Meditation minimizes melt down

What is meditation?

Meditation (the uninterrupted flow of concentration or one pointed attention) is the seventh limb or stage of the eight limbs of yoga.  The eight limbs represent the students’ life journey through yoga in order to reach Samadhi where the Individual spirit is liberated and joins the Universal spirit. 

Yoga is a spiritual practice and meditation, just like the poses, is learnt skill.

There are several types of meditations to choose from such as: Mindfulness, Japa, Walking, Metta (Loving kindness), Kundalini, Guided meditations, Chakra meditation – to name a few.

Usually it is practiced in a seated position (see chart below) but walking meditation is just as good.

What are the benefits of meditation?

There are numerous benefits of meditating regularly. It helps us to live our lives better, it lowers stress levels, increases wellbeing, reduces blood pressure, improves our health and it assists with self-realisation.

Meditation helps to even out the ups and downs of life, minimizes meltdowns.

Note: meditation might not suit people with mental health challenges.

How to start meditating?

Unless you prepare the body for meditation you will not be able to sit comfortably.

Try the following stretches with breath awareness:

  • Stand tall in the mountain pose: inhale raise the arms as high as you can comfortable then exhale lower the arms;
  • Stand tall in the mountain pose: inhale raise arms above the head and come up on your toes;
  • Stand tall, inhale raise the arms and exhale, pivoting from your hips bend forward. 
  • Do some twists of the spine, either standing or sitting.

When you are ready to start meditating find a quiet spot, be warm.  A symmetrical seated pose is recommended as the spine is elongated, lungs can work efficiently, the energy rises in the body.  Have support under your knees and hands. Please note my main photo is is taken in Bhutan and it is more about the landscape than sustainable posture for meditation.

If you choose walking meditation find a familiar area, beach or grass in your backyard or local park. Set a reminder (say five or ten minutes) and when that time is up start walking back to your starting point.

If laying down one might fall asleep – which is also beneficial but is is called a nap not meditation :).

In yoga, unless the nose is blocked, we inhale and exhale through the nostrils. 

Once you are seated and comfortable start observing your breath, the length of your inhalation and exhalation.  Try to count for four as you inhale and for four as you exhale.  If you have some experience in Breath Control (Pranayama) you might add pauses after the inhalation and after the exhalation, so your count will be 4:4:4:4.

During meditation:

Accept that it is hard to steady the mind.  Meditation is going inwards, might not be pleasant.  It is self-discovery.  Keep your attention your breath. 

In Meditation you remain in the Waking state of consciousness (low frequency Beta and Alpha brain wave patterns) and gently focus the mind while allowing thought patterns, emotions, sensations and images to arise and go on.  Gradually allowing the layers of the unconscious and subconscious to come forward, expanding the Waking state with one-pointed concentration and non-attachment to the streams of impressions flowing, visualization, memory, learning and concentration in the field of mind. 

If your mind was wondering during meditation, it does not mean that you had a bad meditation. 

What is stopping you from meditating?

A lot of people think they do not have the time or place to meditate, or it is too hard.  Initially start with five or ten minutes per day and gradually increase the time to 20 minutes.

You might want to try some guided mediations (apps) to start it.

Enjoy the inner piece and the process of quieting the busy, chattering mind.


5 tips to avoid eye strain

Thanks to COVID we are using screens more than ever before.

Many who are working or studying from home are staring at laptops or other devices all day. For some, these new ways of working can take a toll on their eyes causing blurry vision, headaches and eye strain.

Below are some tips to keep your eyes healthy. It is an extract from Lindy’s blog @

5 tips to avoid Lockdown eye train

20-20-20 Rule: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet (6m) away, for 20 seconds.
Think Blinking: We blink less often when reading from a screen, this can cause dry and irritated eyes.
Screen Set-up: Your screen should be between 40 and 75cm away from your face. Ideally your eyes should also be in slight downgaze. And don’t forget to minimise glare and reflections on your computer screen.
Bigger text: Make sure the font is not too small for sustained reading and the brightness level is appropriate for the surrounding light.
Get Outdoors: Take regular breaks and stretch those eyes out by looking at objects in the distance.

Coastal walk is a good way to look into distance and contemplate

Note: if you are suffering from eyestrain it is recommend you have an examination with an optometrists.

Colour yourself calm

We all have different ways of calming our mind, keeping our sanity.  What is yours?

I find coastal walks and swimming in summer lift my spirit and restorative yoga (indoors) help me to quieten the chattering mind. 

Now I have a new tool, can be taken anywhere!

Some time ago I was looking for books on mindfulness and I found the book below: ‘Colour yourself calm’ – written and compiled by Tiddy Rowan, Mandalas by Paul Heussenstam.

It contains 33 original mandalas in colour and on the left page and on the other side to it the black and white template for us to colour in.

What is mandala?

A mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल, romanized: maṇḍala, lit. ‘circle’, [ˈmɐɳɖɐlɐ]) is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.

In the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shintoism it is used as a map representing deities, or specially in the case of Shintoism, paradises, kami or actual shrines. A mandala generally represents the spiritual journey, starting from outside to the inner core, through layers.

Meditate to mandala

The first time I meditated using a mandala was a few years ago in Mangrove creek yoga ashram. We were sitting on the floor (you can sit on a chair if it is more comfortable). The big mandala was on the wall in front of us. We were asked to softly gaze towards the mandala, for about five or ten minutes. It was to ease the overloaded mind and to release our creativity.

Start colouring!

Colouring is an easy way to relax the mind, body and spirit whilst subconsciously developing self knowledge, expanding imagination and creating a sense of wellbeing.

Relax and start colouring to calm yourself!

Stretches you can do anywhere

At the time of writing Sydney is in the second week of a lockdown due to the spreading of Covid 19.  Exercising outdoors is allowed.

Have you noticed that you hold stress in your neck and shoulders?  On the photos below I demonstrate the poses I practice regularly.  These will mobilize your joints, will lengthen the front and sides of the body and will stretch your spine, lower back included.

It is important to keep physically and mentally healthy during this lockdown. Let’s start with the  exercises and a future post will focus on calming the mind.

Continue reading “Stretches you can do anywhere”

The benefits of Downward Facing Dog pose

Yoga is a wellness practice that strengthens the mind, body, and spirit.  There are many different yoga postures and styles. The  Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Much Svanasana in Sanskrit) is one of the most famous yoga pose and it has many benefits.

I include the Downward Facing Dog in most of my classes.  Therefore, it is important to perform this pose correctly (i.e., to go into the pose, stay in the pose and come out of the pose with awareness and control).  We want to avoid injuries but also to make it as effective and as comfortable as possible.  

What are the benefits of the Downward Facing Dog pose?

  • Stretches the whole body, the hamstrings, calves, and ankles.  It also stretches the spine, sides of the trunk, lengthens the front of the body and allows the back to be straight.
  • Strengthens the upper body (shoulders and arms), the ankles and tones the legs.
  • Stimulates blood flow (into the head as it is an inversion).  The flow of blood to the brain calms the nervous system, improves the memory and concentration, and is a great stress reliever. See Contraindication later.
  • Improves posture and helps with balance.
  • Fine-tunes your foot muscles.
  • Eliminates stiffness in neck and in upper body.
  • For runners it is also a great exercise to do after a long run.

Downward Facing Dog can be practiced as a restorative pose by resting the forehead or crown of the head on a bolster, block or folded blankets.  This way it helps with the management of headache, insomnia and mild depression.

When practiced regularly, Downward Facing Dog can also improve the digestion, relieve back pain, and help prevent osteoporosis.

How to practice the Downward Facing Dog pose?

  • Stand tall in the Mountain pose.
  • Exhale, bend forward from the hips (bend the knees if you need to) and bring your hands onto the mat, as wide as your shoulders. Spread your fingers, have weight in your palms.
  • On an exhalation step back with one leg then with the other, keeping the feet approx. hip width apart.  Do not worry if your heels do not touch the mat.
  • Pull your inner arms up, move your torso towards your thighs.
  • Lengthen the neck and release the head.  For some very experience people, the head might touch the floor.
  • Work the legs by pulling up the kneecaps and quadriceps.
  • Hold the pose for 20 seconds (say 5 cycles of your breath) or longer if you are more experienced, up to 1 minute.   
  • As noted earlier you can practice Downward Facing Dog with head supported
  • Coming out of the pose: inhale look up, step forward one leg at a time. On inhalation come up to standing.  Stay in standing to allow for your

Although practiced so often, the Downward Facing Dog is often not carried out correctly as it is more complex than it may look. There is a lot to think about in this pose.

Counter-indicators and alternatives:

If you have high blood pressure, which is not controlled by medication, do not do this pose.  Support the head on a bolster or block or do the Half Uttanasana (stand facing the wall, hands are on the wall, in line with your shoulders. Step back with until your feet are under your hips.  Work the legs.

The photos are:

Eve Grzybowski, (teacher of the teachers) demonstrates the pose

Friends’ dog is posing, Yggi

Navigating change

Change is inevitable, think of change of the seasons and tides – not the mention the adjustments we all had to make due to Covid-19.

Sometimes change is forced upon us and sometimes we initiate it. 

Both are equally scary and can bring up core survival fears, which can surface in many ways: health issues, nightmares, escapist behaviour such as overeating, indecision or to leap out of the situation without a plan, just to get the whole thing over with.

How can yoga help us in navigating change?

The philosophy (bible) of yoga was first written down more than 2,500 years ago by Patanjali.  It is called ‘Yoga Sutras’ and it contains 196 succulent aphorisms and covers all aspect of life and guides the yogi through the eight limbs (or stages) of practice.

In Chapter 1 the 2nd phrase states: ‘Yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness’ or the aim of yoga is to calm the mind, to stop the fluctuations of the mind.

Yoga in its widest sense – can give us the strength and insight we need to navigate change.  The skills we learn in our poses (strength, flexibility, stamina and practicing within our limits) are useful tools off the mat.

Below are some steps which might help you:

  1. View the change as an initiation.  Think back to situations where you managed the change and learnt from it, maybe you came out stronger.
  2. The more you can be present with uncertainty the more you can let the change process take place.
  3. Self-inquiry is the core yogic process for navigating change.  Consider what would be the best outcome for all concerned.  Write it down and analyze.
  4. Set your intention (sankalpa), an affirmative statement about what you intend to do to achieve the best outcome.  Some call this goal setting. Consider the pros and cons.
  5. Take action, one step at a time so you avoid feeling overwhelmed.  The very heart of yoga practice is steady effort.
  6. Practice letting go.  Let yourself grieve the losses or allow yourself to feel anxious.  Use every exhalation as a way to letting go of what you do not need.
  7. Visualize the positive outcome of the change and how you will feel about it.
  8. Combine stronger yoga practice with restorative poses.
  9. Keep a routine of getting up and going to bed, eating regular meals and enjoy sunshine. Walking barefoot is good for grounding and strengthens the muscles of your feet, walk on sand or grass.

I stress out easily but regular yoga practice over 30 years helped me with the management of change and keeping the associated anxiety at bay.

Try one of these restorative poses. I do the ‘legs resting on a chair’ before going to bed at night.

Good luck with managing the next change in your life!


This blog is an extension on the last one, which was about the ‘Prolapse of a Pelvic Floor Organ’  These topics are usually not discussed at the dinner table but they are common, 1 in 4 Australians are incontinent.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary loss of: urine (wee) from the or faeces (poo) or flatus (wind) from the bowel.

Incontinence can range in severity from a small leak to complete loss of bladder or bowel control.  It can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, but help is available. In many cases, urinary incontinence can be treated, better managed and even cured. Continue reading “Incontinence”