31 Dec 2021
Five years ago, Eleonora Gendelman was walking to her job in fashion and design when she noticed a yoga studio offering hot yoga classes.
“It sounded hard enough for me to try,” she laughs, “especially for the physical benefits, So, I joined the studio for a month. When the month was over, I found myself asking how I had ever lived without it!”
Thus begins Eleonora’s journey with yoga, which has taken her from keen student to full time yoga teacher in the space of just a few years.
“It was the sense of possibility,” she recalls. “The vision, strength and limitless opportunities to create. Being present, exploring the power of the mind and what is possible. I’m very grateful for this space.
"I have been teaching Yoga full time for almost four years now, exploring, evolving, studying, training, and loving what I do!”
But for Eleonora, yoga isn’t just about exercise. “In my classes I focus on using the practice as a tool to take a deeper dive into self-realisation and introspection, creating tools to live and choose a life that refines our purpose.”
And isn’t that really what self-care is all about?
When building a self-care Sunday routine, it’s important to start by considering what’s going on in your life right now. Are you creating a self-care day to compensate for stress that swamps you throughout the rest of the week?
“Stress is not something that exists outside of us,” says Eleonora. “My best advice is not to create stress in the first place. To not give the power away to circumstances and focus on what we can actually control: our thoughts, feelings and actions.
“Our normal state is not to be exhausted all the time and dismiss it as a side effect of living a ‘busy life’.
“This was an uncomfortable realisation for me when I decided to restructure my life and work, feeling like I needed to fill that empty time with some action. But inaction - when it’s deliberate - is as important as action. It enables us to show up bigger and better.”
That said, stress isn’t always a bad thing. After all, physical stress helps us to build muscle; emotional stress helps us to build resilience. So perhaps it’s about recognising the types of stress which serve us and those which don’t. Eleonora sees this as an opportunity.
“We always want things to change, so we feel better and don’t need to do our own inner work. But whatever is stressing us out is not about that thing or person, but something we haven’t processed yet.
“Obviously, the ideal thing to do is remove that stress from your life. But if that isn’t possible, try to see it as an opportunity to do that inner work.”
So, taking into account all she has learnt from her work as a yogi, and from making the decision to give priority to her wellbeing, what tips does Eleonora have for our perfect self-care Sunday?
Self-care Sunday begins on Saturday evening, according to Eleonora.
“Getting enough sleep reduces the natural stress that comes from fatigue,” she tells us. “Getting sunlight on your eyes upon waking triggers a neural circuit that controls the timing of the release of hormones called cortisol and melatonin, which affect sleep and recovery.
“I use a ring connected to an app to track my sleep.”
In order to feel at your best during your self-care day, plan to get an early night on Saturday, and perhaps choose to stay in and avoid alcohol or caffeine.
Why not run yourself a warm bath, light a few candles and chill out before bedtime? Our relaxing ashwagandha latte recipe is ideal as a pre-bedtime drink, as it contains ashwagandha. This is a brilliant Ayurvedic sleep aid to help you nod off.
“This is great for observing all the thoughts that might create stress,” says Eleonora. “My mornings start with meditation, using my personal manifestation (which I created and recorded for myself), and a big cup of hot water with lemon, ginger, turmeric or apple cider vinegar.”
Meanwhile, evenings are a time to reflect. “Throughout the day I take notes and record my thoughts, realisations and ideas, which I include in my daily diary.
“I also have an excel sheet with all the things I am working on & habits I am building on purpose, which I check in with every day, too. I also like to plan the next day in detail.”
Research has repeatedly shown that meditation promotes good mental health. Scientists have linked it to better subjective wellbeing and reduced psychological symptoms and emotional sensitivity.
In short, setting aside some time for reflection may be one of the best things you can do for your resilience.(1)
Once you’re up and about, plan to spend some time outdoors, ideally in the countryside.
“I’m an introvert, and going out on my own and being in nature is the best way for me to recharge and reset. It’s a great way to create time where I can remove all the stresses of normal life.”
Eleonora’s experience isn’t unique. Physicians dating back to Hippocrates have been recommending that their patients get outside to improve their wellbeing. Fascinating research analysis reveals that being in nature has benefits that reach us through all of our five senses and lead to improved mood.(1)
So, taking a morning walk is one of the best activities you can do during your self-care Sunday.
Do you find yourself still carrying around tension in your shoulders, neck or back from the stresses of a long week?
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the physical signs of stress. Incorporating a few of these into your Sunday routine can help your body to ‘reset’, letting go of any tension you’re holding onto.
One of these is a favourite of Eleonora’s, but perhaps not one for the faint-hearted.
“I’ve been taking cold showers daily for the last eight years! It’s great for supporting the immune system, practicing discipline, and creating ‘good’ stress on purpose while keeping a calm mind. I also find it increases resilience and enhances recovery.”
Not up for taking on daily cold exposure? “I also love to use massage and foam rollers to help with the physical signs of stress,” says Eleonora.
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