In a world that seems to get more complex by the day, mindfulness may be the key to solving city stress. As most are aware, living in cities is convenient, but that convenience comes at a price. In Wellington, there is more traffic on the street, more people in the city, more competition for resources and space. This mix builds up stress. When stress gets serious, it could jeopardise our long-term health.
Once, it was believed that Wellington was a city designed to get rid of stress. Indeed, the town is surrounded by pleasant natural relaxation spots, such as the pristine Botanic Gardens and lovely trails in Otari-Wilton’s Bush. Then there’s the Wellington Waterfront, a soothing place to enjoy fresh sea air while mingling in an eclectic mix of art galleries and trendy cafes.
However, going to the beach or walking along a trail is not all that’s needed to alleviate stress. Instead, turning inward towards mindfulness (and associated practices) is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially in urban areas. As awareness of these practices grow, so does the potential for collective improvements on life quality for local residents.
The art of mindfulness in Wellington
In the 1980s, many Wellington residents came back from places like India and Thailand and began teaching mindfulness meditation and yoga. There was a lot of experimentation, mixing up different methods in order to find an appealing balance for new students. Eventually, teachers began to uncover the primary advantages of blending mindfulness with asanas, into something often described as “mindful yoga.”
These kinds of blended classes teach students to boost their awareness in the moment, which can be a great help when facing the challenges and tensions of stressful life. In Wellington, there are dozens of options to learn about yoga and get on board the mindfulness train.
Benefits of Mindful Asana Practices for locals
In New Zealand, many “mindful yoga” teachers point out that including mindfulness with yoga was a method that evolved over a few decades of experimentation. As familiarity with Buddhist mindfulness spread in New Zealand, many began to realize that mindfulness techniques could enhance hatha yoga practices. Teachers began to mix up their lessons, and students were responsive.
For example at Te Aro Astanga Yoga (a well liked Wellington yoga studio), teachers use mindfulness to identify specific behaviors which are out of harmony. For instance, an instructor may see a person keeping away from certain poses, or getting tensed up during some drills. These types of reactions are often signs of energy blockages that ought to be cleared. It is through mindfulness that these issues can be discovered, and then dealt with.
The great thing about mixing mindfulness with yoga is that it can transcend yoga styles. Once you understand the basics of mindfulness, you can apply it in any sort of yoga class. At Te Aro Astanga Yoga, instructors teach only one school of yoga (Astanga), but their students rave about the progress made.
Indeed, for all those seeking a way to reduce their stress levels (especially in urban settings), combining mindful techniques into their yoga classes, can bring about stress relief and an overall sense of enhanced well being.