While this sequence is especially good for travel stress, I like to use it for other sources of stress as well.
Yoga can be for Every - Body
I've had a difficult time with the way that yoga is presented in the popular western and commercialized view. I've heard too many unfortunate stories of self-judgment, body shaming, intimidation, and competition which to me is very different than what yoga truly has to offer.
The following are just 5 of the many common myths i've seen limiting participation in yoga and interfering with the true benefits
Myth #1 - I have to wear specially made yoga clothes
Myth #2 - I have to be flexible
Myth #3 - There's one right way to do yoga
Myth #4 - Yoga is about how I look in a pose (asana)
Myth #5 - I don't have time to do yoga
Questions and answers to debunk these 5 myths
* Spoiler alert: The answer is No to all of them :)
Do I have to wear high end designer YOGA clothes from a specific brand?
No. YOGA can be done in any clothes that cover certain parts for modesty and are comfortable and stretchy enough for you to move in.
Do I have to be flexible?
No. Flexibility is one of the benefits of YOGA. Plus there are misconceptions and mis-information about what it means to be flexible. Through Yoga, we can discover the true meaning of flexibility.
Is there one right way to do YOGA?
No. There are many types of YOGA for many types of needs. There is only what is right for you here and now and the answer will continue to evolve and change.
Is YOGA about how I look?
No. While western approaches to the physical practice of YOGA can focus on “how it looks in the posture”, YOGA postures are actually a tool we can use to help focus the mind and/or explore sensations to provide information about our bodies including our internal experiences such as emotions and thoughts.
Does YOGA take a lot of time?
No. YOGA is a practice and can take as much or as little time as you have and decide upon.
In this video, learn about:
How to position the shoulder blades for the best breath for emotional enhancement * The wings in our body and the role of the wings in breath * How to intercept the stress response * What the ribcage has to do with breath * The best breath to prevent the locking up and tightness that limits the quality of breath * How to find the important muscles for emotional well being * The relationship between the spine and the ribcage * The muscles related to the ribcage that affect our mood * The floating ribcage and why it's important * How body posture affects our mood * The role of the lower back in emotional well being * How to position the pelvis * Ways to ground the body to feel stable
Our Body and Our Emotions are interrelated. They Inform one another!!
4 steps to using a yoga strap for a chest harness to open up the heart.
"Anahata" in Sanskrit is the heart chakra: Joy, love, self-acceptance, healing
Physically open up chest & improve the posture
Physically increases space in the chest cavity for better breath to oxygenate the blood
Emotionally enhances the mood with body-mind
Mentally provides proprioception feedback to repattern our nervous system to decrease stress
Review of steps:
1) place strap behind the heart, across the back parallel to the floor
2) flip over the shoulders
3) cross behind
4) pull the strap ends forward and buckle over the lower ribs
*** Use in a yoga class, use when doing household chores, sitting at the computer etc.
3 ways we can enhance the manifestation of our heart's desires
using 1 Mudra, 1 Chakra, & 1 Breath.
1 Mudra: "Hand Yoga"
3rd (middle finger) extended and touching, other 4 fingers curl in touching fingernails to create a heart
1 Chakra: "Manipura" Chakra
Solar Plexus below ribcage above belly button. bright Yellow. Energy center for personal power, confidence, firing up action
Ujayi Breath: Inhale through the nose, Exhale out the nose. Draw in the waist/belly toward the spine gently on the exhale to engage core muscles.
Three ways to help make sure your New Year Resolutions stick:
Have you made a resolution to improve your health this year?
You're not alone!
The majority of people who reflect on the year past will identify some way they would like to improve their health for the new year.
Do resolutions work?
Yes, they CAN! The recommendations in much of the research talk about three important aspects of long-term behavior change
1) make reasonable goals
2) take action as soon as possible
These two things certainly help me when making behavior changes in my own life.
The third i'll tell you about in a moment.....
As a fitness instructor for many years, those of us in the health & fitness industry know there will be an upsurge of enrollment starting the 2nd & 3rd week in January with classes full of people excited about following through with their resolutions.
Eventually, we see the numbers reset to the usual as people lose motivation to maintain their new health behaviors.
As we know, motivation can dwindle over time. Life feels like it gets in the way. Eventually, we can forget about making those changes.
We end up feeling bad, guilty and enter a negative spiral.
I've been there, have you?
It can help tremendously to have a plan and take action for when this decrease in motivation occurs.
This is the third important aspect of behavior change:
3) make a plan of action for future barriers to following through with your goals
This one involves the anticipation that 2-3 months down the line, motivation will likely wane. Put something in place to help ensure your follow through. Whether it’s a commitment to do a cleanse with a friend or family member, or if it’s to start therapy, or if it’s to go on a health and wellness retreat (hint :), planning in advance in this way can make sure we can feel confident and successful in keeping our commitments to our wellness goals.
3 Components of Self Compassion
Connecting with the moment of distress and discomfort
Common Humanity Connection
Acknowledging that to suffer is a part of life and a shared experience
Expressing a self kindful statement or wish
*** Practice this in times of relative calm and it eventually becomes easier to access Self Compassion when we need it the most
Holiday CHEER or Holiday SNEER?
"You have to see the dirt in order to clean it up and out" - Louise Hay
Probably a little of both. Holidays can bring on depression about the past including what we've lost, and it can bring on anxiety about the future including the uncertainty of what is to come. Yogic philosophy and psychological practices including Breath, mediation, & present moment living, help us hold the Cheer AND the Sneer within the same place - the container within. We understand it is a mix and we learn that we can acknowledge what is. We can eventually accept the unacceptable. This call toward radical acceptance is a part of living this human life. And this part of living as a human being connects us all. We are different and yet the same.
Follow along with this 6 Minute guided Meditaion to "dip into" difficult emotions and learn how to contemplate them without becoming overwhelmed.
Exploring stillness & being present with "Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared" (adaped from Mariana Caplan, author of Yoga Psyche)
Important things to remember about meditation
There are many different kinds of mediation
This example is just one meditation out of many different approaches
What works for one person may work in a different way for someone else
Essential Oil Recipe (good for stress relief)
1 glass bottle (cobalt blue or amber brown) Filled with purified water
Essential Oils (Certified Organic):
Lavender = relaxation
Citrus (Tangerine or Lemon) = uplifting
Spearmint = energizing
You can play around with the proportions. For the complete stress reducing Savasana experience at the end of class, I like to feel the combination of being mostly relaxed and centered, with an uplifted pleasant mood, and enough energy to feel alive and vibrant without feeling too activated. Hence, Lavender is the highest concentration, followed by Citrus, followed by Spearmint (spearmint instead of peppermint since peppermint has been known to be too strong for some lungs).
An example would be:
8 drops Lavender
4 drops Tangerine or Lemon
2 drops Spearmint
(For larger bottles, you could use 16, 8, 4)
Spray into the air or onto your hands, rub together and make a cup around your face to inhale into the limbic system (emotional brain).
(Careful not to touch your eyes as it can cause sensitivity)
Drift into a rest and relaxation mode, feel the tension melt away.
MY PERFECT 10 Minute Nap - In 10 easy Steps
It's not always possible to get the sleep and rest we need. Life responsibilities such as deadlines, children, & travel can get in the way. However.... we all would probably say we could spare 10-15 minutes. Taking from the sleep literature recommendations and through diligent research (personal practice:) I have discovered 10 steps to the perfect nap that allows me to rejuvenate (without ending up more groggy or resistant to waking up). Total time? 15 minutes!
Take a healthy B vitamin - or healthy energy snack - and hydrate well
Cool the space if possible
Apply mint essential oil (or another preferred energizing oil) on the bottom of your feet
Raise your legs above your heart (or if this is uncomfortable, consider an incline with head above heart)
Choose a nice sounding alarm (a jolting alarm will reverse what you have accomplished from the nap). Set for 13 minutes - why 13? Seems to take me at least 3 minutes to fall asleep
Cover up with a heavy blanket
Apply pressure on the forehead with an eye pillow to activate the oculocardiac reflex & vagus nerve, a critical factor in long-term stress resilience and, research shows, in happiness. (I've also used the edge of a regular pillow or a folded up edge of a heavy comforter)
Close your eyes, dive into the darkness behind your eyelids and remind yourself that even if you don't fall asleep, your nervous system is absorbing the benefits of this quiet and restful moment
When the alarm goes off, do not press snooze! Gently roll onto your side and push yourself up on the exhale
Enjoy your renewed energy!
Yoga Nidra - Non Traditional
Yes! You can sleep with this one. Includes positive affirmations (25 min)…..
Three things to do for better sleep
Meditation CAN be difficult...... but it doesn't have to be! Follow along and allow your creative mind to take over
Change your mood quickly by using three quick and easy Tools: 1) breath tool 2) body posture tool 3) neuroscience tool.
6 minute morning yoga routine before you get out of bed. You can start your day off with more energy and feeling great in your body.