WELL BEING & OTHER STORIES

Recipes, rituals and other stories to realign the body and mind

Pranayama

Wake Up Well Rituals ~ For ES Magazine

Beauty, Commisions, Lifestyle, Mindfulness & Meditation, Movement, Pranayama, Rituals, Seasonal, Wake Up Well, Wellbeingdanielle coppermanComment
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This time of year, whilst full of hope, anticipation and new beginnings, can also feel miserable, especially as the weather gets colder and the days shorter and darker. 

For me, autumn is a time for slowing down and turning inward; think of it as hibernation for the modern human. I like to use the end of summer to regain focus and take stock of where I am and what I hope to achieve.

As with any seasonal shift, changes in the weather will affect us mentally and physically. It's common to feel low, suffer with skin problems and have depleted energy levels at this time of year. That’s why I find it useful to have a bank of reliable rituals on hand to help me feel supported and prepared for anything.

Below are my top tips for keeping skin vibrant and hydrated, for enhancing energy levels (especially as the mornings get darker) and for that all-important immunity boost.

Beauty & Skincare

Massage 

Massage is a really powerful and incredibly underrated ritual for all kinds of things, but particularly for boosting circulation (which will enhance your glow), reducing tension and encouraging cell renewal. I like to mix it up between using tools (like a jade crystal roller or gua sha) and just my hands. It’s super simple and you can work it into your current beauty regime, by simple spending around 2-5 minutes massaging the muscles in your face – focusing around the eye, cheek and jaw areas. 

Neti pot

A neti pot is a traditional cleansing method originating from the East. It is a way of cleaning the nasal passages (known as nasal irrigation), and is a ritual used to clear the debri and mucus from the nose and sinuses. It looks a bit like a mini teapot and you fill it with filtered water. It helps to clear the nostrils, helping breathing and oxygen intake, reduce dryness, ease sinus-related headaches, relieve allergy symptoms and prevent viruses and infections. As the seasons change, we are often at risk of seasonal viruses or just feeling a little rundown and out of sorts, so this can definitely help. I also find it makes my head feel clearer too.

Tongue scraper

Scraping the surface of the tongue is known to remove a build up of toxins which accumulates overnight, preventing us from swallowing and ingesting them. It's a really simple, energising and powerful ritual to add to your morning routine.

To Energise 

Tapping

Tapping is a simple technique known to promotes blood circulation and energy flow. It involves tapping and massaging parts of the body, using a combination of fists and fingertips to activate them and to release any tension, emotion or energy blockages held within. This is one of my favourite rituals and can be an energising practice to include in your morning routine if you want to raise your vibrational energy and feel balanced, lighter and physically less stiff. 

Yoga

Yoga doesn’t have to be an hour-long class or strict sequence, but can be as simple as a few stretches here and there, without any kind of ‘flow’. Downward Dog is one of my favourite yoga postures to stretch out the body and to encourage circulation around the body, whilst also reducing muscular tension.

Revolved Twisted Lunge is a warming pose that energises the legs and stimulates the internal organs to promote detoxification and digestion. This is also a great one to practice in the mornings as the temperatures get cooler.

Breathwork 

Pranayama, also known as breathwork, is one of my favourite tools for supporting internal cleansing and to enhance focus, concentration and energy levels. Ideal to practice in the mornings.

Breath-counting meditation is a powerful exercise for the mind which tidies away distracting thoughts, enhancing concentration, stamina and endurance. Try this to refresh your thoughts or stay on task at work or to feel more present.

1. Sit comfortably either on the floor with crossed legs or on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, bring your awareness to your breath and notice any natural patterns or rhythms. 

2. On an exhale, start counting silently from one. Then inhale, pause briefly once your lungs have reached full capacity, and exhale, silently counting two. 

3. Keep counting like this at the end of every exhalation until you reach ten, and then starting counting backwards, from ten to one. If thoughts intrude, you get interrupted or you become distracted and forget which number you’re at, simply accept it and start again from one. 

4. Once you are back to ‘one’, repeat the sequence, counting up to 20 or 30 or however far feels natural, and bring the practice to a close when you are ready to. 

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Nourishment

Herbal tonics 

As the weather gets cooler, our bodies begin to crave different things. Grounding ingredients and warm foods are often desired to bring our bodies into balance, and making infusions to drink is one of my favourite ways to gain warmth and nourishment, anytime of day.

Not quite as potent as ingesting the ingredients whole, infusions and teas still draw nutrients from the plants you are using, which are then quickly and easily absorbed by the body. They also help bring variety to the daily-recommended amount of water we should be consuming.

There are several methods for infusing, and the ratio of plants to water really depends on personal taste. For hot options, simply use hot water or hot milk to brew your choice of herbs, spices, flowers, fruits, vegetables or other plant-based ingredients (such as fresh basil, thyme, mint, cinnamon, chamomile,  fresh fruits or fresh vegetables (such as cucumber, carrot, beetroot). Brew them in a large jug, heat-proof bottle or even a large bowl to then decant into smaller bottles. 

Store in the fridge but serve warm. 

Seasonal ingredients

As the seasons change - despite the fact that most ingredients are available all year around these days – it is incredibly beneficial for us to incorporate seasonal ingredients into our diets. Autumn brings with it an abundance of earth and root vegetables, such as turnips, cauliflower, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, kale, parsnips, potato, and so on.

Vegetables grown in the earth are incredibly grounding, and cooking them and enjoying them warm is even more nourishing, providing our bodies with easily digestible meals to warm from within. Do a little further research on seasonal ingredients as we shift from autumn into winter and opt to swap salads and cold dishes for more curries, soups and stews. 

3 Breathing Rituals That Will Calm You The F Down ~ for Byrdie

Commisions, Mindfulness & Meditation, Natural Living, Pranayama, Rituals, Wellbeingdanielle coppermanComment
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I don't know about you but I can get stressed out. Modern life isn't exactly a walk in the park. But thankfully, you don't need to spend loads of money or time ridding yourself of worry. Apparently, breathwork is the secret to a calmer day, according to wellness guru Danielle Copperman, who practices breathing exercises on the daily.

We've talked about the importance of breathing before and how it can be a simple, quick and free way to de-stress when life throws you a curveball. But, Copperman doesn't just wait use breathwork as a cure. She uses it as a preventative, too. There is one breathwork sequence she uses on the regular and two that are cooling, great for hot, humid summer days.

So what are you waiting for? Breathe your way into a better day.

Breath Retention Pranayama

The morning is an ideal time to practise pranayama (prana meaning life force and ayana meaning to extend or draw out) before your mind has the chance to start worrying too much about the day ahead. When you wake up with morning anxiety, focused breathing is a simple technique to help stop any kind of irrational thoughts and negative feelings in their tracks, preventing them from developing into a full-blown bout of stress that’ll stay with you throughout the day. Meditating in the morning instils not only a sense of calm but also an established sense of awareness and consciousness, which in many ways will help you experience more deeply, and feel more present in each moment.

1. Stand, sit or lie in a comfortable position, preferably in a quiet and undisturbed environment. Rest your hands on your knees if sitting on the floor, or by your side if standing, sitting on a chair or lying down. Notice any internal or external sensations such as thoughts and feelings or outside noise and distractions, and without trying to change anything, focus on nothing but settling.

2. With eyes open or closed and breathing in and out through your nose, become aware of the rhythm of your breath, relaxing your shoulders, your neck and your head. Begin to deepen the breath, taking a long inhale through the nose and exhaling fully to expel every last inch of the breath from your lungs. Observe how the breath feels entering and exiting the nose and the way the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.

3. On an inhale, notice when your lungs reach full capacity, and pause for a moment before exhaling fully. As you take your next inhalation, count the length of your breath, in seconds, pause at the top of your inhale for the same number of seconds you inhaled for, and exhale for the same number of seconds. Repeat this cycle a couple of times, and if the breath allows, gradually increase the length of each inhalation, breath retention and exhalation, keeping the ratio 1:1:1.

Allow a few weeks of practising daily before extending the length of retention. Over time, increase to 8 seconds, but beginners are advised to work at 4 to 6 seconds. The practice should feel natural, effortless and entirely free from strain. As you retain the breath, feel as if the oxygen is sinking in and distributing itself, filling the tissues of your body.

4. You can either repeat the same counts in one practice (for example, working to a count of three for your entire practice) or you can increase the number of counts within one practice (for example, working to a count of three, inhaling, pausing and exhaling, and then increasing to a count of four, inhaling, pausing and exhaling, and then increasing again to five and maybe six, to however many seconds you can breathe comfortably).

5. Practise for up to 5 minutes, and sit in stillness for a few moments to readjust, before continuing your day. Once you are familiar with this practice and feel comfortable to develop further, work to a ratio of 1:2:3, for example, if you inhale for the count of 2, hold the breath for 4 and exhale for 6.

I don't know about you but I can get stressed out. Modern life isn't exactly a walk in the park. But thankfully, you don't need to spend loads of money or time ridding yourself of worry. Apparently, breathwork is the secret to a calmer day, according to wellness guru Danielle Copperman, who practices breathing exercises on the daily.

We've talked about the importance of breathing before and how it can be a simple, quick and free way to de-stress when life throws you a curveball. But, Copperman doesn't just wait use breathwork as a cure. She uses it as a preventative, too. There is one breathwork sequence she uses on the regular and two that are cooling, great for hot, humid summer days.

So what are you waiting for? Breathe your way into a better day.

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PHOTO: COURTESY OF DANIELLE COPPERMAN

Breath Retention Pranayama

The morning is an ideal time to practise pranayama (prana meaning life force and ayana meaning to extend or draw out) before your mind has the chance to start worrying too much about the day ahead. When you wake up with morning anxiety, focused breathing is a simple technique to help stop any kind of irrational thoughts and negative feelings in their tracks, preventing them from developing into a full-blown bout of stress that’ll stay with you throughout the day. Meditating in the morning instils not only a sense of calm but also an established sense of awareness and consciousness, which in many ways will help you experience more deeply, and feel more present in each moment.

1. Stand, sit or lie in a comfortable position, preferably in a quiet and undisturbed environment. Rest your hands on your knees if sitting on the floor, or by your side if standing, sitting on a chair or lying down. Notice any internal or external sensations such as thoughts and feelings or outside noise and distractions, and without trying to change anything, focus on nothing but settling.

2. With eyes open or closed and breathing in and out through your nose, become aware of the rhythm of your breath, relaxing your shoulders, your neck and your head. Begin to deepen the breath, taking a long inhale through the nose and exhaling fully to expel every last inch of the breath from your lungs. Observe how the breath feels entering and exiting the nose and the way the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.

3. On an inhale, notice when your lungs reach full capacity, and pause for a moment before exhaling fully. As you take your next inhalation, count the length of your breath, in seconds, pause at the top of your inhale for the same number of seconds you inhaled for, and exhale for the same number of seconds. Repeat this cycle a couple of times, and if the breath allows, gradually increase the length of each inhalation, breath retention and exhalation, keeping the ratio 1:1:1.

Allow a few weeks of practising daily before extending the length of retention. Over time, increase to 8 seconds, but beginners are advised to work at 4 to 6 seconds. The practice should feel natural, effortless and entirely free from strain. As you retain the breath, feel as if the oxygen is sinking in and distributing itself, filling the tissues of your body.

4. You can either repeat the same counts in one practice (for example, working to a count of three for your entire practice) or you can increase the number of counts within one practice (for example, working to a count of three, inhaling, pausing and exhaling, and then increasing to a count of four, inhaling, pausing and exhaling, and then increasing again to five and maybe six, to however many seconds you can breathe comfortably).

5. Practise for up to 5 minutes, and sit in stillness for a few moments to readjust, before continuing your day. Once you are familiar with this practice and feel comfortable to develop further, work to a ratio of 1:2:3, for example, if you inhale for the count of 2, hold the breath for 4 and exhale for 6.

Cooling Breath

These two cooling techniques are ideal for regulating body temperature. The sitali involves creating a straw-like shape with the tongue and inhaling through it; as the air passes through the tongue, it collects moisture. If you can't roll your tongue, use the sitkari method. This technique is also thought to reduce anxiety, regulate the natural appetite and hydrate the system.

Sitali

1. Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor with crossed legs on the floor or on a chair with your feet flat, however is comfortable, ensuring the head, neck and spine are aligned.

2. Close your eyes and breathe naturally for a few moments. Relax the mouth and then drop the jaw open, as if you were about to make a low ah sound.

3. Curl the sides of your tongue inwards to form a tube-like shape, and then poke it out of your mouth slightly, but with little effort.

4. Inhale deeply through the tongue, as if drinking the air in through a straw. Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath and the rise of your abdomen, rib cage and chest. Retain the breath here for 5 to 10 counts, or release it instantly as directed in step 5.

5. Draw the tongue back inside your mouth, bring your lips together comfortably and exhale slowly through the nostrils.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 10 to 20 times, or however many times feels comfortable, and bring the practice to a close when you feel cooled and content.

Sitkari

1. Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor with crossed legs on the floor or on a chair with your feet fat, however is comfortable, ensuring the head, neck and spine are aligned.

2. Close your eyes and breathe naturally for a few moments, then gently bring your lower and upper teeth together. Part your lips as much as you can to expose your teeth.

3. Inhale slowly through the teeth, letting the air flow through the gaps between each tooth, and focus on the feeling of the air against your teeth, entering the mouth, filling your abdomen, lungs and ribcage, and on the hissing sound of the breath.

4. Close your mouth, relax the jaw and the teeth and exhale slowly through the nose.

5. Repeat steps 4 and 5 10 to 20 times, or however many times feels comfortable, and bring the practice to a close when you feel cooled and content.


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Restorative rituals for on the road ~ for Suitcase Magazine

Commisions, Wellbeing, Travel, Rituals, Pranayamadanielle coppermanComment

 

If your lifestyle requires you to travel regularly, you’ll notice it taking a toll on you both mentally and physically. To help reduce the side effects of excessive travelling, I’ve come up with three simple meditations that can be done anytime and anywhere to decrease stress, improve sleep, increase energy and keep you balanced while on the road.

While you can’t be expected to do yoga in the airport or start chanting on a plane, you can always find a corner to close your eyes and turn inward for a moment, requiring nothing but the power of your mind and breath.

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Body scan: to encourage restful sleep

Body scanning is an easy mindfulness exercise to relax the body, calm the mind and shift attention away from overpowering thoughts. It involves spot relaxing each part of the body by focusing on it for a few moments. Practising this meditation in the evening is ideal as it is best performed lying down, encouraging the body and mind to transition from “doing” to “being”.

Method

1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface with your legs slightly apart and your arms by your sides. If you are not in bed, place a blanket over your body if you tend to get cold easily.

2. Focus on the breath and notice any thoughts or feelings that arise. When they do, try to turn your attention back to your breath and how it feels moving through the body.

3. Start by focusing your attention on the toes on your right foot. Be aware of how they feel and gradually move your attention up the right side of your body right up to your head, before continuing down the other side.

4. Settle here and notice how your body feels, both part by part and as a whole, and notice how your mind now feels.

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Nadi shodanana pranayama: to increase energy levels

This is an energising, cleansing and detoxifying practice that enhances concentration. It involves alternating breathing through the nostrils to control the breath in a way that rejuvenates the nervous system and balances both sides of the brain.

Method

1. Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor with crossed legs or on a chair with your feet flat, ensuring that the head, neck and spine are aligned.

2. Decide how to use your hands to control the nostrils; one thumb to close off both nostrils, your thumb and index finger, or your thumb and ring finger (the vishnu mudra method).

3. Close your right nostril by pressing the thumb against it gently. Inhale deeply through the left nostril and hold your breath, then move your thumb to your left nostril and close it. Exhale through the right nostril. Keep the thumb on the left nostril and inhale deeply through your right. Hold the breath and then close your right nostril again. Exhale through the left. Repeat 10-20 times.

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Ideal destination visualisation: to reduce stress

Visualisation is a powerful tool for quietening the mind and instilling a sense of positivity within. It involves tuning in and blocking out external distractions and the noise of the mind in order to deeper into the subconscious. This reduces clutter in the mind which subsequently diminishes anxiety, giving more positive parts of the mind a chance to be active. Practise this on the plane or before bed to encourage sounder sleep.

Method

1. Sit or lie comfortably, somewhere private if possible.

2. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take three long, deep breaths and then let it settle into a natural rhythm.

3. Focus on your third eye (the space between your eyes/eyebrows) and imagine you are arriving at your favourite destination or somewhere you would love to be. This could be a specific place or a vague environment, such as a mountain, a field or the beach.

4. Visualise yourself in these surroundings – how it looks, smells, feels. Are you alone or with people? What can you hear? How does it feel to be there in that moment?

5. Continue with this visualisation for as long as feels right. If your mind begins to wander, bring it back to this place and return to the scene in your mind, trying to notice new things each time. Let your mind wander without force or resistance.

6. Practise this ritual for 5-10 minutes. When you are ready, deepen your breath and start to make slow, subtle movements; wiggle your toes, move your fingers, roll your shoulders. Gently open your eyes if you have the space or privacy, take some gentle stretches.