When people know that I am a yoga teacher, they often ask me to provide them with little things that they can do to help them relax and unwind. Whether they are stressed with work, lacking in time to attend a full yoga class or their family takes up their full attention, the theme is simply - what can they do with just 5-10 minutes?
So as a person that is constantly reading, learning and adding to my ever-bulging book shelf, I turned to The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr Patricia Collard for some inspiration.
The back cover reads:
"Bring these simple 5- and 10-minute practices into your day to find freedom from stress and ultimately more peace in your life."
Yes please, say I!
The book, priced at £5.99 is indeed little (around the size of a postcard) - handy-sized I would say. It would easily to fit into a small bag or even pocket - perfect for what it is intended for. The book has over 30 different exercises to try, split into seven different sections. There is an introduction explaining succinctly what mindfulness is, the benefits and where it came from. Then it moves onto the individual sections such as 'Being in the Now' and 'Mindful Eating'. I skim-read the book before spending a few days picking some exercises at random to try myself.
"Mindfulness is a new way of being, a new way of experiencing
life and improving one' s work-life balance."
The exercises are clear and easy to understand and each one takes a page or two of explanation with some tips as well as a time guide, such as whether it will take 5 minutes or 10 minutes. I must say that as a busy mum, with limited time for a long daily yoga practice, knowing that I can just dip into my bag, choose something that takes just 5 or 10 minutes, actually reduces my stress levels before I start. The exercises are simple and easy and include many things that I already teach as part of my regular yoga classes in Woking and online. Simple, yet effective things such as watching the breath or hugging your knees to your chest or lying twists. Other exercises include more day-to-day practices to bring mindfulness into your life such as gratitude exercises, mindful eating and journaling.
Many of the exercise are one-offs that will give you a quick boost, and some are things that you may wish to introduce into your life as a regular practice (a gratitude journal is one I highly recommend.)
Overall I found the book full of good snippets of inspiration to try out mindfulness if you are new to it. More of an introduction to mindfulness and how it can be applied in practice. You could certainly choose a couple of exercises to do daily to boost your energy levels and reduce your stress.If you were looking for a more in-depth guide or full-course on applying mindfulness seriously into your life, I would suggest looking elsewhere for more information. The illustrations are great and the book is straightforward and easy to understand, especially for the beginner. There are some lovely quotes and tips as well.
"Minding the breath can be like taming a wild horse.
The aspiration is to tame it with kindness and without breaking its spirit."
I would say that some of the practices do really need to be repeated regularly to have true benefit, because if I were new to it I would have to refer back to the instructions to fully understand what I was to do - perhaps breaking the mindfulness of the practice!
This book however is a great starting point and most people would be able to gain more peace in their lives from introducing a little more mindfulness into their day.
The Little Book of Mindfulness
10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace
Dr Patricia Collard. April 2014
The book is available on Amazon.co.uk as a paperback and on Kindle. This review was about the paperback version.
The book has a 4.5* rating on Amazon, from 528 customer reviews (correct at time of writing this article).