Virginia Woolf famously wrote that a woman needs a room of her own. She was talking about having a space in which to write fiction, but any woman who’s brain is scrambled by the demands of family and work will understand the appeal of a tranquil space in which to relax the body and calm the mind.
I’m on holiday with my family, and, after a week of 24/7 exposure to my very active children, I’m longing for a room of my own! I love my kids. I love my work. But I go mad if I don’t have the time to retreat into my own space and restore my inner balance.
Usually, I head to the yoga studio for some me-time, but there are no classes nearby. Instead, I’ve been getting up before the rest of the family and walking to the local beach. As I wander down the hill, gazing out at the breakers, I feel my breath fall into a regular rhythm and my mind start to settle. I observe how my body feels as I take each step, feeling the sand beneath my feet, the wind on my skin. Gradually, my walk becomes a moving meditation as I connect with the sounds and sensations of the present moment, letting go of all the mind chatter.
At the far end of the beach is a sheltered patch of sand on the edge of the national park. I stop here and practice a few very gentle yoga poses. I wait for my breath to tell me when to move and then allow my body to follow its lead, keeping my focus on the moment-to-moment sensations.
This is how I create my own daily retreat amidst the buzz of a busy family holiday. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mum who feels like she needs a holiday at the end of a family holiday! If you are feeling the heat of a busy summer, remember Virginia Woolf’s advice and find a room of your own. Maybe it’s your local yoga studio where you can leave the outside world behind for an hour or so. Perhaps, like me, you can find an outdoor ‘room’ at a park or beach and enjoy a moving meditation in nature.
Here’s one of my favourite mindfulness techniques for turning the mind inwards, letting go of the external stress and constant mind-chatter and coming back into balance:
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and ask yourself the following questions. Take the time to really enquire and notice what you are experiencing.
• How does my body feel?
• Where are the areas of tension or discomfort?
• How is my posture?
• Am I feeling restless or calm?
• How are my energy levels?
• Is my breath deep or shallow?
• Is my breathing smooth or bumpy?
• Are my thoughts tranquil or is my mind busy?
Finish by taking three slow breaths through the nose, then gently open your eyes.
Download a free 5 minute Mindfulness Meditation.
Nikola Ellis is the founder of Adore Yoga, yoga therapist, counsellor and teacher trainer. She conducts regular trainings that help people of all ages, shapes and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation, including Meditation Facilitator Certificate Trainings; Level 1 200hr Teacher Training and Post Graduate Yoga Teacher Training in Mental Health, Adaptive Asana and the Foundations of Yoga Therapy and a highly regarded professional 650hr Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy.