By Claudia Brown 

28th June 2017

I’m delighted to develop this advice column with the Good Guru – the idea is to offer suggestions and tips to inspire you to become more content with your life and be the happiest version of yourself.   I’ve been teaching yoga for 4 years and I write regularly for Om Yoga Magazine and recently ran a workshop at the Om Yoga Show in Manchester.  As a yoga teacher, I began noticing how many people, particularly women in their 30’s and 40’s, who were stressed out, worn out, exhausted and fed up!  I always include breathing exercised and meditations in my classes, and I have expanded that into day retreats, focusing on giving tasters of a wide variety of techniques and tips that people can take away with them to use when the going gets tough. Each section of this blog will give you an insight into my own journey towards building a better balance in my life and improving my overall health and wellbeing.  It’s an ongoing process and I’m still learning all the time but hopefully you will discover that it can be easy and straightforward to make small improvements every day to become brighter and happier! I’ve gone from the stressed corporate life to a self-employed yoga teacher and that Monday morning dread is now a thing of the past.  I’m not suggesting for a minute that this is what you need to do, but I’m really looking forward to sharing with you some ideas, tips, products and ways to form healthy habits which can take you from stressed to chilled, and from anxious to achieving a bit more balance.   This advice series is for women all ages (I’m a ripe and juicy 44) who want to work towards better health and wellbeing, achieving balance and contentment.  I’ll always be open and honest and I’m looking forward to connecting with you and sharing, tagging, liking and retweeting your stories and messages – so JUST BE KIND TO YOURSELF and let’s get started.  

My Mind and Me 

My mind – sometimes it’s World War 3 in there and other times it is as calm as a still pond.  But not often!  I’ve always had a busy mind and I’ve found a few things that can really help to quieten it down. I would like to stress that I’m talking about mental wellbeing rather than mental health – advice on that needs to come from trained medical professionals.  But I am able to share with you some things that I find useful to help me relax and release the stresses of the day. If you are suffering with mental health issues or you are supporting someone who is, then please follow this link for advice and support   https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/supporting-someone-else/#.WUkzvTPMxcA

Meditation sometimes gets a bad rap!  I truly believe that when the majority of people think about meditation, they think of sitting cross legged with their hands in chin mudra (first finger and thumb touching) and chanting OM.  Ok, so that’s one way to do it and it works for some people, but there are lots of other ways to do it! Another misconception is that meditation is supposed to ‘empty the mind.’  This is impossible.  The idea of meditation is that it helps to quieten the mind, and gives you a break from all that noise that constantly reverberates around in our heads and can get really, really irritating.   I always suggest that a first point of call for meditation virgins is an app called Headspace.  You can try it out for free and it is the most popular meditation apps in the world. Have a quick listen to founder of Headspace Andy Puddicombe talk about meditation during a Ted Talks  https://www.ted.com/talks/andy_puddicombe_all_it_takes_is_10_mindful_minutes?language=en

“Next time, or the first time, you meditate don’t give yourself a hard time about it.  Just go with the flow and see what happens.  Be kind to yourself and don’t let the inner critic take over."

Another method is Gong meditation.  The science behind this is amazing and if you can get yourself to a gong bath then do it, if not you can access it online. Gong meditation is perfect for stress reduction and improving the quality of your sleep, it clears the nerve endings and regenerates the parasympathetic system which then sends relax messages to all the organs. It regulates the rebuilding functions of the body and it is vital for handling stress since it coordinates the recovery period from stress. For further information head to one of the best gong centres in the country,  The Chiron Institute in Stoke  http://www.chironuk.com    For me, gong meditation is my go-to to quieten my mind when it is going at 100mph.  Just give it a try you won’t regret it.  

The more focused and clear the mind is, the more productive that you will be in your every day life – for some more tips on boosting your productivity follow this link  http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/10-things-you-can-every-day-benefit-your-brain.html

For some people, the most effective form of meditation is to get out into the fresh air and walk and/or run, running with music can be particularly helpful.  Singing along to the music, either when running or when driving in your car can really help to switch off the internal dialogue.

Mindfulness is a current trend and rightly so.  A lot of people ask me about mindfulness so I’m taking myself off to Oxford University in the summer to study more about Mindfulness, and I’m currently knee deep in course reading – useful so far have been ‘Mindfulness, an 8-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world’ by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, and also Ruby Wax has written an excellent book called, ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’.   A definition of mindfulness that I like is this, “Mindfulness is about putting down our juggling balls for a little bit.  It’s about embracing the beauty of mono-tasking.” Mary Elizabeth Williams, Why every mind needs mindfulness, Time Special Edition, Mindfulness The new science of health and happiness How many of us have bragged about being able to multi-task?  I don’t anymore because it was wearing me out, well it was wearing my brain out! Good Guru offer an excellent supplement that can help with stress relief - -  https://www.thegoodguru.com/good-stress-relief which contains botanicals to support the adrenal glands, siberian Ginseng to increase mental alertness and improve memory, Magnesium, Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 all help to reduce fatigue and L-Theanine supports a relaxed yet alert state of mind without drowsiness. 

Not being able to sleep can also cause a lot of us problems.  One way to tackle this is to find a yoga nidra class.  Nidra – which translates as conscious sleep, is a true gift to the stressed and exhausted.  Yoga nidra is a powerful technique in which you learn to relax consciously.  It induces complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation and is a state of consciousness when you are not asleep or awake, and neither is it concentration nor hypnotism.  For free yoga nidra downloads and more information on this transformative practice head to  www.yoganidranetwork.org

The Good Guru can also help you to improve your sleep – take the Good Sleep supplement which contains L-Theanine to improve quality of sleep, Lemon Balm helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep, and 5-HTP increases serotonin levels to help restore healthy sleeping patterns   https://www.thegoodguru.com/good-sleep/

 If you are suffering with mental health issues or you are supporting someone who is, then please follow this link for advice and support   https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/supporting-someone-else/#.WUkzvTPMxcA

I would like to take this time to kindly advise you to consult your healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program.  The Good Guru has an amazing opportunity for you lucky readers to win a luxury treat break for 2 - Enter Now - Link www.thegoodguru.com/feel-good-summer-competition

Please feel free to share with me any feedback, comments as I am always happy to hear how readers are getting on! Thanks for reading, I will look forward to hearing from you all and don’t forget to look out for the next advice article post Body & Spirit.

Claudia Brown

Yoga teacher and Om Yoga magazine columnist and writer