Like the majority of locations on the planet, urbanization has expanded in Wellington. There are far more buses and cars on the streets than ever, creating higher levels of noise and pollution. Life gets even harder here for citizens lacking personal space, or those suffering from fiscal hardship. If this accumulates as time passes, stress may become chronic, which can lead to numerous issues, such as alcoholism, entertainment addictions or even overeating.
Once, it was generally believed that Wellington was a city built to eradicate stress. Indeed, the town is surrounded by idyllic natural relaxation spots. As one example, the Botanic Garden is immersed in beautiful plant life and offers some good vistas of the city. Then there’s Otari-Wilton’s Bush: just 15 minutes outside of the city center, it is a great place to get away from it all and immerse is a relaxing bout of hiking or bird watching.
Even so, emerging research and academic opinions suggest that beautiful nature in urban centers is just one part of relieving stress. Even with many places to escape to, reducing stress must also take place at the individual level. To that end, there’s an increasing belief that turning inwards may be essential. Turning towards mindful practices may help bring the body and mind into equilibrium, especially among the chaos of big metropolitan areas like Wellington.
The origins of mindfulness, meditation and yoga in Wellington
It all started in the 1980s, when many Wellington locals returned from places like India and Thailand and started teaching mindfulness oriented arts like meditation and yoga. Eventually, instructors started to mix the best components of mindfulness with yoga asanas, in order to produce one of the most accessible type of stress relief for their students. It proved to be accessible, easy to learn and easy to form into a lasting habit.
This is likely the reason that yoga has become such a big thing in Wellington. Such types of classes help to bolster presence and awareness, which can help manage the constant issues and disruptions of metropolitan life. When in distress, students learn to simply breathe deeply, focus on their being in the moment, and then the stress melts away.
Using mindfulness through yoga in New Zealand
In New Zealand, many “mindful yoga” teachers say that integrating mindfulness with yoga was a method that evolved naturally, as a means of experimenting with ways to make classes yield more immediate benefits. Then, as Buddhist mindfulness awareness hit the mainstream in New Zealand, many started to understand how mindfulness techniques could enhance hatha yoga practices, even for beginners. And so the craze set in and became a regular part of Wellington city life.
As one example, Te Aro Astanga Yoga is a well-liked Wellington yoga studio. There, instructors use mindfulness to identify energy blockades within their students. For example, a teacher may notice a person steering clear of certain poses, or even losing their concentration, which could indicate a mental or energy block that needs to be worked through.
The best thing about mindfulness training integrated with yoga is that it transcends yoga styles. Once you learn the basic principles of mindfulness, you can apply it in any kind of yoga class, and in fact any kind of spiritual practice. Te Aro Astanga yoga instructors claim that weaving mindful techniques into their yoga classes has been a big hit with students, helping them to manage their stress levels and bring their overall lives into a healthier state of balance.