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October - December 2008 lime 67

health 68 lime October - December 2008 breath is at least as important as the pursuit of a toned torso. The rewards include: lower levels of anxiety and depression; a more stable mood; a better memory; and increased levels of self-acceptance, awareness and tolerance. One of the key aspects of yoga is focusing on the present moment without distraction. Many of us spend our lives worrying, or thinking, about the past or the future, with little awareness of what is happening in the present time. Yoga encourages us to cut through our mental chatter and regain a sense of the present. Breathing exercises are another key part of yoga – breathing slowly and deeply is one of the best ways to de- stress and relax. MEDITATION There are plenty of misconceptions about meditation, but in fact the practice is quite simple, though challenging. In a similar way to yoga, meditation helps to focus and calm the mind. Meditation can be defined as ' a state of concentrated awareness' – this can be on the breath, a sound or an object. Focus is turned inward so that the meditator grows used to watching the mind instead of becoming involved with the obsessional thought- processes that can rule us. It is fundamentally a simple practice, requiring nothing but patience and focus. The benefits of meditation can be huge – and include a calmer mind, lower stress levels and relief from depression and anxiety. Among the physical rewards are lower blood pressure and heart rate. POSITIVE THINKING Cultivating positive thinking – a hugely beneficial technique that takes time and effort to perfect – is another coping mechanism to manage stress. UK- based physiologist, coach and author Alyssa Abbey ( see www. livewithenergy. com) works with people and organisations to help boost wellbeing, positivity and energy levels. Abbey says negative thinking has a highly detrimental effect on mind, body and spirit, and points out that research is increasingly drawing Spending time outside in an uncrowded place such as a beach, where there's plenty of unspoilt nature, is invaluable to our wellbeing