Mindfulness and yoga: one breath at a time

Feeling overwhelmed? Too much work? Can’t concentrate? You’re not alone.

Woman doing a meditation session

Feeling overwhelmed? Work too much? Can’t concentrate? You’re not alone!

Practicing mindfulness and yoga regularly has many benefits, including stress-relief and a feeling of well-being. Therefore, we have outlined effective meditation and mindfulness exercises to calm your mind and ground your body. What is mindfulness and meditation you ask? Let us explain step-by-step!

Partners in a moment of meditation at home

How to unwind with mindfulness and meditation

With an on-going busy life and many distractions to our daily routines, we all have a tendancy to take on too much stress. That is why we are here to help and introduce you to two disciplines to help you cope with stress; mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness

It is hard for an indivudual to stay grounded and relaxed with this fast-paced life and our busy schedules. Sometimes causing too much stress and anxiety within one-self. Let us introduce you to mindfulness and mindful breathing, an excellent solution to help you cope with these problems. 

What does mindful breathing mean? Let me explain...

It is important to live in the present, in the “now”. It might be difficult at first but with a little practice, it becomes easier. First, you have to ground yourself. To do this, find a quiet space and sit comfortably. Then, close your eyes and imagine growing roots into the floor. Find your way through your body and focus on your breathing. This is usually when your mind starts flooding with thoughts and ideas; visualize these thoughts as a leaf floating on a stream. As you observe the leaf float away, so do your thoughts. Bring your focus back to your breathing, inhale and exhale, and just Breath. The benefit of this process is that you train your mind to focus on what is happening in the now and not focus on the uncertainties of tomorrow, which are things you can't control. This will leave you feeling calm and energized. You will be ready to take on any challenges the day sends your way.

We recommend you do these mindfulness exercises for 5 minutes, twice a day.

Meditation

Every morning, when the world is still asleep and your home is quiet, it is important to sit comfortably on your yoga mat. Gently wake up your mind and body with a Sun Salutation. It is a sequence of 12 postures woven together with your breathing. These postures have been selected through years of yogic wisdom and science. To begin, stand at the top of your mat. Close your eyes for a moment and join your palms at your chest. Let go of any expectations.

Breathing meditation

1. Inhale, raise your arms and very gently bend backwards.

2. Exhale and fold forward, keeping your back straight. Touch your toes or the floor if you can.

3. Inhale halfway back up, elongating the spine. Bring your shoulders down, away from your ears. Chin should be slightly tucked in.

4. Exhale move your right foot back to a lunge position. You can place your knee on the floor if you find a lunge too challenging.

5. Inhale, raise your arms. Relax your jaw and your forehead.

6. Exhale, move to a plank position. You can hold this position for a few breath cycles in order to work your core muscles a little longer.

7. Exhale, lower your body down to the floor.

8. Inhale, move your chest up into a Cobra position. Pelvis and legs are firmly rooted to protect your lower back. Bring your shoulders down as if they’re sliding down your back.

9. Exhale and while contracting your core muscles, transition to a Downward Facing Dog position.

10. Inhale, place your right foot between your hands and rise to a lunge position with your arms stretched up to the sky.

11. Exhale, place your hands to the floor and bring your left foot beside the right foot at the top of the mat.

12. Inhale and rise. Join your palms at your chest. Breathe for a few breath cycles. Observe the change within yourself. Repeat the sequence, this time leading with the left leg to complete one full Sun Salutation.

Paired with movement, this sequence of breathing is very comforting to follow and brings peace within. Body and mind align and prepare you for whatever the day brings.

Namaste!

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Alexandra Tsygankova  - Sport advisor, Decathlon Burlington

Alexandra tsygankova

Sport advisor, decathlon burlington

My name is Alexandra. I discovered yoga about 15 years ago when curiosity brought me to an in-class practice. Since that time I've grown to love the philosophy of yoga and developed a home practice I can't do without.