Yoga Flow at Dusk

Practicing yoga in the evening is a fantastic way to reset your stress levels and invite some peace and relaxation into your mind.

Any of us may have a bad day for any number of reasons and it is important to accept that this is going to happen from time to time. The important thing is how you choose to deal with this negativity, and whether you allow it to follow you into the next day.

Ending each day by hitting the yoga mat is an incredible way to release negativity. Doing so can set you up for a good night’s sleep followed by a peaceful and positive morning.

Yoga for Relaxation

When you engage in a regular yoga practice you are likely to notice that your stress levels decrease, anxiety is experienced less frequently (or to a lesser degree) and also that you generally feel more at peace during your days. But, why is this?

As you flow through a yoga session you are going to naturally clear your mind of worries and concerns as you concentrate on the activity at hand. Also, as you move through the poses, you will be encouraging the flow of blood around your body and releasing tension from the muscles.

The deliberate and conscious way in which you breathe whilst practicing yoga is key to the relaxation benefits that you will enjoy! So, be sure to pay attention to your breath, especially during the moments when you are holding each pose.

Meditation

A normal yoga session will often involve periods of meditation, which has been shown to seriously aid stress release and support a positive frame of mind. When you make time to meditate daily – even for a short amount of time – then you are giving yourself permission to solely focus on yourself and your emotions. This is an incredibly powerful thing to do and can help you to connect to yourself.

The following video demonstrates a sequence I created to guide you through a 30 minute daily flow. You can really practice this at any time of the day, but I believe it is especially useful in the evenings! If you enjoy this video then be sure to head over to my YouTube channel for more!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we move towards the end of 2017!

Yoga and Mental Health

It is an unfortunate fact that the importance of your physical health is often placed above your mental health. This is a damaging attitude that is sadly quite prevalent in our society today! Taking the time to care for yourself in emotional and spiritual ways can often bring more benefits to your life then that gym session that you always prioritise!

The great thing about practicing yoga is that doing so can boost both your physical and mental health, strengthening the body whilst it also soothes the mind. With a regular yoga practice, especially one that incorporates aspects of meditation, you will soon notice that you are better equipped to heal yourself emotionally and to enhance your self-esteem and confidence.

Alleviating Anxiety

One of the most exciting ways that yoga can benefit your mental health is by helping to alleviate anxiety. When you practice yoga regularly you will notice that you are in a more relaxed state during your day to day activities. This will make you less prone to anxiety, and will also enable you to deal with it better in the moments when it does present itself. This is largely concerned with the breathing techniques that you will engage with during each yoga session.

Love Yourself

Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever be a part of. When you embrace yoga as a regular feature in your life, you will naturally pay greater attention to this relationship, and begin to address any issues that may be present. As yoga goes hand in hand with healthy eating and additional exercise and relaxation practices, you will also naturally begin to place a greater emphasis on treating your body with more love and respect.

Become Aware of Yourself

During a relaxing yoga practice you will be guided through the process of becoming more aware of your physical presence. This can quickly help you to recognise areas of tension where energy may be blocked in your body. Only when you are aware of this can you truly work to resolve it and allow the flow of energy through your body to improve. As well as benefiting your emotional well-being, this can also help your body to function better, thereby improving your physical health.

This month on my wellness for women community website we are talking about the best ways to avert anxiety! You can click here to join us now and start on your journey to a happier, healthier version of yourself!

Top Perfect Sportswear Picks

As a yoga teacher, author, nutritionist and a parent I am constantly on the go! Cycling is one of my great loves and I always prefer to go by bike from A to B, whether I’m off to teach a class or go to a meeting!

Dressing appropriately is a must when you cycle a lot and you should always choose comfort and practically over style. However, I’ve found some great choices from Matalan that mean you don’t have to choose between these things and they are all super affordable, super comfortable and super cool!

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The Souluxe Sports Leggings are GREAT for cycling and also for teaching yoga in, meaning that I don’t have to get changed between cycling to a lesson and teaching one. This variety of Souluxe Sports Leggings with breathable mesh panels are also just as great and help your skin to breathe as you exercise.

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The Souluxe Double Layer Jacket is another favourite of mine from Matalan and has a super useful money pocket at the back. This jacket is a good choice for the colder seasons if you are into running. It will keep you warm but is lightweight enough that you won’t overheat. Also, it is designed to limit moisture! If you are into running then you should always choose a supportive and comfortable running shoe to help avoid injury.

When I’m teaching yoga outside then the Souluxe Zip Through Hoodie is always my first pick. It is super comfortable and not at all restricting, meaning I can keep it on for the entire lesson. This hoodie also has zip pockets at the front which is perfect for me as a lot of sportswear doesn’t have pockets!

How to Make Time for Yourself

Wishing for extra hours in the day is certainly not a new concept and many of us are often left wondering where the time goes! With such busy schedules and such limited time to fit it all in, the idea of finding additional time for yourself may often seem laughable, and even verging on impossible! 

There is certainly nothing wrong with being organised, but if it seems like every moment of your life is scheduled and accounted for, then you may actually be doing more harm than good. If this sounds like you, then taking a step back, and giving yourself permission to just be, could be the best decision you can make.

Starting The Day

A lot of discussions around being more time efficient centre around the morning routine. How you start your day is often seen as a benchmark as to how successful the rest of your day will be. However, putting too much emphasis on the first few hours of the day can actually cause unnecessary stress that you then take with you into the rest of the day.

The way in which you find it best to start the day is of course individual to you! If you feel inspired to meditate, do yoga or cook a healthy breakfast for yourself from scratch, then certainly you can benefit from these things, but don’t beat yourself up if you do not feel motivated to do so!

Trying to cram too much into the beginning of the day can leave you feeling overwhelmed and then less able to make time for yourself during the remainder of the day!

Re-evaluate Your Routine

You may find that having a routine helps you to commit to doing the things that you need to do. However, it is important to take into consideration that no two days are ever going to be the same. It is often impossible to predict what your life and your mind will have in store for you. By this I mean, events may occur that throw your schedule off, and that your mood can fluctuate from one day to the next, making certain things seem harder to accomplish.

For these reasons, it is important not to overload your days with scheduled activities and commitments. Of course there are going to be things that you need to do, but there is no harm in spreading these activities out, and in doing so you will naturally create a larger amount of time for yourself within each individual day.

Understand Your Importance

Making time for yourself is a super simple but seriously underrated form of self-care! If you are someone who spends a great deal of time caring for others then you may have forgotten how important your own health, happiness and time is!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Cope with Loneliness

Loneliness is a common human emotion that can strike even when you are surrounded by friends and family. This feeling can quickly become a serious barrier to self-love and can demotivate you from caring for yourself in the way that you know you should.

The emotion of loneliness is characterised by an empty feeling, or a longing to connect with another person when this seems presently unobtainable. This can leave you feeling depressed, lost and even quite anxious if you feel like the state of loneliness isn’t going to pass.

When you feel like this it is important to remember that your self-care should not be compromised, and that you can actually nurture yourself through this period of loneliness.

Although loneliness can often be caused by a lack of human interaction, it can also be something that is born within you. If you have lost your connection with yourself, or if you have begun to lose sight of your goals and your ambitions, then it can become easy to slip into a place of loneliness.

In these moments, one of the most important things that you can do for yourself is to make an extra effort to love yourself. On my new wellness for women website – Truly Julie – we talk a lot about self-love and the different ways that you can effortlessly make self-love practices a regular part of your routine. For example, in just a short period of time spent meditating, practicing yoga, repeating positive affirmations to yourself or simply checking in with your own emotions, you can help to re-route negative thought processes to positive ones.

When you don’t make a consistent effort to understand your emotions and deal with any negativity that is arising, then you run the risk of letting this negativity take over. This is often because the voice of your inner critic starts to sound out any positivity – leaving you feel as though you are not good enough.

As well as working to care for yourself when feelings of loneliness start to take hold, it is also incredibly helpful to reach out to others for support. This doesn’t have to be as drastic as telling everyone that you are struggling and asking for help. It can simply be making a phone call to a friend and making plans for the near future. Alternatively, you could arrange to take yourself to a new activity class, or some other group session, with the intention of making new connections with people you haven’t met yet!

However you choose to cope with your loneliness, the key is to make sure that you are doing something pro-active to deal with it! Leaving these feelings to slowly simmer and grow will always ensure that they just get stronger and harder to deal with further down the line.

You can head to the Truly Julie website now to get the support and advice you need to keep your health, happiness and positivity on track!

The Journey From Fat to Fit

Self-image is a very powerful idea. How you look and feel about yourself can dictate a lot of things you do. It influences how you interact with people and your surroundings. Positive reinforcement of self-image can give you a lot of benefits and mostly, for yourself.

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To learn more about this infographic and how you can journey from fat to fit, visit the Garage Gym Planner website!

How to Embrace Body Positivity

A massive amount of people struggle with eating disorders and a driving factor behind this issue is a perceived negative body image. Struggling with the way you see your body is completely natural but you can overcome it! Being body positive all the time might seem like a challenge but when you take the time to re-evalute your relationship with your body then you can work towards this way of living!

Looking at yourself with more love is the key to improving your body image. You have to realise and accept that you are perfect the way you are. You must also understand that the body you may envision will not make you a happier person or improve other areas of your life. Take the time to notice things about yourself that you love, things about yourself that do make you happy. This in turn will encourage a healthier state of mind when it comes to thinking about your body. Spend time affirming these thoughts in your mind or even saying them out loud. Be sure not to allow negative thoughts to seep into this process and if they do then take a deep breath and get back on track!

We talk frequently about nourishing our bodies but it is absolutely true that our minds need nourishment too. Our minds are constantly taking in information from the things we see, the people we talk to and the sounds we hear. If this information is persistently positive than it is much easier to remain happy and confident. When we exist like this it is much easier to love ourselves and our bodies because positivity is being encouraged. When negative interactions appear during the day then the potential to extend this negativity to all of our thoughts becomes very real. Nourishing your mind in a constructive way and being sure to avoid destructive situations and people is essential in the journey to happiness. This in turn will help with your body image because this self-love will continue to grow.

If you regularly turn to exercise in an attempt to align your body with the way you think it should be then try substituting a workout session for a yoga lesson. Yoga teaches us relaxation and focus. It also teaches us that it is the journey which is important, not the end goal. Applying this thought process to your exercise regime will help you to apply it to every other part of your life. When you stop thinking of life in terms of milestones to reach and specific achievements that you have to accomplish then you can truly just enjoy the path you are taking.

Is Your Diet Triggering Your Anxiety?

Anxiety is a very real but often invisible mental health problem that affects a large number of people throughout their lives. Official estimates suggest that at least 18% of the population will experience some form of ongoing anxiety problem in their lives. In previous blog posts I have discussed physical ways in which we can combat anxiety but today I want to address dietary issues that can make it worse. When a person is already suffering with an anxiety disorder, it is incredibly important not to add to this problem. There are several dietary triggers that are easy to avoid and in doing so you can potentially promote a greater sense of calm and control.

Sugar is a big one when it comes to our mood. Consuming even small amounts of refined sugar can wreak havoc with our energy levels and state of mind. This is because it causes a rapid boost in blood sugar which is then inevitably followed by a crash. When this crash occurs we can experience fatigue, irritation and anxiety. Avoiding sugar altogether and eating foods which regulate our blood sugar, as opposed to spiking it, will help us avoid this problem.

Caffeine is known to be a trigger for people with anxiety. Drinking too much coffee can have powerful stimulant effects and for many people it does become a sort of addiction. When you drink coffee you become more alert and this can lead us to overthink certain situations. Even if you do not recognise this as a trigger for your anxiety, try avoiding it for a couple of days and monitor your mood during this time. You may find that you are calmer and more relaxed throughout the day.

As well as avoiding sugar and coffee you should certainly check if you are getting enough sleep. People who have an anxiety issue can often find it more difficult to get to sleep but then this lack of sleep can cause the anxiety to intensify. This vicious cycle of sleep deprivation can be incredibly damaging to your mental health and it is important to try and get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Yoga and meditation late in the evening are both positive ways to promote relaxation and encourage sleep. Try 30 minutes of either practice before bed and see if this makes a difference to your sleep pattern. You might also find that without sugar and caffeine sleep comes more easily to you!

If you eradicate sugar and caffeine from your diet but still find that your energy is low and your mood is unstable, then it would be advisable to analyse the rest of your diet. Make sure you are eating a variety of wholesome, plant-based foods that will keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day. Also, make sure that you do not skip a meal and try to include some healthy snacks during the day. You will keep your metabolism stimulated as well as satisfying your stomach and mind!

How Stress Affects Your Health

Our mental wellbeing has a huge impact on our physical health and taking care of yourself should involve practices related to both of these things! If your mind is frequently busy with negative thoughts and stress then you will observe that your energy and general health will decrease over time. It is often difficult to measure how much stress a person is experiencing, and for that reason it is regularly dismissed from being a health concern. However, that does not mean that you should take your stress levels any less seriously. Stress can cause some serious changes in your body that can actually be quite dangerous. Being aware of this can help you to understand why it is important to avoid stressful situations and reach resolutions to conflict quickly.

Stress has the potential to change how your genes function. This means that during periods of extreme stress the way your body stores fat can change, your immune system can become compromised and visible signs of aging can increase. When your immune system is affected in this way, you are more likely to develop infections, especially ones that can lay dormant such as cold sores.

Research has shown that those who experience high levels of stress as children can have dramatically altered responses to stress as adults. This means that these people might find certain situations harder to deal with than those who were not exposed to this early in life. High stress levels can actually damage certain parts the brain, such as those responsible for memory. During incredibly intense periods of time, the brain will often trigger adrenal shutdown in order to preserve as much energy as possible for its own function. Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc in your life and will drastically diminish your energy levels. The simplest of tasks, such as getting out of bed for more than a few hours, can seem incredibly difficult.

Studies have proven that the body’s ability to detoxify prescription drugs is negatively affected by stress. Similar studies have also shown that a person is much more likely to crave fatty, sugary foods during periods of moderate to extreme stress. If your lifestyle is causing you to compromise your nutrition then you will experience these negative effects much more rapidly.

As you can see, keeping your stress levels to an absolute minimum should be a priority in your life if you want to remain a positive and productive person. Distancing yourself from toxic relationships and negative influences should be an immediate action. You can also look to activities such as yoga and meditation in order to promote relaxation and optimum health! Check out my previous post on How to Make Time for Meditation for tips on getting started.

How to Make the Most of Meditation

In my previous blog post, How to Make Time for Meditation, I discussed the best ways to begin on your journey of meditation and how to avoid some of the common excuses people find to avoid meditation. If you followed my advice and are now incorporating this relaxing practice into your everyday life then congratulations! I am absolutely positive that you will have already begun to experience the many benefits of doing so. Even though getting started is usually the hardest part, it can also be tricky to continue with your practice, especially when our stressful modern day lives get in the way.

To help you continue to get the most out of your meditation time, I have compiled the following tips! These are things that I always keep in mind when I am meditating and find that they help me to stay focused on my goals!

Your posture is incredibly important. Your spine should always be straight with your head up and facing forwards. When you start to slump you will soon notice that your mind starts to wander. A good way to achieve proper posture is to imagine your head is connected with the sky and aim to keep it there!

Some people prefer to meditate with their eyes closed, however, it is often a good idea to keep them open. When your eyes are closed, your thoughts are more likely to drift to other things. Instead of trying to focus your gaze on a specific place in the room, just let your eyes settle naturally and try not to pay too much attention to whatever happens to be in your line of sight.

Similarly to yoga, it is important to pay attention to your breathing when you are meditating. When you are focusing on your breathing you will find yourself anchored in the present and your mind will be easier to settle. There’s no need to force your breath to be a certain pace, just let it come in and out naturally! When rogue thoughts enter your mind, bring your focus back to your breathing and these thoughts will soon evaporate from your conscious.

Finally, although there is an abundance of amazing music to meditate to, choosing to do so in silence is best for being fully focused on your meditation. Silence can be incredibly healing whereas music can often be quite distracting. Even just 10 – 20 minutes of silent meditation everyday will help you to get in touch with your emotions and better equip you to deal with the day. Regular practice of this kind for an extended period of time will help you to build a solid foundation for more intense meditation in the future!