Saturday, 18 May 2019

HOW TO MEDITATE FOR MENTAL HEALTH



First and foremost you don’t have to be a yoga practitioner to meditate. Yes practicing yoga asana and breathing techniques can help to prepare us for longer time spent in meditation,  but that is not the whole story.

You don’t have to sit on the floor completely motionless. You can sift around from time to time to stay comfortable. You can sit on a chair or on the sofa - it shouldn’t make any difference to the end result

Set an alarm on your watch or devise to quietly ring in 10 to 15 minutes. Shut your eyes and simply listen to your breathing.

If your mind is churning with constant chatter, don’t try and bat the banter away. Just notice it. You will of course from time to time be led astray by the milieu of random thoughts that pop into your mind.  Particularly when negative thoughts occur. Whatever happens just remind yourself that you are meditating and continue to pay attention to your breath. 

If that doesn’t appear to work and those negative thoughts keep clouding your mind try and find some happy thoughts instead. In essence the goal is to become indifferent to anything that crosses your mind. 
Continue to meditate in this way until the alarm that you set goes off. Before opening your eyes silently in your mind count all the way down from ten.

Try and practice as often as you can. Aim for quantity rather than the quality of your mediation. The more often you try the better at it you will become. 

If you would like more information about my private & public yoga classes in West   London or the Day Retreats & Residential Yoga Breaks that my husband Dominic & I have planned over the next 12 months please take a look at my website. 


I really hope we see you on a mat somewhere soon.

Namaste 

Elisa


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

I BEND SO I DON’T BREAK - Yoga for Mental Health

It may already be on your radar that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Most of us can admit to going through difficult times, feeling lonely, anxious, low self-esteem and self-doubt. However we don't often admit that these periods in our lives may be a glitch in our mental health.



When I decided to train as a yoga teacher, I wasn't really sure what direction my life was going in. My  children were all approaching, or already in their early teens. I had been managing a long term chronically bad back for years and I had no desire to resume my former career.  

When one of my yoga teachers floated the idea of me training to teach yoga myself, I was initially horrified. I felt completely inadequate, there was simply no way that I was in any position to teach yoga to others.

However she convinced me that if taking yoga classes was making a difference to me managing my daily life, then perhaps now was the time to delve a little deeper. Eventually I came round to the idea and although I didn't think I would ever have the confidence to actually teach, there was no harm in doing the training. 

The teacher's training course I eventually chose was set in modules over 18 months. Located near where I live in #London and run as a separate educational arm of my local yoga studio. It meant I could easily fit it around trying to be a good mother to my five children and also absorb and assimilate the information in bite size chunks. Even so, there 
were times when I really did feel that fitting in the actual training days, undertaking personal study, essay writing, attending extra yoga classes, extended reading and working on my self practice was a struggle. However with the help of my supportive husband and family, fellow students and tutors, my  knowledge and love of yoga began to grow. I also realised that I was beginning to feel a little better about myself in the process.

True I didn't feel as if I was ever going to cut the grade and be the most physically accomplished or knowledgable yoga teacher ever to grace the yoga studios of West London. I certainly had no pretensions of becoming anyone's guru and 16 years on I still don’t! However to my surprise I began to notice that when I taught, people seemed to feel better and this in turn I began to realise, led  to me feeling better too.

So what am I taking such a long time to say here? I guess it's this. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, isolated or low. If so called friends have knocked you back and life’s pressures are getting you down, just take a minute and ask yourself what it is that you can do that's just for you? What makes you feel better? What feeds you? In my case I had already discovered that yoga had become one of my anchors, a solid foundation upon which I could build something that was just for me.  This despite the fact that I have been blessed with a loving husband and family and for many years have enjoyed being a member of my church and my community. My yoga practice and over 16 years of teaching my interpretation of yoga to others have really helped me with my mental health and well-being

Practicing yoga is like creating your own sanctuary, it’s setting aside time for self care. Yoga helps us to feel stronger physically,  mentally, emotionally and be more receptive to our spiritual potential,  whatever our belief’s, or lack of them might be. If any of this resonates with you, or you think that practicing yoga might help someone you know, encourage yourself, or them, to give it a go. 

There are so many yoga classes around these days, in every town, neighbourhood, village hall or leisure centre. Find one, turn up (yes that’s the hard bit) and just allow yourself to enjoy it with an open mind. No matter what age you are, whether you’re bendy or stiff, strong or weak, you will find that you slowly restore your faith in you.


If you would like more information about my private & public yoga classes in West London or the Day Retreats & Residential Yoga Breaks that my husband Dominic & I have planned over the next 12 months please take a look at my website. 


I really hope we see you on a mat somewhere soon.

Namaste 

Elisa

Saturday, 19 January 2019

OUR DAILY BREATH




Take Time To Breathe


I recently spent a chilly January afternoon filming some self practices & I’ve just posted my first offerings for you to try for yourself on You Tube

Even if you don’t have time to follow the whole meditation, just a few minutes spent sitting with your breath will give you a little boost this winter.

Namaste
Elisa




Wednesday, 5 December 2018

INHALE LOVE EXHALE BREXIT

My limited edition

'Inhale Love Exhale Brexit' long sleeved T shirts are now in stock. 

Any profits from sales of these T shirt will be donated to the homeless charity

Shelter



Printed on the back of 100% cotton, Fruit of The Loom, women's scoop neck T shirts are available for immediate despatch in sizes 'small' & 'medium'. 
For orders of 'large' or 'extra large' or men's style T's please allow 20 days for delivery. Cost £25 (plus £3.45 p&p).
To place you order please send an email to elisawilliamsyoga@gmail.com stating your size & address or visit the following link for payment details:




Tuesday, 4 December 2018

LOVE YOUR FEET FIND YOUR ROOTS





In yoga our feet, as in life are very important. They are the base for many of our yoga poses, specifically the standing poses connecting us to the earth. Our feet have 26 bones, 33 joints & more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments. Correct distribution of weight in our feet not only gives us optimal postural alignment, but also a great foundation in both standing poses & also other poses where our feet are engaged. 


When the arches of our feet collapse & our ankles roll in, they do not properly support our body. Like a house on poorly laid foundations, the whole body is affected. Knees rotate inwards, the back sways, making the belly stomach & buttocks stick out.  Our shoulders roll forward and the head is forward of the shoulders. Essentially we are off balance, the perfect definition of bad posture. Over time we are causing physical damage to our muscles, ligaments & our joints.  So what can we do to stop putting this level of everyday stress on our body?

To begin take time to notice how you stand, A physio, chiropractor or yoga teacher with an extensive background in anatomy & physiology can help. So if you do need to make adjustments perhaps you need to change how you walk. If you notice you walk more towards your instep, the arch of your foot on then work on trying to find the correct distribution of weight & movement in your feet.

The next important step (no pun intended) is to build muscular strength & practice regular relaxation. If the arches of your feet have have fallen, those muscles might be weak, so it is important to work on them with poses that specifically target the muscles in the lower legs. Its also possible that some muscles may be too strong, pulling your leg & or pelvis out of alignment. Work on relaxing those muscles while at the same time building strength in the weaker  parts of your legs.

Traction, when done manually by using a strap or belt, is an effective way to gently work on problem areas & bring them back to their optimum shape, strength or position. Another important thing to do more of is walking with bare feet. Putting our feet into shoes with heels or gym shoes brings the foot into an unnatural shape. Despite all the advertising to the contrary, our feet were made to walk just as they are - bare. 

Many podiatrists will have customised insoles made for their patients shoes. While they do help to support the feet & make them feel more comfortable when wearing your shoes, they don't usually cure the root problem.

Treat your feet with respect & kindness. They take you everywhere you need to go in life & in asana practice. Take time to massage your feet to release tension by using a hard rubber ball under the sole & moving the foot backwards & forwards.  

Take a look at the illustration featured here & next time you have a little time see if you can use these pointers as a guide with you are standing. 



Thursday, 29 November 2018

HOW TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES

Now that the winter chill has really set in, have you noticed that your mood has dipped along with the temperature?  SAD, seasonal affective disorder, is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It is often referred to as 'the winter blues' because the symptoms tend to be more pronounced during the cold, dark, winter months.
Sufferers of SAD can lose motivation and energy, find it a struggle to get up in the morning and will often feel lethargic throughout the day. It can be a constant battle to remain focused and to stem the frequent cravings for carbohydrates, which in turn leads to us gaining weight and feeling even more sluggish.

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to spend 6 months of the year in the southern hemisphere (we're hosting a yoga retreat in Kerala, Southern India in February that we're seriously looking forward to) then it's very hard to completely escape the winter blues.
However help is at hand. As someone who has battled with SAD since my teens, I have picked up a few tricks that I hope may help you through this challenging time of year.


      GET OUT MORE

Take any opportunity you can to get outside into natural light. Being outside in the open air during the winter months is not going to fix every aspect of SAD but its definitely going to help you. If you have a 9 to 5 job then get out for a walk during your lunch break. Don't be put off by the weather, dress for the elements, who says we can't eat lunch outside in winter? While some pavement cafe's and pubs nowadays have patio heaters, a park bench or a town square for a quick bite isn't as mad an idea as it sounds. If its sunny avoid wearing sunglasses when you go out too. Get as much exposure to natural light as you can.

KEEP MOVING

It's very important to keep moving, even when that sluggish winter lethargy may mean we don't feel like it. Going for a weekend walk, cycle ride or a run is a great way of getting some natural light and exercise. During the working week, take time out to attend a yoga class with a teacher who can guide you in an upbeat way and help you to find your own inner sunshine. Yoga and mindful movement classes like Pilates, tai chi and qu gong classes, can all help to relieve physical and emotional stress and tension. They help us to to clear our minds and be more positive about life.

MAKE YOUR OWN LIGHT

The bright fluorescent tubes used in a SAD light box can help us to artificially increase our exposure to light during the winter months. Many people who use a light box with a strength of 10,000 lux on a daily basis report really feeling the benefit. It is also a good idea to find yoga studios or gym classes that have plenty of natural light, or use SAD lights to brighten up the space if they don't. It all helps to create that uplifting feeling of a sunny day when on the mat. Even lighting candles or or hanging out the Christmas lights can help to cheer us up.

EAT WELL


One Day Winter Yoga Retreats in London & Oxfordshire with Elisa & Dominic Williams 


Winter is the time when its very tempting to reach for those comfort foods. However the quick mood fix provided by a sugar rush or stodgy carbs won't last for long.  A little indulgence is ok once in a while, but balance those indulgent moments out by eating plenty of fresh fruits, veg and non-fatty proteins. Its sometimes helpful to also add extra vitamin B12 or vitamin D supplements to your winter diet.  
On all our yoga retreats we like provide home cooked tasty nutritious seasonal food for our yoga guests to enjoy. Perhaps they enjoy our food more than the yoga!

DO WHAT YOU LOVE WITH THOSE WHO YOU LOVE


Elisa and Dominic Williams
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Having a strong support network around us can be vital when our mood plummets. Take time to do the things you enjoy, with those that you love. It's far too easy to feel lonely and desolate in the dark winter months. Christmas, the so called 'festival of light,  can be a notoriously bleak, stressful and isolating time of year for many people. Surround yourself with those you're close to, take time to do activities that make you feel happy, and give serious consideration to getting involved with one of the many outreach organisations in your local area. There are numerous charities who do their best to help the elderly, the homeless and the lonely and they all need volunteers. There are many initiatives particularly at this time of the year, so find one near you and get stuck in.  It's much easier to kick those feelings of loneliness, anxiety and sadness out into the long grass when you're keeping yourself busy helping others. It also gives us all some perspective on our own problems.



Elisa Williams and her  husband Dominic, run yoga retreats at home and overseas. For details of  London yoga classes, upcoming one day winter yoga retreats and their winter sun beachside yoga retreat in Southern India in February.  

   



Tuesday, 18 September 2018

MAKE SPACE & TRY SOMETHING NEW

There are a lot of things I love about practicing & teaching yoga. The way it makes me feel mentally & physically, the people I meet, the places my teaching has taken me.  However one of the things that stand out for me is that with regular practice, poses that initially felt so impossible become manageable & sometimes even easy. 

Spaces open up within the body & all of a sudden you can do things you never thought you could. All my life I’ve been really easily distracted, not particularly focussed or coordinated. Certainly not particularly athletic or brave about trying something new or outside my comfort zone.
But in those early months of regular yoga practice 25 plus years ago, things slowly began to change. My posture improved; I became more conscious of how I held my body both on & off the mat. My balance, flexibility, strength & coordination improved. I gradually became a little more focussed & self-confident.  Confident enough even to be persuaded by one of my yoga teachers to train teach! 



When I first attempted the prep for my very first hand stand (at the age of 35), I felt completely terrified. My arms didn't feel remotely strong enough to bare my weight. I had visions of breaking my neck, or suffering some other kind of catastrophic injury, in the likely event that I should fall.

However I kept working at it & while even today I still can’t stay on my hands for very long,  I’m pretty proud of ever getting up at all! I turn 57 this year & one of the best things as I age, is that through yoga my body can do things now that it definitely couldn’t do when I was 17!
Yoga is a daily reminder that it’s never too late to start something new. You just have to believe in yourself & work at it, whatever it is you set your mind to do.
In my teaching I regularly stress how important it is not to compare ourselves to others. It’s easy to get frustrated & wonder why we can’t do something or enjoy the success that someone else seems to have both in their yoga practice & in life. We've all been there. 
The reality is that anything is possible with a bit of hard work & self-forgiveness. So go on! Make some space in your life & try something new. 


For details of my West London yoga classes or our upcoming 2019 Winter Yoga Retreat in North Kerala. South India visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

Thursday, 6 September 2018

NEW TERM NEW BEGINNINGS

There are a number of habits that have been drummed into me from school. For me the calendar year will always begin in the first week of September. The beginning of a new term seems to bring with it a wonderful opportunity to start again. To set new goals and intentions. This is the week I like to plan trips and write down the things I want to start. This is the week of seasonal change, a drop in temperature and the time to dig out a few warm clothes. 
And September is of course the perfect time to pick up your yoga practice, if it’s dropped off during the summer. It’s the week that all of us can start again. That’s what September feels like to me. A fresh start, turning a clean page a new me.

Happy new year! For further details about Elisa's West London yoga classes & overseas retreats visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

                            




Monday, 18 June 2018

HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE


I can’t believe it’s the summer solstice week already! Now that summer is in full swing don’t you wish it could go on forever?  Well we can’t promise that, so it’s important to get out & celebrate the bright, the light, the warmth & the extra energy that this time of the year brings us while it’s here. 

Summer solstice


If, like us you like to spend as much time as possible outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, good company & wonderful scenery, we have plenty to look forward to in the late summer, autumn & winter months ahead.  Who wouldn’t want to prolong their love of summer & the way it makes us feel so good, long after the summer solstice has gone?

Let's enjoy the sun together!

To boost our sense of wellbeing, to enjoy the outdoors & our love of sharing yoga practices with others, we have plenty planned. Aside from my London yoga classes, we have a number of one day yoga retreats both in the countryside & the city, a yoga & walking weekend in the fabulous Brecon Beacons in Wales.












In our quest to follow the sun, we also have three week long overseas yoga retreats lined up. These are in Sicily, Southern Turkey & a return visit to our beloved beach resort in North Kerala in Southern India.

Chosen for their idyllic locations, the guarantee of sunshine, healing sea air, great food & a warm welcome, we hope that some of you will be able to join us on one of these laid back yoga breaks.

We welcome everyone, including beginners & non yoga participating partners.

Elisa Williams teaches yoga in West London and runs yoga retreats with her sailor husband Dominic in the UK & abroad.

Visit my website via this link:

 www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

To find me on Social Media visit the following links:

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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAN HAPPINESS?

How many people do you know that spend all the hours God sends striving to earn money, to build status, to feel a sense of accomplishment in their lives, bring up families, live in the perfect home? How many times have you yourself felt far too busy to exercise, practice self-care whether it be yoga, taking a walk, going for a swim. How many of you really spend enough time on your own personal health & mental wellbeing?  


I was guilty of exactly this. I was too busy, too stressed, too strapped for time. Working in a a demanding competitive environment in Central London,  then bringing up five kids, it was hardly a big surprise to find myself suffering constant pain from a chronically bad back & increasingly finding myself living under the dark cloud of depression.  I gradually began to read the writing that had been written on the wall for years. Despite earlier forays into various exercise regimes, pilates & yoga, I had never really appreciated that I needed these things not simply for physical reasons but for emotional ones. Not just for my sake but also for the other people in my life upon which my actions & mood were having an effect.



Slowly it began to dawn of me what my priorities were. I started to identify what was important to me & what wasn't. My own health, peace of mind & happiness, finding more time to simply be there for others, had not been high on this list for a very long time. Yes of course I had been bringing up my children, it was exhausting. But I realised that I couldn't ever truly be there for them & for others when I couldn't even be fully there for myself.

I realised & not before time that it was tremendously important for me to re-evaluate my priorities. I began to find the time to cultivate my mind & body, to practice self-care, in other words to simply turn up for myself & my mental & physical wellbeing. For so long I had been ignoring myself.

Yoga helps us to work on our minds, bodies & our souls. It helps us to realise our true nature, our true self & yoga helps us to eventually come to appreciate that we are all part of something that is so much greater then ourselves.  Something far more important than our own busy little worlds. Whether we believe in a higher power or not, yoga helps us to learn that we all have the potential for holding a divine light within us. Our own unique light is our personal gift to the world & Lord knows, this broken world could really do with some more love & light being shared around!

As a youngster at school we would sing a song that was always a favourite, maybe you know it - 'This Little Light of Mine'?  We would sing it in morning assembly at the top of our voices. 

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, 
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time!" 

Now as a grown adult I have at long last come to learn how important it is for myself & for others to really truly try & let my little light shine! Come join me for meditation, yoga & mindfulness classes, on a yoga retreat at home or abroad or on a walking & yoga weekend in beautiful nature. I'd love to help you get your little light to shine brightly!


Wishing everyone Peace, Love & Light

Namaste 
Elisa