Byron Bay – 4 Easy Meditation Techniques to Relax and Unwind – 24 October 2023

On a busy Tuesday afternoon, 20 students joined Campus Manager, Lisa, for an hour of meditation. Some students were completely new to meditating, one or two had a lot of experience and others had dabbled a bit, but everyone agreed that they were looking forward to clearing their minds and unwinding. The aim of the hour was do a range of meditation activities that would leave the students feeling revitalised, relaxed and refreshed.

Students Seated In Meditation

Meditation # 1 – Humming Bee

To prepare the class for Humming Bee meditation we had to warm up our vocal chords, so we first went round the room shouting our names and humming as loud as we could. Then, we sat in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor to begin.

Humming Bee or Bhramari Pranayama is a yoga breathing exercise that involves making a humming sound, like that of a bee. The humming sound and the vibrations produced during this meditation are thought to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system.

As Humming Bee can help reduce anxiety and stress, calm the mind, and improve focus, it was a good exercise to start the class and prepare students for the longer practices to follow.

We then did two pranayamas or breathing meditations. The first being Square Breathing and the second Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Students Seated In Meditation

Meditation # 2 – Square Breathing

Square Breathing is a straightforward technique, and you can practise it almost anywhere when you need a quick relaxation or stress-reduction exercise. Over time, regular practice can enhance your ability to manage stress and remain calm in various situations.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  2. Close your eyes if you’re comfortable doing so.
  3. Begin by taking a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Count to four as you inhale. Try to make this breath as full and deep as possible.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of four. During this pause, focus on the sensation of holding the breath.
  5. Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for a count of four.
  6. After you’ve exhaled, pause again and hold your breath for another count of four.
  7. Continue this pattern of inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and holding for four counts again.
  8. Repeat this cycle for several minutes, or until you feel more relaxed and your mind is calm.

You can adjust the counts to a rhythm that feels comfortable for you, as long as each phase of the breath cycle is of equal duration.

Meditation

Meditation # 3 – Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing or  Nadi Shodhana involves the use of the fingers to alternately close off one nostril while breathing through the other. Here’s how to practise it:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, such as sitting cross-legged or on a chair, with your spine straight.
  2. Rest your left hand on your left knee, palm facing upward.
  3. With your right hand, bring your index finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly closing your right nostril. Your thumb should rest on your right nostril, and your ring finger should be used to close your left nostril.
  4. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through both nostrils.
  5. Use your ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril.
  6. Inhale slowly and deeply through your right nostril.
  7. Close your right nostril with your thumb, release your ring finger from your left nostril, and exhale through your left nostril.
  8. Inhale through your left nostril.
  9. Close your left nostril with your ring finger, release your thumb from your right nostril, and exhale through your right nostril.
  10. Continue this pattern, alternating between inhaling and exhaling through each nostril.
  11. Aim to make your breath slow, deep, and controlled, without force.
  12. Continue for 5-10 minutes or as long as you’re comfortable.

Alternate Nostril Breathing helps balance the energy in your body and mind. You can do it as part of your daily routine or whenever you need to find a moment of calm and balance.

Nadhi Shodana Meditation

Meditation # 4 – Yoga Nidra

After these first three practices, all the students were very relaxed and ready to lie down for our final meditation – a Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra, often referred to as “yogic sleep,” is a deep relaxation and meditation practice that promotes profound physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. It is a systematic form of guided meditation that induces a state of conscious relaxation that is often even deeper than sleep. Here’s how Yoga Nidra is typically practiced:

  1. Set Up: Find a quiet and comfortable place to lie down on your back. You can use a yoga mat, blanket, or cushion for added comfort. Make sure you’re warm and won’t be disturbed during the practice.
  2. Guided Meditation: You can use a guided Yoga Nidra recording or be led through the practice by an instructor. The practice usually begins with a systematic body scan and progressive relaxation.
  3. Intention Setting: You’ll set a clear and positive intention for your practice. This could be a personal or spiritual goal, a resolution, or simply a heartfelt desire.
  4. Breath Awareness: You’ll be asked to become aware of your breath without trying to change it. This awareness helps calm the mind and focus your attention inward.
  5. Rotation of Consciousness: In this phase, you’ll focus on different parts of your body, mentally acknowledging them and relaxing them. This helps release physical tension.
  6. Visualizations: Guided imagery and visualizations may be used to stimulate your mind’s creative and healing capacities. You might be asked to imagine scenes, sensations, or experiences.
  7. Awareness of Emotions and Thoughts: You’ll observe any thoughts, emotions, or sensations that arise, without judgment. This can promote self-awareness and emotional release.
  8. Resolution: Return to your initial intention, reaffirm it, and visualize it as already realized.
  9. Coming Out of Yoga Nidra: You’ll be gently guided out of the meditation, often with an invitation to move your body and gradually return to a state of alertness.

Student Lying In Meditation

The entire Yoga Nidra meditation usually lasts between 20 to 45 minutes. We did a 30-minute session, which was simplified so that students with any level of English could benefit. The key to Yoga Nidra is to remain awake and aware, moving beyond the ordinary states of consciousness while remaining deeply relaxed.

For students who want to explore Yoga Nidra more after this taster session, nearby Bamboo Yoga offers a weekly community class and there are also many Yoga Nidra recordings on the app Insight Timer.

 Why Meditate?

Meditation is a practice with a rich history, offering a multitude of benefits for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In today’s fast-paced world, incorporating meditation into your daily routine can have a profound impact on your life. For example:

  • Stress Reduction: Meditation is a renowned stress-buster. By practicing mindfulness and calming techniques, you can manage stress more effectively, leading to a greater sense of peace and relaxation.
  • Enhanced Concentration: Regular meditation sharpens your focus and extends your attention span, resulting in improved productivity in various tasks.
  • Emotional Well-being: Meditation cultivates emotional stability. It helps you understand and manage your emotions, leading to greater emotional resilience.
  • Anxiety and Depression Management: Studies have shown that meditation can be an effective complement to conventional treatments for anxiety and depression, reducing symptoms and providing emotional relief.
  • Improved Sleep: Meditation promotes better sleep patterns. It relaxes your mind and makes it easier to fall asleep, ultimately enhancing the quality of your rest.
  • Pain Management: For individuals dealing with chronic pain, meditation can be a valuable tool. By focusing the mind away from pain, it reduces pain perception and improves overall well-being.
  • Lower Blood Pressure: Meditation helps lower blood pressure and contributes to better cardiovascular health, making it particularly beneficial for those with hypertension.
  • Self-awareness: Meditation encourages self-reflection and introspection, deepening your understanding of yourself and your responses to different situations.
  • Creativity Enhancement: It stimulates creative thinking and problem-solving, making it a valuable practice for artists, writers, and those seeking innovative solutions.
  • Stronger Immune System: Regular meditation is linked to a stronger immune system. Reduced stress and enhanced relaxation contribute to better overall health.
  • Increased Happiness: Meditation is often associated with greater feelings of happiness and well-being. By focusing on the present moment and fostering a positive mindset, it boosts life satisfaction.
  • Improved Relationships: Mindful meditation leads to better relationships by promoting communication and empathy, reducing conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Better Decision-Making: Enhanced focus and reduced stress enable better decision-making by providing a clearer perspective on options and outcomes.
  • Spiritual Growth: For many, meditation facilitates spiritual growth and a deeper connection with the universe. It helps explore inner selves and discover a greater purpose in life.
  • Self-discipline: Meditation instills self-discipline and commitment. This discipline extends to various life aspects, such as work, exercise, and personal goals.

In summary, meditation’s benefits are vast and can substantially enhance your life. It’s a versatile practice adaptable to individual needs. Whether you aim to reduce stress, improve focus, or foster emotional well-being, meditation is a valuable tool for anyone seeking a balanced and fulfilling life. Its positive influence on physical, mental, and emotional health makes it a practice worth incorporating into your daily routine.

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