Yoga for beginners

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Do you want to start a yoga practice, but have no idea where to begin? We ask Hannah Barrett, one of the UK’s leading online yoga and meditation teachers, some common questions

Hi Hannah, what are some of the benefits of yoga?

Yoga for beginners

Yoga has a host of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, increased strength, flexibility and mobility, enhanced self-awareness, and improved sleep quality and immunity.

Is yoga good for mental health?

Yoga is a holistic way of life, nurturing both physical and mental health.

It teaches us connection and gives us the opportunity to study ourselves both on and off the yoga mat. Yoga invites us to tune inwards, giving us space to reflect on our behaviours, beliefs, habits, and practices. Over time, it helps us connect with who we are, our values and what’s working and not working in our life.

What beginner yoga poses would you recommend?

One of my favourite poses when I was starting out in my yoga practice was child’s pose as it gave me a moment of calm and quiet and allowed me to really connect with my breath. I also loved warrior III and downward-facing dog. Both of these poses are excellent for creating strength, length, focus and stamina.

Starting a yoga practice:

Do I need a yoga block?

A yoga block can be really helpful for beginners, however, there are other ways to modify your practice if you don’t have access to a block, including cushions and rolled-up blankets. And if you haven't got a strap, you can use a dressing gown tie.

Do I need to be super flexible?

Yoga is about mindful movement linked to the breath. The physical postures are designed to purify the body and provide strength, flexibility, mobility and stamina. It’s completely OK if you can’t touch your toes; you’re still performing a forward fold! Flexibility comes over time as a by-product of yoga, not as a requirement.

What if I’m not strong enough?

Like with flexibility, you will build strength over time with a regular yoga practice. Pretty much every posture can be modified to suit your body and level so please don’t let a lack of strength put you off. In my new book Yoga Happy, it was really important to me that the flows within the book were accessible to all. I include a detailed appendix including ways to modify each posture to suit what you need.

Yoga for beginners
Hannah Barrett | Yoga Happy | Belle PR

Yoga Happy by Hannah Barrett (Quadrille, £20) is available in all good bookshops. Follow Hannah on Instagram, and YouTube or visit her website

Grace Victory shares 4 simple ways to find a moment for mindfulness in your daily routine

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Taking care of yourself and finding a moment for mindfulness isn’t always easy, even for those who’ve practised it for years. Here, columnist Grace Victory shares her own struggles to refill her cup, and offers four simple ways to bring mindfulness into your everyday life – even when it’s tough

Grace Victory shares 4 simple ways to find a moment for mindfulness in your daily routine

It’s actually ironic that I’m sitting here writing this piece when my own everyday mindfulness practices are the worst they’ve been in years.

I just can’t seem to find my flow or motivation. Life is full-on right now, with big personal things (and some professional), so I know I need to find pockets of peace to benefit my overall health, but it just feels too hard.

I barely get a chance to pee by myself at the moment, and any ‘alone time’ I’m lucky enough to find, I sleep, put on some washing, or cry due to feeling stressed. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve been in for a while, and I guess potentially the result of prioritising the wrong things and giving too much of myself to everyone – except myself.

I know this, yet I’m still here?!

I know the washing can wait, the vacuuming doesn’t have to be done right now, and I can cancel dinner for the second time with my friend because my toddler is teething, but the shame and lack of control over my life takes over.

Maybe a part of me still wants to have it all. Maybe a part of me is still grieving pieces of my life before I became a parent. Maybe a part of me wants to be a little bit more selfish, but recognises just how much her tiny human needs her.

I’m mindful of my thought patterns right now. They are darker than usual, and, if I’m honest, I spend a lot of my days trying not to spiral into a black hole that I don’t have the energy to crawl back out of. Previously, I relied heavily on rituals and spiritual practices that kept me grounded and afloat at the same time, but lately… I can’t seem to grasp them (mainly due to a lack of time, and mental and physical capacity).

The healing treatments, holistic methods, and wholesome things I used to do just don’t feel like ‘me’ any more. There’s a disconnect from the way I used to practise mindfulness and, all in all, I am struggling – and I’m saying this in the hope that someone else reading this month’s column will be able to relate, and maybe feel less alone? Because writing this, I too, feel extremely alone.

Not to be a total Debbie Downer though, I have mustered up the strength to put together four small-but-mighty ways we (together) can practise mindfulness in our everyday lives. Whether you’re a tired single parent, a stressed out university student, or a person who has yet to find their way with mindfulness, I hope this list helps in some way, and can be applied to your own lives.

Grace Victory shares 4 simple ways to find a moment for mindfulness in your daily routine

1. Take 10 big, deep breaths when youȁ

Friday Faves

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Hi friends! Happy Friday! What’s going on this weekend? We’re off to Liv’s dance Nationals competition (so excited) and spending the rest of the weekend hanging out with friends. Our dance team has worked so hard all year, so I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing the dances one more time and celebrating the end of such a wonderful season. I’d love to hear what you have going on!

It’s time for the weekly Friday Faves party! This is where I share some of my favorite finds from the week and around the web. I always love to hear about your faves, too, so please shout out something you’re loving in the comments section below.

Friday Faves

Staycation at Tanque Verde Ranch

Last weekend, we had a little Father’s Day staycation at Tanque Verde Ranch. Last time we stayed on property, I was pregnant with P! We’ve gone back many times to enjoy their Saturday night Cowboy Cookout. I highly recommend it if you’re visiting Tucson! We wanted to stay for the weekend and take advantage of the extra activities, like horseback riding, archery, and fishing.

The girls shocked the instructor with their perfect archery form:

(all of the practice with P’s toy bow and arrow has really paid off, let me tell ya)

and after archery, we headed to Barnyard for dinner before seeing a family of javelinas right outside our hotel casita! Fun trivia: a group of javelina is called a squadron.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early for horseback riding. The girls take lessons, but the Pilot and I hadn’t been on a horse in years. (We always joke that we’re a little bit j

How to find positivity on social media

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Social media can seem like a drab place at times, but there are spots of positivity to be found

How to find positivity on social media

Most of us are familiar with the difficult side of social media. Whether that be all-hour access to bad news, furious arguments in comment sections, comparison traps, body shaming, or even cyberbullying, these once exciting technological platforms have started to lose their shine a bit.

Though, of course, there is another side. New research from Sky Mobile has found that one in three Brits actively seek out positive content on social media, with each of us spending on average two hours a day searching for uplifting content.

The study found the most popular sources of positivity included animal videos and memes, and posts describing random acts of kindness. Following closely behind was light-hearted ‘when things go wrong’ videos, travel or holiday photos, childhood TV clips, and British pop culture.

“What we consume online impacts how we feel. Even small positive mood boosts can make a difference,” says positive psychology expert Vanessa Kind. “And these don’t just feel good, science shows these can add up – for example helping us be more open to others, more flexible in our thinking, better at creative problem solving.”

45% of respondents agree that when they view positive and inspiring posts online, their mood was boosted for the day – and the research found that Brits love to spread that positivity, with 19% going on to share the posts with friends or family.

“Connecting constructively with people we care about and doing kind things for others are important for everyone’s happiness and wellbeing,” Vanessa continues. “Showing we are thinking of others and sharing positive content online that we think loved ones will enjoy or find uplifting contributes to this.”

While the findings suggest that many of us are actively seeking out positivity, there are many things that you can do to try to create a happier social media feed, to begin with. You can schedule regular tidy-ups of your following list, removing any accounts that might be making you unhappy for any reason. You can also make use of the ‘mute’ button for those cases where you might feel uncomfortable unfollowing someone – for example, if it is someone you know in real life. It is also worth taking some time out to follow pages and accounts devoted to the things that bring you joy in life, like hobby pages, jokes and humour, or fun facts.

“It’s important we’re aware of how social media impacts our mood and manage what we access,” Vaness continues. “We of course need to keep in touch with what’s happening in the world around us, and it’s encouraging t

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

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Sweet chunks of edible cookie dough fill each scoop of this rich and creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Is there anything more irresistible than a spoonful of cookie dough? I know that I can never resist it.

The Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that I shared yesterday was the inspiration for this ice cream. Every single cookie dough filled bite is creamy ice cream heaven.

The most popular question I get is whether it’s possible to make ice cream without a machine. The answer is YES. You can make ice cream without a machine. Find the full directions here!

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

While making the edible cookie dough is the most time-intensive part of this recipe, it’s well worth the effort!

You can stir the cookie dough together while the ice cream churns and the cookie dough chunks will be ready to stir into the ice cream when it’s finished churning.

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Wondering how those cute chunks are made? It’s easier than you might think! Just press the cookie dough out across a parchment-lined tray and chill in the refrigerator or freezer until firm.

Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the cold cookie dough into 1/2-inch chunks. The cookie dough chunks can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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