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Become More Mindful Through Mind, Body & Breath

Become More Mindful Through Mind, Body & Breath

“Be in the moment”. “Be present”. “Be mindful”. But what do they really mean?

In the LesMills BodyBalance classes I teach, in the Tai Chi part, we always talk about how it’s bringing you into “the present moment”. From learning and teaching it, I learned the true meaning of being in the present moment. When you do Tai Chi, you focus on the movements of your hands and your breath. The movements and the concentration they require {much like Yoga does} forces you to come into the present moment. 

And that is actually what being mindful is. It’s about being in the room, being present and being aware of your mind, body, and breath. 

It’s a tool we instructors use when teaching yoga classes, but it’s also a great tool to apply everywhere else in life. Through teaching these classes over the years I have learned to become more mindful, and learned to “be in the present moment”.

It helps a lot, especially when you’re in a bad mood or when your thoughts are in an endless loop. Or when you just need to focus. An easy way to do it is to become aware of the three things I mentioned above: your mind, your body, and your breath.

Your mind

Being in the moment is about being aware of your thoughts and making sure they aren’t self-critical, negative or useless mind-chatter. Here are a few ways you can calm a chaotic mind and centre your thoughts to become more present:

  • When your thoughts are driving you insane, focus on the here and now. Feel the seat beneath your hips. Feel the air in your lungs as you breathe. Notice the sounds around you. This will help you centre yourself and bring you into the moment, thus slowing your thoughts down.

  • Become aware of what you’re feeling and thinking about all the time. Remember that thoughts generate from feelings, feelings don’t generate from thoughts.
  • Detach from your negative feelings. You are not the feeling, you are experiencing the feeling. Observing what you’re feeling from a distance will help you stop endless negative thoughts generating from that feeling.
  • Try to let go of negative feelings. Letting go can be as simple as acknowledging the feeling, then breathing it out.

  • Tell yourself it’s okay to have bad thoughts. Giving yourself permission helps you to let go of them as you won’t battle in your head as to why you’re feeling like this.
  • Meditation is a very useful tool to calm and focus your thoughts. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes, making your body very still, and focusing on the breath. It can be done even for a few minutes, in any position.
  • An extremely underrated method of calming the mind is to read a book. Reading forces the mind to focus on the story or the narrative. It's an easy but powerful way to relax your thoughts.
  • Lastly, a trick we teach in the meditation part of the class- simply push your thoughts away. Your brain’s function is to naturally produce thoughts. So don’t fight it. Let the thoughts come, but gently push away any negative or unpleasant thoughts.

Your body

The mind not being present affects the body. If you think of stressful thoughts, muscles will tense up, posture will change, heartbeat and breathing become faster. Working the other way round, you can thus focus externally on your body to relax the mind.

  • Focus on each muscle group from head to feet and consciously relax each muscle. Relax your forehead, your eyes, muscles of the face, shoulders, all the way down to your feet and soon you’ll notice your mind has relaxed and you become more present.
  • If you don’t have the time to do this, simply try relaxing your eyes and your jaw. Relaxing these two parts of the body helps the entire body become calmer.
  • Give yourself a massage. Massage your feet, your hands, or try a gentle face massage. Do it with all your attention on that part of the body. This will make your mind focus on your body and calm the mind.
  • Of course, any exercise helps calm the mind down as you're too busy focusing on the body for the mind to have erratic thoughts. So when you have monkey-mind, try a workout or do some push-ups.

Your breath

When we’re not fully present, our breath changes. It’s shallow. You might not even notice that you’re holding your breath. Focusing on your breath is a simple way to become mindful again. 

  • Learn how to belly breathe. This is how you should be breathing all the time. A simple way to do this is to place one hand on your belly and breathe deep all the way to your stomach, feeling it rise and then fall under your hand. Practice this daily for a few minutes until it becomes a habit and you’re doing it all the time.

  • When you’re feeling stressed or hounded by your thoughts, deepen your breaths. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in, all the way to your belly. You’ve probably read this in a million places. That’s because it works, and it’s a fast and easy way to relax both the mind and body. 
  • When you’re especially stressed and anxious, lengthen your out-breath. Breathe in for a few counts, then double those counts on your exhale. You can even try and hold the breath for a few counts after you inhale. This helps in slowing down your mind and centring you.

Almost all the tricks of the mind, body and breath overlap each other. One affects the other. Your breath affects the body, focusing on the body will slow down the mind, and relaxing the body will relax both the mind and the breath.

Having a peaceful mind, a relaxed body and breathing deeply are great habits to cultivate. The next time you feel like you're not centred or that you have too much on your mind, try one or combine a few of these methods to come into the present moment.

Read more on self-love, self-care and handling your emotions, in my book, Loving Yourself In Style. Get it online, or mail ndqamber{at}gmail{dot}com for a signed copy if you're in Bahrain.

Are there any tricks you use to feel calmer and feel present instantly? What helps you be more mindful? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

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Shabana Feroze
Life Update // Comparing the Last Year to Now

Life Update // Comparing the Last Year to Now

As we’re in the last quarter of this year, I find myself reflecting on how it was different from last year.

Last year was extremely challenging. There were more unpleasant life events than good ones. And these were huge things. For starters, in March I stopped giving fitness classes at a gym I had been teaching in for 4 years. I stopped because of mistreatment by management. It was a tough decision to walk away as that meant saying goodbye to a lot of wonderful students. 

I was so depressed. I put on weight. It took me a long time to find another gym where I was happy teaching. After many months I finally started teaching regularly again.

Then on June 5, our beloved cat Snarf passed away. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I’ve never had a pet pass away. The grief was like the biggest weight on my chest, crushing me with its heaviness. I couldn't stop crying and had terrible nightmares each night. I just couldn't believe he was gone so suddenly. 

You might wonder why I never spoke about his passing on my blog or any of my social channels last year. It’s because every time I thought about posting anything, my eyes would swim with tears. I just couldn't bring myself to write anything about him. It was the hardest thing I have had to cope with. It took me a long time to heal and for the nightmares to stop. 

{The nightmares actually stopped only when we adopted a new kitten. Then we had to give him away after a few weeks as our adult cat was not accepting him. That was another terrible life event. Urrrghhh.}

One amazing thing that happened in 2018, though, was that I moved my business from a home office to an office space. Plus I was {and still am} sharing the office space with some of my best friends who are some of the most amazing people I know. So that was an achievement and a pleasant change. 

Unfortunately, all of this happened at the same time Snarf passed away, so it was the biggest challenge to handle everything - the devastating grief and the office move. It was a lot to handle. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I had no other choice but to suck it up and be strong. I couldn't abandon my business and cry all day, no matter how much I wanted to. Today, I feel like dealing with all that has made me tougher and more compassionate. 

This year

Comparing all of those challenging situations to this year, this year has been incredible. A lot of great things happened. 

My business expanded exponentially with different projects, clients and departments this year. I have the loveliest and most talented team. It's insane how much I love working with them. We laugh every day and take on new challenges in the most badass ways. 

Another work-related goal was doing up the interiors of my office. It was such a happy experience. From picking out the furniture {YAY for Ikea opening here last year!} to the wallpaper to the decor, I did it all. And it was so much fun! It has been a long-cherished dream of mine to have my own office and do it up exactly how I want to.

As for my fitness classes, I'm now teaching at gyms I really like. I give classes mainly in five-star hotel gyms now, which is a step up. I experiment and have fun with different group exercise classes. I even teach free sessions in my building gym only for the ladies living there, and we have a blast. Looking back, leaving the old gym and my familiar routine helped me spark my creativity and pushed me out of my comfort zone.  
This year I had to get a lot of dental work done. It’s never a pleasant experience going to the dentist every week but because of it, my smile has become so much better. It's something I have wanted for a long, long time and I am so happy with the way my teeth look now. It gives me so much more confidence. 
Another area that gives me more confidence is my clothes collection. My style has evolved to become more elegant and bolder. I wanted one-of-a-kind pieces that are from sustainable sources, made from high-quality materials. Saji's Couture really delivers on this need and now my entire wardrobe is filled with personalized, customized couture from them. All the pieces are very 'me' which is why I'm completely in love with ALL the clothes hanging in my cupboard. There's no piece that doesn't spark joy. Getting dressed every day in my beautiful clothes is such a pleasure. 

Decluttering last year using the KonMari method for my clothes {and everything else} really helped me have a wardrobe in which every single piece sparks joy, and it has continued until today because I make sure every new piece I get also sparks joy. I'll soon write a blog on how you can do this, too. 
Coming to my personal life, I made one new close friend since last year and that friendship makes me so happy. I've also pushed myself to attend more social gatherings and make more friends. This is difficult for an introvert like me, but it's necessary to avoid feeling lonely and to have people around when you need them the most. And of course, I have the absolute best family who I love living with. This includes two cats that are at war with each other. 
Clothes: Saji's Couture, Bag, Jewellery, Watch: Parfois, Shoes: Aldo

All in all, life has been amazing so far this year. I'm having the best time of my life in all areas. I feel at peace with myself, which is the ultimate goal. 

I can't wait to see what the next year brings. 

Until next time,

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Shabana Feroze
Overcome Dental Phobia & Start Smiling Again

Overcome Dental Phobia & Start Smiling Again

Your teeth are an important part of your health, and need to be taken care of - but fear can get in the way. I've recently finished months of dental treatment, as mentioned in this post. The reason I had to get so much work done was, you guessed it, fear of the dentist. I know a lot of friends who are also afraid of seeing the dentist, even if they are in a lot of pain.

It makes perfect sense to be afraid of the dentist. Much of the time spent at the dentist is nerve-wracking, even for the most confident of us. Being in the dentist’s chair can undoubtedly be one of those experiences which haunt you, and that is true for everyone to varying degrees.

If you feel that you have developed something of a complex about visiting the dentist, then it’s best to do something about it. Because this phobia stopping you from seeing your dentist regularly enough ends up in worsening the condition of your teeth. Just like I did. Full disclosure: I got three {!} root canals done and at least 6 {or was it 7? I lost count} fillings. Trust me, you don't want to be in my place.

So what can you do to overcome your dental fear, and learn to love your mouth again?

Understand The Cause

All fears are borne of something, as irrational as the logic behind them might be. Arachnophobia might be a simple case of an evolutionary-based (and perfectly reasonable) fear becoming a little too pronounced. In the case of the dentist, it might be helpful to spend some time trying to determine what might have led to your fear. Did you have a particularly harrowing experience at the hands of a grumpy old clinician when you were young? Have you inherited some fear from your parents? Whatever it might be, getting to the bottom of the real ‘root’ cause is bound to help you overcome the phobia itself.

Use Your Rational Mind

The nature of fears is such that, while we are in the grip of them, we surrender our rationality. This is perfectly understandable, of course, but not entirely useful when trying to rid yourself of the fears in question. By making a determined effort to use your rational mind when you start experiencing the feeling of fear, you can slowly and surely start to win out over that feeling.

Remind yourself that the dentist is, by all accounts, actually a perfectly safe place to be. The experience is never as bad as you think it will be, and you will be looked after. You don’t even have to worry about pain: dentists use all manner of tools from xylocaine gel to general anaesthetic to stop you experiencing discomfort.

For me personally, deep breathing and meditating in the dentist's chair helped. I just try and focus on the spot slightly above and between my eyes. Some dentists even play soothing classical music. Focusing on the music will help you take your mind off of what's happening in your mouth. Or you can wear headphones and listen to your own music.

Choose Your Dentist Wisely

It’s true: some dentists are a little more intimidating than others. So if you know that you have a real dental phobia, and you want to make sure that you get your teeth checked anyway, you can think about choosing your dentist a little more carefully. With a little online research, you should be able to discover in a matter of minutes several dentists in your area who specifically market themselves towards ‘nervous’ patients. Starting with those friendlier dentists might be all you need to do to finally overcome your fear.

Although these are simple and small steps, together they should be enough to help you to get back on the road of looking after your teeth. We all know that oral health is essential, so this is not the kind of thing you want to delay for too long, trust me.

Until next time

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Shabana Feroze
Fitness Fashion For The Newbie Gym Bunny

Fitness Fashion For The Newbie Gym Bunny

The long summer months have come to an end {yay!} and maybe you’re thinking about joining the gym now that you’re done with vacation and the kids are back to school. And it’s admirable if you want to get fit in September. Most people tend to leave it until the New Year to make their half-hearted resolutions to improve their health, change their diet and kickstart a new fitness regime.

You might be wanting to get fit for a specific event coming up or it might just be a general need to shift the pounds after one too many barbecues over the summer. Whatever the reason, taking charge of your health and wellbeing and choosing to get fit is life-affirming.

For some people, getting fit equates to signing up for a new gym membership and partaking in a few classes. You might opt for circuits, a few rounds of HIIT, a spin class or two or even some fun Zumba. Alternatively, you may prefer the hardcore equipment. If you enjoy the rowing machine, the treadmill or the bench press, it’ll be there down at your local gym. 

But heading to the gym isn’t all about getting fit, no matter how much we want this to be the case. Fitness is about looking and feeling good. It’s no place for someone who is intimidated easily by bronzed Amazonian goddess-like human beings. You need to hold your own, and not be put off when people glance over to see how you are doing on the exercise bike. A great way to do this is to have your own gym style that makes you look good and feel good. If you have stylish workout gear, you’ll feel even more motivated to go to the gym. Take a look at these fashion hits you can score when you venture down to the gym.

Neon Is Your Friend

Just like the catwalk, gym fashion tends to follow trends as well. If you want to show off your fashionista credentials in the gym as well as on the high street, you need to clue yourself up as to what is hot and what is not. This season, neon is in. If you like wearing jogging bottoms, shorts or mini tees, ensure that you add a touch of shocking pink, some fluorescent yellow or a stripe of neon orange. Don’t worry about sticking out like a sore thumb, because your entire ensemble won’t be neon. You are merely adding the odd touch here and there as an accent to your outfit. If you’re not too keen on showing off your neon flair on your clothes, look to your footwear. Nike, Reebok and Adidas all have more characterful running shoes and cross trainers with flecks of neon to make your outfit shine when you hit the treadmill.

Get A Watch

While you might have a bog-standard analogue or digital wristwatch to tell the time, it might be wise to get a little more gym specific. The latest Garmin watches are equipped with a ridiculous amount of features including step counters, heartbeat monitors and appointment reminders to help you become a little bit more tech-savvy as you enjoy your next round of circuits. This will help you analyse your fitness and see just how much you are progressing. If you can do twenty bench presses this week without your heart rate reaching the danger zone, but last week you couldn’t, your watch will tell you.

Go Metallic

The latest trend for sports clothing is the gunmetal grey metallic look. While black might seem the obvious choice for the fashionista who doesn’t want to draw attention to herself, flecks of grey and shimmery attire can add some glamour to your gym kit. Metallic hues also add a layer of detail onto your clothing without looking as garish as the neon look. Opt for either the metallic or the neon. Trying to cover all bases and going for both can result in a haphazard outfit that draws attention for all the wrong reasons.


Image by Pixabay - CC0 Licence
Vintage fashion has been inundating the high street for a good few years. More and more people are shunning fast fashion and picking up vintage pieces from thrift shops to then upcycle and make one-of-a-kind pieces for their wardrobe. Gym fashion is no different. You could choose to create your very own tops and shorts by picking up some 1970s tennis shorts and sports bras to customise. If this seems a little too much work, consider heading to the footwear giants and picking up a pair of their limited editions that hark back to the 1980s high top era or the 1960s sleek running shoe decade. Whatever era of fashion you adore, you can emulate this with a gym outfit to match.

Bold Prints

Bold prints on gym tops or leggings look bright, happy and attractive. They could be a geometric pattern, a colourful floral print or even a custom image like the image of this Buddha. The best part about a bold pattern is that you can use it to accentuate the part of your body you love the most. So if you have long legs, leggings in a bold print will make your legs stand out {sorry} and if you want to bring attention to your shoulders and top half, a printed racerback or tee will make sure you do.

Forget heading to the gym solely to get fit. Consider it an opportunity to motivate yourself and feel good about yourself through your fashion credentials. Hey, if you’re dressing up every day to love yourself then you have to do the same for when you go to the gym, right?

Until next time,

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Shabana Feroze
How KonMari Changed My Life {Before The Netflix Show Came Out}

How KonMari Changed My Life {Before The Netflix Show Came Out}

I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last year and became a huge fan {and dedicated disciple} of her tidying up and Sparking Joy method. I followed her instructions to the T and over a month or so, I KonMari’d all my possessions. 

It was the best thing I ever did. She says in her book that her method will change your life. And she’s right. I know KonMari has become such a huge trend now and it’s everywhere because of her Netflix series releasing this year. {I watched a few episodes and I think it SUCKS. It does not show the essence of this tiny, adorable, brilliant woman’s method, her wit and her sharp mind the way her books do.} And maybe you’re getting sick of seeing KonMari everywhere. But here’s why you should read her books {there are two} and you should incorporate this simple but wonderful method into your life.

The KonMari method is all about sparking joy. The way you tidy everything is by asking yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, it has to go. When I read this, I fell in love with it because all my life I have been trying to do everything to increase happiness. You know I’m all about loving yourself, making your life beautiful and increasing happiness levels. And Marie’s method uses exactly that ONE thing as a gauge- joy, happiness. 

But the life-changing part of it is that it runs deeper than just the things in your home. Because throughout her book she tells you that by going through her cleaning process {she has a certain sequence of cleaning out the items in your house} you will teach yourself to identify things that spark joy in every single area of your life and to go about your life making sure that everything you do makes you happy. 

And that’s the real purpose of the KonMari method. She wants you to learn how to ONLY do the things that spark joy and not settle for anything less. She wants you to make your life beautiful, starting with the things you own so you see beauty and joy even when you open a drawer. Here are mine, below:


In her book, she says that many of her clients, after finishing tidying up their house, saw a major improvement in their life. They got out of a miserable relationship. They left a job they hated. They lost weight. 

All these things happen because through the tidying process, you train yourself to know what makes you happy. And it’s not just what makes you happy happy. It’s sparking joy. It’s more than just happiness. It’s something that makes you feel that zing of pleasure shoot up your body. It’s a spark. A flash, a jolt, a burst. Of euphoria, jubilation, ecstasy. So much better than plain old happiness. 

After KonMari’ing your home and possessions, she tells you that everything you buy from this point on must spark joy. In the shop, you need to touch it and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it. So the method doesn’t stop once your home is tidied. {That’s also the exact reason it stays tidy. Because you’re no longer getting things that don’t spark joy.}

Once you get into the KonMari and sparking-joy flow, you start to ask yourself- what else is in my life that doesn’t spark joy? My friends? My job? My apartment? You start to alter your entire life and decision-making process around joy. 

What I particularly love about this is that It’s such a simple solution to everything. Don’t know what to do in a particular situation? Ask yourself if what you’re about to do sparks joy. Don’t know what to choose from the menu? Ask yourself if it sparks joy. Don’t know if you want to go out or stay in? Ask yourself which one sparks joy.

This method has become my go-to. I use it for everything. For instance, while choosing which photos to keep for my post after a shoot, I look at each photo and ask if it sparks joy. If not, I delete it. Even for working with clients in my business, I ask myself -do they spark joy? If not, I reject the client. I have never regretted it. It has served me perfectly and worked for me every single time for everything.

WHY this works is very simple- it hones your intuition. Your instincts and gut always know what is right and wrong for you. By you asking your heart {yes, you’re asking your heart. I know this because when I ask myself if something beautiful sparks joy, my heart will say no but the rational brain will say HOW CAN IT NOT SPARK JOY IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. But the heart quietly whispers again- no.} if something sparks joy, you are listening to it more. You start to ask your heart more questions. This makes your intuition really sharp and focused. It knows when to speak up. It guides you. 

I noticed that doing this method for more than a year now, my intuition has become stronger. And I can give you an example of it because it happened 10 minutes before I started writing this post. I was home on a Friday afternoon and my intuition told me to dress up, go to a particular cafe at a particular location, and write. So I did. When I ordered the food and coffee at this cafe using my credit card, I got it for free because of a promotion going on by the credit card company. It's the little things like this that reassure me that my intuition is getting stronger.

So yes, I’m a big fan of the KonMari method and I like to experiment with it by finding newer and different things to ask myself about it sparking joy. I love how my room {I live with my family and as I mentioned in this post, I can’t really KonMari the entire home so I at least did it for my room and my stuff} looks now, and how each drawer, each bit of space looks and how easy it is to find all my stuff. I love how it simplifies my shopping process and all other decision-making processes in my life.

To sum it up, I urge you to read Marie Kondo’s books. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. Your home will look beautiful and tidy if you follow the KonMari method, this is a given. If not for anything, read her books for the wit and humour of her writing. But yes, read them to get motivated to declutter your space, your mind, your life. It really is like magic and it truly is life-changing. 

Dress: Saji's Couture, Bag & Accessories: Parfois, Shoes: ?

Until next time, 

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Shabana Feroze
[name=About Me] [img=https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipP6wdDIrRF_dx-pVv8PqBiSrQRKrEMzJ7vf1N7r/photo/AF1QipNnYi7lR3UkPF0ptL0QV_mqWadL-JCe7F7afRiS] [description=I'm an entrepreneur, published author, fitness instructor and artist. But most of all, I'm me. And I LOVE being me. Through this blog, I want to inspire you to love being you, too. I enjoy dressing up, chasing my passions, travelling the world, staying fit and encouraging others to do the same. If you'd like to know more, click the Who I Am tab on the top of the site! Thank you for reading my blog!] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/TheSilverKickDiaries/?fref=ts) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/thesilverkickdiaries/) (twitter=https://twitter.com/SilverKick) (bloglovin=https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/silver-kick-diaries-3736366) (pinterest=https://www.pinterest.com/silverkick/)