yoga for sleep deprivation

yoga for sleep deprivation

sleep deprivation

sleep deprivation

It’s a snow day here in New Jersey…which means I get to rest more. Yes I did swiffer, and am doing laundry, but also I got to sleep in which is something I do not often do. Actually did not realize that over 60 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. Some of the side effects are also a little alarming, but I think once you understand that good sleep helps maintain a healthy hormone balance you can kind of figure that tipping the scale unhealthily can lead to cravings, triggers the stress response, higher risk of illnesses, and injury. “Just one week of insufficient sleep alters the activity of our genes, which control our response to stress, immunity, inflammation, and overall health” (infographic)sleep deprivation

 

 

Two of my favourite ways to add a little rest and relaxation to my day when my sleep is off, are to do 10 minutes of Viparita Karani or add 15 minutes of a relaxation practice. At least this way, you can practice switching off, which should ultimately improve your ability to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is somewhat scary but not so surprising. I find sleep hard to recuperate. My best tactic is adding a restorative posture like viparita karani and or a 15 minute relaxation break into my day towards dinner time.

getting yogaminded for the new year

getting yogaminded for the new year.. As the New Year approaches, the focus is always on making resolutions and commitments and doing a whole lot that sounds like reforming oneself or just making new decisions. It almost complicates a simple process. I like the expression Yoga Mind, I used it for my Cd and frankly, am loving the expression “yogaminded” now.
“Don’t make the same mistakes twice” ~ right!? We do anyway. I do not feel like yoga has prevented me from falling or failing, but it does give a framework for starting each day afresh, with a beginner’s perspective, and sometimes, when I am graced, I make better choices instead of opting for old patterned paths.

I think it fair to say that the best way to start fresh is to feel and experience being refreshed. Relaxation, of some kind is crucial and yet, often, quite ignored until we crash land, burnout, lash into someone, react and get pulled in. I for one like at least one full restorative yoga practice in my schedule (not just to teach but as well, to practice). It lends balance and calm. That Yoga Mind I cultivate leads towards all the things I should likely resolve to do more often. So this New Year, get yogaminded and unclutter your big list with just one resolution…

yogaminded

yogaminded

holiday or freedom

holiday or freedom, what are we actually seeking?

freedom

I am wondering, as we approach Christmas and New Year when so many people go away, whether we are really looking for a temporary break from routine, or something deeper, true freedom. I know it is a deep reflection, but as I re-read some of Yoga And The Quest For The True Self,  by Stephen Cope, I came across an interesting chapter which I thought I would write about here..

“As we Westerners become more experienced with yoga and meditation, we will begin to become more realistic about their outcomes, A mere reduction in reactivity may seem a disappointment to those of us still engaging in magical thinking about Eastern enlightenment experiences. The increase of awareness and neutrality toward experience may be a bitter pill for those of us who were hoping for immersion in permanent oceanic bliss. But, actually, “a new freedom for well-considered and appropriate action” is a very wonderful thing. It means that we have increased freedom to choose..we become free to renounce actions that might undermine our most awake experiences of ourselves. And we become free to claim actions that express who we really are”

I think this is a great quote; even practitioners of yoga can get rather chase-y with practice (you may have heard me say this in my restorative yoga class). I think consistent practice, balanced practice, which includes relaxation gives us mini holidays for the brain/body, which add up to cultivation of a deeper sense of freedom. That is my take on it :-) follow on twitter #liveyouryoga

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”

Therapeutic effects of yoga

Therapeutic effects of yoga include enhanced immune system functioning

Therapeutic effects of yoga

Restorative yoga

“stress has a negative impact on the immune system and prolonged exposure increases susceptibility to disease and leads to physical and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Practicing yoga and meditation as a means to manage and relieve both acute and chronic stress helps individuals overcome other co-morbidities associated with diseases and leads to increased quality of life” STUDY

The immune system is a miracle to me. In case you are wondering what that is, “the immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease” (SOURCE) Restorative yoga poses are highly effective at reducing stress and therefore in creating a healthy immune system. The supported poses decrease the chasing aspect which is sometimes present when students “stretch” because these asanas (poses) are done with the strategic support and placement of yoga props which thus nurtures the body and induces the “relaxation response” while reducing the “stress response”. Together, these two effects protect and help to strengthen the immune system. Once your system is compromised, the practice changes, so the best tip is to be preventive with your health. I meet students who specifically do not do this type of practice yet will readily agree they are not able to relax. The number one reason they give to avoid the practice is they think it will be too easy. HMMMM. It’s definitely not the same as jumping around, but it is also quite challenging in its own way. Perhaps your misconceptions are keeping you from optimum health!!

yoga art of balance

yoga – art of balance “life is a balance of holding on and letting go”

yoga : art of balance

yoga : art of balance

Even as a physical practice, yoga is an art of balancing the active and the receptive sides, the doing and the being. Some of the quieter poses like forward bends, offer the practitioner the opportunity to calm the nervous system and promote the ‘rest and digest’ mechanisms, and help with fatigue. Within that, forward bends can be active or restorative depending on what your intention is. If you are chasing a stretch, using arms to pull yourself forward, or stretching the wrong place (insertion of the muscle) then your forward bends will not have these qualities. In a restorative forward bend, in order to have these effects on the central nervous system, you will have to use props in such a way as to support safe alignment and comfort in the pose. As well, you would support the head as this will promote relaxation 

BKS Iyengar wrote “Actions mirror a man’s personality better than his words” – this statement is reflected in our physical practice. Movement with intention will differ from movement without it. Sometimes you have to give something up to get something else. Think of balance, and yoga, as an organic art form.

cultivating inner Strength

inner strength

inner strength

cultivating inner strength through yoga practice; “Make a firm decision: Whatever happens, I will be happy, I will be strong, God is always with me”. Very affirmative. Maybe you can’t digest all of it, but the sentiment behind the words is very inner strength building. Yoga is a multi-dimensional practice aimed at quieting the mind so that we can live a healthy, balanced life, make informed choices, and face our circumstances with flexibility and resilience…..but it is a very conscious process. We have to use discipline in many areas and as much as possible, remind ourselves that when we are challenged, we often have reserves that if we tap into, if we decide to tap into, we can rise to the challenge with softness and strength, stability and ease.

We tend to think of strength as brute force, but I think it is more of an integration (mindbodysoul). I just read an article in Psychology Today in which the author says;  “a strong person has great capability at facing challenges. Being strong means having the resources, the mental skills, and the physical capabilities to confront difficulties of all kinds. When you are strong, you have the ample excess of energy and stamina, so that when facing a challenge that depletes you of energy and inner strength, you still have enough left in you to act”

After reading this, maybe you can come to see that the softer sides of yoga ~ pranayama, relaxation, restoratives, meditation, all help to cultivate inner strength

peaceful quotes for a stressful day

Reading these peaceful quotes for a stressful day will put you in the mood for my upcoming restorative workshop in Jersey City:

peaceful quotes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe. May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature. May all beings be free.”

Unless you did not already know, stress can make you sick, or, just plain not in optimum health. Stress creeps in and begins with a physiological response when your nervous system perceives a threat – mental, physical, emotional. This heightened alert triggers the adrenal glands to secrete catecholamine hormones. What this means is that your heart rate, blood pressure, and brain ramp up to prepare for “flight or fight”. Obviously, this is the opposite to the relaxation response, which is pretty much going to shut off, and shut down. Peace? Where did that go? Exactly. This is where restoratives, savasana, pranayama can help. Really. Check out my calendar or book a private ~ cause the “antidote to stress is relaxation” (J. Lasater)

Word of the day is drishti

Word of the day is drishti or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. It relates to the fifth limb of yoga (pratyahara) concerning sense withdrawal, as well as the sixth limb dharana relating to concentration.”

drishti

drishti ~ focus, gaze

 

Sometimes we practice asana with eyes open, sometimes, eyes closed. When we focus with open eyes, this focus is called drishti, or gaze.  It is a soft and diffused gaze rather than a hard stare. Many classical poses have drishti points, and some pranayama techniques also call for a specific position for the eyes, such as the “third eye” area between the eyebrows, or, at the tip of the nose.

A classical yogic meditation techinique is Candle Gazing, where you maintain a soft eye focus on a candle flame. The focus helps to calm the mind, via the eyes. We are a very visual culture (think TV, Ipads, movies etc) and if you ever watched a crime show thinking you were relaxed, you should periodically check your heart beat because often the seeing is actually stressing the system. This doesn’t mean don’t watch your favourite crime show, just be aware that there is a powerful effect going on in your nervous system.

A nice way to “reset the eyes, erase the mind” is to palm the eyes after your meditation or relaxation. This technique is a way to relax the eyes, and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. You rub your palms together to generate warmth then bring your palms gently over closed eyes

Restore Your Calm

Restore Your Calm

PeaceFULL : A Restorative Yoga Workshop to Combat Holiday Stress and Help you Reconnect With Your Calm Centre

Holiday Season is upon us, yet with all the extra festivities, so many people are stressed-out, with huge ‘to-do’ lists and “get-it-done” momentum, leaving them feeling exhausted, pressured and with no ability to recover. As the workload increases, and our social calendars fill, our digestive system becomes overloaded and sluggish, and our nervous system can feel more frazzled than filled with joy.

Restorative yoga is the antidote and will benefit and balance out the more active practices that Yoga offers. This specially themed class is a practice of BEING poses, postures held with strategic placement of props for an extended period of time, where the practitioner can detoxify, replenish and recover from fatigue, overtraining, and anxiety. We will also include breathing practices and deep relaxation to help regulate, repair, and allow your body to naturally release tension, elongate chronically tight musculature, and help you access your inner core of joy and peace, light and love.

Come and celebrate the season by immersing yourself, in this peaceFULL practice that will give you the gift of relaxation and rejuvenation so that you can enter into 2015 with a calm and centered approach. It is appropriate for all levels and all are welcome.

$25 in advance call 201-993-1110

$30 at the door

Sunday, November 23, 5:00 – 7:00 P.M.

Jivamukti Yoga Center Jersey City

restorative yoga for calm

Calm and PeaceFULL