Establishing a new routine is incredibly important when our lives have been turned upside down.

By Stefanie Markidis

With lockdown upon us, daily life has changed dramatically and many of our regular comforts – a hug from a friend, an aimless stroll through the city, sitting in your favourite café with a mug of steaming goodness – are unavailable to us. 

The regular routines of our lives are gone (for now), and this can be overwhelming. This is why it’s important to establish a ‘new normal’, a fresh routine for this strange period. 

Routine is a proven way of maintaining good mental health. Of course, a daily yoga practice is key. But here are some other ways to develop a new normal in the time of lockdown:

Establishing structure

Setting up a structure for your day can make large expanses of time more manageable, and psychologically prepare you for a good night’s sleep.

  • Make a list of tasks you’d like to complete during the day. 
  • Set up an enjoyable morning routine (meditation, stretching, coffee).
  • Venture outside for some fresh air at least once every day, if this is possible for you. Otherwise, open a window and breathe deeply. 
  • Establish a soothing sleep routine (devices off, listen to some calming music or play this guided yoga nidra meditation with Yoga Spot Fairfield teacher, Laura).

Develop self-care habits

Set up some small moments of self-care within your daily routine, so they are already in place to support you when you need. 

  • Journaling. Write your thoughts in free-flow or a diary entry. 
  • Humming and ‘om’-ing. This stimulates the vagus nerve, reduces stress and helps your sinuses. 
  • Consistent meal times. Bring on the snacks – but try to keep defined meal times, too. 
  • Move your body. Yoga Spot Fairfield has you covered with our new online timetable and livestream classes.

Connect to your community

Physical distance doesn’t have to mean social isolation – but remember to take time for yourself. 

  • Make time to call others. 
  • Schedule some daily ‘me time’, whether you’re living alone or in a busy household. Think of it as your precious few moments on the office toilet… at home. 
  • Have an offline moment every day. This means no news!
  • Delineate your ‘home life’ from ‘work life’ if possible (see this cute video of a father facing the realities of that challenge).  

Manage your expectations

Rules are for breaking, so remember to give yourself a break when you need it. Remain flexible and know that some days will be more routine-driven than others. That’s okay.  

Be kind to yourself. Yes, Shakespeare (probably) wrote King Lear while quarantined during the plague, but if your daily lockdown achievement is rolling out your mat and lying in savasana, that’s just as impressive.


By Kimberley Laurence, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner

https://www.kimberleylaurence.com.au

Here we are welcoming spring once more, how joyous! Spring is a time of physical and emotional growth and expansion. In spring the Qi of the liver and gallbladder dominate, bringing more focus to our plans, life dreams and relationships.  

Chinese medicine and acupuncture are powerful tools in spring when energetic change causes emotions to stagnate. In TCM, the mind and body are intimately connected; to feel truly vital and healthy it is essential that we find balance in our emotional lives. Through acupuncture and herbs we can utilise this mind body connection to influence our spiritual health, allowing a deeper connection with our dreams and desires.

Stress, anxiety and overwhelm are so common in our modern lives. If you’re feeling stuck or struggling to move forward this spring, Chinese medicine can help you find balance and peace.

The emotions of spring 

The liver houses our ethereal soul. The ethereal soul is the intuitive aspect of the spirit and forms the basis of our psychic life. The liver governs the movement of our psyche outwards – towards others in our relationships, and towards the future in our life dreams. Ensuring the free flow of liver Qi promotes the free flow of inspiration, ideas and intuition. 

The gallbladder is the partner organ to the liver. Where liver Qi helps us make plans, gallbladder Qi gives us the courage and decisiveness to enact them and the initiative to make change. Regulating and harmonising gallbladder Qi can help us to make bold choices and move forward confidently with our life. 

What are the signs of stuck Qi?

Qi flows in regular pathways in the body, and there will be physical and emotional signs if this is disrupted. Problems such as headaches, PMS, muscle tension and digestive disharmony are all indications of Qi stagnation. An unusual sensation in the throat, including a sense that something is stuck there, or discomfort or tension in your ribs or side also manifest when your energy isn’t moving as it should. Disruptions to the normal flow of Qi can also cause feelings of being stuck, irritation or frustration. Difficulty with making decisions and procrastination can also signal that your Qi is stuck. 

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine both work to regulate and restore the normal flow of Qi in the body, helping you to fully process and let go of unresolved emotions. Lifestyle changes are also important in unwinding blocked energy and stimulating the movement of Qi.  A psychologist can support you to work through difficult emotions if you’re struggling to move through it on your own.

Try these lifestyle shifts to move your liver Qi and help ease you into spring. 

Lighten up your diet

Eating with the seasons supports the harmony of Qi in the body. In spring we naturally move away from the denser meals of winter towards lighter, fresher dishes. Leafy greens are perfect spring fare – try this green gozleme recipe.

Do a spring clean

Clutter raises the levels of stress hormones and encourages procrastination. Clean and tidy spaces promote calm and creativity.

Get moving

Physical movement promotes the free flow of Qi and is helpful to unwind stuck energy. Use your intuition and work within your limits – gentle movement is as effective as more vigorous exercise. Yin yoga is particularly helpful for undwinding stuck Qi; it works on the meridians of the body to promote harmony and flow.

Here’s a simple Yin yoga sequence you can try at home that targets the liver and gallbladder meridians.

Dragonfly (liver): Seated on your mat, extend your legs wide out to the sides until you start to feel a stretch through the inner thighs. Fold your way forward into the middle and hold for 4 mins. Release, lying still on the back for 2 mins.

Dragonfly

 Reclined butterfly (liver): This one is great with a bolster, a few pillows or some folded blankets to prop you up. Lie on your back, draped over your props, and bring soles of feet together to form a loose diamond shape. Look for sensation through the inner legs. If you’re not feeling much, try bringing the feet closer to the body. Rest your arms out to the side or overhead. Hold for 5 mins then release and lie down for 2 mins. 

Reclined butterfly

Twisted roots (gallbladder): Lying on your back, lift and bend your knees, wrapping the right leg over the left. Shimmy the hips across to the right and let both knees drop across to the left. Look for sensation down the outside edge of the right leg. Extend your arms out to the side. Hold for 4 mins then repeat other side (left leg on top).

Twisted Roots

Take a 5 min savasana when you’re finished, lying in a comfortable position on your mat with eyes closed. Rest and enjoy the benefits of the practice.

About the author

Kimberley Laurence is a Chinese medicine practitioner with a particular interest in women’s health, fertility support, pregnancy and digestion. She’s passionate about natural health care and is committed to working with her clients to help them achieve optimal health and wellness. She’s also a regular at Yoga Spot Fairfield, and we swear by her treatments! You can find Kimberley at 115 Victoria Road, Northcote or give her a call on 9482 1542. Even better, if you’re a Yoga Spot Fairfield member you’ll receive $10 off an initial consultation.