Much-needed comfort - something that every mind could do with right now 

Torbay Weekly

I started taking yoga classes 15 years ago, in Australia.

I had moved there in search of a healthier lifestyle than the one I had been living in London, and from my very first class in Byron Bay, I was hooked.

The hour or so I spent in that room had a profound effect, and I knew this was something I wanted to do more of.

A few weeks later I set up home in Sydney, and along with my search for work, I began to look for a yoga class.

I soon saw a poster advertising twice weekly evening classes in the church hall opposite my new office.

Those classes became a priority, and before too long I was walking to the next village on Saturday mornings to begin my weekends with yoga too.

Gradually, I noticed myself changing in ways I hadn’t expected.

I became calmer, I was being kinder to myself, and my level of self discipline improved.

After a stressful day I would long to get to a class before meeting friends at the pub, instead of heading straight there.

I became more aware of the food I was eating, and I felt more connected to the world around me.

When I mention yoga to people who haven’t tried it, they often say: “I could never do yoga, I’m too inflexible.”

When it first became popular in western society, the publicised benefits of yoga were mostly physical.

It is great for the body, but the postures were developed to lead the person going through them into a calmer state of mind, ready for meditation.

Yoga, a Sanskrit word, loosely translates as ‘yoke’. You use your breath to move your body and calm your mind, to alleviate tension and relax. It’s all about balance really, in more ways than one.

The idea of spending even a minute alone with my racing thoughts used to terrify me, but now meditation is one of my favourite things.

There’s a myth that it’s supposed to stop you thinking, or help you to control your thoughts, but really it’s about stopping your thoughts from controlling you.

Like anything new and worthwhile, it can take time to feel the benefits, but the sense of calm and clarity and the soothing effect it has on mental fluctuation are well worth it.

There are also proven physical benefits including improved blood circulation and lowered heart rate.

The majority of us have faced dramatic changes to our lifestyles in the past 18 months, and the natural reaction to being able to re enter the world is to return immediately to the fast pace we lived at before.

With rates of anxiety understandably on the increase, it’s more important than ever that we make our mental wellbeing a priority as we transition back into the world.

Now that we’re emerging from lockdown, yoga classes will be starting up again around Torbay, and I really recommend finding one and seeing how it makes you feel.

If you don’t fancy a class, you can still factor some time into your new normal to just appreciate your amazing breath, which is keeping you alive every second of your life without you really noticing it.

Perhaps set a five-minute alarm on your phone, sit comfortably with your back supported, close your eyes and just breathe until the alarm sounds.

Five minutes may seem like an eternity to begin with, but soon you may find yourself sitting for much longer.

Or, you could take some time this weekend, now that we’re allowed to visit our pretty beaches again, to sit beside the sea, gently close your eyes and breathe along with the waves as they roll in and retreat back.

Soon you may find your own inhale and exhale aligning with them.

The sea has moods that vary from day to day and sometimes even from hour to hour, just as we do.

That awareness, I have found, can provide much-needed comfort, and that’s something that every mind could surely do with right now.