Opinion

Colour Me Calm: The Adult Colouring Book Craze

colouringbookcollage1

We all remember the joy that colouring books brought to us when we were small, our parents would give us a colouring book and some crayons and we would stay quiet for hours, focusing on staying in the lines, with our tongues sticking out and wrinkles on our forehead.

Unfortunately, as we turn into adults we close the doors on our childhood, we forget everything we used to enjoy and focus on making a living, worrying about money and what we think we should be doing with our lives. We tell ourselves that everything we did when we were children should be left in the past and we should just be adults, responsible adults who have lots of important decisions to make.

I’ve always loved colouring, as a child I would entertain myself for hours, scribbling and drawing and using felt tips to colour in blank silhouettes of cartoon characters and princesses. This is why I stopped. There were no colouring books suitable for adults, until now. It might be the latest craze that will fade into obscurity in a few months time but I think it’s an excellent idea to get adults in touch with their inner child. Instead of getting caught up in the anxieties of modern life, why not sit down, switch off your brain for a little while and colour? Brilliant.

Studies have shown that colouring is a great way to relax and turn off the world. We’re so animated all of the time, whether it is scrolling down our Facebook news feeds to see what our friends are up to, working in a busy office nine hours a day or travelling on trains and buses, we find it difficult to just stop and focus on one thing. Psychologists say that colouring stimulates areas of the brain that are related to motor skills, the senses and creativity and when we enter that creative state of mind, naturally our worries melt away, it’s the perfect relaxation technique.

Some adults will shake their heads in dismay at grown-ups sitting down with a box of crayons and a book of patterns to colour in on a Friday night but if it transports them to a place where they feel calmer, happier, even nostalgic then what’s the harm? I have always found colouring to be therapeutic and since buying my ‘adult’ colouring book, I have found a new hobby that enhances my creativity, makes me feel calmer and keeps me entertained when boredom hits. The first day I opened my new colouring book, I left my laptop screen and coloured for nearly three hours. I think that’s the longest I have been away from a screen for a while.

If you feel like you need an escape from your every day life and want to reconnect with your childhood innocence then pick up an adult colouring book from your local book shop, try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Yoga Poses

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Lotus Pose

English Name: Lotus Pose

Sanskrit Name: Padmasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Padmasana is a great pose for stimulating the pelvis, abdomen, bladder and spine. It has the ability to calm the brain, stretch the knees and ankles and can ease sciatica and menstrual discomfort. Consistent practice during pregnancy can also ease childbirth and some traditional texts say that doing Lotus Pose can destroy all disease and awaken kundalini (a shakti energy found in the base of the spine).

How to do it: Lotus pose can be quite difficult for beginners, don’t worry about looking like the picture, just do what you’re comfortable with. Start by sitting on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring the lower left up into a cradle. The outer edge of the foot is notched into the crook of the left elbow, the knee is wedged into the crook of the right elbow, and the hands are clasped (if possible) outside the shin. Lift the front torso toward the inner right leg so the spine lengthens (and the lower back does not round). Rock your leg back and forth a few times, exploring the full range of movement of the hip joint. Don’t push yourself too much, if you have hip pain then don’t go any further.

Next, bend the left knee and turn the leg out. Rock your right leg far out to the right, then lock the knee tight by pressing the back of the thigh to the calf. Next swing the leg across in front of your torso, swiveling from the hip and not the knee, and nestle the outside edge of the foot into the inner left groin. Make sure you bring the right knee as close to the left as possible, and press the right heel into the left lower belly.

Now lean back slightly, pick the right leg up off the floor, and lift the left leg in front of the right. To do this hold the underside of the left shin in your hands. Carefully slide the left leg over the right, snuggling the edge of the left foot deep into the right groin. Again swivel into position from the hip joint, pressing the heel against the lower belly, and arrange the sole perpendicular to the floor. Draw the knees as close together as possible. Use the edges of the feet to press the groins toward the floor and lift through the top of the sternum. If you wish, you can place the hands palms up in jnana mudra, with the thumbs and first fingers touching.

Padmasana is the sitting asana, but it’s definitely not for everybody. Beginners may need to use other variations of this position. At first, only hold the pose for a few seconds and quickly release. Remember that Padmasana is a “two-sided pose,” so be sure to work with both leg crosses each time you practice. Gradually add a few seconds each week to your pose until you can sit comfortably for a minute or so. Ideally you shouldn’t attempt this pose if you don’t know what you are doing or how to correct yourself.Yoga Vocabularly: Jnana Mudra is the most common yogic mudra used in meditation. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Jnana’ means knowledge or wisdom and ‘mudra’ means sign or gesture. It literally means the psychic gesture of Knowledge or wisdom.

Yoga Poses

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Downward-Facing Dog

English Name: Downward-Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Downward-Facing dog has many benefits, it’s a great pose to energize the body, calm the brain and relieve stress and mild depression. It can improve digestion, help prevent osteoporosis, stretch the shoulders, calves, hamstrings, arches and hands. It can also help relieve symptoms of menopause, it can also relieve menstrual discomfort when the head is supported. Downward-Facing dog can also relieve headaches, insomnia, back pain, fatigue, it is therapeutic for asthmatics and can help people with high blood pressure, flat feet, sciatica and sinusitis.

How to do it: Sit on your mat on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are directly below your hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms wide, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.

Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent, if this is enough for you then stop there. Downward-Facing Dog is a beginner’s pose but can be difficult for those with stiff legs. If you are ready to improve on the pose then lift the heels away from your mat. Lengthen your tail bone away from the back of your pelvis. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

Once you have achieved this, exhale. Push the top of the thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them, keep a slight bend or you will overstretch the muscles in the legs. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

Adho Mukha Svanasana/Downward-Facing Dog is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose (see previous yoga of the day pose).

Yoga Vocabulary: Sun Salutation Sequence – A dynamic asana sequence, also known as Surya Namaskar means to bow to or to adore. Each sun salutation begins and ends with joined hands (Mudra) touched to the heart. The placement means that only the heart can know the truth. 

Yoga Poses

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Child’s Pose

English Name: Child’s Pose

Sanskrit Name: Balasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Child’s pose gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. We don’t usually breathe into the back of the torso, so this pose allows you to do just that. Child’s pose calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue, it can also relieve back and neck pain.

How to do it: Sit on your mat, get comfortable. Kneel on your mat, touch your big toes together and sit on your heels. Slowly separate your knees as wide as your mat and exhale. Lay down your torso between your thights. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis, life the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.

Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. You should be able to feel the weight of your shoulders, pull the shoulder blades wide across your back.

Even though Child’s pose/Balasana is a resting pose it still has many benefits and can me nice when followed by any asana.  Stay in child’s pose for thirty seconds, or a few minutes if you wish. Beginners should be able to do this pose but if you have a difficulty sitting your heels, you can fold a blanket and place it between your thighs and calves. To come out of the pose, lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.

Yoga Vocabularly: Asana – a posture adopted in performing hatha yoga.

Variation: Extended Child’s Pose – Same pose but with extended arms in front rather than at your side.