Mindfulness For Athletes

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Just “go with the flow” – seems like a ridiculous thing to suggest to fitness professionals or indeed to our clients! After all, we’re encouraged to have goals, to have plans, to beat a PB and, by definition, we’re pretty energetic individuals impatient for results.

This is the first in a series of articles I was invited to write for Personal Trainer Magazine and was originally published in April 2015.

For many years my life used to be ALL about deadlines and goals; I thought by making sure I had my running shoes in my suitcase, multivits, energy bars and my sachets of wheatgrass at the ready would be me sorted. I could still train for that half marathon, work long hours and be fit and healthy – wrong!

Enter stage – mindfulness practice

Ever wondered what the heck it is? Or, what’s that got to do with you or your clients? Mindfulness-based stress-reduction has been around for several decades as a therapeutic tool. By turning our attention to what is actually happening in the present, we’re able to see the situation for what it is, allowing us to have absolute control over how we react in any given moment. That’s mindfulness in a nutshell. We are invited to simply be aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.

The benefits of introducing this practice into our daily lives as fitness professionals are huge: we learn to relax (allowing the body to heal), we learn not to dwell on the last bad training session or match, which can seriously affect our performance (it’s gone, it’s in the past!) and once we have a plan in place, we learn that the “how we get the results” doesn’t always come about in the way we expected.

How to get started?

The first stage is learning to relax. Try this the next time you’re feeling frazzled after a full day of coaching or weary from over-training. Take 10 minutes to sit or lie down undisturbed (we can all find 10 minutes) and connect with your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply, using all of the muscles involved in breathing: the abs, diaphragm, intercostal muscles, and up into the chest, noticing any areas of tension in the body and allowing yourself to simply relax. Just notice any thoughts that come into your mind, allow them to come and go (you can’t stop your mind having thoughts, but you can become an observer rather than a participant in them). With this technique, you’ll automatically switch on the parasympathetic part of your nervous system allowing you to relax naturally. You wait, 10 minutes will soon become 15 and so on.

Yes, it takes practice, but the rewards are instant and exponential. Every few minutes that we choose to direct our attention to the breath and relax into the body, is like having a 30-minute power nap, only much quicker and longer-lasting.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Yoga with Chrissie in 2016

Chrissie Tarbitt, Why Meditate?

This is just a quick reminder that my yoga classes at the lovely Ocean Physio studio in Woodbury begin again in January.

The first classes of the new term are on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st January 2016.

Classes are kept intentionally small (with no more than 10 students) to ensure maximum benefit.  All times are the same as last term.

Spring Schedule

  • Wednesday mornings (60 minutes): 7.15 – 8.15 am
  • Thursday mornings (60 minutes): 9.30 – 10.30 am

Prices are unchanged too. Adult classes are £8 for a 60-minute class or £42 for a 6-week block.

I still have a few available slots for private yoga tuition for individuals or small groups, either at the Woodbury studio or in your own home (where appropriate).

You’ll find the Ocean Physio & Rehab studio at:
Woodbury Business Park, Woodbury, Devon, EX5 1AY.

For class reservations, please call Ocean on 01395 239455. For other yoga or class content queries, drop me a line at chrissie[at]integratedwellbeing.co.uk.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Rest & Restore Workshop

Chrissie Tarbitt, Integrated Wellbeing

I’m excited to share with you news of my forthcoming Rest & Restore Winter Workshop.  Join me in this lovely, peaceful, light and airy studio in Woodbury for a morning of “you” time.  

When?
Sunday 6th December: 10.00am – 12.30pm

Where?
Ocean Physio & Rehab Clinic, Woodbury Business Park, EX5 1LD

Timetable

  • 9:45  Arrival.
  • 10:00 – 10:45  Introduction to Mindfulness, Meditation and powerful Yogic breathing techniques which you can easily incorporate into your daily lives to bring about that all important sense of calm and peace just when you need it most!
  • 10:45 – 11:30  I shall then guide you through a gentle yin yoga session which will focus on allowing the body and mind to fully let go.
  • 11:30 – 12:00  Yoga Nidra – deep yogic relaxation.
  • 12:00 – 12:30  Finally, some time to share some home-made, cold-pressed juices and raw, vegan snacks before heading home.

Places are limited to 10 people per workshop so don’t miss out if you want to help banish winter blues or just need to rejuvenate before the busy festive period! 

The cost of the workshop is £25 per person with 50% of the proceeds being donated to Leukaemia Care as part of my various half-marathon sponsorship efforts. Book direct via the secure Eventbrite site here: Rest & Restore Workshop

No previous experience is necessary. I’ll provide mats, blocks and blankets. Please wear appropriate clothing.

I look forward to seeing you there!

With wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Alternate Nostril Breathing (An Introduction)

Chrissie Tarbitt of Integrated Wellbeing demonstrates the alternate nostril breathing technique, Anuloma Viloma.

An Introduction To Mindfulness

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A few years ago, my husband gave me a card (slightly tongue in cheek, but a humorous nod to my enthusiasm for my mindfulness and meditation practice), entitled ZEN DOG. It has a picture of a dog languishing in a bath tub boat, donning sunglasses, bobbing along at sea, the sun beating down on him. The words below read like this:

“He knows not where he’s going
For the ocean will decide –
It’s not the DESTINATION…
…It’s the glory of the RIDE”

I actually framed the card and it now hangs on my bathroom wall, serving as a daily reminder that striving for answers to everything or trying to second-guess the future is a pointless, energy-sapping exercise.

When I do allow myself to come away from all that’s going on in my head and notice any tension I may be holding in my body, it really is such a relief, as I know that help is at hand and it’s entirely down to me!  So, for self-confessed control freaks out there, how cool is that?!  By turning our attention to what is actually happening in the present, we are able to see the situation for what it is – we have absolute control over how we react in any given moment. That is mindfulness in a nutshell.

Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).

“Go with the flow” – what a ridiculous thing to suggest when life was ALL about deadlines, rushing about to catch planes and trains, answering emails at the same time as talking on a conference call, etc., etc. – you get the picture. How could it be possible when we all have so many responsibilities and ‘to do’ lists, to “go with the flow”? I used to think that I had a high tolerance of stress but, in reality, that belief simply meant that I’d take on more responsibility and add more stress to my life!

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The saying “necessity is the mother of all invention” springs to mind when I think back to the turning point in my life; to the time when I realised that if I wanted to continue functioning as the person I really wanted to be and knew deep down that I was, I’d need to make some fundamental lifestyle changes. Enter my inspiration and dear friend Shelley, fellow yogi and meditation junkie. For the next several years I went on my own wellbeing journey and soon discovered the joys of a meditation and mindfulness practice. The changes didn’t mean quitting my job and living in a yurt (I have been tempted!), but I went in search of the peace within that would enable me to regain the natural energy needed to live a happy and fulfilling life, that would fully embrace the day job, and my role as mum, wife, friend, daughter, etc.

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with Zen Buddhist monks and inspiring yoga teachers around the world, I’ve read many dozens of books and have attended several wonderful courses, all in pursuit of inner peace. And do you know what the single magic ingredient is that makes this all possible? The breath! How we direct our Chi, Qi, Prana or, simply, energy with the use of our breath, is the answer to living mindfully, in the moment.

In yoga we learn that the breath is the link between the mind and the body. Learning, moment by moment, to direct our attention to the present using the breath as our anchor, can be truly life-changing. It’s such a simple thing but, of course, as with many simple concepts, that isn’t synonymous with easy. Yes, it takes practice, but the rewards are instant and exponential. Every few minutes that we choose to direct our attention to the breath and relax into the body, is like having a 30-minute power nap, only much quicker and longer-lasting and no-one need notice ☺.

So, the next time you’re feeling frazzled or just out of synch with life, take 5 minutes to sit or lie down undisturbed (we can all find 5 minutes) and connect with your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply, noticing any areas of tension in the body and allowing yourself to simply relax. You wait, 5 minutes will soon become 10 and 10, 15 and so on.

You may have realised that I’m a big fan of quotes so I thought I’d sign off this introduction to mindfulness with one by Albert Einstein:

Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.”

Join the conversation by commenting below, and let me know your favourite life quotes too.

Until next time, enjoy the moments!

With love and wellbeing wishes,

chrissie-signiture