As Gsy Life gave me the theme for this month; I am sat in Planet Organic on Tottenham Court Road, amidst a flurry of people rushing to bag their supplements, gluten free crisps & organic veg, it is rammed wall to wall with funky Yoga Mat’s or bulging gym bags slung over shoulders. Queues are bustling and tills are bulging and there is a real buzz in the air. People are not only embracing the new trend of wellbeing, they actually seem genuinely excited to be taking care of themselves.
And yes, I feel stylish just being here! I’ve got the ‘gear’ on and have just ordered my healthy and nutritious salad, whilst taking a lunch break from training at a well-known London Yoga Studio, and yes it feels good to sit back and watch all this unwind in front of my eyes. I have spent much of my yoga career in and out of various global studios in all corners of the world, and, ironically a leading yoga teacher based in L.A. recently expressed to me how much she loved that London ‘was finally catching on!’
We are slowly but surely turning our backs on consuming vast quantities of fast and processed food, packed to the rim with refined sugar and salt, and lets be honest much more synthetic rubbish.
I mean we have all been there – constantly checking our phones, ignoring the aches of our bodies and cry for rest, grabbing that quick snack or processed meal because quite frankly we just don’t have the ‘time’ to stop and prepare something healthy!
We have become a population of every time the phone beeps or we hear a new sound, the hormone cortisol level spikes, but the thing is this, our cortisol levels were originally created for us to be in a ‘flight or fight’ mode when we have a rather scary encounter with a bear in the forest whilst out hunting, not for reacting to every aspect of our modern day technology.
Our sleep quality has drastically declined, our levels or medication prescribed to combat stress and anxiety has ten folded, and quite simply we are losing touch with ourselves as human beings more and more.
Now, I am not the person to bang on about how we should be, in fact I have been guilty of all the above personally – and shock horror, sometimes still even do with a studied level of awareness. I know first hand how checking our e-mails first thing in the morning, just after opening our eyes has become something of the norm. I worked in finance for 14 years and ignored my lower back pain, my stress levels constantly overwhelming me, and at one point on a secondment in Asia; finding myself amongst the rest of my colleagues after a long day watching our three flashing screens, observing market fluctuations in an array of red and green, was quite simply to head to the local wine bar and remain there until we had fully blocked any signals from the mind or body to slow down.
So my point being is that whilst Yoga and Health and Wellbeing are certainly stylish, I hope that rather than become the next fad in the cycle of cool or the latest thing, that we practice becoming fully aware and continue to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing.
When current trends are in fashion; we tend to go head first into changing everything all at once, and cursing ourselves for when we ‘slip up’, however wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead, we just allowed these positive changes in which ever form they come to manifest by simply caring for ourselves a little better, committing to recognising when we do need to slow down, and when we are feeling overwhelmed or simply exhausted, actually taking the time to stop if only for a moment, perhaps cooking a healthy meal, as apposed to clicking onto the escapism in the form of social media.
Personally, learning how to take better care of myself in a gradual and digestible manner allowed me the chance to reflect and become a lot more mindful, and with practice to just be a little bit kinder to myself, which sometimes also means enjoying cocktails with the girls and not feeling guilty for it, and most certainly eating that last bit of cake!
In yoga, we say our practice is life long, we practice to improve our quality of life, but not to be perfect. We practice for our bodies and our minds, not for our egos.
And I truly hope with all my heart people continue to educate themselves on the vast knowledge of nutrition & wellbeing, which right now is everywhere.
We are also so blessed to live on an island full of thoughtful, kind, educated and knowledgeable teachers to guide us on our path to wholeness, it might just take us opening our eyes a little more to what is a current stylish trend, to making sustainable, positive and well-balanced changes to live by and increase our wellbeing instead.
And as a wise teacher once taught me, happiness is to be free, and freedom is to have choices.