As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, we caught up with Wimbledon resident and yoga-instructor, Annette Wiik to get her take on how best to ease the body, bring calmness to the mind and feel stronger.

Having practiced for over 20 years, Annette teaches a style of yoga which connects breath with movement to bring a sense of grounding. With five-minutes and five questions, here’s what we learnt from Annette.

1. What benefits do you get out of practicing yoga?

Everything works better for me when I practice yoga, life is easier! I love how the practice makes me feel centred, grounded and light. As I move on the mat I feel like I am freeing myself from blockages in my body and mind. I am coming back to me.
Mindfulness meditation involves consciously bringing awareness to your own thoughts and feelings.

2. What advice would you give to someone who wants to incorporate meditation into their routine?

I would suggest starting with an intention of sitting in stillness with your eyes closed for five to ten minutes every day. Bring compassion to yourself as you do this, so if there is a day you can’t do it, that’s okay. You could call it heartfulness instead of mindfulness. This is about giving kindness to yourself and time only for you. A time to tune into this moment and simply be. When I sit in stillness I like to follow my breath coming in and going out of the body. The mind will easily be drawn to a thought but as soon as I notice, I acknowledge where my mind went and bring my awareness back to following the breath. As you practice this regularly you will soon start to notice how taking time to sit in stillness will bring you calmness, clarity, and more ease of living.

3. Life is busy, how do you relax?

Yes, I do feel busy sometimes; and the best thing I can do is to pause and breathe! Another favourite thing is to go out with my dog in Wimbledon Common and enjoy the nature around me. Being in nature has such a great effect on all of us, it helps bring us back to the present moment.

In my opinion, I don’t think life needs to be busy. The vast majority of us are so preoccupied by doing something all the time, we forget about the moment we are in. When you bring yourself into this moment, the only moment that ever is, life will feel less busy and more fun.

4. Is there a simple 5-minute yoga technique we can all practice at home to help us feel more balanced?

I would say spinning! I am very into “arriving” where I am, and here’s how spinning works:

Stand up with feet parallel and hip-width apart. As you are grounding through the feet start rotating the top of your spine (from your mid-waist) from one side to the other. The movement starts at the upper spine, so you can just allow the arms to flop around your body like wet spaghetti! Allow your shoulders, arms and jaw to relax completely. This is something that is great to do every single day to bring aliveness to your spine. When I do this, not only do I feel balanced and grounded, this movement also makes me feel happy and free.

5. Breath is integral in yoga. How can focusing on our breathing during the day improve our overall wellbeing?

By following the breath as it moves in and out of the body you come into the rest and relax mode of your nervous system and the present moment. In essence, you are telling your body that everything is okay and there is no danger. This is the natural state for our body and pure wellness! By being in this state you allow the nervous system to do the job it is meant to do, which is growth and repair in the body.

Inspired by Annette’s take on wellness and mindfulness? Try practicing some of these breathing and movement techniques at home or check out Annette’s Wimbledon yoga classes if you’re keen to spend some extra time on the mat!