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This year’s topic for Mental Health Awareness Week is body image - how we feel and think about our bodies.

Thinking upon this topic, my mind turns to yoga. Yoga is an important part of my life and I have been fortunate to share my passion over the past two years with those who come along to the weekly lunchtime session I run in the NDS Seminar Room.

Yoga helps us to create a healthy, positive body image. Practicing yoga is not about winning, proving something to ourselves or to other people. Instead it’s a personal experience and journey, which has the ability to transform your relationship with your body.

As we balance, twist, go upside down and backbend, we develop an appreciation of what our bodies are capable of. Through movement and connection with the breath, we build on our strength and flexibility. Challenging postures take time and perseverance, so it is important that we learn to respect the limitations of our bodies and to treat our bodies tenderly. In other words, yoga teaches us self-compassion, self-love and acceptance.

Yoga also teaches us to look inside. As we rush from task to task in our daily lives, we don’t often have time to connect with how we really feel. Instead we listen to our inner voice - our biggest critic. And yet, we can slow down the self-critic and connect with our true self by physically slowing down, bringing awareness to the breath and observing our thoughts without judgment.

By getting on our mats, we are creating space for ourselves. As we breathe deeply and turn our awareness inwards, the mind becomes quiet allowing us to improve our focus and concentration. On the mat we evolve and progress our yoga practice, and the space and benefits it gives us trickle off the mat helping us to navigate our way through life’s physical and emotional challenges.

So, back to our NDS yoga community…

And it is very much a community where we come together to enjoy a shared activity away from the stresses of everyday life. Where afterwards we can return to our work feeling refreshed and energized both mentally and physically. 

As a department we know the value of fostering an environment, which promotes mental wellbeing. We have opportunities to partake in social events and fun activities throughout the year, in which yoga is one of them. So please do get involved whenever you can - your mind and your body will thank you for it.

If you are interested in joining a class please email me or visit my website, Kingstar Yoga

Blog posts

Kindness for mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity to reflect on kindness. Louise King, NDS Communications and Public Engagement Officer, discusses the role kindness plays in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking advantage of the NDS Staff Training Fund

The NDS Staff Training Fund was set up to support a greater level of external training for NDS staff to equip them with skills they might not otherwise have access to. The fund ensures our department has the best trained staff, allowing us to deliver the best academic, research and support activities. Three members of staff - Gemma Horbatowski, Ashley Raghu and Liset Pengel - talk about their experiences of using the training fund.

Strengthening ties between Oxford and Tanzania

Professor Kokila Lakhoo, along with colleagues from the Oxford University Global Surgery Group, is developing paediatric surgery through a link in Tanzania. In this blog post, Professor Lakhoo reports on their latest trip, which was part of a continuous ongoing strengthening of ties between the Oxford team and Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania.

Inspiring the next generation of excellent teachers

Professor Ashok Handa was a recipient of a 2019 Lifetime Achievement prize at the annual Medical Sciences Division Teaching Excellence Awards. Here Professor Handa tells us more about the award and the ways in which he has been impacting or hoping to make an impact on his students' lives, as well as surgical teaching in Oxford.

Bullying and Harassment? Not on my watch!

No member of our staff deserves to go home at the end of a day feeling bullied and the responsibility rests with all of us to remain aware of our own impact on others and to be watchful of such behaviours around us. Susan Patchett, NDS Bullying and Harassment Advisor, talks about bullying in the workplace.