How to stay calm and centred in times of change

There’s no doubt that we have had our absolute fill of ‘News’ (definitely with a capital ‘N’) lately.

The death of The Queen, a new Prime Minister, the cost of living crisis, war rumbling on in eastern Europe… and all happening at this shifting time of year when autumn sweeps in.

It’s no wonder many of us are feeling uprooted, anxious or at least a little wobbly.

So how do we find some calm in the storm? Where’s that bucketful of resilience we need to help us cope with the coming months?

We asked the experts for the best ways to use body and mind to anchor us – keeping us calm, centred and mentally strong in turbulent times.

Finding calm and steadiness through movement

There are few better places to be than your yoga mat in times like these.

‘We often think of yoga as flexibility training, but it’s so much more,’ Danielle Wills, yoga instructor for fitness app WithU, tells ‘It’s a way of reconnecting to a sense of calm in a very un-calm world.

‘It allows us to change our perspective and focus on the things we can control.’

Making yoga part of a daily routine not only helps centre us with some welcome structure but can also boost its benefits.

Danielle explains: ‘Most of us feel stress at quite specific times of day – usually first thing in the morning when the day looms in front of us, and last thing at night when we worry about all that we haven’t yet done.

‘Slotting a few yoga moves into these periods is one of the best ways to reclaim your own power because you’re using physiology and psychology together at times that actually matter.’

Try a sequence of steady, strong and grounding poses such as cobra, warrior II, downward dog and tree pose.

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Mariel Witmond, yoga instructor and founder of wellbeing platform Mindful Sonder, is a fan of Yin yoga, a slow-paced practice, at this transitional time of year.

‘Yin is an incredibly powerful and transformative style of yoga for grounding,’ she says. ‘By holding postures for several minutes we encourage the body to surrender and let go, offering us an opportunity to spend time in stillness and introspection.’

And the notion of surrender can be positive.

‘Autumn is a time of letting go and surrender,’ Mariel notes. ‘We let go of our thoughts about the future and allow ourselves to be fully rooted in the present moment.

‘It takes a lot of strength and courage for us truly surrender… it teaches us to process what we cannot change, and through this we regain our power.’

Turn your attention inwards to avoid external noise

Lara Hassan, Rumble Gym’s Mind & Body Studio coordinator, recommends a mix of breathwork, meditation, yoga and pilates to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote a sense of calm.

‘Both pilates and yoga improve alignment which helps to balance the energy systems in the body,’ she explains. ‘This leaves you feeling grounded, centred and gracefully propels you forward towards what feels good.

‘Pilates is my favourite exercise to help rewire the mind and keep it busy.’

Meditation and breathwork exercises and are a powerful way to focus attention inward. Lara adds: ‘Practice meditation with an open heart, observe without judgment, and just listen to your breath and your thoughts.

‘Breathing practices can help connect you to your inner self, as well as improve your lung capacity and mental alertness. It’s the bridge to your safe place and is always there for you.’

How to do a calming cat/cow yoga exercise:

An easy yoga pose to relax mind and body (Picture: Getty Images)

Danielle recommends this yoga exercise to centre and calm you:

‘When you’re in a state of anxiety, your body often goes into “survival mode”,’ she explains. ‘To escape this try a simple ‘cat/cow’ move combined with conscious breathwork.’

  • Start on your hands and knees, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and knees above your hips.
  • As you breathe in, arch your back and look up.
  • As you breathe out, round your back and look down.
  • Repeat and keep your movement timed with your breath. Feel how that rhythm becomes an anchor point for your thoughts and feelings.
  • Focus on your breathing – inhale for a count of three, and exhale for a count of six.
  • Concentrate on your breath and nothing else as a form of mindfulness.
  • Try a few rounds and notice how your energy has shifted

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