Anxiety Hypno-Yoga Mental Health and Wellbeing Mindfulness Stress Therapeutic Yoga Yoga

What is Restorative Yoga?

Written by Nat Young – Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga/Pilates Teacher

There are so many different types of yoga so it’s easy to get confused. Today we’re going to look at restorative yoga which is a calm and tranquil form of yoga aimed at relaxation and supporting the body.

In a restorative yoga class, you’ll hold poses for several minutes at a time, using props such as bolsters, cushions and blankets to support your body. The props are used to bridge the gap between your body and the floor so that you can relax. The goal of restorative yoga isn’t to stretch, it’s to support.

The problem of stress and anxiety

Chronic stress and anxiety keeps us in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). This can contribute towards a myriad of physical and mental health problems. When in fight or flight, the body shuts down systems that are deemed not necessary, such as digestion, growth, repair and reproduction. It’s therefore important that we don’t stay in fight or flight for longer than we have to. While the fight or flight response serves a useful purpose to keep us out of danger, it becomes problematic when we experience stress and anxiety all the time.

The parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the ‘rest and digest’ system, is the polar opposite and calms us down. The primary nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system is called the vagus nerve (which is actually a set of two nerves, one on the left and one on the right). We can learn to stimulate this nerve through yoga breathing and some of our yoga poses. Of course, we don’t want to be in ‘rest and digest’ all the time either as then we wouldn’t have any motivation to do anything, but being able to tap into it when we want to is hugely beneficial. It’s all about balance and most of us don’t spend enough time in ‘rest and digest’.

The solution: Restorative Yoga

If this sounds like you, you’ll find restorative yoga very helpful. Restorative yoga helps you to learn to be ‘in the moment’, slowing your brain down and helping you to concentrate on the present. It helps you to move away from a state of doing and into a state of being. In class, we practice mindfulness. Letting thoughts come and go, without changing them and without analysis. Can you imagine what it would be like to feel calm and just let thoughts be?

Join me on the mat

To experience restorative yoga for yourself, check out my Restorative Yoga and Hypno Yoga classes in the On Demand Studio. Hypno Yoga also runs weekly on Zoom. Check it out here.

Health and wellbeing Hypnotherapy Mental Health and Wellbeing

I’m proud of you!

Written by Nat Young – Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga/Pilates Teacher.

Wherever you are in your life journey right now, I’m proud of you! 

I think many of us need to hear this right now. Whether you’ve managed to shine in 2020 despite everything that’s happened, feel you’ve survived OK but not much more, or you’ve struggled and only just come out the other side, it doesn’t matter. I’m proud of you for just being here.

Reflecting back on the last year, working from home was a godsend for me. Not just bringing classes online and continuing to run the virtual hypnotherapy clinic from home, but also being based at home for my day job. Not having to battle my way into an office meant I was able to embrace the simpler things in life such as getting out for a walk in the fresh air more often, eating lunch with Nick and being home for the boys, even if I was working (full time working parents, I hear ya – home schooling is certainly an interesting time, isn’t it?!)

2020 was also a great year for learning to embrace uncertainty, and what an uncertain year it was! For learning that the world won’t end if I don’t have an exact plan. For distancing myself from the things that don’t serve my mental health positively, to say no if something doesn’t feel right or I simply don’t have the energy for it. For once, I actually started getting enough sleep…! All of these positives were great but I also wasn’t immune to the stress. I feared for Aurora and whether we’d be able to keep going with everything moving online. There were no government grants for us and many setup costs involved with getting online. We’d also already paid for things that we now didn’t need for online sessions. Financially it has been hard. I’m so grateful for the support of all our lovely clients though.

So we’ve now reached 2021. I know that overall we’ve been very fortunate and that not everyone will have had the same experience in 2020. Especially those of you who have been key workers, working on the frontline, have faced unemployment or have lost someone to covid. My heart goes out to all of you.

So how about you? Wherever you are and however you’re feeling, it’s important to give yourself time and space to reflect. To acknowledge. Time to feel. Even if those feelings are painful, they’re important to process. And whenever you’re ready, know that life is about balance and many opportunities are there for the taking, even in adversity. You’re amazing and you deserve health, wellbeing, opportunity and happiness.

Even if you’re glad to see the back of 2020, take time to process what was. Recognise any successes you’ve had (I guarantee there will be something to celebrate, even if it’s just surviving). Leave any 2020 baggage behind and feel proud that you’ve got to 2021. Savour this moment…

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Feeling the pressure to learn?

Written by Nat Young, Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga/Pilates Teacher.

I’ve seen so many advertisements for home study courses on social media recently, and at least an equal number of people feeling stressed by the pressure of seeing such things. “Learn this”, “grow that”, “use this time wisely”, “fill your free time!” While some people may be furloughed and have excess time on their hands, many are still working. Even many of those who are furloughed are struggling to be teachers as well as parents or simply trying to survive in a climate that, let’s face it, is really challenging right now. Where’s that free time that so many of these companies seem to think everyone has?!

“The ‘needs’ at the bottom of the pyramid must be met before those at the top.”

I’m reminded of a psychological motivation theory that I learned about while I was studying for my psychology degree many years ago and also revisited when I qualified as a hypno-psychotherapist back in 2015. That theory is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There are several versions of the theory but in simple terms, it’s depicted as a pyramid which shows our needs as human beings. The needs at the bottom of the pyramid must be met before we can even think about those at the top.

At the moment, many of us will be in the ‘physiological needs’ and ‘safety needs’ parts of the pyramid. We’re spending our time surviving and trying to find a place where we feel safe because the current situation has ripped the safety net out from underneath us.

Things like courses and opportunities for growth would be right at the top of the pyramid under ‘esteem’ and perhaps even ‘self actualisation’. Many of us won’t be up on those levels of our pyramids at the moment.

So if you’re feeling the pressure, thinking that you should be ‘using this time wisely’ and wondering why you’re struggling, remind yourself of Maslow’s theory and give yourself a break! There will be plenty of time for learning and growth when you’re feeling grounded again.

Need some help?

If you’re in need of some time to ‘be in the moment’ and recharge your batteries, our mindful yoga and pilates classes could help. If you’re in need of a bit more, why not try a hypnotherapy session with me? Sometimes a chat is all it takes to help you feel better about things.

Hypno-Yoga Hypnotherapy Mental Health and Wellbeing

What is integrative hypno-psychotherapy?

Written by Nat Young, Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga/Pilates Teacher.

Integrative hypno-psychotherapy is a collective term used to describe a blend of techniques to help clients achieve their personal growth and self-awareness goals. For example, an integrative hypno-psychotherapist may use a combination of behavioural, cognitive, humanistic, solution-focused and psychodynamic techniques in sessions. This means the client can benefit from a number of different schools of thought rather than just one, as would be the case with a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist or a solution-focused hypnotherapist for example.

Therapists like me who practice integrative hypno-psychotherapy utilise approaches from multiple different methods to maximise the potential benefits for a particular person. Clients are unique and each requires a different therapeutic approach, which is what makes integrative hypno-psychotherapy so great. When therapy treatment is tailored to a client’s needs, the effectiveness of that treatment is increased.

The ultimate goal of integrative hypno-psychotherapy is to maximise a client’s potential and remove barriers that could be limiting mental growth. A skilled integrative hypno-psychotherapist will put together an effective treatment plan to meet the individual needs of their clients rather than being limited by a single therapeutic approach.

Contact us

If you would like to see how integrative hypno-psychotherapy could help you to #getmindandbodyfit, get in touch to book your free telephone consultation.

Goal setting Men’s Health Mental Health and Wellbeing

Men’s Health Week

Written by Nick Young – Personal Trainer.

Since I became a personal trainer, lots of people have asked me why I chose to do so. As someone working in the IT industry what were my motivations towards personal training? Well, this week is men’s health week and the answer to this is about to become clear. The folks over at men’s health forum have come up with an interesting set of statistics about us blokes.

First, there’s the physical side of things to consider:

  • 37 – a waist size of 37 inches or above puts you at increased of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Learn more.
  • 150 – men should aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Learn more.
  • 5 – we should aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Learn more.
  • 14 – maximum 14 units of alcohol a week. Learn more.
  • 10 – cigarette smokers die 10 years younger on average than non-smokers. Learn more.
  • 120/80 – normal blood pressure. Learn more.

There are some other scary statistics in there too. One in five men will not reach retirement age. Two in five will not reach the age of 75.  So the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle are obvious to see. The simple fact is that having a healthy and active retirement is too often dependent on the choices we make throughout our lives. Even so, it’s never too late to improve your health and fitness.

Simple and small changes can have a big impact on your life. For me, once I faced the realities of my own health and fitness situation, I found that the change wasn’t as scary as I had thought. My subsequent motivation to become a personal trainer was (and still is) to help others through that journey of improving their life chances the same way I have done so for my own.

There’s also the mental health aspects to consider, where 3 out of 4 suicides are by men.

  • 75 – 75% of suicides (3 out of 4) are by men. Learn more.

Men are often programmed from an early age to not talk about we feel. We go through life with the expectation that we need to be “strong” and support our families. Ladies, you have a vital role to play here too. All too often men do not consider it “manly” to talk about their feelings. Please encourage the men in your lives to talk about their feelings, and ask them “How are you?” Make sure you talk to them about your own feelings as well.

As with physical fitness, it’s never too late to improve your mental wellbeing. If you are feeling down, or depressed or need help with dealing with issues such as stress, talk to someone about it. Exercise can also help with improving your mood and stress levels, and mindfulness, meditation and yoga can help with both your physical and mental wellbeing. These are all services we offer so if you’re ever in need of a helping hand, do reach out.

I’ll finish off by setting a challenge for all the men reading this, as well as the ladies in your lives. Look at the figures above and examine your lifestyle. If you’ve read this and would like to make changes – such as stopping smoking, losing weight, getting fitter, or even if you just want some advice on improving your diet but don’t know where to start, we can help you. Contact us for a consultation – we’ll discuss your goals and come up with a plan of action for you from our varied toolbox of mental and physical wellbeing services. And the best thing is if you subsequently use our services, the consultation will be free*

A final word, if you feel you are in crisis and need expert mental health advice, there are many organisations that you can talk to, such as The Samaritans, Rethink and Mind, with experts trained in such situations. They are there to help. My plea though is please don’t leave it until it becomes a crisis before dealing with your worries.

*Terms and conditions apply, contact us for more information.

Hypno-Yoga Hypnotherapy Mental Health and Wellbeing

Letting go of rubbish

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

Over the bank holiday weekend, we spent time clearing out our garage and throwing junk into a skip. Most of this junk consisted of broken things; an old TV cabinet with a broken back, chests of drawers with droopy drawer bottoms which had been long since replaced, a broken up double bed frame, two broken kettles claimed by our hard water, a broken shredder which shredded its last letter after the death of my dad-in-law,  and a lot of boxes for things either out of warranty or that we no longer have.

Throwing these things away felt really good. Not just from a purging of rubbish and freeing up space perspective, but also from a mental health perspective. I found myself kicking apart the drawers into smaller pieces, allowing the broken pieces to fly across the garage floor. At first I was surprised by the strength of my legs as my foot made contact with the drawers – the drawers came apart so easily as I kicked them! Then stamping on polystyrene packing from the cardboard boxes, watching the white pieces break under my heel. Even some bubble wrap, twisting it in my hands until I heard many satisfying pops. After the last piece of cardboard had been placed into the skip, I wondered why the whole experience had felt so good mentally. Then it occurred to me. It was therapeutic because it was metaphorical.

We were purging old, broken rubbish from our lives. Things we had been holding onto just in case they might be useful someday. Instead they were just hanging around, cluttering up our garage and preventing us from making use of it. Mentally, many of us hold onto old ‘junk’ (maybe emotions or thoughts) because we’re too frightened to let them go. Maybe it’s because these emotions and thoughts are what we know and they’ve become old friends. Familiarity can be easier than the alternative of the unknown. However, sometimes you have to let go of the old before you can move on with the new. What old rubbish could you purge from your life?

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Why does exercise feel good?

Written by Nick Young – Personal Trainer.

Ever wondered why you feel good after exercising?

Clue: It’s not just because you’re finished! Your body is an amazingly complex organic machine designed to operate in a wide variety of environments. To do this it must be able to regulate itself – a term scientists refer to as homeostasis.

As an example, your body can generate or release heat to regulate the body’s temperature in response to the environment around it. This is why we sweat in heat and shiver in the cold. Another example is the way your body can produce hormones. Insulin or glucose is produced to maintain the glucose levels in your body at the correct levels, ensuring you have sufficient energy for your level of exertion. Homeostasis literally is your body maintaining balance in response to the demands placed upon it.

Runner’s high

When you exercise, you put your body under some stress and discomfort. This naturally impacts upon homeostasis. Under increased exertion, your body deals with the demands placed on it through the release of chemicals – neurotransmitters and hormones. For instance, endorphins actually act in a similar way to morphine (without the addictive qualities!), which relieves this pain and stress. This is often referred to as “runner’s high”.

Many other chemicals are also released – for instance noradrenaline (often referred to as your ‘fight or flight’ response), increases your heart and breathing rate. It also increases your blood sugar levels to give you access to energy more easily and of course as a result of these changes, blood and oxygen flow around your body is increased. Other hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are also released. When the demand for energy is no longer there, your body will stabilise again in response.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise can increase the serotonin levels in your brain. This can boost your mood as well as your appetite and sleep cycle, all of which contribute to that great feeling you get after exercise. There’s also a social aspect to exercise to consider. A shared experience and common goals can also help stimulate this positive response, which is one of the reasons why group exercise classes are hugely popular.

Of course, there’s a lot of science involved here and some scientists disagree as to the relative impact of different hormones on that post-exercise feeling of wellbeing. One thing the scientists all agree on though is that exercise produces positive long term mental benefits.

Whatever the science, most people who exercise regularly agree that exercise stimulates a positive mental response and helps the body to deal with the stress we tackle in our daily lives. So if you’re thinking about trying a yoga class or some personal training, one thing’s for certain – you’ll be getting fitter and stronger but you’ll also be helping your overall mood, wellbeing and ability to deal with stress. What could be better than that?!

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Mental Health Week

Written by Nick Young – Personal Trainer.

This week is mental health awareness week, in which a variety of mental health issues are raised for discussion and contemplation. A website has been created with lots of information about this at

Body Image

In 2019, the mental health awareness week has a particular focus on body image, which of course is something that the fitness industry thrives on. Take a look at some of the advertising for any of the major fitness programmes, gyms, nutritional supplements or fitness clothing companies. You’ll see young, muscly chaps and pretty young ladies doing “exercise”, all while dressed up in their makeup and finest gear. The images are often photoshopped to the point of unrealism. The message being advertised is that you have to be young and conform to an industry norm to be involved in the fitness industry.

In the real world, people see this message as “I’m not good enough”, which severely impacts on mental health, and puts people off doing exercise. Indeed, industry marketing often preys on people’s insecurities about their own body image, with messaging around dieting, detoxing, toning, all taking precedence over far more valuable messaging such as getting fitter, stronger, or indeed gaining confidence. It’s all about the image.

This in turn means that the fitness industry is not as inclusive as it could be. Many people are put off before they ever set foot in a gym, forgetting that there are also plenty of ways to get fitter without an intimidating gym.

This is actually one of the reasons why I trained to become a personal trainer. I’ve seen the pressure the industry applies to customers to conform to a particular (unhealthy) body image and I like to help others to be the best version of themselves without the fakery. The harsh reality is that many of us (me included!) eat too much of the wrong things and do not move enough. But there are many ways of addressing that without needing to try and become a perfect (fake) physical specimen as depicted in the advertising of major players in the fitness industry.

Why Aurora is different

At Aurora Mind and Body we operate on a simple principle. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, all that matters is where you’re heading. As long as you have no medical condition that means you should be consulting a doctor rather than a fitness professional (if you’re not sure, please ask, as some conditions require specialist training), you are welcome. I look forward to helping you achieve your goals, whoever you are.

Nick – Personal Trainer at Aurora Mind and Body.