As the winter chill starts to thaw and workplaces ramp up in the lead up to Christmas breaks. Sydney-siders find themselves out and about more and stuck at the office more – leaving little time for their bodies and minds to unwind.

Our bodies suffer from increased hours at the desk, busy stressed minds, tight shoulders and necks, sore hips – that coupled with going out more and letting go of our routine can leave us feel exhausted and stressed.

What surprises me most about my yoga practice is just how much I can apply it to other areas of my life and the enormous difference it makes for me.

In my personal experience, by taking time each day to focus my attention on simple movements coupled with controlled breathing, even for a just a short period of time, I have found that I can dramatically increase my ability to handle more mental stress and calm my nervous system.

Cortisol levels elevate under stress, whether that’s stress at work or from a hard work out at the gym – the body doesn’t distinguish the difference – stress stimulates our flight or fight mechanism and in modern day life this gets a good work out. A mindfulness or yoga practice encourages our para-sympathetic nervous system to step in. And the way we do that through yoga is deep breathing.

The primary intention behind a yoga practice is the alignment of a series of movements with the coordination of the breath. Beyond the poses, aside from the stretching, and without regard to the brand of clothing you choose to wear or the space in which you practice, it is the synchronisation of movements with focused and controlled breathing. That is the essence of yoga.

The goal of starting a mindful movement practice is in taking this basic principle and applying it to other areas of your life – that may be at work during increased periods of stress or during challenging activities like a sport game or adventure activity.

I understand yoga is not for everyone. Personally, I love the stillness in my mind, the dance of a well-sequenced vinyasa flow and sivasanna – the deep rest at the end. If you’ve never tried yoga or mindful movement – it’s well worth a try. Contact Nikki for her up to date schedule of yoga classes.

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