Tips to look after your mind and body during lockdown
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You don’t have to be spiritual to enjoy the benefits of yoga and mindfulness.
From focusing on your breath, taking time to notice your surroundings or stretches to release tension in your body – there are countless physical and psychological benefits.
As the third national lockdown continues, Alexandra Birrell, who has a master's in Mental Health and Psychological therapies and is a trauma sensitive yoga facilitator, gives more tips to look after your wellbeing.
Ms Birrell, from Norwich said: “Place one hand on your belly button and the other hand on your chest.
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“As you breathe, take a moment to notice which hand is moving more.
“When we’re feeling stressed, our breath quickens and becomes shallow (primarily into our chest), which can cause physical symptoms of stress such as a tight chest, breathlessness or a racing heart.
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“To calm your body and support it to feel safe, as you inhale, the hand on your belly should move out away from your spine, and as you exhale, your belly should contract and pull back in.”
Notice where you are
“When we’re feeling anxious about the future, our minds can pull us out of the present moment.
“One way to train yourself to be present is to mindfully look around you and mentally arrive in the place you are in. S
“lowly look all the way around you, behind you and above you, really taking in what you notice.
“To take this a step further, you can tie a statement to your breath: as you inhale, say ‘here’ and as you exhale say ‘now’.
Use your senses
“When you get out into nature, spend a moment with each of your five senses.
“What do you see right now? Perhaps naming several objects that catch your eye.
“What do you hear? There are probably multiple things you can hear at any given time.
“What do you smell? Feel? Taste? Bringing awareness to your senses can help bring you into the present.”
“Practicing balancing shapes can help bring awareness to your body’s connection with the ground, otherwise known as “grounding”.
“If it’s available to you, you can begin by standing on both feet.
“Pressing one foot into the floor, lift your other foot and bring the sole of your foot to the inside calf of your standing leg.
“Take several deep breaths, noticing a sense of sinking into the floor with your exhalation. Notice what it feels like to be physically supported by the ground.”
Legs up the wall
“This pose is known as a stress relieving shape. You can begin by sitting on the floor with one hip touching the wall.
“As you lie down on the floor, swing your legs up the wall so that they are above your torso.
“Allow gravity to support your legs to sink back into your hip sockets.
“Place your hands on your belly and notice your breath moving through your body. Stay here for as long as you need to.”
Take care of your posture
“With many of us working from home much more than we normally do, it’s not uncommon to start to notice difficulties with posture from sitting in an office chair all day.
“When trying to correct posture, most people make the mistake of trying to sit up straight using their middle to upper back muscles.
“But the effects of these corrections don’t tend to last.
“Instead, as you’re sitting at your desk, gently lift your thigh muscles up toward the ceiling. This should have the effect of slightly engaging your core, which stacks your spine upwards.
“This dynamic shape can help improve spinal mobility, especially after sitting for long periods of time.
“If you’d like to try a neck roll, you could take a moment to sit up straight. Begin by taking an inhale, and with an exhale, begin to drop your chin down toward your chest.
“As you inhale, begin to roll one ear over toward one shoulder. With an exhale, roll the other ear over toward the other shoulder.
“Repeat as long as you need, taking time to pause and breathe into any points of tension in your neck. To finish, bring your chin back in toward your chest and slowly lift your head back up.”
Alexandra Birrell can be contacted on Instagram: @embodied_empowerment_project.