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A Guide to living well: BodyMindLife's 5 Pillars of Health

1. Thoughts What you think determines your reality.  We have around 60,000 thoughts per day, most of which focus on the worries, anxieties, hurts, fears and all the things we don’t want in our lives.  Through the power of thought, we continue to attract this negativity, which disempowers us from being able to live the life we really want. Imagine if we focused on all the wonderful things, like the love, gratitude and joy that exist in our world.  The Universal Law of Attraction states that whatever we focus on we attract into our lives.  Our yoga practice helps us to focus, learning to focus allows us to master our thoughts, and mastering our thoughts helps us to achieve our dreams.

2. How you relate to other people, and how you relate to yourself Described in the Yoga Sutras as the Yamas and Niyamas, your relationship to yourself and to others forms the foundation of how you live your life.  How you relate to others includes acting with kindness, friendliness and thoughtful consideration of other people, knowing that what you say, do and think can affect other people.  It includes being truthful, responsible, and fostering relationships with respect, understanding and generosity. How you relate to yourself determines the ease and grace with which you move through the world.  Practicing inner awareness, understanding that we are responsible for creating everything in our lives, and learning gracefully from our mistakes cultivates contentment and lessens anxiety.  Motivation and burning enthusiasm for life allows us to continually “go for the highest”, and prevents us from becoming complacent. Taking time for self-observation and self-enquiry allows us to learn about our mental and emotional habits, patterns and tendencies.  From here we come to understand more of our own truth, and in surrendering to that higher truth, we allow our inner wisdom and strength to guide us through life.

3. Breath Yogic philosophy teaches us that our breath carries “prana”, the universal life energy, into our body.  Our bodies are containers for prana – the more we have the healthier and more vital we are. When we have less, we fall into lethargy and illness.  Scientifically, our breath brings in oxygen, which nourishes our cells, and removes carbon dioxide and metabolic waste, creating an inner cleanse.  Most people use only 10% of their lung capacity, inhibiting the life-giving benefits that deep breathing offers us.  Our breath is a direct link to our nervous system, and the use of calm controlled breathing can take us from being in a “sympathetic nervous state” (fight or flight) to “parasympathetic” (rest and renew).  As modern life is full of external stresses, taking time to focus on breathing deeply and fully is essential in reducing stress and restoring health.

4. Body Our body is our temple, our vehicle in which we move through life.  It is a living, breathing organism that has a latent intelligence beyond our comprehension, one that we often take for granted.  By giving our body what it needs, we can harness its inner power and intelligence, and create vibrant and lasting good health. Hydration – we are 70-80% water, and our bodies crave a constant supply to maintain optimum health.  Most of us are chronically dehydrated through living in polluted or air-conditioned environments.  We need to drink at least 3% of our body weight in pure, filtered water each day JUST to maintain healthy function.  For someone who weighs 80kg, that’s 2.4 litres per day at a minimum. Every cup of coffee, tea, cola drink or alcohol dehydrates us even more, and requires another cup of water just to replace the loss.  Smoking, physical exercise and sweating requires us to drink even more water to keep the organs and body working efficiently.  Water for the body is like oil for a car – if it runs low, all sorts of mechanical problems start. Nutrition – staying with the car analogy, if you put bad fuel into your engine you get bad performance.  If you continually put bad fuel in, eventually your engine will break down.  We are seeing this more and more as our modern diets loaded with saturated fats, processed sugars, preservatives and additives are the catalyst for increasing health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  Taking responsibility for what we eat is the first step in eating for health.  Choose foods that are unprocessed and closest to their natural source, as they have the highest amounts of prana, as well as important vitamins and minerals.  Eat organic where possible, to give your system a break from the pesticides and other toxic chemicals that overload the kidneys. Exercise – it’s a well-known fact that exercise is important in reducing stress and keeping our bodies healthy. A balance of strength and flexibility is the key to creating healthy functional movement. Any kind of exercise done incorrectly can cause imbalance in the body, and we encourage our students to listen to their bodies and create healthy movement for life. Our aim is to offer yoga and pilates classes that strengthen and tone the body, burn away excess weight and improve mobility and flexibility.  Our classes inspire students to bring a calm and sensitive approach to their practice.

5. Rhythm Rhythm is about being in harmony with the natural daily cycles of your body, and the earth. We have many cycles in our life – working, relationships, seasons, and sleeping. Our sleeping patterns (Circadian rhythms) are important cycles that affect our daily energy levels.  Between 10pm and 2am, your body achieves physical regeneration through sleep, and between 2am and 6am you achieve mental regeneration.  If you go to bed at 1am, you will miss out on important restful sleep and will be physically tired. The best way to attune to your natural rhythms is to go to bed by 10pm and wake at sunrise. Just like everything in the universe, human beings are made of pure energy. Yoga allows that energy to flow, giving us the sense of ease, peace and grace in our daily lives. If energy is locked or stagnant, life will be challenging and stressful and we will always feel discontent. Incorporating the above pillars into your life will allow you to learn, grow, feel and heal from the inside out, making real and lasting changes to every aspect of your being. For us, yoga is not just something you do.  Ultimately, yoga is a journey of truth – a path of finding the truth about who you really are, and how your thoughts and actions affect your life. As Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  The choice is yours to take it.

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