Yoga For Sleep

Yoga For Sleep

As you might know, I’ve been running Yoga classes in Ealing for 10 years now and today I’d like to share with you some very simple tips on “Yoga for Sleep”.

In my previous article, I shared some tips for a good night’s sleep and today I’m starting a series of posts aimed at really helping you get the absolute best out of yourself by nourishing yourself at night.

The core principle of Yoga For Sleep is the deep nourishment of both body and mind.

The reason why we want to do that is to allow the body enough time to rest, to digest and to repair from your day’s activities. Actually, we want the mind to have the same opportunity to rest, to digest what experiences you’ve had and any sort of repair and restoration that you need. That can happen at night time.

The first idea that I really want you to take on board today is that

It is so unhelpful when talking about sleep, to obsess too much about how much sleep you got and whether it is good quality sleep.

When you’re having a challenging amount of sleep, you can really start to think:

“Oh, I only got 3 hours (or 4, or 6 hours…),  I should be getting 8 hours every night”.

I’m going to ask you, as my first tip, just to put that obsession to the side. You don’t need to create performance anxiety around sleep. It’s not going to help.

Also, if you are perhaps only getting 3 or 4 hours at night, setting this target for yourself straight away to 8 hours, it’s just too much! It’s too much of a leap to go straight from 3 or 4 hours, to suddenly:

“I’m supposed to get eight hours of sleep”.

So, my tip number 1 on Yoga For Sleep is let go of an idea of how much sleep you need to be getting.

You should progress gently and steadily from wherever you currently are. For example, from getting 3 or 4 hours, let’s get you to 5 hours. If you’re getting 5 hours, let’s get you to 6 or even from 5 to 5 1/2 can make a difference.

My tip number 2 is: if you’re experiencing the feeling of just lying there, trying to sleep and you can’t sleep, if you’re obsessing about the fact that you can’t sleep, I want you to switch your mindset into:

“I am still resting my body”.

Yes, I’m not resting my mind so much, perhaps, but I am still resting my body.

“I’m just going to release the need and anxiety that I should be sleeping and allow my body to rest as best as possible. My body will rest better if my mind is more relaxed”.

It’s a core yoga principle that mind and body are really intimately intertwined.

So, if your mind is anxious and running fast and turning things over, your body can’t fully let go. We’ll talk a little bit more in the next articles about what’s happening hormone-wise.

Today, I wanted to begin this “Yoga For Sleep” series with the basic idea of: let’s start with releasing performance anxiety around sleep.

We just take wherever it is that you’re at now, and we’re just going to add a tiny bit.

So, tonight I encourage you, if you find yourself awake in the night, to tell you just:

“OK, so, I’m awake. Yeah, that’s fine. I’m just going to focus on resting my body, then, and allow myself to get as much as possible from just gently lying”.

Check the video version of this article:

I’ll be back with you next week with the next couple of tips on Yoga For Sleep!

silencing inner critic become inner coach

How to become your own inner coach and banish the inner critic for good

The overwhelming majority of athletes have coaches – in fact, we remark on the few who don’t. More and more executives have coaches and mentors to help improve performance. Businesses of all sizes are employing coaches to help create and execute plans that succeed. We have relationship coaches, life coaches, spiritual coaches, money coaches, visibility coaches.

But no coach is ever going to be as effective as you at coaching yourself.

The main thing all those coaches are working for is silencing the inner critic.

The inner critic is the term we use to define the negative voices in your head, that

  • undercut your belief
  • tell you that you’re not good enough,
  • make you second guess people’s intentions,
  • enlist in you in self-sabotage,
  • help you procrastinate,
  • avoid,
  • martyr yourself
  • or whatever you personally choose to do to trip yourself up.

Whose voices make up the inner critic’s cumulative one?

In order to understand this, let’s have a little check. I want you to think about a situation recently when you caught yourself giving yourself a hard time. Maybe you filed your tax return later than you really wanted to. Or was the bill higher than you expected and you hadn’t planned for it? Maybe you were late dropping your children to school. Maybe you’re avoiding making a sales call or dealing with a tricky customer.

What thoughts did you think?

Did you…

  • beat yourself up for not having planned better?
  • imagine the other mums or the school staff rolling their eyes and badmouthing you?
  • worry about the example you were teaching your kid?

What about the sales call? Do you talk yourself into all the reasons why they absolutely should not under any circumstances buy from you…? And therefore not have to make yourself uncomfortable by making the call?

Well. I want to share this little video with you….

Now. In some cases, STOP IT is actually going to be enough.

But in other cases, we need a more nuanced line of attack. Why?

The thoughts we think create our feelings, which create our behaviours, which have consequences.

Those consequences give rise to a new set of thoughts, which create new feelings, new behaviours and of course new consequences.

And if you’ve set off on a negative track, the result is a downward spiral into increasingly negative thoughts, feelings, behaviours and consequences. And that can have a direct negative effect on your physical and mental health.

Let’s play “silencing the inner critic” through…

  1. Take a piece of paper and think of a situation – perhaps the one you thought of earlier, perhaps a new one. Describe the situation in as few words as possible.
  2. Now, was your description true or do you need to retell it without some of the judgements or assumptions?
  3. Ok. Now, start to make a list of the thoughts you had about that situation and about yourself in that situation.
  4. Pick a couple of those thoughts and look at how they make you feel.
  5. So how does the feeling affect your behaviour? How does shame affect your behaviour? How does guilt? Disappointment? Disappointment in yourself? What feelings are you having now? What sorts of consequences might come from entering a life situation or work situation with those behaviours?
  6. Now. Let’s go back to the initial situation. Your job is to come up with alternative explanations for what happened or alternative ways of looking at the situation. It doesn’t matter if they are provable or not, so long as you could credibly believe that explanation instead.
  7. Fantastic. Now, what feelings are you feeling about the situation and you in it? How might these new feelings change your behaviour? And what might the consequences be?

Even neutral thoughts give rise to more helpful feelings.

And we want to actively cultivate feelings that allow us to be resourceful and creative. In fact, the more resourceful and creative you can be, the more you will begin to generate an upswing in both the results you’re getting and, of course, in your feelings about those results and yourself, so that you create an upward spiral.

So. How would this help in silencing the inner critic for good?

Firstly…. When you begin to examine the thoughts and see how outrageously untrue and unfair some of those thoughts are about you… I’m hoping your inner rebel will come out and start fighting on your behalf!!

Who dared tell you that? Where did that idea first come from?

If your inner rebel is asleep, go talk to a dear friend, or a good therapist, to help you get some perspective.

So often these thoughts aren’t actually our own.

Maybe its something a teacher said in passing or an aunt or uncle or mum or dad. But for some reason, it went in and continues to play havoc with our lives. And the more we can name them – and I do literally mean name them – the sooner we will be able to let them go.

Baldy Bob telling me I’m not good enough

has a lot less effect.

Secondly, as you start to see for yourself how direct the link is between what you think and the results you get, you can start to build a positive feedback loop. Build evidence that when you think positive and supportive thoughts about yourself, you feel strong and resourceful. Also, you behave creatively and assertively and you get better results.

The trick is to think it matters enough to listen to what you’re thinking in the first place. If you do, I promise you will soon see better results and you will feel better in yourself – physically, emotionally and mentally.

If you’d like my help to train your inner coach the ways of silencing the inner critic for good, book a discovery session of life coaching in Ealing or by Skype with me!

better sleep tips

Tips for a good night’s sleep

Getting enough sleep is a perennial problem for some, and I sympathise. I’ve had two stress-related periods of exceptionally poor sleep in my life, and as a result, I began to dig deep into the science to help myself and others get a better night’s sleep. Here is what I found.

Tips for a good night’s sleep: environmental factors

Our circadian rhythm is influenced by external factors such as light and darkness in the environment.

So one thing we can do is to manage exposure to light to ensure that it works for our biological and mental processes and not against them.

For example, the hormone melatonin is responsible for good sleep and is produced in the mornings. Getting outside in the morning, therefore, can help your body to create more melatonin, which will help you get your snooze on at night.

Similarly, ensuring that you use blackout blinds and turn off blue light devices (phones, tablets, laptops) at night will mean that you are creating the right environment for your body to understand it’s time to rest. Especially given that reading on a tablet, say, can stimulate your brain so much it delays sleep onset for up to 90 minutes!

Finally, in terms of sleep hygiene, it’s important to keep your bedroom cool and to use the bedroom for sleep not work, housework or storage.

No more working from bed or watching the TV while you do the ironing in the bedroom. Make it a sacred space and have a ritual at bedtime instead. Perhaps, you fold your clothes away, get into bed and spend a few minutes thinking about what went well that day. Then, turn the bedside lamp off and go to sleep.

Tips good night's sleep bedroom sanctuary

Photo by Tan Danh from Pexels

What we eat or drink

You probably know what’s coming next… the bad boys of beverage stimulants – caffeine and alcohol.

As you may know, caffeine stresses the body through the impact it has on your blood sugar, causing spikes and collapses that make your energy levels rollercoaster through the day. The general advice in relation to improving your sleep is to avoid caffeine (e.g. in tea, coffee, chocolate) after midday and perhaps switch over to herbal tea. I found drinking Chamomile very helpful, and also the last thing at night a combination of Limeflower and Passionflower helped me to drop off.

The advice on alcohol may be trickier in some ways.

The “ideal” time to drink alcohol from the perspective of a good night’s rest is actually 5.30/6pm.

So that’s good news for the after-work drink and bad news for the drink with or after dinner. It is best avoided close to bedtime too as, whilst it can appear to help you to get to sleep – it can also cause you to wake in the night. The best advice is not to drink every night, and especially to avoid drinking on consecutive nights if possible.

Tips for a good night’s sleep in terms of what to include in your diet.

Magnesium can be very useful. You may even choose to get checked for magnesium deficiency as too little can reduce the production of neurotransmitters that help to balance mood. Supplementing with magnesium works for many people I talked to. Generally, professionals seem to recommend 500mg, especially when combined with a specific amount of calcium. You can find a professional near you by searching for the British Association of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine website.

Mental factors

One of the most important things I learned during my flirtation with insomnia was that the more I worried about not being able to sleep the worse things got.

Cultivate a determined attitude that your body is still getting some rest if you lay down for several hours. Refuse to count how many hours sleep you feel you actually got. This will slowly but surely begin to work. With that in mind, I’m not a great fan of the smart devices that show you your sleep pattern. Use them sparingly in my view – perhaps as a source of information – but watch out for obsessing over how much and what type of sleep you did or didn’t get.

In general, I recommend focusing on relaxation and breathing exercises instead.

My own favourite breathing exercise: imagine that your breath is like a wave, entering through your feet and washing up the body to the crown of your head. Then, on the out breath, it washes back down the body and out the feet. You can imagine that the incoming wave brings anything you need more of in your life – my go-to is calm – and then the outgoing wave carries out of you anything you don’t need any more. It’s a beautiful relaxing visualisation. Breathing out my worries, disappointments, tensions, busy-ness, helps me enormously to wind down and let go. And then I find I can sleep.

And the remaining thing you can do is get help – talk to a professional if you are concerned. I have found Reiki has helped many clients get better rest, as does yoga nidra (yogic sleep) and yoga itself.

So please do contact me to discuss how you could benefit and get a better night’s rest, or go ahead and book an appointment.

The land of nod awaits!

body confidence girl mirror

Body Confidence: why it is so important in business

Your body confidence is your tool for making your mark in the world.

Minds and hearts alone won’t do it – we have to have a body to act through.

Think about it… we need

  • eyes to see,
  • ears to hear,
  • a voice to speak with,
  • hands to create, and help us to relate.
  • We need all the underlying structure to work for us to work – lungs to breathe, stomachs to fuel us, legs to take us from place to place.

It is through our body that we experience our world. We collect and filter sensory information through our many nerve endings and the brain, and through this information, we make sense of our experience. So in an immediate sense, I hope it is immediately obvious that having a good relationship with our body will lead us to better care for it, which in turn will set us up to be a better channel for our businesses.

But there’s a little more to it than the fact that our body is our physical avatar, our way of relating to and acting in the world. And that’s this:

The body is an energetic magnet to draw what we desire towards us and through us into reality.

That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? And what does it mean?

From an energy work perspective, there are four key energetic flows to know about and work within our lives.

  1. Firstly, we have the manifesting flow. The manifesting flow is the ability we all have to bring our inspiration through into reality.
  2. The liberating flow is the ability to rise above the humdrum detail of survival and reach towards self-actualisation (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
  3. The receiving flow is the means through which we allow ourselves to receive love, kindness, generosity, friendship and all the good things that we have coming our way.
  4. The giving flow is the one through which we give those same things – our love, care, kindness, empathy and support.

The body is the magnet that draws the manifesting flow into being. Think about it. Think about a recent innovation you’ve had in your business. It started as an idea – which you began to contemplate and think through, bringing it into your being through your crown chakra. You looked at it from all different angles (third eye chakra). You began to check it out with key influencers (your throat chakra). All the time it’s taking more shape.

At some point, you became committed to the idea (heart chakra). You began to take the necessary steps to put it into place (solar plexus chakra). You went to work to create it until it ‘felt’ right (sacral chakra). And finally, when everything was ready you gave birth to it (base chakra). That’s the manifesting flow – which moves fast for the simplest of ideas, and for those who’ve mastered it, and which can take months and years, even a lifetime, for things of more import.

We give birth to each new change in our lives in this way, and energetically we can make this process easier by creating a safe ground for our desires to take root and grow, just as the physical womb provides the safe environment for a foetus to grow.

If we have safe ground or home, for our desires, it is far easier to draw them in and we become a more efficient channel from inspiration to reality.

And that will make us considerably more effective in business.

So that’s one energetic and yes, an esoteric, reason to develop a truly loving and cherishing feeling towards our body – it creates a safe and loving home through which our desires can be born. We experience more alignment (which is what makes channelling our desires into reality possible), and we experience less resistance. We become better at both receiving and giving, which too makes us more efficient and effective – knowing what our boundaries need to be, setting and holding them for example; delegating where we need to; creating teams that play to individual strengths and so perform better overall. We also through our much-loved businesses move towards our own self-actualisation.

But what else? What of the more prosaic but nevertheless absolutely critical elements of how body confidence affects your business?

Well, firstly total ease in yourself creates ease in the people you are with.

We mirror and amplify each other’s state, so when you are with someone, you will know whether they are comfortable in their own skin or not. That means other people will sense whether you are too! You want your clients to relax into your expert care – whatever service or product you provide. They can only do so if YOU are relaxed in yourself, which is more fundamental than just “not currently stressed”.

Being at ease will help you become a better speaker, communicator, marketer, and deliverer of your service. Why? Because you will see an improvement in intuition (less interference to fight through), better decisions (same reason), better self-esteem, better relationships.

Being at ease with yourself is a core secret to charisma, alongside being totally present. You will become magnetic. And it will become possible to own the rooms you walk into just by being YOU. And when you can do THAT, clients will flock to you.

So, how do we do it?

The first step is to recognise how profoundly programmed we are and to PROTECT YOUR THOUGHTS.

We are bombarded with incessant messaging through the media, through peer pressure, possibly through our family, even through our literature, art, and other cultural expressions. What are the messages? Well, it seems to me I’m permanently stuck between being not enough of something and too much of something else:

Not thin enough, too vocal.

Too demanding, not fit enough.

Not pretty enough, too emotional.

I don’t fit into the small box that’s been designed for me, so I am judged for the too-muchness that spills out of its confines. I’m sure you have your own rock and a hard place too.

If you’re not sure you agree about the messaging, think about this. The apparently objectively most beautiful people in the world are regularly dressed and made up to create an image and then photoshopped like crazy afterwards. So it’s not even a REAL standard of beauty. It is, in fact, a completely unattainable one because it’s NOT real.

So, it’s time to remind yourself with diligence that these are not attainable ideals, and also that they are not YOURS.

What would YOUR beauty ideal be?

Secondly, identifying your own particular brand of judgement will help you know how to fight back against the specific voices in your head.

Think about it now… in the not enough / too much stakes, what do you tell yourself? Got some ideas? Ok then – pick one that really annoys you. Where did that originally come from?

You see it’s probably not even YOUR idea. It is almost definitely something that somebody somewhere along the line said to you and you took it on board. Whether that was a member of your family, a friend, someone at school; or picked up by comparing yourself with someone else, or overhearing a conversation, or hearing something on the radio or picking up something from TV. Was it really yours?

Babies don’t get born into the world with body shame. We pick it up along the way. Well, it’s time to stop perpetuating these self-denigrating myths. Each time we keep them going we distance ourselves from our body further. Instead of being on the same side we make an uneasy ally at best, or an enemy of our own vehicle for getting things done in the world. How silly is that?

So, we’ve set up guard against the wider societal pressure; we’ve identified our own troop of tripper-uppers.

NOW, what do we do….

Let’s just get rid of them! Let’s clear them out. Give them the old heave-ho.

There are so many ways, but one way that I’ve absolutely loved is EFT – emotional freedom technique which you might know as tapping. If you know it, you can use the prompts below to help you clear these old judgements. If you have never done it before or need a reminder, here is a link to a fantastic practitioner and his getting started advice – Rick at Thriving Now.

Tap using the fingers of one hand on the places named below; fill in the detail where I’ve put [xxxx] with the judgement you would really like to let go of…

  • The side of the other hand: Even though I [xxxx], even though I really [xxxx], even though I hugely [xxxx],
  • Top of the head: I’m open to the possibility that [something less judgemental and more open]
  • Eyebrow: I’m willing to see if [something new or different in the situation or about you]
  • The side of the eye: if just maybe [are more redeemable than you originally thought!!]
  • Upper lip: [then begin to set up a positive alternative that you could credibly believe instead]
  • Chin: [reaffirm the positive statement, either with new words or repeating the same]
  • Collar bone: [continue to affirm the new for the rest of the places]
  • Under the arm: [continue to affirm the new for the rest of the places]
  • Top of the head: [affirm once more the new]
  • Breathe in and out…..

The more fun and completely ridiculous you’re willing to be in your judgements the better (because they are what you are secretly thinking anyway).

THEN, having cleared out all the old rubbish, we want to make a decision to think new thoughts about ourselves.

Make a decision RIGHT NOW that when you look in the mirror you will ONLY notice what works about your body and what you love about your body and affirm it to yourself out loud. Perhaps you like the wicked sparkle in your eye.  Maybe you’re grateful to your feet for walking you from appointment to appointment today. Perhaps instead of seeing a soft tummy, you think how grateful you are for the babies that soft tummy represents. Perhaps you always had a soft tummy and you realise that its part of your essential gorgeous womanhood. I don’t know what the trigger points are for you, but you do. Take care of them (literally).

And finally, the icing on the cake is that the very best way to develop your body confidence is to do more of what your body loves.

Eat the food that makes your body feel best. Sleep the sleep your body loves. Exercise the way your body most enjoys. Have the sex your body most enjoys! And do what you love. Give your body pleasure and not only does life become a whole lot more fun, but your body and you will also be best friends and it will work SOOO much better for you.

And if you need help getting your body confidence back, book a coaching session with me now. It will be my privilege to help.

Retreats at Joanne Sumner Wellbeing

Cleansing relaxation script

This relaxation script is based on a cleansing practice in yoga. It works with the different layers of the human energy field.

Within yoga, the physical body is seen just as the densest part of your being.

The other component parts are:

  • The energy body
  • emotional body
  • mental body
  • and the bliss body or spiritual body.

And you can see them as almost like a set of Russian dolls with the physical body as the smallest central one.

The spiritual body is the most expanded and least dense but they interpenetrate each other, so you can’t fully separate one from the other. And we don’t need to try!

Cleansing relaxation script 5 koshas

Actually, we  want to recognize that physical things that are happening in our body have an effect on:

  • our energy,
  • our emotions,
  • mental state
  • our feeling of being well in ourselves
  • and on our feeling of joy, which I think is the thing I associate most with the spiritual body.

The same is true the other way: if something happens that affects your spirit, you’re in low spirits, then it can weaken all the other layers too. So, we might be more likely to get colds for example.

In this meditation practice, we’re going to work with cleaning these layers.

We’re cleaning them of all the sticky residues from life events. These can be things like arguments, or something that happened on the tube, or things that you’ve been thinking through, and you’re worried about. It can all leave a sticky residue that you’re then carrying around.

The problem is that, because it’s sticky, it attracts other things that stick to it. For example, as a result of an argument, normally and very humanly, we carry that residue from the argument into the next conversation that we have or the next meeting that we have and we can end up being more prickly ourselves. Then, of course, if we’re more prickly in a new conversation, we make it more likely that the person we are speaking to, then, gets a bit prickly. So, you can see how it builds.

What I want for our meditation today is to just release some of that, letting go, releasing and smoothing out the energy field.

So, we can have a smoother experience in our life and a happier one.

We’re going to start by imagining that we’re lying down inside an egg-shaped energy field.

You’re in the centre of this egg shape: it extends maybe about a foot out from your body in every direction.

When we breathe in, we breathe gold light up, around the edge of the egg and also fill the right side of the egg with gold light.

When we breathe out, we are breathing silver light from the crown of our head all the way down the left side of the egg, filling the left side.

So, we have the gold light on the right-hand side and the silver light on the left.

Gold relates to solar energy, which is our drive to get things done. Silver energy relates to the lunar, receptive, replenishing energy.

Our yoga class sits more in the left side, it’s in the giving-back side. We’re balancing the two things out with this visualization, too.

You could add as the final element a very simple affirmation. You just say the affirmation inside yourself in your own mind, very simply:

I am calm and relaxed.

We typically use nine breaths and we all breathe at different paces. So I’m just gonna hand over to you to count.


Now, Imagine a smaller egg, about a hand’s breadth out from your body. It has 2 layers and it represents the energy and emotional bodies.

Keep breathing gold light in and out the right-hand side breathing silver light out and down the left-hand side. Keep repeating:

I am calm and relaxed.

Count nine breaths, starting when you’re ready…

Now, shrink your attention even further, coming to your spinal cord.

So, you’re breathing up and down the length of the spine, coming right up to your brain and then back down.

Breathe nine times gold light up the length, and silver light down and out. This time, an affirmation that works for me is

I am at peace.

Then, release the focus on the breath and just expand your attention to notice how you feel, just a light check on how your energy and mental state feel.

Joanne Sumner runs Yoga Classes in Ealing and Meditation Classes in West London.

giving and receiving

Giving and receiving: wrap-up session of “Feel Good With Jo”

This is the last of this current series of Feel Good With Jo, your Friday guide to leading a happy and healthy life. These are my thoughts on how to look after yourself and manage the busy stressful lives that we all seem to lead.

What I’d like to talk about is getting a balance between giving and receiving.

I’m a holistic therapist and life coach. I run Yoga Classes in Ealing and  Meditation Classes in West London. From my experience, I often tend to see more people giving more of the time and not actually taking enough time for themselves to receive.

One thing that is very important is time.

If you give people time, but you also allow yourself time, that will really increase your level of feeling happy and healthy.

Children, for example, want your time more than they want the latest X Box. The same is true for you, to some extent. Giving yourself time will actually nourish you more than buying anything that interests you.

A similar related point regards giving and receiving attention.

And this is about the quality of attention. When you are with somebody, you don’t have the phone out, don’t have the iPod out, don’t have the computer on. Just have your attention on them, give them your attention.

One of the things I’ve been studying recently is around eye contact in coaching or listening contexts. Maintaining eye contact encourages somebody to think as creatively as possible. For this reason, you need to have almost continual eye contact. Now, their eyes will be off in every other direction. That’s fine. That’s part of the thinking process, but you, as a listener giving really good quality attention, keep the eye contact, so you just keep looking at them softly. Not like a crazy person, just softly. Then, it will really increase their ability to think. The fantastic research on Thinking Environment® by Nancy Kline demonstrates that.

But also you need to receive attention.

If you’re not getting that from your significant other, from your friends, from your family, you need to ask for it. And this is where my message is about being soft and strong. You need to be able to assert that you need somebody’s attention. It is something you have the right to ask for.

The third most important element for me in giving and receiving is love.

Really, just understand that it is in infinite supply. There’s no end to how much love you can contain or you can receive. In fact, the more you give love, the more you get it. So, just don’t be afraid to show that you love people. And don’t be afraid to be loved.

Also, in terms of balance, I’d like to invite you to a balance between grounding and inspiration.

When we get stressed, one of the things that happen to our energy is that it rushes up out of the body. This leaves us in that sort of status that we tend to describe as “a headless chicken“.

One of the ways to deal with that is grounding.

You can do it by walking in nature, gardening, eating foods that literally grown on the earth, like potatoes and carrots. Also, don’t leave your electrics on in your house. Between the friends who are “grounding” and the ones who are “ennervating”, just spend now a bit more time with the people who are “grounding”.

My final point is this: the balance is in inspiration, too.

We’ve all had at some point in our life at that time when we got locked into routine and life, is boring because it’s just the same old, same old. If that’s something that you’re resonating with at the moment, even if it’s 5 to 10 minutes a day, I really encourage you to go back to something that sets you going. Whatever it is, whether it’s listening to music that you haven’t listened to for 20 years, whether it’s playing golf, painting or whatever you have felt in the past that has really lit you up, or that you discover now that lights you up, make time for it. People don’t seem to think it’s important. But in terms of well-being, it’s absolutely critical.

Listen to this recording

A Simple Beginner Yoga Sequence

For this simple beginner yoga sequence, begin by resting in this position for 5 minutes.

Lie down on your back with knees bent, feet close to your buttocks.

Beginner Yoga Sequence by Joanne Sumner 1

Read more »

how to feel more confident with meditation

How to feel more confident and powerful – more you!

Today we will talk about how to feel more confident, more powerful, centred and whole.

In the last two meditation classes, we have been exploring the concept of “magnetising yourself”. It helped us focus on how to make life more fun and manageable.

We leave parts of ourselves in the activities and emotions of our day. So, by the end of the day, we are often quite frazzled or tired. We can restore our calm by gathering back those pieces of ourselves that we’ve left dotted about the day (week, month, year, years). This is quite simple to do on a daily basis.

Here’s how.

Take a few minutes now to sit quietly. Feel into the solidity of your body. The pressure of your body on the floor. Your back on the floor or up against the wall or chair-back behind you. Give yourself time to arrive in your body, so that you begin to feel a pleasant weightiness. Maybe give yourself five minutes just to do that. Feel your body present here.

Now, see that awareness or presence as a magnet to help you gather back the pieces of yourself from your day. Begin to run your day again in your head, like images on a movie screen but without going into the emotion of the events too much. Just remind yourself of what your day contained. Begin to draw the pieces of yourself you left in those activities back to you now.

Keep going until you’ve completed the day and you’re back – awareness and body in the same place at the same time – and notice how you feel.

When I do this, I find everything feels brighter, colours are clearer, the edges are crisp, and I feel mentally awake. And above all, I feel more powerful and able to cope with my life.

Now, I’ve given you a practice to use as a daily clear up. We can use similar practices to heal far older wounds, and you may find it helpful once you are familiar with the daily practice to begin going back further in time. But, my recommendation is that if you want to gather back parts of yourself from traumatic experiences in the past that you do so with the help of a qualified practitioner. By all means, get in touch and I will connect you with someone if I cannot help you myself.


Meditation is a simple and powerful way to relax, quiet your busy mind, and connect with your deeper self. Meditation teachers variously describe the practice as going within, stilling the mind, finding inner peace, and experiencing being rather than doing.

Joanne’s Meditation classes in West London teach you to switch off deliberately so that your body moves from fight and flight to rest, digest and repair; they will also help you feel confident and content, and bring a sense of clarity to your life.

Evening classes are held at On Route, and private appointments at both On Route and Alexandria Healing Centre, so please ensure you check the location of any classes and private appointments.

On Route

44-46 South Ealing Road
London W5 4QA

T: 0203 761 2964

Alexandria Healing Centre

39 Alexandria Road
London W13 0NR

T: 020 8579 7230


The power of a 90 day plan to help you reach your business goals

You will never reach your business goals if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks. Winston Churchill. 

Welcome to a new year! I hope last year was excellent for you, but even if it wasn’t we get to use the new year as an opportunity to start over and my job is to help you master your 2018 ninety days at a time. So if there are any lingering gripes and niggles from last year, let them go completely once and for all, and let’s start the new one with a fresh slate!

My goal in this blog is to encourage you to change the way you plan your business if you are not already a 90-day planner.

If you are, there may be some suggestions that allow you to tweak and improve your existing process.

Why 90 days? Because we have a tendency to overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in three or five.

Rockefeller worked on the basis that you plan your 3 – 5-year strategy and then you plan your operations in quarters (Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish). The 3 – 5-year strategy keeps your goal in mind and can be quite a high level. I have a 20-year goal to make my retirement from poetry and art; a 10-year goal to have established a community for spiritually driven health and wellbeing practitioners; a 5-year goal to be running a yoga and coaching franchise. The goals are high level and can be achieved in a whole variety of ways, but I know what I’m aiming at and I can take action towards them without shutting off other opportunities. For example, I know that I need to hone my skill as a writer and an artist now. It may take 20 years to get the skill to be really good.

Once you have that overall destination in mind, you can break it down into what needs to be achieved this year, and then that is broken down into quarters.

What specifically needs to be done this quarter to take me towards that one year, 3 years, 5-year goal? 90 days is long enough for you to get things done, but not so long that you kid yourself you have time to play with. [Who doesn’t sometimes think oh, I’ve got all year to do that, and then get to September with a huge list of things they committed to but haven’t done yet? And isn’t it the case for everyone that there are surprise events, challenges and opportunities that if you are running a longer planning year knock you off track purely because you get distracted in dealing with them?]

So quarterly chunks are manageable, measurable, accountable amounts of time, that require you to FOCUS on what’s important at that moment, and if you stack them together they will add up to real change and forward momentum.

90-day planning:

  • Assumes you have a 3-5 year goal which guides all your business planning
  • Requires you to focus down on what’s important in your business right now: my preference is just 3 goals so that I’m forced to prioritise ruthlessly
  • Is memorable. You only have to remember what you’re working on for these 3 months. You only have 3 goals that are relevant right now.
  • Makes decision making easy. Does this fit within my 90-day plan or not? If not, don’t do it or delegate it.
  • Stops you wasting time. If it isn’t on purpose for your 90 days, don’t do it or delegate it. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape!

So… who is struggling with a bundle of resistance? What’s that resistance about?

Focus gives you a feeling of being control

…of running your business the way you want rather than it running you, it improves confidence and clarity, and frankly, it makes a far better impression and so improves your customer and client attraction. It combats overwhelm (if I only have to remember 3 goals, not 27, that helps),  and it provides a clear decision-making structure. And …

above all, it builds self-esteem.

Why? Because you will begin to prove to yourself just how much you can do when you focus, instead of either feeling like a headless chicken or a hamster in a wheel – completely on track but going nowhere because the track has no end.

So let’s take a piece of paper and divide it into quarters. Label the quarters 1/2/3/4 for the four quarters of the year. Think about the 3-year plan, and what needs to be done THIS year towards that plan. Then think about what has to be done first. Write the 3 most important things in q1.

Now go back over it and check if you’ve written things down that you would truly LOVE to achieve, not just what feels logical. You’re more likely to achieve across the board with items in your plan that are purely for the joy and satisfaction of achieving them.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing that you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” Steve Jobs

Coaching can help you get your focus back.

Whether the hurdles are in your personal or your professional life, coaching can help you realise your life goals. For further information on individual coaching appointments, contact Joanne. Appointments may be in person, generally at The Alexandria Healing Centre in Ealing, West London, or by Skype


Emotional resilience and self containment

In our yoga classes in Ealing, this week we’ve been discussing the idea of emotional resilience and self-containment.

What it means to be able to contain our energy, our thoughts, our emotions, our actions. So, we can look after ourselves and we look after the people around us.

What does it mean to contain oneself? Colloquially we use the term to mean to be able to hold our feelings or behaviour within bounds.

To literally contain them from spilling over (and by inference, affecting other people). We might say it positively – “I’m trying to contain my excitement” – or more pejoratively “For goodness sake, contain yourself”.

In class, I wanted to explore what the concept of containment had to offer our emotional resilience and health.

When I consider what containing myself means to me, I am struck by the way I use it to mean self-care. It means being able to hold my own feelings – tenderly, with consideration for myself – without splurging them out on anyone who will listen. It feels like self-respect. I acknowledge these feelings, and I hold them as precious. It means I will share them as necessary for my greater insight and wellbeing with people who’ve earned the right and will show me and them the respect they deserve.

There is strength in containing myself, until the appropriate moment when I may unburden myself to someone who can hold me and those feelings with care. And there is also respect for others.

Perhaps it’s a hazard of the job that I sometimes find myself pigeonholed by people who just want to let go, to let rip, to make their problem someone else’s, anyone else’s… but when it happens it feels like being hijacked. I’m sure you’ve experienced it too, especially if you are a good listener.

Of course, over the years I’ve got better at handling the situation and compassionately putting boundaries back in place. Yet still –

there is an energetic invasion when you splurge on someone whether they are interested or not, and we should take responsibility for that.

I’ve certainly done it, and later acknowledged it and thanked the person for their forbearance in dealing with it.

So – containing myself means treating myself and others with respect. It entails strength and compassion. It also assumes in practice that I will disclose and unburden myself appropriately because that too is part of containing oneself. If I am completely overwhelmed by my feelings they will either overflow or have to be suppressed. Neither of those, in the long run, is helpful to our health and wellbeing.

Continually overflowing feelings can leave people paralysed and unable to take action; continually suppressed feelings can leave people able to act but not to enjoy their life.

So we have a sense of measured unburdening, forbearance, and personal responsibility to add to self-respect. That sounds like a powerful cocktail for emotional intelligence to me. What does it require?

It requires us to know what we are capable of containing. So, we put in place support measures to help.

Over the years I’ve used psychotherapy, holistic therapies, retreats, personal study, yoga, friends and colleagues to help me process the emotional experience of life and keep me as available and centred as possible. This is the way I choose to live my life. In fact, that process has undoubtedly inspired the creation of classes and retreats as a place for people to do the same.

Do let me know what you do? Or if I can help by providing a safe place and careful listening while you take inventory of your own emotional holding, it would be my privilege.

Meditation classes provide a space to develop resilience

Meditation practice is a simple and powerful way to relax, quiet your busy mind, and connect with your deeper self. Mindfulness and meditation teachers variously describe the practice as going within, stilling the mind, finding inner peace, and experiencing being rather than doing.

For me, meditation is all these things, and a healer of body, mind and spirit. It will help you:

  • improve your cardiac health
  • strengthen your immune system
  • switch from fight and flight to rest, digest and repair
  • calm your emotions
  • bring clarity
  • help you feel content and confident of your purpose in life
  • know who you are
  • release stress and anxiety in your everyday life.

Joanne Sumner runs meditation classes in West London. She also runs regular retreats.