Big city living can be intense and, in essence, quite unnatural – seeking to conquer nature and override our natural rhythms. We are totally overstimulated and out-of-sync with our biological norms, which, in the most part, is due to technology. (Even lightbulbs have a lot to answer for when it comes to disrupting sleep patterns!)

Constantly distracted, seeking entertainment, and unable to find time to truly unwind and sit peacefully without the assistance of a glass of wine or an online binge, we’re so pushed and pulled into worrying about the past and fearing for the future that our minds spend half their time in realms that don’t actually exist. Our nervous systems simply haven't yet evolved to keep up with the unnatural environments of the modern day and the arrival of the digital, internet and social media ages, which all bring a constant bombardment of information. 

Of course, our ancestors would have contended with the same fears and anxieties that we have, but when you throw 24-hour connectivity into the mix – plus technology that’s designed to grab your attention and keep you hooked – everything is completely exacerbated into a mental maelstrom. 

This makes it a crucial time to welcome the ancient philosophy and time-tested teachings of Ayurveda into our lives; to help ground us and bring us back to the present; to remember to create the time needed to experience the moment and encourage balance; to remind us that we are ourselves nature, and not in a power struggle against it.

The practices of yoga asanas (the physical postures), meditation and mindfulness are my trusted tools for dealing with the stresses of modern life – I look to them as the equivalent of clearing out my desk or laptop desktop, and tidying up my notes mentally and spiritually. Meditation is about dusting off problems and parking your thoughts momentarily, enabling you to reconnect with yourself again, which in turn helps to revitalise you. 

All images courtesy of Nick Hopper.

Daily practice brings more long-term peace to your being, and makes decision making and problem solving more efficient. It means that you can process that niggling situation with your friend or your boss rather than carry it around with you all day and even into the next one. It’s also a great and more practical alternative to power-napping – although you should always honour your body if it's telling you to rest!

Mindfulness is the practice of staying tuned into the here and now, as well as to nature – both your own, and the environment around you. It’s as simple as checking in with yourself every so often and taking the time to observe how your body and mind are feeling without the ‘shouty’ ego chipping in.

Being mindful when you’re eating is a great way to start using this technique, and great for your digestion. Begin to enjoy the act of eating, chewing and savouring your food without distraction. Take a deep breath before you start and acknowledge how blessed you are to be able to enjoy this meal; a little bit of gratitude gives you a wealth of happy vibes and promotes positive chain reactions throughout the mind and body.

The breath follows the mind and the mind follows the breath, so taking the time to sit and consciously breathe should never be overlooked. Breath is life itself – and just ten minutes of slow, deep ‘belly’ breathing every three hours can have a really positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.

Likewise, looking at the sky is a great trick to help you gain and keep perspective. As soon as everything is getting on top of you, look up at the vast space and, suddenly, your problems pale in comparison and you gain a sense of clarity. Regularly bringing your awareness back into the present moment and to your circumstances is the foundation of mindfulness, and is a meditation in itself – you see, this stuff all works together in harmony!

These practices are all part of the holistic approach to living known as ‘Ayurveda’, and ‘yoga’ is the application of it. So, where Ayurveda is the knowledge, yoga is the lifestyle.

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