Style: November 01, 2019

StarMedia.Digital

22 STYLE | wellbeing

There are other ways of relieving

mental stress, which don’t involve as

much physical exertion but can be

equally effective – for example, yoga,

meditation, massage, flotation therapy,

ice bath and sauna hot and cold

therapy, all of which are being offered

at a new wellness space about to

open in The Welder on Welles Street

in Christchurch.

“For people experiencing emotional

difficulties, such as with relationships,

natural practices like yoga and

meditation can be very effective,”

says Sam Thomas, a co-founder of

O-Studio with professional rugby

player Tim Bateman and yoga teacher

Jess Smith.

“There has been a lot of research

on how these practices can help in

deeper ways,” Sam says.

“Practising sustained focus on

the breath for just 20 minutes in

meditation can help us be more

present with our children or at work.”

This task aims to increase

mindfulness, a concept that has

garnered a lot of attention of late.

However, as Sam points out, it is just

one of a range of meditative practices

used in research to boost other

important qualities like self-confidence

and resilience to help people better

deal with situations in their lives.

The effectiveness of yoga in

improving mental wellbeing and

enhancing self-esteem has been

shown through extensive research,

and it has been used in wellness

programmes around the world for

many years.

Sam describes yoga as being about

“moving your body to change

your mind”.

“Yoga teaches people to become

aware of what’s happening in their

body, leading to better reactions to

changes in mood that commonly

occur throughout the day.”

Flotation therapy, developed at

the US National Institute of Mental

Health in 1954, has experienced a

surge in popularity in recent years

as a stress relief tool. After trying

flotation therapy overseas, Tim and his

wife Laura set up Christchurch’s first

flotation therapy centre, Cloud 9 Float

Club, in 2015.

“Research indicates that flotation

is among the top 25 per cent

of relaxation tools known to

psychology,” Sam says, “and it is now

being used to combat burnout, stress

and anxiety disorders.

Mental health and

wellbeing can be

enhanced through

practising yoga

and meditation,

as such places as

O-Studio.

“Because sensory input is reduced

to a minimum, the body quickly

recognises that you are free of

environmental threats, which helps

you to fall into a deep state of

relaxation.”

Each flotation pod is about the size

of a small car and the water contains

a quantity of Epsom salts, making it

buoyant enough for the participant to

float, he says.

Stress, anxiety, burnout, low selfesteem

– these can affect us all at

different times in our life, but the tools

to overcome them are readily available.

In the words of Sam: “There are

many pathways to improving mental

wellbeing through physical activity, and

they can all build up reward pathways

– pathways to becoming the best you

can be.”

And the first step is starting that

journey – for your body and your mind.

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