Emma Corbett is a qualified teacher in Purna, Rocket and Yin Yoga, and Yoga Nidra, a facilitator with Mindfulness Works Australia and a host at the Billabong Retreat. She supports workplaces with tips and techniques to help teams feel calmer, more creative and more aware through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Wellbeing covers many aspects — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and social. More and more I am realising that my wellbeing in each of these six areas needs to be my number one priority.
No one else will put my wellbeing needs first, so it’s up to me to take care of myself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I need to prioritise my own wellbeing, so that I am able to show up as my best self for others.
How did you get into teaching wellbeing practices to workplaces?
Through my work with Mindfulness Works Australia and the Billabong Retreat I get to meet and share practices with so many people. Many of them see the benefits of incorporating some of these ideas into their own lives, and are keen to share them with the people in their lives, so they ask me to deliver sessions at their events or workplaces.
What are some of the most common wellbeing challenges in workplaces?
The most prevalent wellbeing challenge I see in workplaces is the culture. If there is a culture of putting wellbeing first, then it becomes normalised and people are more likely to make the time for it. These practices do take discipline and motivation, so a supportive workplace, where others are also making time for wellbeing, can really help.
How can stretching alleviate workplace stress and tension?
Our physical bodies are homes and vehicles carrying us through this lifetime. Physical activity reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, which can help foster a sense of relaxation. Moving our bodies can help us shift our awareness into the present moment and out of the stories our minds tell us.
And how can meditation make us feel better?
Meditation can help us train our awareness and attention. Our attention is one of our most powerful resources because energy flows where attention goes. By choosing to pay attention to something, we are giving energy to it.
The more we practice meditation, the more we can start to notice our common habits or patterns of thought. 98% of our thoughts are a repeat; they are something we have thought before (and will likely think again). By learning to observe the mind, we come to know ourselves on a deeper level and are better able to practice discernment — is this thought adding to my stress, or to my sense of wellbeing?
We learn to notice when our mind is taking us for a ride, and we develop the ability to get off that ride if it is not taking us towards where we want to go, or who we want to be.
What simple steps can we do at work or at home to improve our wellbeing?
Notice our breath. Our breath is always a key indicator of our emotional state and, outside of pharmaceutical intervention, is one of the only ways we can affect our autonomic nervous system.
As often as possible throughout the day, we should observe our breath:
- Does the inhale travel all the way down to the abdomen, or does it stop up around the chest?
- Is air moving more easily through the left nostril or the right?
- Can we find the space at the top of the inhale?
- Can we find the space at the bottom of the exhale?
We don’t need to change anything about the breath. Just notice.