“I’d love to do yoga but…….”

At least once a week I will hear someone say – “I would love to do yoga but I am so in flexible, I can’t even touch my toes”….

Yoga seems to have (yet another) pre-conception, that it is only for flexible people to strut their stuff and show off on the mat. There’s an illusion that to do yoga you need to be a zenned out ballerina on a mountain with her leg behind her head omming away in bliss…. This is not yoga, well at least not for 99.99% of the yogi’s I know! So this post is for all you stiff people out there, to strip away the excuse of not being flexible enough to give yoga a go and give you a reason to try it!

Why You Don’t Need to be Embarrassed:

One of the first things we learnt in my Yoga teacher training, was “don’t worry about the stiff rugby player at the back of the room injuring themselves, worry about the flexible dancer at the front of the room”. Yoga is a controlled discipline, and requires strength and control. A lot of injuries occur from hyper-extension and relaxing to far into a posture, repeating this over time without using correct muscle tone and control. Flexible people are often more prone to injuryin Yoga, even those trained in other athletic disciplines, as they can be used to relaxing and letting their body go into full range in poses. This is a lot more risky than the stiff people who aren’t anywhere near their toes!

If you are stiff your teacher may try to adjust you to get you more comfortable and help get you into the right position to feel the stretch correctly. As teachers we see so many different bodies every day and no pose looks the same in two people are the same. Yoga is not a competition. The teacher is not judging you, they will however help you to use control and not force or push so you can find your version of the pose.

Not all Stiffness is Muscular:

Another common question from students who have been working for some time on flexibility, is why has progress stopped? Sometimes you just need more time and sometimes this can be due to bone structure which plays a big role in your body’s range of motion. Our bone structures are all unique, continuing to grow and adapt to give us a strong framework for movement. When you are working on a pose and you no longer feel the stretch but you cannot get further the most likely cause of this is compression of the bones. Compression and bone structure has particular impact on the ball and socket joints – hips, and shoulders and also on the vertebrae with the range of motion in your back bends. The moral of this information is, don’t get too fixed on an end result for your flexibility. All progress is progress and its all about exploring the body and finding your version of the poses, and creating space and comfort in your body.

Why You Should be Coming to Class:

Yoga builds strength, endurance, spacial awareness, stability, balance and flexibility. For every flexibility based pose in class there will be a balance or a strength pose. Yoga is more than just flexibility, it is a well rounded practice with benefits for every body and every level of fitness.

If you are stiff when you start practicing, you have the added advantage of being able to see real progress relatively quickly. With a regular practice you will  quickly notice some poses becoming easier, getting a little deeper with each class. Whenever starting anything new seeing progress is a great motivator so don’t let yourself be put off by the very reason that will keep you coming back for more.

Using the excuse I am too stiff for Yoga, is therefore a little bit of a contradiction… Plus if you have ever watched your grandparents putting on their socks you will know, that extra inch you can reach towards those toes may mean a lot more to you in 30 years time than it does right now, so it may be good to get that work in early!

What Are you Waiting for…

If you are feeling ready to get on your mat and give it a go, check out my timetable at www.limyoga.co.uk for my classes.

If you have read all of the above and you still think this yoga thing is not for me, then no problem, but the next time someone asks you why, hopefully you’ll think of a better reason than because you can’t touch your toes!

Setting boundaries for Self Respect

As we enter the second month of 2020, how are you feeling? Are those resolutions holding strong? Are you glad dry January is over? Have you faced challenges already, or is 2020 a breeze so far? However your experience of the past month has been, it’s always worth re-committing to any selfcare resolutions or promises we’ve made to ourselves, so we can ensure the positive changes we might have made are long-lasting and authentic. Whilst February might see those ‘quick fix’ resolutions and unrealistic expectations of ourselves fall away, the second month of the year often sheds light on where we really need to focus our attention. Our February intentions are all about setting boundaries and working on showing yourself some love.

Monthly Mantra:

“I unconditionally, respect,

honour and love myself”

With Valentine’s day popping up on February 14th, there’s a lot of love-talk in the air, so how about we focus on our own self-talk, self-respect and set some boundaries to show ourselves some love? The more confident we become in setting boundaries with regard to work, technology, social life and stress-relief, the more we show ourselves that we really do respect ourselves, thus triggering the world to respect you and your boundaries too. Want to show someone you love them this February? Start with YOU first.

Seven Self-Respect Boundaries To Set

Opt For Airplane Mode:

Let’s start with a relatively easy boundary to set in place; switching your phone to airplane mode at night. If you’re not already doing this, you’ll notice the benefits as soon as you press that button. Staring at phone screens late at night not only plunges us into a social media hole of comparison and anxiety at a time when we should be relaxing and sleeping, but the light from the screen also prevents us from producing melatonin, an essential sleep hormone. Pretty much all screens emit a blue light-wave that prevents us from experiencing optimal sleep, so keeping phones out of the bedroom and away from your eyes can not only prevent a night-time scrolling session, it can physically help you re-set your sleep cycle too.

No More After-Work Emails:

If you’re passionate about your job, self-employed or in the midst of career anxiety, truly ‘switching off’ from work can be difficult. The thing is though, when we start feeling overwhelmed by our work, it becomes far less enjoyable, and we end up feeling as though ‘down-time’ is non-existent. Doing something that takes you away from your phone and laptop after work can be an effective way to create that boundary between work and leisure time, and means you’ll stop the habit of checking those emails constantly. Go for a walk, head to your local yoga class, read a book or cook dinner from scratch (all without your phone). Do something you find immersive so your mind is fully engaged.

Push Off Push-Notifications:

Do we really need to know every time someone comments on a photo or ‘likes’ an Instagram post? Constantly receiving push notifications from social media and emails is like having someone nagging at us 24/7. Those beeping, pinging sounds and flashing screens were made to get our attention, and indeed they do; each time we get a notification, we get a little hit of stress, demanding we stop whatever we’re doing and react. Not only do these notifications prevent us from being truly present with friends and family, they disempower us and virtually control where our attention and energy goes. Once we turn those notifications off, we regain the power to choose where our attention is placed.

Make Mornings Matter:

A non-digital boundary now, and one that can make a huge difference to the whole day. How we begin the day sets the tone for how we’re likely to feel the whole week. Hitting the snooze button, rushing around the house and turning up for that morning meeting late in a state of guilt-ridden panic puts us on the back-foot, so we’re likely to spend the rest of the week in a worse mood than necessary. At a time in which so many of us complain about ‘not having enough time’, we can break that perception and habitual thought pattern simply by getting up ten or twenty minutes earlier to start the day at a slower pace.

Say No:

FOMO is real, but more and more of us are now experiencing the pleasures of JOMO instead (the ‘Joy Of Missing Out’). A full calendar and ‘busy’ lifestyle might seem enviable on the outside, but feeling busier than necessary with no time to simply be can seriously take its toll on physical and mental health. If you find yourself always saying ‘yes’, perhaps reflect upon why this is, and whether all the ‘yes’s’ are really worth it. So much of the time, a fear of saying no indicates we’re acting from a place of ‘lack’ (i.e. feeling unworthy, anxious and with deeply rooted imposter syndrome). Saying no to the things you really don’t want and don’t need to do are a liberating way to show yourself you care, and show others you have your priorities right.

Make Mental Health Non-Negotiable:

If your mind can be a little wobbly at times, you’ll know how important it is to make sure you’re doing things that keep your wellbeing in balance. Whether it’s a chat with a friend, a morning run, time spent in silence or a daily meditation practice, doing the things that keep your mind healthy means you’ll be far more resilient in the face of challenges, and have far more energy to give in life.

Drop Other People’s Emotional Baggage:

If you’ve always been the ‘shoulder to cry on’ or the ‘listener’, its likely you’re also the one carrying everyone else’s emotional baggage, as well as your own. Emotional baggage can get very heavy and cumbersome over time, eventually engulfing us entirely so we’re no longer aware of who we are without it. Being a good friend or family member by listening to others is what community is for, but the way we do it can make or break us. Two words are vital when it comes to compassionately listening but not absorbing others’ issues: loving and Listen and love all you can, then drop the issue and get back to focussing on the things you can control in your own life. Some people find creating an imaginary cloak or circle around them before entering into a heavy situation helpful, cultivating an energetic barrier that prevents your energy from being zapped.

“January is a time for quiet contemplation and much needed rejuvenation”

As we emerge into a New Year, bleary eyed and three boxes of Quality Street down, the long cold months of January and February looming ahead can seem like a daunting prospect. To some people anyway. I happen to love this time of year. Once the crowds return home and the incessant consumerism ceases, this month arrives as a much-needed pause – an opportunity for rest which I’ve always found refreshing after the decadence and debauchery of December. No forced fun, no five gold rings, no mulled wine or mince pies. Time to breathe.


Of course, there’s the small matter of heading back to work after two weeks of binging and watching box sets. Getting up in what feels like the middle of the night and hauling yourself into the office is never easy – but in spite of the unwelcome crash back to reality, January is still a time for quiet contemplation and much needed rejuvenation. Unlike most normal people, I adore the cold, dark evenings – it’s as if they were made for curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a packet of hobnobs and a brooding Scandinavian thriller

From now until March, my free time is just that – free. I plan to read the books that have been on my bedside table for the best part of a year, to take long walks and listen to podcasts – to rest, the way nature intended.


Rest, I should specify, isn’t code for being lazy or doing sod all. It’s not about lying on the sofa gawping at Bargain Hunt because you can’t be bothered to change the channel. It’s intentional. It could mean slowly stirring a risotto to enjoy with a glass of wine, instead of darting into Tesco Express, picking up a ready meal and shoving it in the microwave before diving back into your emails. It doesn’t mean staying in bed all day or never exercising. It means recognising when and how you need to unwind and doing exactly that. That might mean a jog through the park one frosty morning or a night in with a novel (probably more likely to be the latter…)

Intentionally investing in rest – not seeing it as an indulgence but a necessity – is integral to our health, both physically and mentally. Any athlete training for an event will tell you rest days are just as important as high energy workouts – the body must recover if it is to get stronger. If we work hard and don’t take the time to enjoy quality rest, we’ll eventually break.

I feel remarkably better if I am well-rested. I’m more pleasant to be around too: don’t snap at my husband, am more patient, more decisive, my skin looks healthier, I feel energised and alert. My mind, which so often whirrs as I try to go to sleep, feels content and calm if I’ve managed to wind down. Rest also makes me better at all the things I do during unrest – I can work more effectively, write more eloquently, even read more efficiently. Some people believe stress and overwork are the keys to success, but I think rest is equally important. What’s the point in climbing the mountain if you don’t get to stop and appreciate the view?


When it whooshes in, ripping away the tinsel and wiping out the cobwebs, January offers the perfect time to invest in our rest. It’s a glorious yet underrated time of year during which we are given full permission to take care of ourselves after a month of binge drinking and boxed chocolates. For me, it’s not about dieting or re-inventing myself – it’s about being kinder to myself and recognising when rest is required.


Nature too, is enjoying a much-needed break. Colours are muted and trees are bare, but if you manage to pull on your jumper and venture out to the park, you’ll see snowdrops are beginning to break through the undergrowth – the first sign spring is on its way.

Soon daffodils will be swaying in the breeze and delicate cherry blossom will adorn all the trees. Soon the sun will sit higher in the sky and days will be longer. Soon you’ll barely be able to walk through the streets of Soho without rubbing shoulders with beer swigging suits enjoying after-work drinks in the sun. Soon the leaves will start to crisp up again, turn amber and fall from the branches. Soon blackberries will bejewel the hedgerows and the air will turn crisp.

Soon it will be Christmas once more and the chaos will ensue again. But now nature rests – and so should we.

Can’t stop…too busy!

Being busy all the time is part of the way we live. But, whether gardening, reading or spacing out on the sofa, taking time to rest is just as important

I’m not very good at resting. More generally, if someone asks me how things are going, my stock answer is, “Fine, busy, too busy really.” But while this claim feels true of my life, how much is it also a claim to status? If you say you are busy, then it implies you’re important, you’re in demand. As the time-use researcher Jonathan Gershuny puts it, busyness has become “a badge of honour”.

In contrast to the 19th century, when the upper classes were happy to flaunt their idleness, in the 21st century it is work and not leisure that gives us social status. Think of celebrities constantly taking on new projects and posting everything they do on Instagram.

I’m surely not alone in yearning for a state where I’ve done everything I need to do, where all the items on my to-do list are neatly ticked off, and at last I can relax, with nothing hanging over me. Jobs done. Worries over. The problem is that I not only fail to reach this blessed state, but I constantly say “yes” to new projects and additional demands.

 We yearn for rest, but feel anxious that we’re being lazy

At the heart of our attitude to rest is this ambivalence: we yearn for rest, but then feel anxious that we’re being lazy. We feel we’re not making the most of our lives and really should be doing something. And these days, for most of us, “doing something” is defined very narrowly. It means, being busy. And not just some of the time, but all of the time.

Yet as far back as Socrates we have been warned of the barrenness of a busy life. If we’re busy all the time, life lacks essential rhythm. We miss out on the contrasts between doing and not doing. Of course, the art of rest does not lie in replacing constant busyness with total inactivity. If you are unemployed or have depression, enforced rest is far from relaxing.

The state we want to reach is where we’re active and engaged a lot of the time, but we have proper breaks away from it all. Rest without guilt, rest without stress.

I wondered whether other people found it hard to rest, too, and decided to find out not just what a few people thought, but what, as it turned out, 18,000 people from 135 countries thought. In 2016, a group of psychologists from Durham University designed a survey called the Rest Test, which was launched on the All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4 and Health Check on the BBC World Service.

They discovered that the sense of experiencing a rest deficit is widely shared. Two-thirds of the people who chose to fill in the survey said they would like more rest. When asked what rest meant to them, they often used words such as restorative, sublime or precious, but they also used words like guilty and irritating.

If a lack of rest is a shared problem, is there a common solution? Can we learn from each other how to rest more and rest better?

Sometimes it’s only by exerting your body that you can rest your mind

To make one thing clear, the rest I’m referring to is not sleep. I’m talking about any time while you are awake that feels restful. This could mean lying on the sofa staring into space, but it could mean something more active. The most popular restful activity in our survey was reading. Other people chose activities that might not be seen by some as restful at all. In the Rest Test survey, 38% of the respondents said they found walking restful, another 8% listed running. Sometimes it’s only by exerting your body that you can rest your mind. People who do more exercise believe they get more rest, and in fact they do – they reported more hours of rest in the past 24 hours than people who exercised less. The point is that a restful activity doesn’t have to involve lazing around; it can involve intense exercise, but crucially it must help to relax, refresh and restore you.

It was clear that I had to find things that were restful to me personally. I am more of an active than an inactive rester. I’ve never been one for holidays that involve more than one day lying on the beach or lazing by the pool. I soon get fidgety and want to do some sightseeing.

At home, my choice is walking. It does, of course, require some effort  and a little exertion but, I find being outside instantly restful. Within moments of putting on my trainers, stepping outside and feeling the sun (or more often than not, rain!) on my face, I feel better. By the time I’ve hit the corner of my street, I am relaxed and happy.

 I’ve reframed my resting time outs as a way of protecting my mental health

So now I prescribe myself at least 15 minutes of walking every day. In the past I would have felt guilty about being away from my planning, but now I’ve reframed the time out as a way of protecting my mental health and enhancing my wellbeing. Although I have slightly less time to work, I return to my task feeling calmer and I end up being more productive.

In fact, I probably should make myself take longer breaks, though it’s hard to prescribe the exact amount of rest each of us should have. In the Rest Test, wellbeing levels were highest in those who had rested for between five and six hours the previous day, with levels dipping again if people rested for more than that time. To me, five hours of rest seems like a lot.

Yet it might depend on how I am defining different activities. I spend quite a lot of time driving between classes. Now I try to view this time not as wasted, but as an opportunity to rest. Similarly, when I get into the long queue at the supermarket, I know reframe that as an opportunity to take a 10-minute break during which no one can demand anything of me and I’m free to let my mind wander. If all this time is counted, along with my obvious resting periods, such as reading, or listening to podcasts, (a personal favourtie!) then I’m getting closer to the optimal time.

I’m still busy, of course, and probably always will be, but I’ve learned to take rest more seriously, to view it not as a thing to do when everything else is done, but as an essential part of life.



Is it beginning to feel a bit like Stress-mas?!

The festive period is meant to be a time for getting together, enjoying each other’s company, exchanging presents and having a good time.  Unfortunately, this time of year can also be the most stressful for all manner of reasons. So, I would like to introduce you to my daily mantra “10 Commandments to Reduce Stress”. Repeat daily or, as often as required!!

  1. Thou shalt not be perfect or even try
  2. Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people
  3. Thou shalt leave undone things that ought to be done
  4. Thou shalt not spread thyself too thin
  5. Thou shalt learn to say “NO”
  6. Thou shalt make time for thyself
  7. Thou shalt learn to switch off and do nothing regularly
  8. Thou shalt be boring, untidy and unattractive at times
  9. Thou shalt not feel guilty
  10. Thou shalt not be thine own enemy

If you feel like:

  • there aren’t enough hours in the day
  • you can’t think of what day it is
  • you haven’t done anything that YOU want to do for ages
  • you can’t see too far into the future

…then these commandments are for you.


It’s time to move it, move it!!

As the nights draw in and the days get shorter, we may feel that our get up and go has got up and gone! We may feel a bit depleted energetically and find it harder to get ourselves motivated. Hands up if you admit to hunkering down on the sofa with a boxset instead of heading out to our regular class?! (Guilty as charged!!)

Moving our body throughout the day, regularly getting out of breath and incorporating some strength and resistance training into our week are all fantastic ways to maintain health and prevent future disease. However, increasing this to multiple hours of strenuous exercise on a regular basis does not necessarily magnify these benefits. More is not always better.

Here are some ideas and tips that may help you to find your ‘happy medium’ of exercise intensity and frequency. Whilst I don’t purport to have all the answers (who does?! I am not a fitness professional and am still on my own fitness journey), these are some of the things that help me keep myself on the right track:

  • Have at least one complete rest day every week, but also give yourself the permission to take a longer break if you feel you need too.
  • Try not to be too rigid with your training programme, and work on both emotional and mental flexibility with your plan. Remember the importance of the whole tripod of exercise, diet and rest. You need all three to be equally balanced.
  • Become aware of the messages your body uses to let you know if you are pushing yourself a little too much. Listen to them and adapt what you are doing accordingly. What works best for you will be constantly changing and evolving over time.
  • If you are suffering with stress or anxiety and feel overwhelmed by exercise instead of relieved, some periods of hyper-relaxation can be really helpful. Try guided meditations, breathing exercises, yoga, or other mindfulness-based activities. Even having a long, hot bath or just sitting in nature for 10 minutes can be so beneficial.
  • Make time for energy-boosting situations; spend time with friends and family, watch a comedy, go to the cinema. Remember that being healthy certainly isn’t all about training and nutrition plans.
  • Think outside of the box. Movement doesn’t have to mean formal exercise – walking the dogs, doing chores around the house, even going shopping (!), gardening, walking a few stops instead of sitting on the bus or tube can all contribute.
  • If you sit at a desk all day, consider switching from a normal desk chair to more active sitting (there are all sorts of options available online), or a standing desk. Things like moving your bin away from arms reach, always making your coffee on another floor and moving your printer to the opposite side of the room will prompt you to stand up more frequently throughout the day – small movements which really add up over the course of a year.
  • Give yourself enough time to adequately recuperate after illness or injury – your body needs rest to heal and build muscle.
  • Sleep is essential – the amount required varies from person to person, but in general, you need to get enough sleep to feel generally alert and wakeful for the duration of the day
  • Mix up your training to avoid over-stressing particular muscles and joints, but also to stop it getting boring or too repetitive
  • Be aware that other life stressors can add to the stress of physical training. Don’t be afraid to ease off training a bit during those periods. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is just to have a week or two off.
  • Eat to fuel your body properly – and that doesn’t just mean getting enough calories, carbohydrates or protein, but also making sure that you are getting all the essential micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids) too.

And remember, the clocks go forward on March 29th next year! Only another 158 days to go!!

Yoga; the fountain of youth?!

Yoga poses like the downward dog, inversions, and eagle arms are a struggle for many of us but not for the yoga teacher who’s 101-years-old.

Tao Porchon-Lynch is the world’s oldest yoga instructor and shows no sign of slowing down as she embraces her second century with the same can-do attitude that has shaped her life.

She says the secret to longevity is to live every day full of the “joy of life”… and she has no plans to stop teaching yoga!! What an inspiration.

Yoga has many benefits for all of us, no matter what our age and stage but, what I love about it is that it’s accessible to us, even as we grow older. When I was asked to teach a module on a yoga teaching course, themed Yoga through the aging process, I started to research this in more depth. And, I was astonished by what I found. So, if like me, you’re planning on continuing your yoga journey well into your golden years, here’s some inspiration to keep you going.

1.Yoga Increases Anti-Aging Hormones in the Brain

In yoga, we have a wide range of asanas, or postures. to choose from. One of the most important postures, in my opinion, is mediation.

recent study from the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine revealed that, “Regular deep meditation dramatically affects production of three important hormones related to increased longevity, stress, and enhanced well-being: cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin.”
DHEA is known as the “anti-aging hormone.” As we get older our body produces less of it, but when we practice yoga and meditation, we become our own fountain of youth! We naturally provide our bodies with this hormone as well as buffering our bodies from cortisol, the stress hormone.

Melatonin is the hormone that helps us get quality sleep. Increased melatonin due to meditation leads to increased well-being during the day and tranquil sleep at night!

2. Yoga Helps Us Cultivate a More Flexible, Limber Body

One of the more obvious benefits of yoga is a more flexible and limber body. As we get older, our bodies can stiffen, which begins a negative domino effect where we inevitably suffer the consequences of aches, pains, injury, fatigue, and more.

According to research, “At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse.”

If we begin this negative domino effect caused by disuse, we could worsen our posture and send undesired weight into our joints. But we can avoid all of this with a consistent yoga practice. Our practice allows the body to move, stretch, and lengthen out the spine, which results in a younger, more flexible and limber body.

Yoga, the union of mind and body, has many obvious benefits. Today, let’s talk about one of the more subtle, but extremely desirable, benefits of a consistent yoga practice. Yep! We’re talking about how yoga can help prevent, and even reverse, aging.

In life we can often feel as though time is slipping away from us, that there aren’t enough hours in the day, or that we’re constantly trying to “catch up.”

However, when we practice yoga, we reinforce principles and practices that can help us reverse the clock not only physically, but mentally as well.

 Muscle mass is lost naturally during the aging process. But with a consistent yoga practice, we can also achieve anti-aging benefits by encouraging the body to retain this muscle mass.

A well-named study, NAMASTE (Novel Approaches to Maintaining Muscle Mass and Strength), conducted a study using two groups of people.

The first group hadn’t exercised in at least a year, and the other group was comprised of yogis that practiced at least twice a week for over a year. The study revealed that, “The yogis had lower rates of protein synthesis and breakdown, which translates into more efficient muscle mass maintenance.”

4. Light Mind

As yogis, we learn to combine mindfulness and awareness in our everyday lives. As we travel through life, stress naturally pops up and, sometimes, we need a certain amount of stress to propel us forward into action. Other times, stress can become negative and unhealthy, leaving our body on the receiving end of that negativity.

As one WebMD article on Health notes, “Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. Distress can lead to physical problems including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and trouble sleeping.”

All of these distress symptoms could lead to serious health problems that could be potentially fatal if not treated. We use yoga to treat our distress symptoms by learning how to relax amidst challenge. This anti-aging practice allows our minds to return to being light and free, something that can now be achieved at any age.

5. Yoga Heals Your Past

 One of my favorite benefits of yoga is how it can heal the past. A lot of times, past problems and what we view as failures can rob us of the present moment as well as future opportunities.

I heard someone recently say that, “Your past lessons are not your life sentences.” When we unify our mind and body through yoga, we know this to be true. Yoga reverses the aging clock by healing the past. We acknowledge it’s over with, and how it has helped us get to the present moment while allowing us to see the truth in the Now.

As Eckhart Tolle quotes, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” Through yoga and meditation, we realize this to be true as we bring youth and vitality to our lives.


Let it go!


It’s something we’re all familiar with. There’s been an argument, an accident, or something else happen that – whilst unpleasant – is over and in the past. Everyone is okay and you should have moved on, yet all you seem able to do is replay it in your head, worrying and fretting about what you could have done differently.

“The process of dwelling on past events that can’t be changed is called rumination,” says psychologist Niels Eék. “Some people are more likely to experience this than others, especially if they have an anxiety-prone personality.”

When people ruminate, they overthink or obsess about situations or life events. Examples include repeating in your mind negative experiences in the past, replaying conversations, dwelling on injuries or injustices or asking seemingly unanswerable questions such as “why me?” The key in all instances of rumination is that the person in question gets ‘stuck’ on a single subject, experience or emotion.

Rumination can be twofold. If you find that looking back over the past and assessing various situations can give you answers and closure, then the effect can be positive. However, if you find that you’re repeatedly going over and over the same situation without getting anywhere, both your private and public life may be affected and your mental health could suffer. Niels says:

“Rumination can have a number of negative effects on your mental health, is associated with anxiety disorders and depression and can even act as a cause for these conditions. Researchers at Yale University have been studying this phenomenon and found that women are more likely to ruminate than men, which also explains why women have a higher risk of depression. Additionally, the research also found that rumination prevents people from acknowledging and dealing with their emotions, as they try to understand the situation instead of the feelings that the situation has caused.”

  1. Ask yourself: Is it worth it?

If you find that your mind is fixated on a certain situation, decide if the dwelling is actually worth your time.

“Ask yourself if looking over a certain situation will help you accept it, learn from it and find closure. If the answer is no, you should make a conscious effort to shelve the issue and move on from it.”

  1. Set aside time

The thing with niggling worries is that they often remain at the back of our minds, always there but never given our full attention. By dedicating time to whatever it is that’s bothering you, it’ll be easier to face the problem once and for all.

“Whenever you start dwelling, write the thought down on a piece of paper and dedicate a time in the day to think about it, ideally a few hours later. This will give you some distance from the dwelling, which will likely mean that it won’t bother you as much in a few hours, as well as allowing you to focus on other, more important things throughout the day.”

  1. Worst case scenario

If you are constantly dwelling on something that happened, imagine the worst case scenario and how you would deal with it.

“It may sound like a terrible idea, but actually, having a viable solution ready will leave you feeling calmer and less anxious, as well as pleasantly surprise you if things turn out better than expected, which is often the case.”

  1. Find the cause

It’s possible that there is a pattern in your worries, and this means you can help identify potential causes and use practice preventative measures.

“For many of us, rumination will occur after a trigger, so it is important to identify what it is. For example, if you have to give a presentation at work and the last one you did didn’t go to plan, this can cause rumination and anxiety. Once you identify this trigger, make sure to set aside some time to assess your previous mistakes and make sure that you don’t repeat them again, which will then remove the stimulus of rumination.”

  1. Focus on the positives

More often than not, when we find ourselves dwelling, it is usually on negative thoughts, so a great solution for this is to focus on something positive in order to offset these worries.

“Every day, write down 2-3 things that make you happy and think of the list whenever you feel yourself starting to dwell. Sharing these with friends and family can also help reinforcement and prevent you from focusing on the negatives.”

  1. Communicate

A problem shared is a problem halved, which is why it’s important to get things off your chest when you feel they are weighing you down.

“A great way to stop yourself dwelling is to talk to a friend or loved one. Whenever we ruminate, we tend to lose perspective, only seeing certain aspects of the situation. Talking to a friend will not only make you feel better, but it can also provide a different viewpoint, thus actually resolving the problem.”

  1. Distractions

Taking on a task that requires your full attention can provide some much-needed relief from repetitive thoughts. Before you know it, you’ll have gone a whole day without ruminating once.

“Doing a chore you’ve been putting off, going for a walk or even listening to some music can help. Focusing on something else for as little as ten minutes can shift your focus and ease anxiety caused by dwelling.”

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on one’s awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Anyone can do it, and it can be invaluable as a therapeutic technique.

“One of the main problems with rumination is that we don’t even realise that we are doing it, letting the negative and obsessive thoughts take over our attention. This is where mindfulness can be very useful – taking as little as three minutes to focus on your breathing and actually focus on what is bothering you, thus bringing you closer to a solution.”

  1. Learn to let go

It’s easier said than done, but learning to let go is one of the most important steps to take if you want to stop dwelling.

“Accept that everyone makes mistakes and that they are in the past, and only take away what you learnt from the situation. While difficult at first, the more you practice compassion and understanding, the easier this process will become.”


September surrender.

Long, warm summer days are behind us and the crisp scent of autumn is in the air. I love this time of year but, while a new season brings new beginnings, September can also spark high levels of anxiety for some.

According to Bupa, September can be an unsettling month and often bring new worries. Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, says: “It’s not uncommon for us to suspend our usual routine and habits during the summer months, which can make it harder to adjust back to normality.”

“Much like how we used to feel as children when September saw us going back to school, this period brings a sense of trepidation and naturally we may feel a bit unsettled,” he adds.

“While September isn’t officially the start of Autumn, it does feel like a change of season, which can also play a part in our mood and mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.”


Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes according to the weather. Often in autumn and winter, many people suffer from “winter depression” caused by a lack of light.

“The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but the main theory is that a lack of sunlight might affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of serotonin, the hormone that affects our mood, appetite and sleep. The lack of sunlight and lower serotonin levels can lead to feelings of depression,” Dr Arun says.

If you’re feeling on edge, Bupa has this advice…


1.Know what you’re dealing with
One of the most common causes of anxiety is feeling overwhelmed, often without a reason behind it. Talking to a medical professional, or even to a close friend, can help you to understand why you are feeling this way. Even just a 10-minute conversation can give you clarity and the tools you need to tackle your anxiety.

2.Keeping busy
Staying busy is a great distraction and can help to keep your symptoms at bay. If you find yourself feeling down or anxious, why not arrange to meet up with a friend for coffee or head outside together for a refreshing walk? Fresh air and a chat are bound to lift your spirits.

3.Getting some vitamin D
It’s no surprise that soaking up some sunshine boosts your mood, so why not head outside on your lunch break or sit in the garden one afternoon? Spending time in the sun, preferably surrounded by nature, can help to relieve feelings of anxiety, as well as boosting your energy.

This can be an excellent tool to manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Carving some time out of your busy day to reflect, relax and meditate has been proven to have a positive impact on your mental health. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of apps like Calm or Headspace available to point you in the right direction. Or, even better, come to a yoga class to help you to calm the mind through breath work and slow, mindful movement!

5.Know when to get help
With many of us battling anxiety on a daily basis, it can be hard to know when to seek medical advice. If you notice your symptoms persisting and not getting any better, then ensure you head to your local GP. Your health and wellbeing is incredibly important, so it’s imperative to speak to someone who can help you further.



Not too hot, not too cold…autumn is just right!

September is a time of transition in nature when we transition into autumn. The warm and humid conditions of summer give way to cooler, more changeable autumn winds. The once lush green of leaves hint at yellow hues and there’s a distinct change in the energy around us. A slower pace awaits us in the coming months. This is when the plants pause their growth, animals retreat into hibernation, and it once again becomes acceptable to add cinnamon to practically everything! Before autumn arrives however, there’s a period of stillness and a sense of nature preparing itself for what’s to come.

A Moment To Pause

The fraction of time between late summer and early autumn may not be recognised in modern western seasonal perspective. However, ancient wellbeing schools of thought like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tibb or Sufi Medicine understand that this time of transition into autumn is a special season all of its own. This time is known by the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners as ‘Dojo and as ‘Ritu Sandhi’ (the ‘junction’ of two ‘seasons’) by Ayurvedic practitioners. During these times, the world around us is neither too yin or too yang. As we move out of the fiery pitta energy of Summer towards the colder, drier air energy of vata in Autumn, nature is poised for change.

Preparing For Change

Within this roughly two week period of pausing, the advice is to release any excess Summer energy. It’s time to clear metaphorical and physical space for the season ahead. Summer’s Ayurvedic quality is pitta, made up of fire and water, creating acidity and irritability. If you’re currently experiencing inflammation, skin issues, digestive problems or emotional instability, this is the time to focus on self care and protocols to address these aspects. Observe your current diet; have you picked up unhealthy eating habits from summer holidays? Are you consuming a lot of hot, acidic or sugary foods? Are you pushing yourself too hard physically or mentally, or is there a relationship issue you haven’t dealt with yet?

Yin Season

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, we’re moving out of the ‘yang’ phase of Summer and towards a more ‘yin’ time of year. The element at play here is earth. Earth is linked to the stomach and spleen meridian lines, which need nourishing at this time and can be focused on with yoga postures that open the inner thighs, hips, stomach, throat and sides of the body.

The most important practice at this time is a connection to nature and a commitment to being present in everyday life. Notice what your body is naturally drawn to eating and doing. Opt for seasonal foods and time spent outside in the morning light. Spend time with those who balance and comfort you, consume meals in a mindful and quiet manner, and observe how the changes in nature are mirrored by the natural changes within ourselves on every level.