you’d keep coming back for more. But, it’s a vicious cycle that takes a toll on your mental health in the long run and makes you feel blah afterwards. We’d recommend you unplug and unwind. Try a social media detox for a month or at least shorten your time online. Not every single email, Facebook message or flat-lay of your avocado toast matters.
Aromatherapy is an alternative practice which taps into the healing power of scents through essential oils extracted from plants. It is an excellent method for stress-relief as scents are powerful and can impact our bodies through our nervous system. Dilute a few drops of bergamot, lavender or ylang ylang oil with water and let it diffuse into the air. Otherwise, add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil into a carrier oil and rub onto your acupressure points for comfort. Be careful not to rub the essential oil directly on your skin as it is potent and may cause slight burning of your skin.
We hope at least one of our five stress-busters will lead you to a happier, healthier and stress-free life. Remember, weekends are for recovery and relaxation! And nothing beats personal well-being.
Written by Valerie Tan
Wearing something “loose and comfortable” for yoga class may be a little more complex than it sounds, and just like for any form of exercise, the right workout gear would definitely make a huge difference ! Here are some reasons you’ll want to equip yourself with proper attire before showing up for your first yoga session.
Yoga Pants : Regardless of the yoga class type, pleaseavoid extremely short bottom that constantly ride up, because you’ll find yourself pulling them down after every five minutes. I myself find it is really embarrassing to watch it. - oh well it is my personal opinion !
You may want to opt for a pair of leggings, crops or capri for good measure.
Yoga Tops : Women should avoid loose tops as they’ll be revealing more skin than you’d like especially when you reach and up side down etc Down Dog (see the image below). Opt for form-fitting tops that stay on your body and keep you covered no matter how you move. This also helps the instructor monitor your core and body alignment, making sure you’re doing the poses correctly.
Colour-wise, you may want to settle on darker colours or print pattern, especially if you get sweaty easily. Whatever colour you choose however, make sure the fabric isn’t see-through. It is really No No to "wedgie"
For yoga wear, avoid anything with buttons, zippers, and bulky drawstrings. These will be uncomfortable when you have to lie face down. They also restrict your movement and may prod into your flesh when you bend and stretch.
Synthetic fabrics specifically made for exercise would be appropriate for most classes. They are usually a spandex-nylon blend, and move along with your body. Also, since your tights will absorb your sweat, be sure to choose a pair with quick-drying fabric to ensure a comfortable session. I like cotton but not for yoga wear because it stretch over the years and lose its shape.
Be mindful of the thickness of the attire you wear, too. Very thick pants can be loose and movable but their weight may interfere with your form. In sum, wear breathable, stretchy leggings, shorts for running and normal casual T shirts instead. You can carry a fitted long-sleeve shirt with you if you think you might feel cold before or after class.
Yoga is usually practiced barefoot. If you don’t want to keep your feet bare during practice, you can invest in a pair of specially made toe yoga socks that have rubber grips sewn to the sole.
In addition, if you’re prone to calf cramps or soreness, you can wear compression calf sleeves on your lower legs. They allow for complete flexibility too.