Yoga : Part 1, how it can help with stress

Since I started working at Handmade Naturals, I have been learning a lot about our skin, how it differs from one person to another, how it changes throughout our lifetime for so many different reasons: stress, hormonal changes, environmental issues, allergies, medications, age and more. I have learned that our skin communicates to us what is really happening within us on a physical, mental and emotional level.

I hear the word STRESS a lot of the time, which can be a contributor to an existing skin condition (which is obviously a main interest of ours at Handmade Naturals), or which may become the cause of a stressor. Either way, too much stress will affect our general health and we are all about a holistic approach to health and wellbeing encompassing diet, exercise and a healthy skincare regime.

One resource I have found very interesting and helpful on the subject of stress is from Tara Brach in the US. Tara is a psychologist and practicing Buddhist and in 1998 she founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW),which is now one of the largest and most dynamic non-residential meditation centres in the United States. One of her main areas revolves around stress and you can see more about that here

Another very useful tool to help with overall wellbeing is Yoga. This is something I have been practising for a long time and over the past few months I have been attending a great Yoga teacher training course in Devon, which was hosted by Dan Pepiatt, you can see his website here. Amongst many things, it has encouraged me to take time to observe and see things as they are in the moment with curiosity and care, without judgement or attachments; good/bad, I like it/not like it etc.

Yoga comes from old ancient philosophies that teach us to become more aware, develop a compassionate enquiring mind without judgement. Practices like mindfulness and meditation have been known to help, reduce or manage stress, anxiety and depression.

I will be sharing some more ideas and practices over the next few months that may help with such issues, which I have found to help me with the alleviation of stress and anxiety levels I have been experiencing. We have a number of soothing and relaxing products on our website which can help you along the way, you can see these here.

An example for cultivating calm through mindfulness that I have found useful and fun that you may like to try is the following :

  1. Choose an object within your home, or perhaps outside, a flower, tree, a leaf.
  2. Allow 2-5 minutes to really observe the object how it feels: smooth, rough, hot, cold, light, heavy, soft, hard etc. Notice the details colour, patterns.  If you find you are becoming attached to a story like a memory from the past or ideas about the future, acknowledge these thoughts then bring your attention back to the observation in the present moment. Setting a timer can help with keeping the mind present and on task.

You can repeat this part of the activity whenever you like, or you can choose to take this further in the next step :

  1. If writing is available to you (don’t worry about spelling or handwriting-this is for you only), write down as many of the words you have observed or even put them into sentences that come to you. To make it more fun you can use different pens, colours, BIG/tiny letters, CAPITALS, in a list or randomly on the page. No need to try too hard, allow for spontaneity, without expectation or judgement. It doesn’t matter if the sentences or phrases don’t make sense, just let go and have fun. You can set a timer for this allowing 10-15 minutes.
  2. When the timer goes off take couple of minutes to notice how are you feeling now? Has anything changed, shifted or still the same?

This kind of practice can help us to learn to be more present in the moment, become less judgemental towards ourselves and others, let go of some expectations and perhaps find a little peace and joy, relieving some of the stress we are experiencing.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.” – Eckhart Tolle

There are obviously a lot of resources out there on the internet, great Apps and websites that offer a range of meditation practices. One example that I find helpful is Insight Timer which is a smartphone app and online community for meditation. The app features guided meditations, music and talks posted by contributing experts. There is truly something for everyone and you can see more about them on their website here.

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