Blue Monday?…..Finding that inner calm

A marketing gimic?

It is likely to be widely reported that today is ‘Blue Monday’, apparently ‘the most depressing day of the year’. A quick google search reveals that the concept of ‘Blue Monday’ was actually coined by Sky Travel in 2005! (The google search also prompted me to listen to New Order whilst writing this blog!) I’m not sure how calling a day ‘the most depressing day of the year’ is meant to be helpful to us but it might just help to sell a few holidays! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Monday_(date)

It did get me thinking, however, that there is something to this concept of ‘Blue Monday’. It’s January in the UK. Christmas is a distant memory. The days are apparently getting longer but it’s a slow process. I could swear that’s it’s getting darker and not lighter in the mornings! It’s cold! It’s often raining and grey. We’re still awaiting payday! My point is….is it any wonder that all this can affect our mood?

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Is every Monday Blue Monday in January?

Accessing our inner calm

However, regardless of all of the above, it is comforting to know that internally we can access a constant, calm space within us that is always there. It is unmoved by the changing of the seasons. It may be very difficult to access at times. Particularly with all the external factors that can affect how we feel (weather, work, relationships, whatever else is going on in our lives). However, this calm, constant space is still there, despite all this.

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But how do we access this calmness? Well the first part of this is knowing it is there. Knowing that it can be accessed with practice. A breathing practice, bringing attention to the inhale and the exhale. Simply observing the breath, without judgement. This can help us begin to access this calmness within. The breath is always with us. But how often do we pay attention to our own breath? Thoughts and feelings will of course arise whilst we observe the breath, wanting our attention. Instead of giving attention to these thoughts/feelings, gently guide your attention back to observing the breath. There are innumerable breathing techniques (pranayama) to help us in finding this sense of calmness within. So regardless of whatever else is going on, with practice we can help manage our stress levels using our own breath, the constant calm space that is within all of us.

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A mindfulness of breath based meditation can help us tune into our inner calm and help us to deal with Blue Monday. Lhasa Apsos will sometimes join in too.

Mindful Movement

Yoga posture (asana) practice is also great at helping us access that calm space within. Bringing our attention to how the body is feeling in a particular posture. The sensations you are noticing in the body and where are you noticing them? Also, breath-led movement, moving the body on an inhale and an exhale, creates a mindful practice whereby we are again bringing our attention, without judgement, to the sensations in the body. How often do we mindfully observe our bodies in our every day life?

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Mindful movement in our Yoga poses – banish the blues from Blue Monday

Self Compassion

And of course there are so many other actions that we can take to help us find this calmness within, a big part of which is to learn to treat ourselves with more compassion (ahimsa). We often find it easier to treat others with compassion than we do ourselves, especially when we’re perhaps not feeling our best. Treat yourself! Find and do the things that you enjoy, those things that make you feel good. Yes, the weather might be less than ideal at this time of year for many of us, but use this as reason to enjoy a cosy night in, a nice relaxing, hot bath, etc. Give some thought to what you can do to help you find that inner calm.

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A hot drink in front of a warm fire – an antidote to Blue Monday

So yes, it may be hard to find that inner sense of calm particularly at this time of year, and it may be easier said than done (I know I’ve felt like that many times!). But there are many ways in which we can all try to help ourselves find that constant inner calm, regardless of all external factors, and before we realise it maybe that third Monday in January, and then the rest of the winter, might not feel so ‘blue’ after all!

You may also want to check out our previous blog on Helpful ways to deal with stress which you can find here; https://yogasmiths.org/2018/05/19/mental-health-awareness-week-helpful-tips-to-deal-with-stress/

Namaste x

Guest Blog – Matt Lunt and his 8 Week Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction Course in Hoylake

Matt Lunt is a regular at our yoga classes and he is going to be running a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) at the Hoylake Parade Community Centre in September. I have personally attended an 8 week MBSR course and found it an excellent introduction to Mindfulness based meditation and stress reduction techniques. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in expanding their knowledge and experience in this area. Matt is offering this at a special reduced rate as it is part of his degree in Mindfulness.

Matt has provided us with the following description of the course and some information about himself;

Eight-week Mindfulness Stress Reduction Course

25TH September to 13th November 2018 – Tuesday evenings from 6.30pm to 8.30pm

About the course:

This eight-week course takes place every Tuesday evening from 25th September. As well as the two-hour Tuesday evening sessions, a commitment to devote approximately 30-45 minutes for home practice six days a week is required.

Included in the course price:

Participation in eight two-hour group sessions

A workbook with guidelines for supporting home practice

Guided mindfulness audio recordings

Who is it for:

The course is open to anyone who is interested in learning how to use mindfulness to better cope with the pressures of daily life. Some of the ways the course may help participants to do this include:

  • Recognising when we are operating on autopilot
  • Bringing a new approach of curiosity and kindness to dealing with unpleasant experiences
  • A better understanding of our own mental habits and how these can cause us additional suffering
  • Recognising our stressors and how we can better respond to these
  • A greater awareness of the present moment

About me:

I started my regular mindfulness practice about four years ago to cope with the stresses of life and work. A few years previously, I had experienced a huge panic attack on the way to work one morning. Although I was physically healthy, I soon realised that I was neglecting to look after my mind. I started experimenting with mindfulness practices, eventually signing up for an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. This course proved to be so helpful in helping me to relate differently to experience, so that I learned to see stressful events more clearly and recognise my own mental habits of reacting to them.

I am currently studying for a Masters in Mindfulness-based Approaches at the University of Bangor’s Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice. Leading this course will form part of my teacher training, therefore it is offered at an introductory rate of just £50.

For further information or to book a place, please contact Matt on 07896855550 or email at mlunt81@gmail.com

Thanks Matt and good luck with the course. There is a link to the flyer for the course below.

Paul & Steve

8 week MBSR flyer

Pop-Up Yoga – Beach & Park in a cardboard Castle!

Hi Everyone

Just a quick note to let you know that we have a couple of pop-up yoga sessions coming up.

Beach Pop-up Yoga

The first one is on Sunday 5th August at 10:00am at Red Rocks, Stanley Road, Hoylake.

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The weather forecast looks great and we have checked the tide times!!

We will meet at the end of Stanley Road, Hoylake at the gate which leads on to the beach for a 10:00am start.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, some water, suncream and a blanket / jumper for relaxation in case there is a cool breeze. Some yoga mats will be available on the day if you need to borrow one.

We will be teaching a traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise, postures and a nice guided relaxation to finish. The cost for the class is £5 for adults and £3 for children accompanied by an adult.

Here is a link to the event on our facebook page;

Here is a map of where we will meet;

Park Pop-Up Yoga in cardboard castle – Ashton Park 

Come and join us on Sunday 12th August at 10:00am for a FREE outdoor Pop-up Yoga session with a difference! We will be practicing yoga next to a large cardboard castle that will be built in Ashton Park as part of the Lost Castles event across the Merseyside Region.

French artist Olivier Grosstete has designed cardboard castles influenced by the rich architectural history of the Merseyside Region and they will be built in locations across Merseyside. We are lucky to have one being built in Ashton Park in West Kirby!

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Our yoga session will be a traditional hatha yoga class including a breathing exercise and guided relaxation. This is a FREE family friendly community yoga session brought to you by Wirral Council and Yogasmiths. Please bring a yoga mat with you, we will have a small number of mats that can be used on the day. If you wish to purchase a cheap decent quality yoga mat, Home Bargains have them for £5.

After the Yoga session there will be the opportunity to stick around and be involved in the pulling down and dismantling of the castle after which it will all be recycled.

For more information about the Lost Castles events across Merseyside please see the link below;
https://www.lostcastles.co.uk

You can get in solved in the building of the castle and find out more information here;
https://www.imaginewirral.com/get-involved%20

Here is a link to the event on our facebook page;

We look forward to seeing you there!

Paul & Steve x

CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER – Pop-up Sunset Beach Yoga – Friday 13th July 2018 at 8:15pm – Red Rocks, Hoylake

Hi everyone

Just a quick note to let you know that we are holding our next Pop-up yoga session on Friday 13th July at 8:15pm at Red Rocks, Stanley Road, Hoylake. This will be a lovely yoga session, timed so that we can practice yoga with the setting sun and enjoy the final moments of the sun after our guided relaxation. 

The weather forecast looks good and we have checked the tide times!!

We will meet at the end of Stanley Road, Hoylake at the gate which leads on to the beach at 8pm for an 8:15pm start down on the beach.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, some water, and a blanket / jumper for relaxation as it will get cooler as the sun goes down. Some yoga mats will be available on the day if you need to borrow one.

We will be teaching a traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise, postures and a nice guided relaxation to finish. The cost for the class is £5 for adults and £3 for under 18’s. Under 18’s bus the accompanied by an adult and you must bring consent forms which can be found on our website here;

https://yogasmiths.org/student-resources/

Here is a link to the event on our facebook page;

https://www.facebook.com/events/201749497202325/

If you check out the comments on the Facebook event there are further details of where we will meet including pics and a map. 

We look forward to seeing you there! 

Namaste

Paul and Steve
Yogasmiths

Congratulations to our Duke Of Edinburgh Award Yoga Students!

We have been delighted to have been able to introduce yoga to a group of young women completing the Duke of Edinburgh award via our weekly yoga classes.

Faith, Katie and Maisie have been regular attendees at our weekly classes to fulfil the requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh for physical activity / sport.

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They have been and continue to be regular attendees along with their friend Esme. We have been very pleased with their commitment to their yoga practice and their progression within yoga. It was with great pleasure that we were able to sign off part of their Duke of Edinburgh award as assessors and wish them good luck in completing the rest of their award.

If you are completing the Duke of Edinburgh award why not consider attending yoga classes to satisfy the Sports / physical activity requirements!

As they are all under 16 they attend with a parent / guardian and we are pleased to have 2 of their parents as regular attendees to our classes now as well! If you are interested in attending our yoga classes with somebody under the age of 16 please see the student resources tab on our website for details of consent forms that need to be completed.

Namaste

Paul & Steve

Please see below for information about the Duke of Edinburgh award, taken from their website;

Since its creation in 1956 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the DofE has gone from strength to strength. Guided by the same set of principles and by young people themselves, it’s as relevant today as it was then. The DofE Award was based on Kurt Hahn’s Moray Badge, run by him while Headmaster at Gordonstoun School.

A flexible programme that helps to develop young people for life and work, the numbers speak for themselves: 93% of participants feel that DofE has helped them to work in a team and 84% feel that they have become a more responsible person.   From 1,000 DofE Awards achieved in year one to 142,961 last year, we have both a rich history and a bright future. Why not let our timeline and our young people tell you more?

The DofE has a positive impact on young people’s lives, in terms of their personal development and employability, and on wider society, from charities gaining active and engaged volunteers to businesses hiring work-ready recruits.

Demand remains high. With increasing numbers of young people wanting to take part in the world’s leading youth achievement award, it’s our ambition to give another one million 14 to 24-year-olds in the UK this life-changing opportunity by 2021.

Thanks to our fantastic team of employees and volunteers and the generous donations made by our supporters, we look forward to doing just that.

Find out more here;

Yoga Pop-up session – Cubbins Green, West Kirby 10:30 on Sunday 27th May 2018

Hi Everyone

Just a quick note to let you know that we are holding another Pop-up yoga session on Sunday 27th May at 10:30am at Cubbins Green , Macdona Drive, West Kirby.

Following on from the success of our Pop-up sessions last year, all the lovely feedback and requests to do more, we are really looking forward to this years run of Pop-up yoga.

The weather forecast looks great and the tide will be in so it’ll be lovely practicing facing the sea and looking out across the estuary from the cliffs.

We will meet at the end of Macdona Drive at the gate which leads on to the cliffs at 10:30am.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, some water, suncream and a blanket / jumper for relaxation in case there is a cool breeze. Some yoga mats will be available on the day if you need to borrow one.

We will be teaching a traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise, postures and a nice guided relaxation to finish. The cost for the class is £5 for adults and £3 for children. If brining children please download, complete and bring with you, a consent form from our website under Student Resources. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

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There are lots of lovely cafe’s and pubs nearby in West Kirby to grab lunch / refreshments after the session.

Here is a picture and a map of where we will be meeting;

Here is a link to the Facebook event on our page Yogasmiths;

Pop-up Yoga Facebook event link

Any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch either via our Facebook page at;

Yogasmiths Facebook page

or email us at enquiries@yogasmiths.org

We look forward to seeing you there!

Paul & Steve x

Mental Health Awareness Week – helpful tips to deal with stress

At all of our weekly classes this week we discussed Mental Health Awareness Week and the topic for this year which is stress.

Stress has been shown to be one of the main contributory factors in triggering a mental health problem. Research has shown that two thirds of us will experience a mental health problem during our lifetime.

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness week we decided we would start the conversation about mental health and ask our yoga students to share their tips and ways of dealing with Stress.

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We had our Stress board at all the classes and students all wrote down on a post it note what they do to deal with stress.

At the end of this week we had a mountain of post it notes with lots of helpful tips and ideas. We typed them all up and entered them into a special website of wizardry which came out with a wonderful word cloud with the most common suggestions in a bigger font. Here are the results;

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The top 3 helpful suggestions were going for a walk, talking to someone and doing yoga! Have a look at the word cloud and see if there are any ideas that you may like to try next time you are feeling stressed.

We would like to sincerely thank all of our students for taking part in this activity and sharing their own personal strategies for dealing with stress. Sharing our ideas can help others and remove the perceived stigma around Mental Health. The greater our awareness of Mental Health is and the knowledge that many of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime will help those who are suffering in silence. There is no need to suffer in silence, talk and reach out. People have lots of tips and strategies that may help you too.

Paul & Steve

Beach Yoga Pop-up at Red Rocks, Hoylake – Sunday 20th May 2018 at 10:30am

Hi Everyone

Just a quick note to let you know that we are holding our first Pop-up yoga session of 2018 on Sunday 20th May at 10:30am at Red Rocks, Stanley Road, Hoylake.

Following on from the success of our Pop-up sessions last year, all the lovely feedback and requests to do more, we are really looking forward to this.

The weather forecast looks great and we have checked the tide times!!

We will meet at the end of Stanley Road, Hoylake at the gate which leads on to the beach at 10:30am.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, some water, suncream and a blanket / jumper for relaxation in case there is a cool breeze. Some yoga mats will be available on the day if you need to borrow one.

We will be teaching a traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise, postures and a nice guided relaxation to finish. The cost for the class is £5.

beach relaxation

There are lots of lovely cafe’s and pubs nearby in Hoylake to grab lunch / refreshments after the session.

Here is a picture and a map of where we will be meeting;

Here is a link to the Facebook event on our page Yogasmiths;

Beach Yoga Pop-up Red Rocks

Any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch either via our Facebook page at;

Yogasmiths Facebook page

or email us at enquiries@yogasmiths.org

We look forward to seeing you there!

Paul & Steve x

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Mental Health Awareness Week – Mindfulness taster session for UK Bike and Go / Merseyrail – West Kirby

Thank you to all the lovely cyclists that came to our morning Mindfulness taster session. This was held on the cliffs at Cubbins Green in West Kirby. The event was organised by Merseyrail (@Merseyrail) and the UK Bike and Go (@UKBikeandgo) scheme where you can hire bicycles from train stations across the UK.

You can find further details and information on UK Bike and Go here;

https://www.bikeandgo.co.uk

We were pleased to take part in this event to highlight Mental Health Awareness week which runs from 14th -20th May 2018.  The focus this year is on stress and how we cope with it.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Exercise such as cycling (and yoga!) and a mindful purposeful relaxation meditation practice are great tools in tackling stress and its effects.

Mindfulness of breathing and yoga breathing exercises can help reduce the stress response in the body and help us to find a calmer experience of the present moment.

Research has shown that two thirds of people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and that stress is a key factor. Finding practices to help reduce stress and to   deal with stressful situations is a helpful way of trying to find a calmer more peaceful experience.

Cubbins Green provided the perfect setting for the guided Mindfulness relaxation session with lots of beautiful birdsong and sunshine!

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Yogasmiths Summer Yoga Retreat 15th -17th June 2018

Join us on our first summer yoga retreat! We will be at the beautiful Trigonos retreat centre (postcode: LL54 6BW) on the edge of Snowdonia on the banks of a lovely lake. You get two yoga teachers for the price of one!
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For more information about us please check out our website biographies at https://yogasmiths.org/about/
Arrival from 4pm onwards on Friday 15th June 2018
Depart at 3pm on Sunday 17th June 2018
Prices, per person: 
Single en-suite £299 
Single non-en-suite £279
Twin / double en-suite £289
Twin non-en-suite £265
Price includes full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and all retreat sessions. There will be morning coffee/tea with biscuits, afternoon tea/coffee with cake, a constant fruit bowl and tea/coffee whenever required. All food is vegetarian. Vegan and gluten free can be catered for also (please request when booking).
 

We will have a timetable of Traditional Hatha yoga, breathing practices, guided relaxation, mindfulness meditation and free time to help you unwind and relax. 
 
Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment. Please email yogasmithsorg@gmail.com or telephone 07834268052 if you have any questions or queries. 
 

A £50 per person non-refundable deposit is required to secure booking.  
 
All details can also be found on our website at www.yogasmiths.org/retreats/ where you can also download a booking form.
 
Also find us on Facebook, instagram and twitter at the following links;
 
Thanks and we look forward to welcoming you to our retreat
 
Paul & Steve x