Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year: New You

Well, 2012 is about to leap upon us and at this time it's all about new year’s resolutions.
For me, 2012 means continuing my passion for teaching yoga and with it, acceptance. If you don't value and accept yourself, you are always frightened that other people will reject you. To prevent people seeing how unacceptable you are, you keep them at a distance, and so you are always frightened and lonely. If you value yourself, you don't expect people to reject you. You aren't frightened of other people. You can be open, and so you enjoy good relationships.
If you value and accept yourself, you are able to relax and enjoy yourself, without feeling guilty. When you face a crisis, you know that, no matter how difficult the situation is, you will manage. How we see ourselves is central to every decision we make. People who value and accept themselves cope well with life and all that it throws at them.
As I continue on my teaching journey, it has become more and more about helping people to realise all of the above and in doing so, I can do the same. At first people come to my classes to get fit, lose fat and become more flexible. But as things progress within their practice, they learn to accept the limitations of their body and rather than push themselves into postures, they nurture and love their bodies and through the weeks, then months, of learning and practicing, a realisation that they are beginning to love themselves from within comes to the fore. It is quite something to see the transformation within people and only now, through regular teaching, I am really beginning to see people change. Inspiring and humbling.
As well as the physical benefits, through yoga people can regulate and assist their stress levels and mental health. Good mental health isn't something you have, but something you do. To be mentally healthy you must value and accept yourself. This means that:
  • You care about yourself and you care for yourself. You love yourself, not hate yourself. You look after your physical health – eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy yourself.
  • You see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. You don't have to earn the right to exist. You exist, so you have the right to exist.
  • You judge yourself on reasonable standards. You don't set yourself impossible goals, such as 'I have to be perfect in everything I do', and then punish yourself when you don't reach those goals.
So as I prepare to restart my classes after the festive break, I am setting myself a resolution to continue to assist those who most need it, in my classes, a way of learning acceptance and therefore moving forward in a more positive manner in the new year.

Yoga however, is not for everyone, so here are some top tips to help you into a positive mindset for 2012:
  • be active: exercise releases endorphins, and is proven to be beneficial for your mental wellbeing. You don't have to be an athlete - just a gentle stroll in your local park helps decrease feelings of depression. One habit naturally slim people share is their ability to stay in motion. Try to inject each day with more activity (adults should aim for 30 minutes daily). The opportunities are endless once you've developed the right mindset.
  • go green: take advantage of the natural ecotherapy available on your doorstep. Connecting with nature boosts your mood and can help lift your mood. So do some gardening or head out for a walk in the park.
  • try something new: new hobbies can exercise your mind, you might even suprise yourself. 
  • give back: helping your community can be just as rewarding for yourself as those you choose to help. 
Finally, to get into the swing of looking forward with a healthy attitude (start as you mean to go on, and all that..!), here are ideas on resolutions:
  • control your portions: want to downsize your figure? Start downsizing your dishes. Studies show using smaller plates and bowls promote weight loss because they help to curb overeating. 
  • slash sodium consumption: besides contributing to water retention (think bloat!), sodium can raise blood pressure. Processed foods contain the most, so make sure to read labels. Lower sodium diets are linked to decreased risk of heart disease, but are also associated with lower hypertension and weight management.
  • increase antioxidants: when your body breaks down food it produces molecules called free radicals. Cigarette smoke and radiation also produce free radicals. Over time, the damage from these substances can result in conditions like infection, cancer, inflammation, and heart disease. That's where antioxidants step in. (Once you cut an apple, it begins to brown, but if you dip it in orange juice, which contains vitamin C (an antioxidant), it stays white). You can defend your body the same way by including rich sources in your diet. Pomegranates, coffee, and even chocolate contain antioxidants.
  • stop smoking: for smokers, quitting may be the hardest resolution to stick with because it is so challenging. If you consider the benefits, and take advantage of today's resources, this could be the year you successfully become a nonsmoker.
  • floss: like many people, you may not know that bacteria in your mouth can lead to serious problems if you neglect oral health. You may also be surprised to learn that during routine exams, your dentist can spot indications of diabetes and heart disease. One simple thing you can do to head off bacteria is floss your teeth.
  • wear sunscreen, all year round: sun exposure affects everyone. Most skin cancer develops after age 50, though sun damage starts at an early age. The sun's rays are also behind brown spots, and can make wrinkles appear before their time. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, even in the winter, anywhere skin is laid bare to the elements.
Whatever you resolve for 2012, having healthy expectations for yourself is important to both your physical and mental health. Obviously, that's easier said than done. A mean-spirited inner-critic can ruin relationships, keep you from reaching personal goals, and cramp your ability to be an active participant in your life. So, make sure you are kind to yourself.

I wish you all, the most prosperous of years, filled with all good things. May it be happy, healthy, lucky and loving.

Namaste (the divinity in me bows to the divinity in you).

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