I recently had the pleasure of presenting a 20-minute overview of yoga and mindfulness to Newbury council's contact centre staff, which is a particularly challenging job in these times.
Whilst it wasn’t a long presentation, it nonetheless resonated with these wonderful people. I focussed on 3 areas, breath, spinal movement and posture.
We started centring our minds and focussing on the breath, merely 1 minute of conscious box breathing pretty much had them hooked. It is always surprising how such elementary practices can have such a profound affect. If you haven’t ever focussed on the breath for a period of time, I would really encourage you to do so and reflect on how your head is afterwards.
Moving onto physical movement we looked at spinal articulation since this is so important for our backs. This is the process of moving one vertebra at a time, allowing the disks and vertebra to glide across each other, and an easy movement when sitting in a chair, really beneficial if you practice from early in the morning.
Finally, our posture in the west is not great merely standing straight, will put your body back into natural alignment, which in turn places less stress on your joints. It will also help to protect your spine and opens your chest cavity so that breathing is much easier.
Foundation is key, ensure your feet are placed firmly on the floor with your toes pointing forward. Tighten your core muscles, pull your naval to your spine and the ribs down and rotate your pelvis gently back and forth. This will help you to find your neutral position.
Stand with your back next to a wall, your head about an inch from it, your shoulder blades and buttocks touching it lightly, and your heels slightly away from it. Spread your weight evenly over both feet. Your spine has a natural s shape, so do not force it flat back against the wall.
Centre your ears over your shoulders and your hips over your knees and form a straight line down the side of your body, keeping your knees straight but not locked, there should be just enough space between your lower back and the wall to fit your wrist.
Having found your perfect posture, the key is to retain it. Initially, this may be quite tricky as you will have to keep reminding yourself which muscles to contract or relax.
We finished off with a little headspace meditation.
These simple processes are covered in every yoga class, or should be, but as my willing audience demonstrated, they are accessible to all of us, every day.