Healing from Within
The physical health benefits of yoga are well documented, but the benefits of its fashionable sibling ‘mindfulness’ are less widely understood. It’s a term that has become increasingly popular, bringing with it the rise of adult colouring books, mindfulness apps and dedicated mindfulness classes. We’re told it can have a multitude of health benefits and is even encouraged by the NHS as a way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression – but what does it really mean?
Adrian Wright of Shambhala Studios explains what it’s all about, “Mindfulness is an ancient practice founded by Siddhartha Gautama (AKA, the Buddha) 2,500 years ago. It sits at the heart of Buddhism but nowadays is increasingly used in secular settings such as hospitals, schools and the workplace. Formal practice is what most people recognise as meditation – sitting or lying down, quietly bringing the attention to body or breath. The informal practice involves bringing attention to everyday activities, like doing the washing up or brushing teeth. The important element with both practices is to aim to keep the awareness on what you are presently doing, noticing when the mind wanders off (as it continuously will do) and then gently bringing it back to the meditation, or the washing up!”
By keeping our minds ever in the present, we are able to fully experience positive moments, like a beautiful winter walk, whilst taking our focus away from day to day worries. Sounds very simple in theory but it’s not always easy to achieve when our lives are so full of commitments, responsibilities and concerns.
Taking time out to attend a yoga or meditation class can be a great way to schedule mindfulness into your week and get those mental health benefits, but what’s yoga got to do with it? Turns out that yoga is another form of mindfulness – by focussing on the breath and sensations in the body during postures, the mind is brought into the present moment. So if seated meditation isn’t your ‘thing’, yoga can be a great introduction to mindfulness whilst also experiencing the many physical benefits such as improved strength, flexibility and balance.
Shambhala Studios has been offering a range of classes and therapies for nearly 10 years. The story of its conception is, in itself, testament to healing powers of yoga and mindfulness.
Owner, Lyn Long is the daughter of a yoga enthusiast. In the early 1970’s, her mother held weekly Calisthenics classes, based on the teachings of American Yogi Richard Hittleman, learnt from library books and L.P records. Too young to join in herself, Lyn didn’t think much about yoga until 30 years later…
“I found myself sitting at home, having left a London hospital without my right breast (and the eleven tumors that had been found a week before) and with a sick note for two weeks. For over a year I had kept an advert for two ladies, one of whom taught one to one yoga sessions at your home and the other who came and gave you a massage afterwards. So for two weeks I worked on getting my mobility back to normal through a series of yoga postures and wonderful massages, and my mind back to normal through meditation.
Yoga, massage therapy, meditation and visualisations then saw me through 5 months of exhaustive chemotherapy and further operations.
I used them all as tools to help me deal with the pain, the side effects of all the drugs and the emotional fallout. Compared to everyone else at the hospital my journey back to health seemed relatively easy. I know that yoga was an extremely important part of my physical and mental recovery.
Starting Shambhala was my way of providing affordable classes to everyone on their own journey to wellbeing. It has always been important that we have the very best teachers with the highest level of professional qualifications and for us to work with therapists equally specialised and well trained.“
Tempted to give it a go? New customers can try a free Yoga or Pilates class at Shambhala Studios by quoting the code: LEIGHLIFE.