Monday, 5 September 2016

Embrace Mindfulness At Work. Is Your Organisation Ready?




Do you think your business could survive without the health and wellbeing of your people? 

I am a strong believer that healthy people are productive people. I can talk about this personally and I know a lot of people agree, that without your health you are very limited. I know what it is like to work in a busy senior role being pulled in all directions, not only does this wear you down, it drains your energy and leads to exhaustion. Add family and personal commitments to this equation and it is clear to see that we are stretching ourselves too much. Life is stressful, so how do we manage this at both the individual and commercial level? And how do you ensure that 'stress' does't damage your business. 

In today’s society, health and wellbeing includes; physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. We are all working harder than ever and stress is common in the workplace. The focus on increased productivity, higher performance, longer working hours and expectations around personal availability, means we are placing ourselves and our businesses at risk if we are not managing wellbeing in its entirety.   

Could mindfulness at work be the answer? If so, how do you embrace it in your business? 

Increased mindfulness can help in the fight against stress at work. Mindfulness has helped me manage stress better, it has increased my awareness, made me more productive, more resilient, have greater clarity and focus and decision making ability. It has also empowered me to look after myself and my needs which assists my own stress management. Basically it has given me the tools to support my own wellbeing. Yes, I still get stressed, I still get angry and I still get upset, but I manage it better and I get over it faster so I move on rather than staying stressed.  

The potential of mindfulness at work is vast, it means that you can have a team of individuals who can manage themselves and be resilient to stress. Mindfulness is a practice of the ‘self’ and therefore, having employees helping themselves, will in turn help your business be healthy and sustainable.   

Below are a few practical ways that you can introduce mindfulness into your business or team: 

  1. Bring mindfulness to the forefront in your health and wellbeing strategy. Create a mindfulness program in your business, this could be; regular meditation and yoga classes or create a quiet space at work. In my corporate classes, I attract 20-30 people for yoga classes and 10-20 people per meditation classes. 
  2. Set up an information session on mindfulness so that your people can be educated on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Earlier this year I was working with another yoga teacher and ran a ‘mindfulness and meditation’ information session within financial services, over 80 people attended (out of an office of 800), so people are genuinely interested. 
  3. Introduce mindfulness through wellbeing forums, blogs or company newsletters to keep the communication channel to employees open on this topic. Start a online wellbeing portal so employees can access information or see class schedules.     
  4. Run pilot classes (yoga and meditation) in your business to see the appetite for mindfulness practices. You will get different people attending meditation to yoga, so if you offer both you are meeting the wellbeing of a range of people. The great thing about running meditation classes is they are short (30 minutes), people don’t need to get changed and the feedback from people is that it makes them more productive in the afternoons.  
  5. Utilise internal programs to promote wellbeing such as; graduate programs, leadership development programs, induction and team building workshops. These are all good places to educate your team on mindful tools and techniques that they can use everyday to minimise stress and enhance their wellbeing. 


How to get results from mindfulness programs at work? 

  • Make your program inclusive, make it open and invite everyone. However also make it optional and not compulsory, not everyone is interested, but as an business you can make it available to your people. People are curious about mindfulness and the impact that it will have on their wellbeing. 

  • Set up a structured communications and marketing plan to run the information sessions and class schedule. Include emails, flyers, promote through corporate newsletters and regular communication channels. 

  • Run your programs in 4-6 week blocks. I like to run meditation and yoga classes in 4-6 week cycles, which also allows for you to monitor your program and keep improving your program and adjust according to other business priorities / activities.  

  • Facilitate mindfulness through your Workplace Health and Safety Team, communications team and if you have yoga teachers working in your business leverage their skills to support the organisations wellbeing. Utilise internal capability as much as possible. 

  • Make mindfulness programs a benefit to your people. Make it part of your employer brand and how you assist your people in looking after themselves as well as giving them the support to deliver superior performance. 


You are managing humans at work and humans needs to look after their wellbeing. The intensity of work is causing health concerns physically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically and is a big risk to individuals and businesses going forward. It’s a good time to ask yourself, are you equipped to manage the wellbeing of your people? 

For further information or to speak to me about mindfulness at work contact kate.yogabella@gmail.com. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Change Your Focus, Change Your Life



'One of the biggest lessons I have learnt in my life is to focus on myself and worry less about what others think. It's what I think of myself that matters the most!' Kate Zourkas


Modern lives can be overwhelming and we can lose focus easily. Since becoming a yoga teacher I feel that my focus has changed for the better and I have written 6 ways in which you can change your own focus and as a result change your life.   


These are simple techniques that you can do every day. It is through being aware and taking accountability for your focus, where you will see the most benefit.  In life, we all have choices and it is incredibly empowering when you make the decision to take ownership of your choices and decisions, it is easier to abdicate responsibility and blame others but when you take charge of your life, you will change your life.


Focus on the positive.


This is an ‘oldie but a goodie’ and will change your life. There is so much going on in our lives now and in the world that you do need to make an effort to be positive. You do have a choice as the moment you choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative your life will change.  What goes on in your head matters, what you choose to think about you attract, so with this law in mind I know I choose to think positively. I have found that positive affirmations and setting intentions really help with creating a positive mindset.    


Focus on yourself, not others.


Growing up, I always looked outside myself and compared myself to others. I wanted a new car because someone else had one or I wanted a promotion because my friend just got one, however this never seemed to make me happy. I made the decision to focus on myself and what I want out of life and my life changed to reflect my focus areas. In fact, I became the leader of my life, rather than the follower.


Do not focus on others as a benchmark to your life, they have their own lessons to learn. Set your own goals, know your strengths and trust that you are where you are meant to be in life. Don't compare to others, use yourself as your own benchmark. Life will get a lot simpler when you focus on yourself as there are fewer distractions. When you stop focusing on everyone else, you create space to focus on you and your needs. It doesn't matter what anyone else think. Work out what you want out of life and go for it!


Be mindful and aware of your own life.


Be more present in your own life. Stress and worry is common in society, so knowing how to manage it so that you don’t engage in stress will have a positive impact on your life. Stress takes up too much space in your life and practicing mindfulness through meditation, quiet time or journaling will be positive changes into your life. Being more mindful will help you manage your mind better, you will be able to flow through situations better without getting caught up in the stress of it.  If you want to learn more about mindfulness view my blog on 'Mindfulness and Meditation, My Personal Return on Investment.


Invest in yourself.


I started to look at myself as an investment. This can be done so many ways, look at anything you do for yourself and your development as an investment. It can be a financial investment, time investment, a reward, a celebration, a break. When you start seeing yourself as an investment, you see yourself differently. How you treat yourself matters the most, treat yourself like YOU are the biggest investment in your life. What will you start doing differently?  


Make your health and wellbeing is priority.


Your health and wellbeing is paramount in life. Everyone is different, so understand yourself and what you need to ensure you are managing your own wellness.  Nourish yourself and fuel your body and mind with nourishing food and thoughts. Look at your diet, water intake, nutrients and see if you need to make changes. Change your focus to your own health and wellbeing and change your life.  


Feed your soul!


Meditate and listen to your inner guidance. Are you doing what your love? What do you want to be known for? Get to know your inner world and connect with your true identity. Focus on what you want to create in life, meditate on it. Write it down and network with likeminded people. It will change your life. When you neglect what you want in life it will cause friction either inner friction when you know you are just not being true to yourself or friction with others because you are frustrated. Feed your soul, make the changes you need to make and see how your life will change.   


It is up to you to make a change if you want improvements in any area of your life; you have the power within you to create the life you want. What will your changes be?

Friday, 29 July 2016

Mindfulness for HR Professionals




The best HR professionals I know have an aurora of calm around them and a super power like ability to glide through even the most stressful or complex situations. So what do they do differently?  

In a word, they are mindful. 

I personally went into HR as I wanted to help people. In 2012, I became a yoga teacher.  Since then I have been able to add a lot more skills to my professional HR career. I have found that increased self awareness, removing my ego from professional situations and being more present in my role has led to better performance and better business relationships.   

As a HR professional, I know how hard it is to be mindful all the time. Most of the time it feels like you are caught between a rock and a hard place. The increase in work intensity and rising pressures of modern life have made me think about the importance of mindfulness in HR and how now more than ever, we need to bring mindfulness in our lives and corporate lives as much as possible. I have found the mindfulness is a super power for HR professionals and can easily by adopted by anyone at any level in their HR journey.  

So what's in it for you? 

Mindfulness has helped me further develop core HR skills; I have more self-confidence, better time management, better judgement and decision making skills, a more balanced and fair view of situations, I am more resilient, I am more productive, I have better business relationships and I have the ability to block out outside noise so that I can purely focus on my role and what I need to achieve.

I talk about mindfulness, yoga and meditation everyday both in my personal and professional lives. The best way I can explain the benefits is to list the benefits that I have  experienced first hand. These include:  
  • More self-confidence, you value yourself more and are clearer on your strengths 
  • Better focus and clarity
  • Better productivity 
  • Better decision making skills 
  • More resilience, you are able to persevere without getting too attached or drained from the situation you are managing 
  • Ability to observe, pause than react. I have learnt to observe and listen more and react less.  
  • Better judgement and non-judgement (while judgement is a critical skill for HR, I have found that sometimes it's HR's role not to judge)
  • Know when to get involved and when not to get involved 
  • Understand yourself better and know what makes you happy. You make better choices that meet your needs
  • Ability to be yourself and bring your whole self to work.  The lines have blurred between personal and professional, so it is really engaging to be able to bring your authentic self to work, this helps in building self-respect
  • You stress less. I feel I need to repeat this one. You stress less as you are more present and worry less about the past or the future. 

What are three things you can do to be more mindful?


I have to admit that there are moments when I do get stressed in HR and I am a yoga teacher. Being aware of stress and the impact it has on me really helps me in my HR roles and I thank my focus on mindfulness for keeping me sane some days. Here are some tips to get you started: 

Put yourself first. 

You are important too! As HR professionals you do put others first and it can be easily drain your energy when dealing with others. So you do need to put yourself first and ensure you are spending enough time reenergising yourself. The key point to remember is that you can't pour from an empty cup, so putting your needs first will help you deliver better to others. Saying 'no' (without feeling guilty) and setting clear boundaries are two ways to put yourself first, high performers do this really well so follow their lead and put your needs first.  

Self-recognition. 

HR doesn't get a lot of positive recognition, like IT you will normally only receive feedback if something goes wrong. Therefore take the initiative to self-promote and self-recognise all the work that you do and the value that you add. Right now think about 3 things you have done really well recently and give yourself the recognition you deserve.  In addition, make sure you make the effort to recognise your hard working colleagues and celebrate when you can. What goes around comes around!  

Set up a mindfulness practice. 

This maybe an obvious one, but to be more mindful it helps to have your own mindfulness practice. This means to have some quiet time everyday where you can reflect and take your attention inwards. Being mindful helps anchor you in the present so that you are more calm and balanced and ultimately stress less. Take a yoga class, write in a journal, meditate or simply close your eyes for 10 minutes a day and see the difference it makes to balancing your mind.    

Your wellbeing and mental health is so important, don’t forget that. In HR we are so busy looking after everyone else's needs that we often neglect our own. I urge you to put yourself first and ensure that your wellbeing is a priority.  

If you want to be a more mindful HR professional, check out my other blogs on ‘The Habits of Highly Mindful People at Work’ or ‘5 Ways to Start Meditating’.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Restoring Balance in your Life



A few people have asked me recently how to create better balance in their lives. These people are professionals, managers and leaders in very successful organisations and they work very hard. They travel for work and spend long hours in an office environment, and are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by stress and work. My background is in the corporate environment so I know the stressed and exhaustion very well and when people mention the word stress in relation to their jobs I get a nervous tick. 

So how do you create better balance in your life when your life seems to be so heavily tipped out of balance?  It is so easy to advise people to stress less (after all how many times have you heard the phrase “don’t stress it’s only work”), but in reality it can be very difficult when you are consumed by you role. Sometimes you are just in it so deep you can’t think logically which creates bigger stresses.  There are also multiple factors to consider when looking at stress and your job, considering most people work because they need the money to live and have career ambitions. 

So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by your job I have written 10 ways to assist in overcoming stress and restoring some balance back in your life.

1)      Try to keep a positive attitude. By keeping things in perspective and being present in your role. Take each day and each situation as it arises. Even when you don’t feel like it pretend, it will pay massive dividends.

2)      Recognise yourself if you feel undervalued. Focus on the value you create in your role. This is really empowering. I was working for an organisation  where I felt I wasn’t being recognised and I decided to flip it so I started to recognise everyone I worked with no matter how small their action, the result was that in a matter of days I was receiving more recognition than I had in years! I created this through my actions and you can too.  

3)      Set clear boundaries. Set boundaries between work and personal time. Decide that you will not work past a certain time, or answer emails or calls in the evening. Setting boundaries helps regain power and will assist in restoring balance in your life.   

4)      Explore flexible work options - what does your company offer you? Flexibility at work has become the norm, so take advantage of options to help you deliver better.  

5)      Rest. Taking time off is so valuable to have holidays/getaways especially if you work a lot. Your body needs the down time to restore and you always return balanced from a holiday. Don’t wait until it is too late, plan ahead and schedule your holidays. A regular meditation practice is always a great way to have a mind break and bring yourself back into balance. People who meditate at work are more productive and stress less.  

6)      Make a plan. Be practical about your situation. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the emotion and exhaustion of work. Set a plan, write down tasks, deadlines and clarify your accountabilities, you may even be able to delegate some of your work.    

7)      Make sure you keep moving don’t just freeze where you are.  If you are going through a tough situation, keep moving forward, don't set up camp and stay there.  

8)      Ensure that there is a balanced value exchange. Some organisations will work you to the bone, so ensure that you are receiving the right amount of value back. Whether that is through financial rewards, flexibility, career opportunities or training ensure you are getting value back for the work you are putting in.

9)      Utilise your support network and vent to them if you need to debrief and vocalise the stress out of your body. It is called getting it off your chest for a reason as it will help you release some of the inner stress and restore more balance.  

10)   Communicate your stresses to those at work that can do something about it. Your manager has a duty of care of you and your wellbeing. If you are overwhelmed by workload; raise it as an issue. I have ended up in hospital in a life threatening situation because I  was overworked in the corporate environment. As much as we like to think we are irreplaceable we’re not. You are replaceable at work, your heath on the other hand is not.   

My rule of thumb is that when works starts to cause more harm than good then it is a good sign to move on to something else. I know that sometimes this might not be part of your plan but after all please keep in mind that you do have a choice. You can restore the balance in your life, acknowledging that you are out of balance is the first step, keep going it can be achieved.  

Monday, 13 June 2016

Habits of Highly Mindful People at Work


 
In my corporate career I work with many different types of people, and the mindful ones always stand out, as they have an ease to how they approach their work, no matter how intense or stressful their job may be. They are usually likeable, calm, show resilience, seem very experienced, wise and have strong leadership skills. So what do they do differently? 

Below is a list of common habits that I have seen from highly mindful people. I have also provided tips on how these habits can easily be incorporated into your daily life so that you can be more mindful in your own work and overall life.

1) They focus inwards. Mindful people have a regular meditation or mindfulness practice. I have worked with many people who have shared their mindful stories with me. Some do morning yoga, morning meditation, they might run or walk through the park or they simply get some 'meditation time' on public transport. No matter what they do, all mindful people spend time focusing inwards. This also means that they have increased awareness of themselves and others. 

When you are at work you are constantly exchanging energy with others and this can be exhausting as you are managing other peoples demands and expectations. If you are a leader of people you have your team constantly taking your energy. Therefore a mindful practice is critical for rebalancing yourself so that you can continue to strive in your job and keep a balance between your body and mind. 

Try it for yourself, commit to just 2 minutes a day of your own mindful practice and work up to 5 minutes a day. Make mindfulness a priority and increase your own level of awareness. 

2) They are kind to themselves. Mindful people fill their own cup first and looking after themselves is a priority. They have self respect and self worth. By being kind to themselves, mindful people set clear boundaries, have clear communication styles, set expectations and can manage their time better. 

Being kind to themselves also means that they have energy to help lift others up as well. Mindful people invest in others and consciously spend time guiding and inspiring others at work.   

3) They observe more. Mindful people have immense awareness of their own thoughts and words and choose them wisely. They talk less and observe more. They don't get caught up in gossip, stress or anything toxic, rather they let it wash over them and move on. 

4) They journal. Mindful people write down their thoughts, insights & goals so that they don't dwell too much on their heads. They get it out and then move on to something else. Once you write it down, it gets out of your head.


5) Simplify, simplify, simplify! Mindful people simplify tasks and problems so that they don't over analyse or complicate anything. Simplicity is so important in mindfulness. Get back to basics. From my experience simplicity is a true super power and should not be underestimated especially in the corporate environment. Great leaders are able to simplify, try it and see the power for yourself. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Use mindfulness to take back your power - WITH GUIDED MEDITATION




We all have an immense amount of inner power within us, and I think why is it then that some of us can feel so powerless in so many different situations? How and why do we give up our inner power?  And when we feel like we have lost our inner power, how do we reclaim it?

Whether you call it inner power, personal power or empowerment, we all have it and I am increasingly finding that the lack of inner power is causing of a lot of frustration or unhappiness. In many conversations recently I have found that the driving force behind peoples issues is that they have unconsciously given up their personal power or they have become submissive to other people's power.

I am a yoga teacher, and in yoga we talk a lot about owning your own space and how important it is as a yoga teacher to hold the space when you are teaching a class. I have taken this concept to all areas of my life, for example; I am an expert at work, I am in expert in yoga, mindfulness and meditation and I am an expert in my family. In each of these roles, I hold my space and to me this means reinforcing my inner power. 




How mindfulness can help
We all know those really calm and wise people who at the same time are really powerful, their inner power radiates from them. What do they do differently? I have listed some tips below on how YOU can be mindful and reclaim your inner power so that it can radiate from you too. You are so powerful and mindfulness can help you unlock this power and help you block out outside noise so that you can just focus on yourself and your own power. Tips include:

Be conscious of your physical presence - Stand tall, strong and confidence. Be aware of your physical presence and posture. This will help you feel empowered and boost your self confidence. Not only will this make you feel good but people will also take notice.

Raise awareness of your own inner power - Be aware of your inner power and if you feel like you have been disempowered - take it back! Set the intention to take back your power and more importantly GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BE POWERFUL.

Set clear boundaries - Set boundaries in your life. If you haven't done this yet, then start. Be assertive about your own personal boundaries and don't feel that you need to push your own boundaries to make others happy (especially if this makes you unhappy in the process).

Lead by example - You can't control other people but you can lead yourself and I have found leading by example really empowering.  There is a lot of strength in backing yourself and leading by example will bring you a lot of credibility and awareness of your own actions.

Choose you battles - Don't try and fight every battle, choose your battles wisely and this can be very empowering as you are choosing where you focus your energy. Some things can just be let go of without having to fight, so choose to go with the flow and don't take on all the battles in your life. Also remove yourself from other peoples battles (they have their own lessons, as do you!).

Short meditation for inner power:
  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position
  2. Close your eyes, feel your eyes soften and loosen your jaw (we hold a lot of stress in the jaw) 
  3. Take 3 deep breaths and feel yourself settling into your body
  4. Choose one or all of these and repeat over in your mind:
  • I am worthy of my power
  • I take ownership of my power
  • I give myself permission to be powerful 
  • Using my inner power helps me to be kind to myself
  • Using my inner power helps me to be kind to others
      5.  In your own time, bring your attention back to your breath and observe how your body is   
           feeling and observe how your mind is feeling
      6. Gently bring awareness back into your physical body and open your eyes.

Being aware of your power gives you a sense of empowerment. Nobody owns your power but you so don't let anyone take it from you. Stand strong and feel your own sense of power and hold your own space. You are worthy and powerful. Believe in yourself.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Mindfulness and meditation - My personal return on investment




I am a yoga teacher and to become a yoga teacher you are asked to meditate and work on your own practice so that you can then teach and guide others. Therefore, mindfulness and meditation forms a large part of my personal practice as well as yoga classes I teach, and personally I have seen some really good results.
I have been researching lately on the return of investment of mindfulness and meditation and how it is being used in the corporate environment. Many organisations in the USA have regular meditation classes or quiet rooms available for their employees and they have only positive things to say about the programs that they have introduced.  Companies like Google have really embraced the mindfulness movement and I think other organisations will follow quite quickly as it is becoming more mainstream and there are clear benefits linked to return on investment.

This has made me really think about what is the return on investment for mindfulness and meditation? And I have come to the conclusion that I can only really talk about it from my own personal experience and the actions that I have taken to improve my mindfulness and the benefits that I have seen firsthand. To me, people generally don’t start on their mindfulness journey to become better leaders or employees, they do it for themselves and to improve their own personal awareness and create their own versions of inner peace.


The three mindfulness actions that I have taken are:
  1.         Firstly, I became more aware of my own thoughts and started to be more mindful about what goes on in my own mind by observing and choosing my thoughts carefully. I want to fill my head with more positivity and reduce the negative noise or mental chatter. I took a step forward in taking ownership of what goes into my head and this is a pretty powerful first step.   
  2.           Secondly, I started to treat myself better; I put myself first and really started to focus my own mind, reactions and opinions. My number one rule is to ‘Be kind to myself’ and I constantly use that to keep myself in line. Inaddition I have learnt how to say ‘no’ and ‘not feel guilty’ (which is easy to write but much harder to action).   
  3.         Lastly, a regular meditation and yoga practice has been the backbone to my mindfulness journey. I started with guided meditations in 2011 and I recommend that to anyone who is starting on their mindfulness journey. Also I tell people to learn how to breathe properly, most of us just breathe into our upper chests and don’t breathe right down into our diaphragm. Learning how to breathe will have a huge impact on your state of mind. Yoga has been an amazing way to improve the balance between my body and mind and really supports me to feel centred. Also, it has been so beneficial as I still work in a corporate role and yoga is fantastic for re-aligning my body.       

What is my own personal return on investment? 

·        Increased time because I stopped filling my life with noise (mental chatter takes up a lot of time and energy and is very stressful)

·        Increased productivity

·        Increased focus, clarity and decision making
 
·        Feeling centred and balanced through most situations. I view stress differently and I feel more like an observer rather than a participant of stress    

·        Increased presence; when I am home I am present, when I am working I am present.  I Focus on what is in front of    me
 
·         I have learnt to let go of things quickly, if I do get angry or stressed I get over it faster and move on   

·        Increased self-esteem and self-empowerment. I feel good about myself and to me this is priceless and where I have had the most benefit.   Feeling good about yourself will open doors and opportunities beyond your wildest imagination. We are all awesome in our own way and we just need to open ourselves up beyond the noise and see it for ourselves.



Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wellness at work - Looking after YOU




The workplace can be a harsh environment, it is filled with different stressors that affect all of us in different ways including; physically, emotionally and mentally. I am honouring all office workers in this blog and how you can look after yourself while you are at work. No matter where you sit on the company ladder you are important and your wellbeing is important so I have put together a few of my own hacks to help you stay well at work and focus more on number one.

Work, for most of us is the reality of our lives and we have to work to earn money and live the lifestyle that we want to live. I have been in corporate roles for 15 years and I know the toll that the workplace has taken on my wellbeing which is why it is now a priority for me. I find that being in an office environment for 40 hours (if not more) per week can be really challenging; the air-conditioning, the lights, the computer screens together with workload expectations impact our wellbeing.

Here are some things that I do to maintain my own wellbeing (both physically and mentally) in an office environment.

      1) Water is so important, stay hydrated and it will help you stay focused and well at work. Sometimes I can't drink that much water myself (especially in winter months), so I have a lot herbal tea. It is also a good excuse to get up from your desk and make a cup of tea.  I also use eye drops as i find my eyes get really dry from air-conditioning and looking at a computer screen. I put eye drops in almost every day to help hydrate my eyes and it has made a huge difference.

2)   Use flexible work options. Most companies now offer a range of flexible work options, ask questions to find out what your workplace offers and take advantage of flexibility at work. This is also important if you are looking for a job ask about the company flexibility practices as it will help your wellness at work. I use flexible work practices (such as working from home) all the time and I still deliver above and beyond in my role. If anything it makes me a better performer.
 
3) Take regular breaks and I don't just mean to go for a walk (which is also important). But take regular holidays or days off so that you can have a break from the office environment. Don't wait until you are too exhausted and overworked till you organise a holiday. Stay on top of it and plan for your wellbeing. Make sure you understand your company cycle and busy periods and organise breaks early so that you can also give your best at work. You need to look after yourself first otherwise no one benefits.

Give your mind a break and ensure you are getting plenty of rest. Meditate when you can to rest and clear your mind and ensure you are getting plenty of sleep so that you can prepare for the next day. My yoga teacher says that 'your day starts the night before', so your wellness depends on quality rest.  

4) Move. Just move as much as you can after slitting in a chair all day long. Whether it is exercise classes, yoga, pilates or walking. Make sure you spend some time each day moving. I do yoga every night (and I am time poor like everyone else), I do 3-5 yoga poses everyday to stretch out my hips, back, legs and arms. My body feels amazing and it prepares me for sleep, it is also realistic for me as it takes 10-15 minutes to do.

You can manage you own wellbeing at work with some planning and focusing more on yourself. You need to make your wellbeing a priority in your life and put yourself first. There is only so much you can do before you reach breaking point physically and mentally so please honour yourself and look after YOU at work and everyone will benefit.          

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Planted in the present, how mindful are you?




Before I became a yoga teacher and before I started to focus on being more conscious about my life, I would have rated my mindfulness a three out of ten. I have always been quite intuitive and aware of myself but I don't think I was very mindful or present.

When I started on my yogic journey, I was blown away by the power of mindfulness and its ability to increase your focus, clarity, decision making skills, calmness and empowerment. Living in the present and being mindful radically reduced my stress and created a space within myself where I could flourish as my body, mind and spirit was firmly planted in the present.

I quickly went from rating myself three out of ten on the mindfulness scale to a seven out of ten. This was just after six months of intensive training to become a yoga teacher, together with a lot of meditation practice and self development. I found that I was a lot clearer with what I wanted out of life, I became extremely conscious about my thoughts and what I 'choose' to think about, and more than anything I felt empowered to be kind to myself.

Mindfulness to me means 'being present', and it can help you in all aspects of your life; relationships, home, career, finances and health. The ability to remain present and mindful will help with any situation you are going through.  

Below are two things that you can start to do RIGHT NOW to bring mindfulness into your life: 

Firstly, be more aware of your thoughts. You may not like your thoughts and your mind might be going at a million miles per hour but just start to be more conscious of your thoughts. Modern living can disconnect us from the power of our minds and we need to remember that WE ARE POWERFUL and what goes on in our heads creates the world around us. I believe that thoughts are energy and what you think about, you attract. 

One of my wise yoga teachers use to say 'you wouldn't let an unwanted guest stay in your house, so why do you let unwanted thoughts stay in your head?'.  From this moment right now, start to observe your thoughts and be more mindful about what is going on upstairs. Start journaling if you want to take notes and notice the magic of your mind. 

Secondly, do something for yourself everyday. No matter how big or small, just do something for you everyday and make sure that while you are doing it you remain mindful that this is something you are doing for you. For example, I was working in a stressful role and to get me through a challenging phase I would get a hot chocolate every afternoon. It made me feel really good as I would give myself a small treat and at the same time it reminded me of my mindfulness time; I was being kind to myself. It could be 5 minutes of meditation, a long hot shower or going for a walk around the block, but the important fact to remember is that you need to be mindful of this act everyday. The best thing about this action is that it makes you focus on yourself and empowers you to be good to yourself everyday. The world will treat you the way you treat yourself, so ensure that it is kind. 

These two actions together with a regular yoga and meditation practice have taken me up the mindfulness scale and able to live a life more firmly planted in the present. If you had to rate your own mindfulness, how mindful are you?

       



  

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Staying Grounded


I, like most people get very caught up in my head and find it very difficult to remain grounded. Even as a yoga teacher and with a regular meditation practice, I really have to focus on being balanced and this has made me more aware of the importance of staying grounded. 

To me, being grounded means drawing the energy from my head down to my feet and to better connect with the earth element. I am head strong and a thinker, therefore I naturally have a lot more energy flowing around my head and I actively need to work on drawing the energy down through my body to my feet to stay grounded. 

Too much thinking, stress, overall modern pressures and what I call lower energies (fear, guilt, insecurity) use a lot of energy and create energy blocks in your body as it restricts the flow of energy. The impact for me is that I get caught up overthinking, over planning, stressing about the past or the future (which as we know is not being present and a yogic faux-par) resulting in stress and anxiety. Most people can relate to this as many of us work in roles where we need to think a lot. Therefore it is even more important for us to stay grounded. 

When we ground ourselves we stay balanced as we are increasing the flow of energy from our head down to our toes and will naturally feel more balanced. My love for meditation means that I am able to give my mind a break and release excess mental energy. 

Do you get headaches, sore head, tired, can’t sleep or are restless, sore neck/shoulders, circulation issues, leg and foot cramps, pins and needles? These are all signs that you need to ground yourself.

So what can you do to help yourself? There are numerous ways to ground yourself, below are a few of my favourites to get your started. 

I use meditation and yoga to help ground myself. The best way I have found to ground myself is through deep breathing. In yoga we call this pranayama which is a breathing practice to increase the flow of breath in your body. If there is one message to take away from this post is to start a regular deep breathing practice. Just being conscious of your breath for 5 minutes a day will change your life. We take our breath completely for granted and without it we wouldn’t exist. Get into the practice of breathing into your diaphragm and down into the base of your belly.  Your whole energy will change once you know how important your breath is.

I have found that sand, salt water, grass and virtually anything earthy helps ground yourself. Sit on the floor at home (I do this all the time!). 

Massage, especially reflexology is amazing, it is all about the feet and helps the flow and circulation in the body. 

Energy healing has had one of the biggest impacts on my life and has helped me draw energy down to my feet and clear blockages in my body. 

PLAYTIME is so important, children do this naturally and as adults we can learn so much from children, so take the time to play. Think about the things that you love to do and make sure you do these more often.  Not only will this help with creating balance in your life but it will make you happier too. 

Once you become more aware of how important staying grounded is in your life you will notice a difference to your overall wellbeing. 


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Five ways to start meditating

Five ways to start meditating 

When I tell people that I am a yoga and meditation teacher, the most common question I get asked is ‘how do you start meditating?' Therefore I thought that this should be my first blog. I work in the corporate environment and I see people everyday that would benefit from meditation. 

Meditation to me is quieting the mind or slowly letting your thoughts drift away so that you can actively rest your mind. For many meditation is really difficult, we live in a face paced and energetic world where we need to be ‘on’ all the time. I often find myself telling people that it is ok to take a break, it is ok to put yourself first and you will be much more productive once you give yourself some mental space. I have put together five practical ways to help you start meditating, these are simple techniques for beginners or anyone wanting to explore different ways of meditation.

 Five different ways to start meditating:

1. Use a guided meditation, this is really good for beginners and there are heaps of meditations available on Youtube, just search for guided meditation and thousands will come up. Youtube is a great resource and easily available. To assist in finding a good guided meditation I use; 
  • Lisa Beachy 
  • Louise Hay 
  • Doreen Virtue 
These are my guided meditations. However, there are so many to choose from, try a few and I guarantee you will find one you like. There are also heaps of meditation apps available through the app store.  

2. Listening to music is a favourite way to meditate. I use Om music, bells or soft music to create a relaxed environment. You can also purchase specific meditation music from iTunes if you want to save it on your phone. Otherwise Youtube is another resource.   

3. A Yoga Nidra is a an excellent relaxation technique and again is readily available on Youtube or apps. I find Yoga Nidra one of the best ways to meditate especially for people that are very tired and time poor as a Yoga Nidra is a great way to re-energise yourself. Yoga Nidra is a great meditation to do during the day (early afternoon) as a pick me up.

4. Breath awareness. Again Youtube is a great reference guide. Just focusing on your breath is really powerful, as humans our breath is our pathway to life and I know that I often forget this. Therefore we need to focus on deep breathing into our diaphragm and belly. When we are stressed we breath only into the upper chest therefore we need to deepen our breath to increase the flow of energy through our bodies. Deep breathing is relaxing and helps with stress and anxiety. 

5. Attend a meditation or yoga class. As obvious as this sounds, there are local classes everywhere that offer different types of yoga and meditation.  Look for a beginners class and please don’t be put off because everyone looks really flexible. Yoga is an inside job so just do it to the best of your own ability. This is one of the main reasons why I became a teacher as it is your own individual practice that matters. Many teachers also offer private yoga or meditation classes if you want to get your own teacher.            

Remember that meditation is a personal experience and many people find it extremely difficult as there their minds are very active. I have found that meditation is a process and you do get better at it over time. Even if you just sit down, close your eyes and observe your thoughts you are making huge headway.  Please don't get frustrated just try it for 5 or 10 minutes to begin with and you can progress in your own time and in your own style.