mindfulness matters

mindfulness matters on and off the yoga mat

mindfulness matters

mindfulness matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The mind is the vital link between the body and consciousness. The individual can live with awareness, discrimination, and confidence only once the mind is calm and focused, Yoga is the alchemy that generates this equilibrium”

“When the mind is fully absorbed by objects seen, heard, smelled, felt or tasted, this leads to stress, fatigue, and unhappiness. The mind can be a secret enemy and a treacherous friend,. It influences our behavior before we have time to consider causes and consequences.” BKS Iyengar

The way yoga practice works is that it trains your mind to stay still instead of jumping around so much, therefore taming and quieting impulsivity and reactivity. Discrimination and evaluation faculties improve as well so that the objects and situations we “see” do not have such a powerful hold on us. The mature and practiced mind builds awareness and thus can target bad habits, improve mood, and take note of repetitive behaviours that are not so good for us and replace them with nourishing thoughts and actions.

I have an easy to practice 5 minute mindfulness of breath practice on my YOGA MIND cd. Keep in mind that this is a journey, and practice is cumulative.

Yoga and stress relief

yoga is a powerful way tool for stress relief

stress relief

This is a great infograph. Some of the take aways are subjects you have already seen here. It is a great reminder of how we can certainly, throughout our day, make choices to ensure that we give ourself a window of calm.

If you are looking for mini-breaks, just know this is what I created the YOGA MIND CD for (visualizations, breathing, mindfulness, relaxations). I think, I know, when you are in touch with yourself, you will be able to add to the above list, or choose which of them make no sense to you. I am not a gum chewer, so even sugarless gum would not be on my list!

Stress relief is very much about balance too. Being able to balance all your activity with rest, or with activities that cultivate the rest and digest mechanisms. You have heard me talk about restorative yoga, which is definitely something I would add to the above picture…!

BKS Iyengar wrote “the practice of asanas and pranayama is the most powerful natural thera[y for stress. Practicing asanas with props builds your stamina and allows you to benefit from the posture without unnecessary strain”

stillness and the calming of the mind

stillness and the calming of the mind

stillness and the calming of the mind

stillness and the calming of the mind

Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How stil they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness. ~ Eckhart tolle

Seasons are changing, as we feel the colder temperatures, part of us wants to keep moving to stay warm, the other part feels more tired, and wants to rest.

There is definitely a shift, and this should as well, be reflected in your practice, and in your diet. According to yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, each of us, and as well, each season, is dominated by one of the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha).

In Fall, vata is more dominant (notice the wind blowing the leaves off the trees?). Vata also governs movement in the body, such as activating the nervous system and the processes of elimination. Its qualities of vata are, not surprisingly, cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular and moving. Vata is composed of the elements of air and space, and since it is associated with the nervous system, it can be reflected in our mental state. As you can imagine, if this element becomes so dominant in our psyche, we can become overwhelmed and out of balance. Are you may feeling unsettled, ungrounded ? We cannot ask Fall to settle down but we can make adjustments to maintain internal balance.

From salad, sometimes moving to root veggies. Remember to warm up for your poses, and choose a balance between boosting your energy, and restoring your energy. Relaxation is ever important, and an attitude that embraces the season – including some of its more hibernation based accents will get you far :-)

yoga and stress management

yoga and stress management

Right now, how stressed are you on a scale of one to ten ?

yoga and stress management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that :  “Stress is defined as “any stimulus that creates an imbalance in the internal environment.” ~  Tortora and Grabowski, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology

Did you know that there are 3 causes of stress?

-Physical -whether you have undergone a trauma, an injury or from sport-specific or other movement patterns that do not reinforce good posture and alignment.
-Mental/emotional –whether you are unable to relax, sleep, understand yourself, and make nourishing and supportive choices.
-Biochemical/environmental – whether your mood is affected or you are involved in circumstances that unbalance you.

Life is rapid. The modern person is suffering from common things like – overwork/fatigue, fear, hate, hurry and tension. The adrenal glands are adversely affected, causing dis-ease such as arthritis, myositis, psychoses, anxiety, headaches, back pain and cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal malfunctioning.

What to do for stress management?  There are two divisions of our nervous system, the flight or fright, which is triggered by stress and the parasympathetic, which is involved with deep relaxation.  Ease, or Dis-Ease, we are equipped for both!

Naturally, avoiding stress completely is an unrealistic solution for the 21st century. However, neutralizing the effects of stress, minimizing stress through empowering changes, channeling stress into creative endeavor, alleviating it and/or reinterpreting the impact of a stressor – namely, different kinds of coping behaviors – are better approaches to dealing with or handling stress.

stress managementAfter going through a fight or flight reaction, the body wants to return to homeostasis by relaxing and returning to normal activity levels. This relaxation response slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and stress hormone levels, and reduces oxygen consumption.

It is possible to manage one’s stress and consciously set the relaxation response in motion so the body can begin to use its internal intelligence to mobilize and heal itself.

Just ask yourself what feels better, being in a bad mood or being in a naturally good mood, where you feel you can cope with this rapid pace, neutralize the effects of a challenging situation and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep?

Health is wealth. The simple truth is that without any healing, we do not stand a chance against the treadmill of life. However, learning how to breathe so that you can consciously diffuse a potential stressor, learning how to mobilize your body so that it can let go of the potential pain in the neck, learning how to quiet the mind so that your split second decision-making skills are clearer, these are all tools we can learn to use, so that our lives are balanced with LETTING GO, not out of hand GO GO GO.

Have you ever been in a healing presence, had a soft and focused moment, experienced a yoga flow, or simply sat sitting in a park, feeling the soft breeze and listening to the grass and the music of a waterfall? If so, I am sure at some level you thought, hmmm, I would like to bottle this for personal consumption! This is the idea. You can learn and yes, it may take some practice, but the results are infinite. Contact me for personalized options

 

Endorphins alert!

Endorphin alert ! “Walk yourself out of your bad mood. Studies show that even a ten minute walk immediately boosts brain chemistry to increase happiness” ~ boosting endorphins ? Absolutely wonderful remedy for stress relief which by definition means stress hormones get defeated by the releasing of endorphins, our happy molecules

Wow! I would say the same thing for a short yoga routine. Do you have a ten minute strategy? Everyone should have a recipe to uplift and boost endorphins. I am certainly available for private yoga lessons to amp up your home practice, or you can download my CD for a track that you can use as you walk to the subway. It is also nice just to know that a walk around the block endorphins alert!

yoga and stress

yoga and stress

focus:breathe

Yoga and stress: Are you “stressed out” ? Is your day “stressful”? In technical terms, stress is load. If you have too much load, you will break what you are overloading. It’s like over stretching and then tearing the muscle you are ‘trying’ to lengthen. The softer practices of yoga (and I am not saying don’t practice asana) are important and  complementary to our busy – ness in so many useful ways. This advice by Thich Nhat Hanh is a nice reminder that the breath is the link between mind and body. Letting yourself think think think about all your stress will just make your body tenser. A mindful approach, a breath by mindful breath approach is something that yoga can teach you.  If you have five minutes you can learn how to do do by downloading my Yoga Mind cd. That is what it is there for, and you can then take it with you to practice instead of letting things get out of hand.

Rana -yogaWe need to learn how to breathe and consciously diffuse a potential stressor, as well as how to mobilize our body so that it can let go of the tensions and learn how to quiet the mind so that our split second decision-making skills are clearer, these are all tools we can learn to use, so that our lives are balanced

Stillness And The Ability To Listen Inwardly

Be still and listen..rather an art form.

Here are some tips to start cultivating this art :
1. Make notes of anything in your life that is difficult, painful, joyful, and notice how your breathing, heart rate and other bodily sensations respond to each of these.
2. Pay attention to what your body feels like. For example, do you feel fluid, numb, or stuck? These feelings are your body’s wisdom; clues in your inner guidance system.
3. When you experience a bodily sensation such as “gut reaction,” back pain, a headache, a stomach ache, pay attention to it. Are emotions such as anger or fear connected with any areas of your body? When a sensation arises, stop, lie down, breathe and wait with the emotion or sensation – what insights come up through this process?
4. Notice how you routinely talk to yourself. Do you chastise or appreciate when you look in the mirror? Are you hyper critical or do you give your body positive messages, and gratitude. Your body digests meals, breathes in and out, and your heart beats 24/7… Cultivate a positive chain between your inner mental dialogue and the rest of you.
5. Understand that you risk your health when you consistently undermine your body. Burning the candle at both ends, worrying incessantly, food choices, activity choices, friendship choices…it all affects our system as a whole.

stillness

Pranayama Practice Of The Day

It’s incredible how the breath can give us clues-be a barometer for-what is on our mind. Perfect example, navigating traffic in a foreign place. Not Europe. Jersey City. I just moved here but my GPS is on the fritz and gives me directions that are way off. I noticed how panicky I was and made a conscious effort to slow my breath down. Of course, the first step is always noticing the natural, essential breath and if it is anything but, that is a sure sign you are stressed out.

The photo shows a pranayama called alternate nostril breathing which is also balancing, though more of a formalized practice, not one you can do in your car. Yoga is a practical system and helps us in many ways contend with the daily grind. So when you get up and go don’t forget you are not leaving home without a built in anti-anxiety tool.

 

pranayama

Awareness: Funny

This girl is apparently doing a thinking meditation…LOL

Awareness is basic but if you have trouble going deeper through sitting practices, there are other ways to set up. Certainly breathing practices and relaxation techniques not to mention restorative yoga practices will help you calm the over thinker in you especially in times of speed and stress.

Do you find it hard to ‘get there’? Contact me for private yoga lessons for a personalized approach :-)  or invite me to give a workshop at your yoga studio :-)

 

awareness

Savasana Funny

This is hilarious!

Everyone is different of course, some people “can’t” relax, some people fall asleep instead of relaxing. I find in many classes that I have seen, there is only a 5 minute savasana; it isn’t enough. Mostly I think people just want to come in and bang out a work-out, but you really aren’t doing your Yoga justice to omit the very core of practice ~ integration, calm, witness, awareness, dropping into your light body…..

You can build a sustainable relaxation practice on your own. By that I mean, time spent on the mat that cultivates the calm tools for getting through daily stress.

There is one track on my Yoga Mind cd that I like for learning, called Diving Deeply into Relaxation, I think you can listen to a clip on I Tunes

If you are a bit overloaded by Saturday, which many of us are, just taking some time to lay out your mat, cover your eyes, and turn the world to mute will refresh you. Try it :-)
Savasana funny comic