Posts tagged stress
What is Mindfulness?

What Is Mindfulness?

mindfulnessDo you keep hearing the word 'mindfulness' and wonder what the heck everyone's on about? It'd be hard to ignore all of the press attention that mindfulness is getting right now, with recent articles in The Guardian, Huffington Post and The Times. You've no doubt heard about initiatives promoting mindfulness in schools, mindfulness in the workplace, mindful eating... even mindfulness for pets (no kidding)!

So what is all the fuss about? What actually is mindfulness, and why should you be doing it? Here is our simple guide to get you started.

1. Yes, mindfulness is meditation! Mindfulness is a secular (non-religious) form of meditation which can be used by everyone. But don't worry, you don't have to sit on the floor cross-legged if you don't want to - mindfulness practice can happen anytime, anywhere.

2. How does mindfulness work? Most of us don’t realise that our daily lives are dominated by distraction and mind chatter. And that distraction and mind chatter winds up being the force that drives us much of the day in terms of what we do, what we react to, and how we feel. Mindfulness teaches us simple practices to move beyond this, bringing calmness, focus, clarity and inspiration.

3. What do mindfulness practices involve? A typical exercise might involve mindfully eating a square of chocolate or a single raisin. Other exercises involve focussing fully on your breath as it enters and leaves your body, observing thoughts as they arise and practising letting them come and go with ease, without engaging with them.

4. Will mindfulness stop my life from being so stressful? Mindfulness won't get rid of life's stresses and pressures. It will, however, radically alter the way you handle them! It helps us to recognise and move away from our habitual reactions, enabling us to respond to events with calmness and ease.

5. Where's the proof that it works? Mindfulness has been subject to over 600 scientific studies, such has been the academic community's interest in figuring it out. Due to its track record it is now widely used in the NHS as an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Click here to find out more about the science of mindfulness.

6. Ok, I'm convinced. How can I get started? If you'd like to dip your toe into mindfulness our 4 week Mindfulness ABC course is a great place to start. Or if you want to really get stuck into this practice we're running the acclaimed 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course later this month. We also work with companies looking to incorporate mindfulness into their wellbeing programmes. Email to find out more about mindfulness can benefit your organisation.

On Balance Hermione Fairbairn

Hermione Fairbairn: On Balance


Finding balance is central to Yoga in the same way it is central to fulfilled and happy lifestyle. 'Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony' (Thomas Merton).'

However, in the same way that finding balance in life is not a static achievement, in yoga you are also continually working at balancing not on the one-off achievement of being balanced. This is constant process of regulating, reconfiguring and adapting. Working with this ongoing and constantly changing process (not against it) is essential to any success. Let each pose be a balance of effort and engagement, and softness and grace (Sthira Sukham Asanam). Find focus, relax into it then equally importantly, embrace falling and get back up...this works for life too!

Just observe how wobbling strikes the ego and draws you instantly away from your inward focus altering your mode of mind towards criticism and comparison. It feels very public, and we are quick to direct judgement. 'Why can't I do it like I did it last week?', 'What's wrong with me today?'. The point however is...'Simply to be with yourself, however you are in that moment. To smile, breathe and go slowly' (Thich Nhat Hanh).

In life, we need to mindfully and graciously accept that things change, we have a part to play in how things unfold but not control. Finding ts state of balance at any one time is not a 'forever' state. We need to let go and accept that things can't always be the way you want them to be. In more practical terms, perhaps the aim of arriving somewhere obtainable, livable and lasting is more likely to be a workable balance.

A further challenge is to balance the doing with the being. Without this, life easily gets unsteady. Taking time to be attentive, sense and really feel, has been shown to really help balance our mental state.

In our own Yoga practice, balancing on the mat helps us deal with challenges and setbacks off the mat, to bounce (or to balance!) back. This is where the real yoga begins. Hermione Fairbairn




Hermione Fairbairn teaches Yoga Flow at Camyoga. Her classes incorporate a Jivamukti flavour, elements of mindfulness practice and an eclectic soundtrack. Hermione is currently on maternity leave, but to discover Yoga Flow at Camyoga, click here to view our full schedule.


Meditation at Work: So Good We've Made It Compulsory!

Meditation at Work: So Good We've Made it Compulsory!


Here at Camyoga we don't just teach yoga, and teach teachers how to teach yoga, we also go into businesses to help them discover how they can better help their employees to live happy, full lives. This is great for companies in terms of productivity and profit and importantly, it's fantastic for employees' wellbeing. Those of you who are regular visitors to Camyoga will know that our own staff are pretty enthusiastic and knowledgable when it comes to yoga, mindfulness and meditation practices. What you might not know is that as well as attending any yoga classes we like for free, Camyoga's staff also get together on Tuesday mornings to meditate as a group. We jokingly refer to this as "compulsory meditation" but, let's face it, we're all so glad to be doing it!

By taking twenty minutes out of our day, no matter what we are doing or how busy we are at our desks, we tune in with the present moment and with each other. And you know what? It feels great. No matter what kind of morning we've been having, meditating together enables us to press the 'reset' button, to momentarily step back from the reactive behaviour which dominates so many workplaces ("Everything is urgent! Hurry, hurry, hurry! High stakes! Go go go!") and to act (or not act) from a considerate place, always mindfulness of our ultimate goal - to help more people do more yoga.

The amazing thing about meditation is that, like yoga, it just works! Set aside ten, twenty, thirty minutes for practice, and you will see the benefits. It's setting the time aside that's usually the stumbling block, right? Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, is someone who understands just how vital and effective setting aside this time can be:

It's not just the number of hours we sit at a desk in that determines the value we generate. It's the energy we bring to the hours we work. Human beings are designed to pulse rhythmically between spending and renewing energy. That's how we operate at our best. Maintaining a steady reservoir of energy -- physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually -- requires refueling it intermittently. - Arianna Huffington

Does your workplace offer a wellbeing programme? What are the key stress factors at play where you work? We'd love to hear what you think, so please leave your comments below!


To find out more about Camyoga's Mindfulness in the Workplace programmes, training and events, please click here. Call us on 01223 847930 to have a chat about how we can help you today.

How is yoga good for you? Let me count the ways #3

Stress and pain How are you? How many times a day do you hear and answer this very question? I am well, how are you? Oh-Kay, you? Been better, been worse.

Have you ever thought of answering honestly: ' just busy' or 'stressed'? And have you wondered about how in today's very Western society we consider busy and stressed the 'norm'?

The thing is, people who react poorly to stress are most likely to react poorly to pain. However, research shows that people who do yoga cope better with stress. More specifically, yoga practitioners had higher pain tolerance and felt less pain compared to other participants who did not do yoga. When subjected to a thumbnail test, fMRIs showed that activity in areas of the brain associated with the pain response (Smith, 2008).

Thus, the study concluded that yogis can regulate their stress, and consequently, their pain responses.