The term ‘grounding’ is often used in yoga classes and in relation to any activity that helps to draw us into a sense of the present moment.
But what does grounding actually mean? What qualities and physical attributes make grounding as important part of our practice?
To not be grounded in life at any moment is to feel that we're not really there. That includes a full physical sense that we are somehow off and away, that we are off in our heads, even “away with the fairies”!
This removal from a sense of where we are at that moment, can even move into feelings of dissociation where can experience a complete disconnect from mind and body.
This state has been associated with the ‘out of body’ experiences sometimes viewed as a spiritual high, but often has its roots in trauma.
In yoga, opening into the higher echelons relies on solid roots; fostering grounding through the lower chakras (pelvis and belly) to meet the subtleties of the higher chakras up...
Listening to our hearts
“The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right here, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.”
― Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Compassion is an intrinsic part of Buddhist and yogic cultures, where there is an emphasis on feeling a deeper connection through non-violence and kind attention to the present moment. Metta Bhavana is one of the core Buddhist meditations and translates (from Pali), with Metta meaning loving-kindness and Bhavana to cultivation or development. With our tendencies for self-criticism and judging inner voices, this practice is gathering interest and respect from Western ideologies and researchers. For those practising it is not news that the practice sows the seeds to take a more...
Turn your world upside down - simple inversions to support heart and circulatory health
We inherently know that ‘putting our feet up’ is a restful place to be, but fully changing our perspective on the world can have even greater repercussions for our heart health and stress-coping capacity. In this article we explore supported inversions that can offer a truly calming space in your day.
Many people associate inversions as more acrobatic, like the handstands, shoulderstand and headstand seen in so many yoga pictures. But whilst these more dynamic postures have their benefits, to reverse our usual relationship with gravity so we don’t need to hold up our body weight, offers a soothing and releasing mind-body effect.
Whichever way we practice inversions, placing our hips above our head, aids the lymphatic flow so important for immune function and detoxification. This fluid system that runs throughout the whole body alongside the bloodstream. It relies on our...
There are some real clues when I see clients as to the level of stress that people have been living under and the point where they may be at breaking, close to burnout or on the edge of running out of resources - even to the point of adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. Many of these red flags are describing how people view themselves or the habits that they've been living under that come from age-old conditionings, those strategies that we lay down from very, very early on in life.
So many of the stress burdens that people cycle around are about how much they expect themselves to do, how much they expect themselves to achieve and ideas that relaxing or being restful or in recovery are somehow bad. Unraveling these limiting beliefs and finding new ways to approach how we fill our time and how we nourish ourselves enough to keep going without crashing, can take changes in attitude and lifestyle that have far reaching consequences.
- I'm so overwhelmed, I can't cope.
The Benefits of Walking on Uneven Ground
As humans, we have evolved to have certain patterns of physical activity that are necessary for health.1 In fact, we’re built for long-distance walking, and it’s estimated that our hunter/gatherer ancestors covered daily distances in the range of 6–16 km (3.5–10 miles). While walking may be our most natural form of exercise, humans learned this unusual mode of transport on rough surfaces—far from the predictability of pavements and man-made flooring.
All of our ancestors’ walking and running was done on natural surfaces like grass and rocks, and often over uneven ground. Our upright two-legged (bipedal) walking style evolved alongside a nomadic lifestyle that was not just for walking to new camps, but also for getting to and from sources of food, water and wood.2 It’s even theorised that part of our large brain growth was to address the various challenges of bipedal upright walking on naturally uneven...
Movement to help your body naturally move through trauma
The term trauma is used to describe the state an individual is left with after a shock or prolonged danger or distressing event has passed. Its prevalence in society has grown from the recognition of the symptoms war veterans were experiencing in the 1980s with the diagnosable condition Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
This has also opened up to recognise that trauma does not just stem from large, traumatic events but can be as a result of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) and the definition extended to anything that overwhelms to the point where we can’t cope, on an individual basis.
The medical world has long viewed trauma as a purely psychological issue, although recent research shows it to be a full physiological response; a reliving in this moment of an event or felt state that came before. For those with trauma, this is the only way more primal, instinctual responses can make sense of the continual.
Stretching can be something we look forward to or dread within our exercise regimens, so understanding its purpose and effects can create more depth and motivation, however we feel. Messages can be conflicting, so some simple basics can help us navigate confusion towards following your body’s needs.
Stretching for sports is not the same as in yoga; rather than looking to improve flexibility alone, static (still) stretching after exercise is designed to lengthen muscle shortened through use back to its normal range of motion (ROM). This is why dynamic (moving), rather than static is recommended for warm-ups. More flexibility ie more range through muscle and around joints may actually impede the action and strength of specific movements needed for sport.
We can’t actually lengthen muscle – this is already determined by its insertion and origin ie where it is attached and leads to in terms of bones and tendons – but we can lessen resistance to a stretch, where...
Simple and effective
One of the most popular recommendations I give to clients is dry skin brushing. This is a simple self-care home routine that can take as little or long as you have. Even doing for a minute a few times a week can have noticeably beneficial effects and most people find it is so enjoyable that it becomes part of their bathing routine very easily. Stimulating the skin in winter is important when it gets less exposure to the natural stresses of the outdoors.
The main aim behind skin brushing idea is to move out surface toxins and 'energise' your skin to get blood flow going. This is also stimulating your lymphatic system, the fluid channels of your immune system which run beneath the skin. As your skin is your largest organ and the second organ of detoxification after the liver (via the lymphatic system), brushing it increases the capacity of your skin to eliminate toxins, making it easier for your whole body to shed wastes. Dry skin brushing also...
January is a time of new beginnings and even recalibration – taking stock of the aspects of our lives where we go awry and find ourselves going round and round in circles.
So much of where we can get stuck is based on old survival strategies learnt in early childhood and listening to these inner voices of what we need to feel safe and secure is a key part of moving through life in a stress-free way.
The more we can let ourselves off the hook of expectation and recognise our true needs, the less self-judgment we need to throw up and the kinder we can be to ourselves.
This is the stuff that can help us be free our reactions and behaviours that we might be fed up with with; turning to sugar or alcohol when we’re stressed, arguing with our partner or feeling a mental and physical exhaustion that stops us from exercising in the way we’d like.
For instance, my ‘resolutions’ last year were:
1. Notice when I’m close to or have become overwhelmed and...
We are always going through phases of change, whether we notice them as substantial or not. This January one can often seem like the motherload though, with high expectations and suggestions coming at us from all angles.... whether it's giving up something, doing something else or fixing that thing that is 'wrong' with us, there is a sense of this ideal, other self that we should be.
There is a phrase doing the rounds at the moment that is particularly pushing my buttons; "be the best (or better) version of yourself" - eh? What on earth does that mean? To me, there is an implication that if all the boxes are not ticked, I am simply not good enough. I guess it's the word version I react to there - we have so many facets to our beings that to judge some as good and others not so much adds in to our cultural norm of self-criticism.
I do believe in constant awareness of which unmet needs I am playing out for sure, but have learnt that I need to be mindful of looking at the unconscious...
"With Christmas comes the onslaught of brightly coloured wrappers and decorated boxes adorning chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For some, this represents dietary abandon with the resolution to bring it all round in the New Year.
But some of us have had enough of that swing and prefer not to feel like we’re lurching from a sugared-up state that leaves us feeling sluggish, bloated and, well, a bit dirty, to somehow suddenly having the willpower to give it all up come Hogmanay. So let’s unpick some of those Christmas habits in order to maybe evolve some healthier ones...
While original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the third round of mince pies of the day, you can receive sideway glances that make you feel like you’re Scrooge.
Personally, a few...
Whilst original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the coming deep winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the stollen cake, you can receive a sideways glance that makes you feel like you’re Scrooge.
Personally, a few years back I reached the limit of feeling like c*&p after each Christmas Day finally arrived – sluggish, head-achy, tetchy and with raging sugar cravings – and longing for when all the so-called ‘Christmas food’ was finally gone. I have a tendency to want to hoover up sugar just to get it out of the way, so this can seem endless with so much around!
For those of us with sugar-addictive tendencies, constantly having it around can be a major source of stress.
Many of my clients get pretty agitated going to meetings where there are always biscuits and the...