Hannah Barrett is a London-based yoga teacher, hosting the 10-Day It Starts at Home Yoga Challenge on Wanderlust TV. The goal of this challenge is to develop inner freedom, strength and peace by tapping into your personal sanctuary – the home within. Access the challenge for free until January 31, or catch up with past classes on Wanderlust TV with our 14-Day Free Trial.
To inspire you to explore your inner home, Hannah has shared her personal journey on discovering inner home and tips on how to reconnect with yourself and find a safe, rooted space that you can carry with you wherever the journey takes you.
Are you physically and mentally connected to your core? Do you connect to the strength from within to move with intention and stability? What are your core values and do you feel connected to them? A foundation of our practice is a strong core. It is essential as we use our core in pretty much every yoga posture! When our core is strong, we move around our mats with strength and stability. Link to manipura chakra and when this chakra is in balance we walk off the mat feeling confident, self-assured and strong. The strength is inside, nurture it, love it, care for it and it’s going to grow and you are going to feel inner peace like never before.
“Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life” – BKS Iyengar
Balance is our natural state, it’s not something we are trying to achieve or find, but something we are trying to return to. The path to balance requires listening. Because it isn’t always in the “doing” – it sometimes is about the undoing too. Can you look at what you’re doing and see where you may be doing too much or too little?
In pandemic life, many of us have moved to work from home. This can be difficult because the boundaries get blurred. We can end up either never turning off from work, or getting distracted continuously by home life instead of working. Can you identify distractions that can be removed and can you set yourself firm boundaries to switch off from work-life at a certain time? Try this for a few weeks and see what impact this has on your mental health and happiness.
Equally, can you strive for balance in the body? In yoga we talk about this concept can shitra sukha, finding an effort between effort and ease. This means having a balance of poses that naturally encourage sukha or sthira – some to build strength and stability, and others to create ease. By bringing this concept into each pose, we experience a delicate seesaw between using just enough effort but not so much so that it creates the wrong tension in the body. It is also possible to apply the same principle to our joints which need to have a balance of strength (sthira) and flexibility (sukha) around them for optimal mobility.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ― thich nhat hanh.
When the world moves too fast and we lose ourselves in the chaos, taking time to slow down, take a breath and find silence can seem counterintuitive. I promise you, it’s not.
When my daughter was born, she was born very early and sick. So sick in fact that the first week of her life was touch and go. It’s in this time I truly learnt how powerful a tool the breath is. It was my anchor. The breath and our body are always present right here and now. My mind would shoot back to the terrible circumstances surrounding her birth and shoot off to the “what ifs” which were frankly too scary to comprehend.
I used a number of techniques for grounding me in the present moment and to reduce the extreme anxiety I was feeling. These techniques help to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system, reminding our bodies we are safe and turning off our fight or flight system.
Try closing your eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath through the nose. Feel your belly rise, your chest expand, feel the breath all the way up to your collarbones. Then exhale through the nose, gently letting the breath go fully, feeling the body release and let go. Repeat five times and notice how using your breath as a tool makes you feel.
Yoga is so much more than the postures – it’s a way of transforming how we think, communicate and act by directing our attention inwards. The yoga postures prepare you for the rest of the practice and help you grasp the concepts of yoga more easily.
Stepping on a yoga mat is an amazing way to dip your toe into the world of yoga to strengthen the body and focus the mind. What I’ve found over my years of teaching is that it’s often asana that draws people into the practice. We start with the body and then begin to access all the other magic that yoga offers.
If you’ve never practiced before, don’t let this stop you. Find a beginner class and start small, try ten minutes every other day. Over time it will become easier and you’ll get hooked on the feeling of calm the mat brings. The calm of connecting mind, body and breath and have some time to care and look after yourself.
“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand” – Oprah Winfrey
For change to happen there has to be a challenge. If you’re looking for transformation, you can’t continue with your existing behaviors and expect things to be different. You need to put in the work. Life is hard and brings us struggles. But let’s face it, if it were easy, it would be boring. We need challenges to push us to grow as much as we need failure to find success.
The beauty is in the journey. When stepping on the mat, find love for the moments where you wobble, find beauty in the moments where you lose your balance. Even look for beauty in the moments where you drop your knees in chaturanga.
Off the mat, know that life is a journey and the essence isn’t just in the beginning and end. At times, the struggles can feel impossible and it’s important to acknowledge that you are not alone. In time the obstacles that you face will make you stronger and you will get through them, coming out on the other side.
Hannah Barrett is a London-based yoga teacher, empowering students all over the world to feel confident and find strength on the mat. With 400 hours of Yoga Alliance training and a specialization in anatomy, she also has 42-hour pregnancy teacher training and a 75-hour postnatal. Teaching pre and postnatal women is a specialty of Hannah, but she equally enjoys teaching all students to find their fire & strength from within. Her style is dynamic, playful, anatomy-based and challenging but always accessible, with an intention to empower you to create strength, resilience and connection, feel grounded and have fun in the process.
She is known for strength-based creative flows with fun and unexpected transitions and modifications to make the flows accessible to all.