Feel Good

How to bring mindfulness into your everyday routine

In this week’s wellness column, Hannah Bullimore chats morning and bedtime routines with Vera of online wellness platform, Mana Living.

Written by High Life North
Published 18.03.2023

By Hannah Bullimore

 

Ever found yourself exasperated by the perfect, aesthetic morning routines you see on Tik Tok?

Vera Powles of wellbeing platform Mana Living is here to reassure you that you can be committed to your wellness without being an early riser.

Originally, this article was going to be all about the morning routine of a yoga instructor and Vera is, among many other impressive things, a wonderful yoga teacher. However, when I asked her about her morning routine she explained, ‘it’s quite simple actually, because I start work quite early.’

After talking a while longer, I realised that we are both night owls. We both look at the morning routines on the internet and wonder – how?!

‘How discouraging for people to think that you can only be well and healthy if you do that,’ Vera told me. ‘There’s no evidence to suggest waking up at 5am is any better than waking up at 10am.’

Image credit: Sarah Jean – Solace Sessions

WELLNESS THROUGH SCIENCE

Vera really is a wellness expert.

She’s the founder of Mana Living, a platform offering yoga classes, recipes, meditations and more. She has been working in the health industry for nine years and her company is founded on her own six pillars of wellness: diet, exercise, sleep, stress, spirituality and emotions.

While Vera shares the holistic benefits of therapies such as meditation and sound baths, her experience is rooted in science.

‘I was working on DNA research and DNA repair,’ says Vera. ‘I was coming across a lot of new research at the time about how the way you sleep and manage your stress and emotions can actually have an impact on the way that your DNA can express itself and certain diseases can actually appear because of those factors.

‘I thought, now that I know this I have to do something about it. If I want to prevent chronic disease, then I need to take steps to do something.’

THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

I asked Vera why yoga and spirituality were a key part of her approach to wellness.

She explained that while these modern times don’t allow a lot of time for stillness and self-reflection, the practices of yoga and meditation do.

‘Our brains are really quite plastic and they will act in the way that we exercise them,’ she told me. ‘If you exercise your brain to focus on the moment and on the breath, you will become calmer. And you’ll be able to do that during stressful situations.’

Vera went on to explain the importance of the rest and restore process that occurs during yoga and meditation.

‘There’s a specific branch of your system called the parasympathetic nervous system. One of the things it does is activates when you’re calming down and doing your restful activities.

 

Image credit: Sarah Jean – Solace Sessions

‘If you can tap into that when you are stressed then you can affect cortisol levels, feel instantly calmer and tap into the rest and digest system.’

Now you might be wondering how this applies to real life. After all, we can’t roll out our yoga mats mid-work meeting.

But amazingly, activating the parasympathetic nervous system can be as simple as controlling your own breath. A few extended exhales. A moment of consciously noting the inhale and exhale. These are the simple ways that Vera recommends to incorporate moments of mindfulness into your everyday life.

FINDING THE WELLNESS ROUTINE FOR YOU

Before beginning to rebuild your entire routine, Vera recommends doing something that makes you feel good for 10 minutes every day.

‘Whether it’s a smoothie which takes three minutes to blend or going to bed 10 minutes earlier, or 10 minutes of meditation or dedicated self-care,’ Vera suggest. ‘We need time to wind down and read to close the stress cycle. It’s better to do 10 minutes of something than not do anything. Over time, those 10 minutes are going to compound into bigger changes.’

And as for her own wellness routines in a morning?

‘I usually get up and, in my PJs, go and get a big glass of warm water. Then I make my bed, because I feel like it just sets me up for the day,’ she tells me.

‘I’ll do all my personal hygiene and then I’ll take some time to just sit down, look at my day and I usually do one minute of conscious breathing. It can be any type of breathing, just so long as it’s one moment for myself. So, if my day looks quite stressful, it gives me a chance to reconnect with myself and breathe through it. Then, I make breakfast and start work.’

 

Image credit: Sarah Jean – Solace Sessions

I think we can all relate to the panic of looking ahead at the meetings we have in our diaries or the deadlines we need to meet. I’ll definitely be using Vera’s breathwork trick to help keep me calm on those stressful work mornings!

On an evening, Vera spends more time tending to her wellbeing – trying to make her time as mindful and restful as possible.

‘I always try to go to bed at the same time,’ she says. ‘I find this is something which really helps with my sleep pattern.

‘I start with cleansing my face and make myself a herbal tea. I’ll give myself a little facial massage – it takes 15 minutes and I swear by it. While I do that, I listen to a spiritual podcast. Even just part of one. Something that will make me feel good. Something that inspires me just changes my mood.

‘While I’m getting ready to go to bed, I try to think about something that came up in my day. Even if it’s not something I’m grateful for, because some days it’s hard to be grateful, but something I enjoyed – which can sometimes just be me being comfy in bed!

‘Then, I’ll read 10 pages of a book and have 10 minutes of meditation, then I’ll fall asleep.’

The steps are simple, but I felt relaxed just listening to Vera talk about her routine. The idea of creating a break from the stress cycle and creating a more positive mood before sleep is a simple one that could be hugely beneficial to anyone struggling with insomnia.

As we came to the end of our conversation, we returned to the differences between morning larks and night owls.

‘I think finding the time that’s optimal for you is really important,’ says Vera. ‘Going against your nature just because you think you should will never be beneficial.’

THE MANA LIVING SUBSCRIPTION

Last year, Vera founded the Mana Living Subscription: a one-stop platform for all things wellness.

‘The membership is something that has been in my mind for the last two years and the reason I wanted to create it is because there’s a lot of information everywhere,’ she says. ‘And for time and convenience, I think it’s important to have information on all the pillars of wellness in one place to take away decision fatigue. Plus, it’s more cost effective.’

Mana Living also runs a range of events from sound baths and yoga classes to day retreats.

 

As well as her website and subscription service, Vera offers a range of wellness inspiration through Instagram – including recipe ideas, yoga flows and evening routine videos

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