Unleashing the Fountain of Youth: How Meditation Keeps You Looking Younger

Unleashing the Fountain of Youth: How Meditation Keeps You Looking Younger

Hello, wellness seekers! I’m thrilled to take you on a journey today that bridges the gap between ancient practices and modern science. As a professional wellness coach specialising in meditation and breathwork, with a background in neurology and neurosurgery, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of meditation.

Spoiler alert: it might just be your secret weapon against aging!

Meditation: The Ultimate Anti-Aging Elixir

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You’re only as old as you feel.” Well, what if I told you that meditation could make you feel – and look – years younger? It’s not just wishful thinking; it’s science.

Stress: The Aging Culprit

Let’s start with the enemy: stress. Chronic stress accelerates aging, causing wrinkles, gray hair, and a generally tired appearance. Stress increases the production of cortisol, that infamous “stress hormone.” Elevated cortisol levels break down collagen, the protein that keeps our skin smooth and firm, leading to premature aging.

Enter Meditation

Meditation is a powerful antidote to stress. Studies show that regular meditation reduces cortisol levels, helping to preserve collagen and maintain skin elasticity. In a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers found that participants who practiced mindfulness meditation had significantly lower cortisol levels compared to those who did not meditate .

    The Brain on Meditation: Youthful and Vibrant

    Now, let’s dive into the brain. Meditation doesn’t just make you feel good; it literally changes the structure of your brain, promoting a more youthful and resilient mind.

      Gray Matter Galore

      One of the most striking benefits of meditation is its ability to increase gray matter in the brain. Gray matter is involved in muscle control, sensory perception, decision making, and self-control. As we age, gray matter naturally decreases, but meditation can slow this decline. A study by Harvard researchers found that individuals who meditated for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks showed increased gray matter density in areas of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress regulation .

      Telomere Preservation

      Let’s talk telomeres. These little caps at the end of our chromosomes protect our DNA and are a critical marker of aging. Every time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter, which eventually leads to cell aging and death. Meditation has been shown to maintain and even lengthen telomeres. A study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that people who practiced loving-kindness meditation had longer telomeres compared to those who did not.

      Look Younger, Feel Younger

      So, how does all this translate to a youthful appearance? Reduced stress, improved brain function, and preserved telomeres all contribute to a more vibrant you. Here’s how:

      1. Glowing Skin: Lower cortisol levels and higher collagen production result in fewer wrinkles and a radiant complexion.
      2. Healthy Hair: Reduced stress helps prevent premature graying and hair loss.
      3. Vitality and Energy: Enhanced brain function and emotional well-being give you a youthful zest for life.

      Practical Tips to Get Started

      Ready to tap into this fountain of youth? Here are some simple steps to start your meditation journey:

      1. Set Aside Time: Dedicate just 10-20 minutes a day to meditation. Consistency is key.
      2. Find Your Space: Choose a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be disturbed.
      3. Focus on Breath: Begin with breath-focused meditation. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly, and let go of your thoughts.
      4. Use Guided Meditations: My Wellness Library is a great place to start.

      Meditation is more than just a relaxation technique; it’s a profound practice that rejuvenates your mind and body. By integrating meditation into your daily routine, you can slow down the hands of time and embrace a youthful, vibrant life.

      So, here’s to meditating our way to a younger, healthier, and more beautiful self! Let’s close our eyes, take a deep breath, and begin our journey to agelessness.

       

      Love Laura x

      References

      1. Psychoneuroendocrinology: Study on cortisol levels and meditation.
      2. Harvard Study: Research on increased gray matter through meditation.
      3. Telomere Study: Research on meditation and telomere length.
      The Ayurvedic way to beat cold & flu season

      The Ayurvedic way to beat cold & flu season

       Is it just me or does everyone seem to be suffering hard this cold and flu season?

      As the colder months come towards us at speed I have decided to share with you my top ayurvedic tips to staying on top of your health this winter.

      What is Ayurveda?

      Ayurveda is the ancient sister science to Yoga. Its a healthy lifestyle system that has been used for more than 5000 years. It promotes good health and prevention of illnesses through lifestyle practices such as meditation, yoga, massage, dietary changes an herbal remedies.

      Ayurveda’s main pillar of health is to reduce toxins in the body. Toxins can be formed internally from incomplete processing of foods, caused by stress, overeating low digestion etc. And also absorbed externally through breathing, drinking and eating.

      The Ayurveda collective name for all different types of toxins is Ama. Preventing a build up of Ama is crucial for good health and immunity.

      When your digestive fire, called Agni, is low, digestion is poor. If this build up of Ama in the gut is not dealt with it can enter our circulatory system and transport around your entire body disrupting your biochemistry.

      Ayurveda considers this build up of Ama to be a contributing factor to almost all diseases.

      Healthy gut, healthy body and mind.

      So what can we do to help?

      Here is how I stay on top of my health in an easy and manageable way.


       1. Eat warm foods

      During the colder winter months our digestive systems are weaker. Try to avoid eating too much cold food during this season as it makes your digestive system work harder, potentially leading to stomach related issues and indigestion. Warm and easy to digest food is kinder on your body and helps you stay healthier.

      2. Drink hot water

      Now you will have head me talk about the positive effects of hot water if you have attended any of my courses or experiences.
      It literally gives me life!
      Drinking hot water throughout the day is the most effective Ama-removing approaches there is. As the hot water travels through your digestive tract it cleanses the digestive and elimination system dissolving Ama impurities.
      Bonus, if you are unwell already, add ginger to your hot water and make ginger tea. It expels congestion, helps get rig of phlegm, reduces gas and bloating and supports good circulation. Throwing in a slice of lemon gives you that extra vitamin hit too.

      3. Stretch and move the body

      Gentle Yoga can really help you when you are feeling under the weather. And it doesn’t have to mean roll out your mat and throw yourself into a pretzel.
      Some ground based stretches or sitting in a chair for upper body stretches can be enough to release the stagnant energy manifesting in the body. This can open up your chest to help your lungs fill with new fresh oxygen, relieve stiffness and stimulate the parasympathetic system.

      4. Breathe

      Gentle mindful breaths are exactly what your body needs to clear congestion, enhance circulation and restore a balanced energy flow through the body.
      Even if your nose is super stuffy, slowing down and taking a mindful breath can still work.
      Takin in a deep, slow (so you don’t cough) breath for as long as you can (aim for 6-8 seconds) and then just as slowly and mindfully blow that breath away until all of the stale air in your lungs is released. Repeat this for 2 – 3 minutes, twice a day.

      5. Salt water gargle

      This is an Ayurvedic favourite and super effective.
      Gargling with warm salt water loosens any mucus in the throat and cleans out bacteria and germs too.
      Half a teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt into a cup of cooled boiled water and gargle for a minimum of 30 seconds. Repeating twice a day while you are unwell and then once a day for a week after you are better.
      This works best on an empty stomach and is not recommended for anyone on a sodium restricted diet.


       Did you find this helpful?

      Have I peaked your Ayurvedic interest?

      I have a brand new signature health programme launching soon that will show you how to take your personal health to the next level with a complete and bespoke, overhaul, without the hard work!

      You will learn your bodies unique blueprint – personalities, tendencies and physical nature. Learning how to keep yourself in balance, mind, body and spirit will help you stay happy, healthy and free from dis-ease.

      Give yourself the best possible start to the New Year!

      You can join the waitlist here.

       

      Love Laura x

      Healthy Stress Management for Parents in a Cost of Living Crisis

      Healthy Stress Management for Parents in a Cost of Living Crisis

      Parents are often under a lot of pressure to juggle their work and family responsibilities, especially during the cost of living crisis.

       The demands of budgeting, managing family life, and coping with the challenges of life can cause significant stress, which can negatively impact mental wellness and overall well-being, both for the individual, and the family as a whole. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to develop effective stress management techniques to mitigate the negative effects of stress. 

      In this article, I discuss five stress management techniques to help parents during the working day in the cost of living crisis.  


      Prioritize Self-Care:

      Parents often put their own needs last, but self-care is essential for managing stress and overall well-being. Prioritizing self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or even reading, can help parents reduce stress and improve their mental health. This can lead to increased mood, better mindset, and improved family life, as parents are better able to manage their stress levels and cope with the challenges of life.

      Create a Daily Schedule:

      Feeling overwhelmed with work and family responsibilities can contribute to stress for parents. Creating a daily schedule that includes work tasks, family responsibilities, and self-care activities can help parents manage their time more efficiently and reduce stress. This can lead to increased productivity, better budgeting, and improved family life as parents are better able to prioritise their time and focus on the most important tasks.

      Connect with Other Parents:

      Parenthood can be a lonely path, and social support is crucial for managing stress. Connecting with other parents, whether through online communities, parent groups, or playdates, can provide emotional support and a sense of community. By sharing their experiences and challenges, parents can gain valuable insights and support, which can lead to better improved family life, and reduced stress.

      Practice Gratitude:

      Gratitude is a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving mental health. Parents can practice gratitude by taking a few minutes each day to reflect on the things they are grateful for, such as their children, their health, or their job. This can help parents maintain a positive outlook and reduce stress, which can lead to improved family life, and increased productivity.

      Take Regular Breaks:

      Parents often feel like they have to work non-stop to manage their work and family responsibilities. However, taking regular breaks throughout the day can actually increase productivity and reduce stress levels. Short breaks, such as a ten-minute walk or stretching session, can help parents recharge their batteries and return to their tasks with renewed energy and focus. This can lead to better improved family life, and increased productivity as parents are less likely to make mistakes due to stress-related fatigue.


      Parents face significant stress during the cost of living crisis, but implementing effective stress management techniques can help mitigate the negative effects of stress on productivity, mental health, and family life. 

      By prioritising self-care, creating a daily schedule, connecting with other parents, practicing gratitude, and taking regular breaks, parents can help keep their stress levels to a minimum, and cope better with the challenges of life.

      Incorporating these techniques into the working day can lead to greater success and sustainability for parents and their families. 

      The role the Vagus Nerve Plays in Stress Related Illness.

      The role the Vagus Nerve Plays in Stress Related Illness.

      What is the Vagus nerve?

      The vagus nerve is one of the most important nerves in the body. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body that starts in the brainstem and extends all the way down to the colon, it plays a crucial role in regulating our autonomic nervous system, which controls our heart rate, respiratory rate, digestion, and other important functions in the body. By activating the vagus nerve, we can help to reduce stress and improve our overall well-being.

      One of the most interesting functions of the vagus nerve is its role in the body’s stress response. When we experience stress, the vagus nerve plays a key role in activating the body’s “fight or flight” response. This response is important in helping us deal with immediate threats, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to a number of health problems.


      What role does the vagus nerve play?

      Understanding the role of the vagus nerve and its connection to stress-related illness can help us better manage our stress and improve our overall health. Here are just a few of the benefits of understanding this connection:

      1. Improved stress management: When we understand how the vagus nerve is involved in the stress response, we can learn to activate it intentionally to counteract the effects of stress. There are many techniques that can help activate the vagus nerve, including deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga.
      2. Reduced inflammation: Chronic stress can lead to inflammation in the body, which has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Activating the vagus nerve has been shown to reduce inflammation, which can help prevent these and other chronic illnesses.
      3. Better mental health: The vagus nerve is also involved in the body’s relaxation response, which can help us feel calm and relaxed. Activating the vagus nerve through techniques like deep breathing can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
      4. Improved digestion: The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in digestion, helping to regulate the release of digestive enzymes and the movement of food through the digestive system. Chronic stress can interfere with these functions, leading to digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Activating the vagus nerve can help improve digestion and reduce symptoms of IBS.

      How to activate the Vagus nerve

      Here are some ways to intentionally activate the vagus nerve:

      1. Deep Breathing: One of the most effective ways to stimulate the vagus nerve is through deep breathing. Slow, deep breaths can help to calm the body and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. Try breathing in slowly through your nose for four seconds, then exhaling slowly through your mouth for six seconds. Repeat this several times, focusing on making your exhale longer than your inhale. Always work within your own limits.
      2. Meditation: Regular meditation practice has been shown to increase vagal tone, which is a measure of the strength of the vagus nerve. Meditation helps to reduce stress and improve emotional regulation, making it an excellent tool for improving overall well-being. Try meditating for a few minutes each day, focusing on your breath or a particular mantra.
      3. Cold Exposure: Exposing yourself to cold temperatures, such as taking a cold shower or jumping into a cold pool, can help to activate the vagus nerve. Cold exposure stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which can help to reduce inflammation and improve immune function. Start with short exposures and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable.
      4. Singing or Humming: Singing or Humming can help to activate the vagus nerve, as it involves controlled exhaling and a deep diaphragmatic breath. It can also be a powerful way to release emotions and improve mood. Try singing along to your favorite songs or finding a chanting practice that resonates with you.
      5. Exercise: Regular exercise can help to increase vagal tone and improve overall health. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase cardiovascular function. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

      Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can help to activate the vagus nerve and improve stress management, leading to greater overall well-being. It’s important to note that these practices should be used in conjunction with other stress-reduction techniques, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and practicing mindfulness.

      Take out some time to learn more about this important nerve and how you can activate it to improve your health today!

      10 Mental Health Benefits of a consistent Meditation Practice

      10 Mental Health Benefits of a consistent Meditation Practice

      There are many benefits having a regular meditation practice can have in supporting mental health and wellness. 

      Have you heard  about  how incredible meditation can be for your mental health? Want to know more?

      I have been practicing meditation full time now for almost 6 years. Before that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I have taught my signature style fusion classes to students all over the world, and watched like a proud parent, as each one has grown and transformed through their own journey with their mental health, supported by their meditation practice.

      There are just too many mental health benefits for me to list in one go, so I have chosen ten, for now. Take a look.


      Here are ten mental health benefits:

      1. Reduces stress and anxiety: Meditation can help to regulate the body’s stress response, leading to a decrease in anxiety and stress levels.
      2. Improves focus and concentration: Meditation can help to improve focus and concentration by training the mind to be more present and aware of the present moment. 
      3. Increases self-awareness: Meditation can help to increase self-awareness by encouraging the practitioner to be more present and aware of their thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
      4. Enhances emotional well-being: Meditation can help to regulate emotions, leading to increased emotional well-being and a sense of overall happiness and contentment.
      5. Increases compassion and empathy: Regular meditation can help to cultivate a more compassionate and empathetic attitude towards oneself and others.
      6. Improves sleep: Meditation can help to improve sleep by calming the mind and relaxing the body, leading to a better quality of sleep.
      7. Reduces chronic pain: Meditation can help to reduce chronic pain by decreasing the body’s perception of pain and increasing the production of pain-relieving hormones.
      8. Improves cardiovascular health: Meditation can help to improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
      9. Boosts the immune system: Regular meditation can help to boost the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
      10. Increases feelings of gratitude: Meditation can help to increase feelings of gratitude and appreciation for the present moment, leading to a greater sense of overall well-being.

      The health benefits meditation can have on the health of our body and mind is endless. So much more than the ten incredible examples listed above. If you would like to start your own regular practice or discover tools to help you better support not only your mental wellness but your physical health too, you can take a look at the website and book in a free consultation for some bespoke support.

       

      Laura Rowe founder of Align Lifestyle

      Is your cold giving you anxiety?

      Is your cold giving you anxiety?

      Why does anxiety peak when we catch a cold? Don’t we have enough to deal with battling the sickness bug?

      Suffering myself with a few bouts of illness in the last few weeks has really got me thinking about my own mental health and how I am feeling.

      Why does catching a cold take such a toll on your mental health? I have certainly noticed I am more anxious since I have been under the weather.

      That little anxiety gremlin is a little louder and it can make doing things just that little bit harder.

      And I know I am not the only one, so this is why I am sharing my experiences with you, in the hope that anyone in a similar position knows they are not alone. 

      The hardest thing about anxiety is that one day you can feel perfectly fine and like you have all your shit together, then the next you wake up with that overwhelming feeling of dread in your chest in an instant. Like, who invited you? 

       


      The Science bit…

      The science degree student in me knows that when we are unwell and fighting of viruses the immune system kicks in by producing inflammatory proteins to help you fight off infection. When this happens though, you increase your risk of fatigue, poor concentration, low mood and anxious thoughts.

      You also find that staying indoors, isolating, resting, avoiding others socially and maybe scrolling a little too much on social media can contribute significantly to the mental health dip many of us experience.

      However…

       The spiritual bit…

      The spiritualist in me also knows that we are all made of vibrational frequencies, and when we become unwell our vibrational frequency is much lower. Our energy levels dip, therefore our vibration dips.

      This dip in frequency can affect our mood – we feel low, lacking in energy, anxious and even depressed.

      But this low vibration is needed in order for the body to go into a ‘power down’ while it heals. It’s important to honour this ‘down time’. Look at this period as something that is happening for you not to you. There are lessons to be learnt in every situation. How can you benefit from moving a little slower?

      Honour this time to rest and reset, so that the body and mind can come back stronger and prepared for this brand new chapter.

      If you are under the weather right now, know this too shall pass.

       

      Love Laura x

      Music is such an important part of my teachings. Think laid back Ibizan tracks and chilled out chart music – I cant get enough!

      Music lifts our spirits, it can literally sing to our soul! It can induce memories, feelings and emotions – a connection. You all know I’m about that connection!!

      For many years I was under the impression that it was ‘better’ to meditate in silence and I know I wasn’t the only one. No wonder I found it so difficult for so long.

      Whilst listening to music you recognise and enjoy, creates a sense of familiarity, a calmer, more relaxed environment, which makes the process of mediation more effective.

      However, music is so much more than something you find enjoyable to listen to. Music has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, the system in the body responsible for our ‘rest and digest’ response. It’s the part of the nervous system that slows down our heart rate, helping take us out of a ‘fight or flight’ response.

      I often put ‘unexpected’ music with my sessions as I feel it is important to know, we don’t need to listen to pan pipes or whale music during our practice for it to work, and if you do that’s amazing, but you won’t find much of it around here.

      The tracks I use aren’t just some of my favourite, they are chosen specifically for each of my sessions and added to my playlists with intention. 

      A faster pace of music can make us feel more alert, with increased concentration. Upbeat music can make us feel more optimistic and positive. A slower pace of music can quiet the mind and  relax your body, making you feel soothed while releasing any physical tension. 


      5 reasons for music over silence when meditating

      1.  Improved quality of sleep

      Sleep is very important for a healthy and balanced life. 

      More often than not, due to external expectations and daily stresses , we can’t get a good night’s sleep. Meditation, as I have said before in my article on expectations, is what that comes to the rescue here. Meditating while listening to some calming modern music can help reduce your stress levels. You can start to feel more relaxed and will sleep better. 

      2. Improved concentration

      Music with an increased beat can help improve concentration levels whilst you meditate. It can increase focus and bring you more of those ‘light bulb’ moments of clarity by activating those alpha brainwaves. Those times when you are having difficulty finding a solution or working through a problem, throw on some tunes and breathe.

      3. Reduces stress

      Another great benefit of listening to music while meditating is a reduction in the levels of stress and anxiety. Stress is one of the most common issues in today’s world. Some might argue it’s a pandemic of it’s own. 

      If your workload is very demanding, if you don’t have a healthy work / life balance, if external factors continue to steal your peace, it can be more natural for you to feel stressed-out often. When you listen to pleasant and soft music during meditation, you can feel calmer and more able to eliminate stress from your life. The more you practice, the more you can train your brain to recognise that certain tracks mean its time to relax.

      4. Heals your body

      Did you know that meditation can also heal? It not only heals mental wounds, but physical wounds as well. That’s the power of your mind. Don’t even get me started on how it can help the brain physically repair holes caused by stress… I’ll save that for next time.

      Incorporating music in the background during meditation allows your body to heal naturally. There are a number of studies that show a whole load of benefits including reduced blood pressure, improved breathing efficiency, lower heart rate, improved cardiovascular function and so so many more.

      5. Deeper connection to self

      Music can take us on a journey and when we are meditating during that journey, it can simply be next level. It can also improve your cognitive abilities and help you meditate more efficiently. With practice, when meditating while listening to music, you can find greater inner peace, inner acceptance and happiness within yourself. 


      As part of my Wellness Membership it has always been a non negotiable of mine that there would be a monthly playlist included. 

      If you know me, you will know I literally live to create playlists that spark joy and connections for people. It may seem like such a small FREE extra that comes along with your package, but for me, it completes your practice. 

      Even taking the music on a mindful walk with you or while enjoying a bubble bath is an equally important part of your self care routine.

      Love Laura x