Excerpt: Thrive Through Yoga by Nicola Jane Hobbs
About the book
I created Thrive Through Yoga because yoga and meditation were such a huge part of my own recovery from anxiety and depression and continue to be a big part of my life and personal growth so I wanted to share the power of these practices with the world. By combining my personal experience and professional practice with ancient wisdom and modern psychology, Thrive Through Yoga provides a clear path to health, strength, and freedom for anyone who longs to live without stress, ease anxiety, find the confidence to follow their dreams or simply find more happiness and meaning in their everyday life.
The book takes readers on a journey of transformation involving self-awareness, self-care, and self-compassion. Through yoga sequences, meditations, and heart-centred explorations, it guides readers through 21 days of healing and personal growth, tapping into some of the common struggles of modern life, such as stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and body image issues, and providing tools to not only deal with these challenges, but grow stronger, braver and kinder from them.
I hope that Thrive Through Yoga will give readers the inspiration, guidance and courage to let go of whatever is holding them back, transform their struggles into strength and grow as bold and beautiful as they were born to be.
Day 2: Slowing Down and Being Present
The world moves pretty fast and it’s easy to lose ourselves in the chaos. Many of us live our lives in an anxious struggle of multi-tasking, achieving goals, meeting expectations and getting through our to-do lists, so it’s easy to lose awareness of the present moment. We think too much, we want too much, we worry too much and we forget how blissful it feels to just be.
Slowing down and being present is about breaking the habit of busy-ness and living a more mindful, intentional and compassionate life. It includes:
• Paying attention to whatever is happening in our lives without judgement.
• Being aware of what we are thinking and doing.
• Being with the present experience instead of going on autopilot.
• Not clinging to or rejecting the present moment.
• Being fully with the people we are sharing time with.
• Slowing down our breathing, speaking, walking and eating.
• Responding to life’s pressures calmly and mindfully.
Slowing down and being present is important because it gives us the time to get to know ourselves better and truly see the things that matter most. Much research is being done on the benefits of mindfulness on physical, mental and emotional well-being, and it has been found to decrease anxiety, stress, depression and exhaustion, reduce addiction and self-destructive behaviour and improve immunity, circulation, self-awareness and emotional resilience.
Day 8: Cultivating Gratitude
Gratitude changes everything. It is nearly impossible to feel grateful and anxious at the same time so cultivating gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful ways we can interrupt anxiety, stop stress, and awaken from depression.
As a society, we are addicted to talking about our problems. Whether it’s that our job is too demanding, our partner isn’t romantic enough or our belly is too wobbly, we find that complaining comes far more naturally than appreciating the fact that we have a job that pays well and allows us to spend time with our family, that our partner is always there when we need them, or that our belly was once home to our beautiful children. Gratitude shifts our focus from what our life lacks to the wonderful people, things, and experiences that are already present. And because gratitude doesn’t always come naturally, it’s important we take the time to cultivate it.
When we refuse to become trapped by negative thoughts of guilt, entitlement and anxiety, and instead cultivate gratitude in our hearts, the world becomes a magical and amazing place – we unlock the fullness of life. Gratitude is a choice, and the more you live in a state of gratitude and constantly look for the good, the more present you become and the more you attract things to be grateful for.
We can spend our life complaining about our current situation or we can choose to be grateful by:
• Appreciating all the positive things that come our way.
• Constantly looking for the good.
• Noticing the little things.
• Being aware of how much we have been given.
•Recognising the loving and supportive actions of others.
• Giving meaning to life by treating it as a gift.
• Living our life as if everything is a miracle.
Day 12: Loving Your Body
Nobody ever tells us that it’s OK to call ourselves beautiful. Nobody ever says that we can love our waist and our hips and our thighs. Nobody ever says its OK to compliment our assets instead of moaning about our flaws. So I’ll say it now: You are allowed to love your body exactly the way it is.
There is no wonder that over 60 per cent of us are ashamed of our bodies with the rise of selfies on social media becoming a breeding ground for judgement and comparison, and magazines boasting front covers telling us how to get ‘slim and sexy’, ‘lose inches all over’ and ‘be bulge-free’. The problem with these messages is that not only do we feel we need to lose inches, we also lose self-confidence, self-compassion and self-love.
Many of us spend our lives fighting to change our body to fit some kind of ideal. But research shows those of us who fit that ideal are just as likely to be unhappy with our bodies as those who don’t. So the other option is to change our attitude towards our body—to appreciate it instead of criticise it, to nourish it instead of punish it and to love it instead of hate it. Developing this body confidence means we:
• Accept ourselves as we are.
• Realise that our body isn’t perfect, but no one else’s is either.
• Don’t feel the need to change our weight or have plastic surgery to feel better about ourselves.
• May still want to improve our body by losing or gaining weight or toning up but know it won’t make us any more valuable as a person.
Thrive Through Yoga: A 21-Day Journey to Ease Anxiety, Love Your Body and Feel More Alive by Nicola Jane Hobbs is published on the 28th of December 2017 by Green Tree, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, £10.99. Available here