October always seems like an opportune month to recharge my yoga practice, the cooler temperatures and lengthening evenings more conducive to spending time indoors and on my yoga mat. It’s the time of year too when I am reminded how helpful a regular practice is in staying (relatively!) calm and focused, the changeable weather and the ‘lets-get-everything-done-before Christmas’ mentality leading to generally higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Over the past month I’ve been working, among other things, on refining the art of ‘1:2’ breathing; ie, breathing out for twice as long as I breathe in. Whilst never a fan of statistics at school, this ratio has helped get me through numerous difficult dental appointments, TFL encounters and other fraught situations.
Lengthening the exhalation has the effect of activating the parasympathetic (rest, digest) side of our nervous system, helping to inject a slice of calm into our ‘flight or fight’ response. When sustained for a minute or two this reduces our heart rate and blood pressure and allows our muscles to begin to relax. It’s something we will be practising fairly frequently in class over the next month, so it becomes a useful tool we can all slot into the rest of our lives.
Having just been fortunate enough to spend a wonderful weekend on the Sussex coast with my teacher and other yogi(ini)s, I am also reminded how refreshing and re-invigorating I find it to take my practice out of London on a regular basis.
If the same applies to you, then you might be interested in taking one of the (5) remaining spaces on the next day retreat on Saturday 26th January. This day-long winter retreat will take place in a beautiful centre (photos below) in the historic riverside town of Henley on Thames, just one hour by train from central London. We will enjoy two extended yoga practices to energise, open and deeply rest the body and mind, a warming lunch from an award winning local caterer, homemade cake and a walk around the historical town centre. The day costs £68 and I have five spaces left. Do let me know if you would like one!
Looking forward to seeing you at class soon,