Meditation and yoga are fantastic ways to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and tension, as well as deal with health issues like chronic pain and insomnia.
Meditation is about looking within to promote peace and well-being. It involves calming the mind and breathing deeply to remain present in the moment and give our brains and bodies a break from all of the worry of past or future events that we have little control over. It’s a skill that needs time to develop as it’s not always easy for many of us to sit still without distractions.
If just getting started, try for only 15 minutes. Find a quiet space, whether in your bedroom or backyard. Begin by drawing attention to the breath then slowly scan each part of your body, noticing any subtle sensations that may be arising. Most newcomers to meditation benefit from using a mantra to focus. This is a simple statement that gets repeated silently or out loud, like “May I be happy” or “Ohm”.
Meditation does not have to be a completely individual practice. The whole family can come together for a period of stillness and quiet together and this routine of calm can be incredibly beneficial for children and adults. For children, a walking meditation can be another option if sitting still is too challenging. Go for an easy walk in nature but instead of talking, have everyone focus on breathing and repeating their mantra.
For some of us, meditation is very challenging in terms of being still, especially in a busy household! Yoga may be an easier way to achieve some meditative moments, it can also be done as a family and you get some beneficial stretching too. There are many ways to get started with yoga, like pose cards or videos. But once you get some foundational movements, it can be fun to play “follow the leader” and everyone takes a turn suggesting a pose.
In the yogic and Ayurvedic tradition, sattva means clarity, purity, and wholesomeness. Sattvic foods are the foundation of the yogic diet and preferred by yogis and include foods that are nourishing and easy to digest, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and herbal teas (https://about.spud.com/blog-live-like-yogi-eat-like-yogi/). Luckily these are also the foundational foods of Canada’s Food Guide—half your plate veggies and fruit and plant-based proteins more often!
The CBC has more information for getting started on meditation: https://www.cbc.ca/life/wellness/advice-from-a-buddhist-monk-on-how-to-start-a-successful-meditation-practice-1.5341736.