Becoming fit and flexible can help you to better manage stress in both body and mind.
What is Fitness?
I used to hear the word fitness and an image of Jane Fonda or Arnold Swarzenegger would pop into my head. After years of living a fit and healthy life as a yogini the images that come to mind are, now, very different. My perception of fitness includes more than physical appearance. I define fitness as: overall wellbeing. I strive to feel fit in body, energy, and mind.
My day begins with a mindful focus practice. Either the sun or my alarm wake me each morning. I prop myself up to a seated position and begin. I mindfully focus upon a mantra (sound vibration practice) while setting an intention for the day. I like to do this practice in the morning before I actively engage in the world because it is the time during which my mind is most clear and my body is naturally relaxed.
The rest of my day is driven by the intention I set. It is guiding me throughout my day as a reminder to keep practicing with care for myself and awareness. I think about it while I move around, sit at my desk, teach others, take a walk, eat, etc. Sometimes I forget, or get distracted, but as soon as I catch myself I get right back to my practice.
I've been known to call out practitioners who rely on mobility instead of strength to access postures. There is a delicate balance between flexibility and strength that, when found, provides us with deeper access to our selves. To be overly mobile can result in injury just as being overly strong can do the same.
Consider your parents. Possibly, one was very strict and the other less so. When my parents divorced my Dad became the strict one, while my Mom became more flexible with the rules. The imbalance allowed me the opportunity to break rules and push limits that I never would have had they remained together. In your body and mind the same imbalances are present. It's up to you to identify and address them.
As one of my clients recently said, "It's nice to take an hour to do something for myself and to get away from work." It's easy to become rigid in our work schedules, weaken our self care, and too flexible when it comes to indulging.
One way to engage in self care and create balance is Yoga. It helps to reduce rigidity, build strength, and manage mobility. Allowing an hour of time to engage in self care during a Yoga practice can have a significant impact. Embedded in that hour is more than movement. The combination of intentional posturing, directed breathing, mindful movement, and guided focus can transform your perception; it can shift the way you in which you engage in the rest of the day.
Fit & Flexible
If you could set one intention for the rest of your day, week, month, what would it be? Try beginning your day with this intention in mind - use it to help you feel fit. Allow it to lead you as you live, work, eat, engage, and experience the world.
Consider the things about which you are rigid/strict/stuck, etc. and, in compliment, in which ways are you are too willing to be flexible or "go with the flow." How can you bring these ideas into balance?
Engage in self care; practice, play outside, create, explore. An hour a day is more powerful than you think.
Simple changes create significant effects. Practice becoming fit and flexible to reduce stress and feel more balanced.
Jenay guides Private Therapeutic Yoga Practices that focus upon your specific needs. To learn more or to begin developing your fitness and flexibility visit: https://www.therealignmentcoach.com/
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 40.4 million family caregivers for adults age 65 or older in the United States. These caregivers are typically family members who take on the responsibility of helping their loved one with long-term services and support. Caregivers may provide financial assistance and personal care, but a large part of what they do is helping with day-to-day activities and emotional support. While most caregivers find that being there for their loved one is a rewarding experience, it stands to reason that the role involves a certain amount of stress with the risk of burnout. While dealing with that stress involves several healthy lifestyle choices, adding yoga and meditation to your daily schedule can be a huge boon to the overall mental health and wellness of both caregiver and senior.
A Morning Stretch
Among the many changes that happen to the body as we age, most seniors find that they lose flexibility and agility as the years go on. Doing a gentle yoga routine in the morning is a great way to improve mobility and balance, which is essential for preventing senior falls. Stretching is also beneficial for caregivers of all ages, as it eases tension due to stress. Furthermore, it’s helpful in reducing pain as well as stiffness in both the muscles and joints.
To get the best results, it’s important to be consistent and commit to stretching every morning. Having a dedicated practice ensures both senior and caregiver maintain muscular integrity while building strength. Try this easy stretching routine to help relieve stress and improve flexibility. To make it more like yoga, focus on your breath with each stretch. Inhale through your nose as you prepare to enter each pose, and exhale through your mouth when you release.
A Mindful Approach
As stretching and yoga help seniors and their caregivers maintain healthy bodies, meditation helps improve the health of the mind. By dedicating time to contemplation, people who meditate increase their mindfulness for a happier and more fulfilled life. According to Gizmodo, research shows that meditation can shield the brain from the damaging effects of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, it helps improve patience, enhances sleep quality, and alleviates feelings of depression. A daily meditation practice enriches one’s life and helps build self-esteem. Learning how to meditate is even a helpful skill when it comes to the management of chronic pain.
Just about everyone can benefit from meditation, but when it comes to seniors, there are particular benefits to consider. For one, when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and medical supervision meditation slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, degenerative conditions that impede cognitive function and memory. When seniors meditate, they are less likely to suffer from isolation and loneliness, which can have devastating physical health effects on top of the mental and emotional strain. Meditating stimulates the brain’s centers for memory, so it can help slow the memory loss that affects many people over the age of 65. Furthermore, the deep and focused breathing that accompanies meditation introduces healthy oxygen into the blood while improving circulation. Many seniors suffer from poor circulation resulting cramping, pain, or a heavy sensation in the limbs.
Millions of people in the United States provide unpaid care for a senior loved one. Care giving involves many things, including financial assistance, personal care, assistance with day-to-day activities, and emotional support. While most caregivers enjoy being there for a loved one, it comes with its share of stress with a risk of burnout. Along with a healthy lifestyle, seniors and their caregivers can ensure wellness with daily yoga and meditation habits. Stretching in the morning is a great way to improve agility and balance for seniors, while it can help their caregivers relieve anxiety and stress-related pain. Meditation is as good for the head as yoga is good for the body. It improves mindfulness and protects the brain from stress, but it’s also helpful for seniors, as it slows the progression of dementia.
Give The Gift of Yoga
Lake Tahoe Yoga offers a variety of options for individuals interested in beginning the practice of mindful movement and meditation.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to find yourself in a nonstop routine that cultivates tension and anxiety. Awareness of not only your surroundings but also your inner emotional state is fundamental to yoke the energy of concentration. The practice of incorporating mindful practices as well as physical effort can help you establish a happier and healthier life.
Your yoga practice doesn’t have to stop when you leave the mat. Whether it’s running out of the house to pick up the kids from sports, making dinner for a family of 8, or even coping with a lost loved one, check out these mindfulness exercises to harness your ability to deal with life’s challenges.
Never underestimate the power of simplicity. Maintain awareness of your breath and focus your attention on moving the breath in and out. This exercise can be done at any time of the day and in any position anywhere. The results can be tremendous.
Now that you’ve focused on your breath, follow your breath beginning to end. Sustain your awareness and let fleeting thoughts pass.
Awareness of Your Body
Tension in the body can be released by the mind. Awareness of the body can help bring oneness to the body and mind. The more peace and harmony in your breathing, the more it will reflect in your body.
Self-reflection is essential to appreciating the wonders of life and letting go of the things that hold us back. Mindful walking is a simple technique that can enable you to find your purpose, increase your well-being, and give you the clarity to navigate yourself through the world.
A warrior never rushes. Combat the addiction to rush and stay present. Slowing down can sometimes be the best way to speed up. Whether it’s moving slower, taking time to think about the things you speak, find perspective on balance by calming the body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
The combination of mindfulness and physical activity is the crux of combating negative thinking and emotional distress. Although this practice requires discipline and self-control, mindfulness can transform your ability to concentrate and make a breakthrough.
The focal point of mindfulness practices is meditation. The combination of physical and mental practices can train the body to stay calm and be observant. This concentration allows one to
wake dormant energy toward awakening.
Christin Lee is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger living in NYC. She currently writes for InsiderEnvy with an emphasis and focus on fitness, health, and universal human rights.
Yoga + Focused Concentration = Less Stress
Stress from work, school, and family can build throughout the day until, when it’s finally time to get some much needed rest, you have trouble closing your eyes. You need a full night’s sleep, that’s a solid seven to eight hours every night, to rejuvenate, energize, and refresh the body for a new day. Yoga and focused concentration both offer ways to help clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and prepare your mind and body for better sleep.
Yoga, especially those forms that use directed breathing, reduce the inflammation brought on by stress. Focusing your mind and body before bed has measurable benefits by reducing the activity of proteins that cause stress-related inflammation. Yoga Asana also helps relieve tension and tightness in muscles.
Focused concentration that centers on mindfulness is another way to help center your mind, putting stressful events and thoughts in the background for better sleep. Mindfulness concentration encourages practitioners to focus on the moment so that thoughts and emotions center in the present rather than dwelling on the past or speculating about the future. This type of concentration helps relieve symptoms of depression, chronic pain, and conditions like high blood pressure.
Yoga for Better Sleep
Yogic and concentration techniques can be performed before getting into bed or after you’ve laid down. When doing poses in bed, your mattress type may prevent you from getting a stretch with the same intensity you are used to on the floor, but that doesn’t reduce the relaxing benefits.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand with the feet hip-width apart, folding from your hips toward the ground. Reach your arms to the ground. You can grab your elbows with your hands and let your arms gently dangle for a better stretch. Slightly bend your knees to relieve any strain. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm.
Seated Spinal Twist
Start by sitting on a mat or your bed with both legs out straight in front of you. Bend your left knee, bringing your left foot over your right leg. Gently hold your left leg with your right hand, and twist your torso so you’re looking over your left shoulder. You can keep your right leg straight or bend it toward your left hip. Take up to eight deep breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.
On your knees, sit with your knees wider than your hips and bring your big toes together. Lengthen your torso between your legs. Extend your arms out in front or rest them beside your legs. Let your forehead drop toward the ground or your bed. Take up to eight long, deep breaths before releasing.
Focused Concentration works well once you’re lying in bed. Start by focusing on your breath. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm and listen to the sound of the air entering and leaving your lungs. Focus your mind on the calming sound of your breath. If it helps, focus on a calming word with each inhale and exhale. As you continue breathing, keep your mind focused by pulling it back to your breathing when it begins to wander. Continue until you feel calm, quiet, and relaxed. You may even drift off to sleep.
Special thanks to TUCK for their contribution of this blog and active work in the study of Mindfullness, Sleep and accessing Dhyana (Meditation).
Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.