Five Minutes With... Melanie Swan

Melanie is a journalist of 17 years with a speciality in health and wellbeing, and has been teaching yoga for six years


Melanie Swan.

We catch up with health and wellbeing specialist Melanie Swan to talk about the wellness benefits associated with yoga

- How were you introduced to yoga?

I was travelling alone to a retreat centre in Thailand more than 11 years ago and it immediately and literally changed my life. Immersed in it for two weeks, it was a revelatory experience. It was then that I returned to the UK, left my toxic job and decided to move to the UAE. It truly changed the course of my life.

- What is the best part about teaching yoga?

Being able to use something as powerful yet as accessible as yoga to help people, is very fulfilling. It is a ‘work in’ not a workout, and let’s face it, in today’s modern world, it is a vital tool to help people disconnect from the everyday stress and strain of life and gift themselves the precious gift of time.

- What has yoga taught you?

The list is long, but it has taught me patience, the value of dedication and hard work, of consistency. The practice cultivates humility and its philosophy is a way of life, with values that far exceed the physical practice. It has also cultivated a sense of faith and trust in me which has brought me a huge sense of peace.

- What are some of the main health benefits of practicing yoga?

On a mental and physical level, there are so many. The practice works on our nervous system, to both stimulate and relax it. We live in a state of ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic nervous system) most of the time, but the practice allows us to find a place of ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic). It also helps very simply with mobility and bone and joint health, and strength building.

- Do you find that people are increasingly turning to yoga for mental as well as physical wellbeing?

More and more people are trying to seek a sense of escape from the constant stimulation and stresses of modern day living. Even those coming to simply have a physical experience often realise the deep mental and emotional benefits of the practice. Just connecting to one’s breath can be profound for people who live in a highly stressed physical state, and in turn, pay little if any, attention to the simple act of breathing.

- What are some postures or exercises that help reduce anxiety in the workplace?

Simply getting up to move and walk is vital. Set a reminder on your phone to get up and just walk to the bathroom or to get a glass of water, every hour at least. I recommend walking up and down stairs if they are available in the office building, regularly during the day. Twists in the chair are really good to just mobilise the spine, as are gentle neck and shoulder rolls.

- Where can people find you?

I teach every Sunday and Tuesday evening at 7pm at Fairmont The Palm and on Friday mornings, 9.30am at Zen Yoga in Media City. I also do private sessions.

- What do you have coming up?

Please do follow me on Instagram for news and events coming up. I will be hosting full moon yoga on the beach at Fairmont The Palm in September so follow me on @melanieswanyoga for more details.

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