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/
It’s happening, already. You have probably seen them. . .in every store. . .Christmas decorations! Every year it happens: Halloween and Thanksgiving are way-sided by Christmas displays. Here are a few suggestions for how to overcome the anxiety resulting from the displays that are distracting our attention.
No One Can Make You Do Anything
As a school counselor this was my motto. My favorite moment in any session would be when a student would say, “She/he/they made me. . .” I would pause and then look at the student and say something like, “Describe to me how.” After a few attempts at explaining, they would inevitably come to the conclusion that, ultimately, they chose to behave the way they did.
As the pressure of the holidays begins to mount remember that you are the only one in control of yourself. Don’t allow the sparkly lights, shiny colors and pretty displays distract you. Take your time and enjoy the moments and time between the holidays. Reflect upon the wonder that each creates and what you love most.
The best advice I was ever given was for my wedding day. I give the same advice to every bride I meet: eat the food, dance to the music and step back every once in a while to observe. Ferris Bueller knew what he was talking about. Life moves pretty fast. As we age and the percentage of time we’ve spent on earth becomes longer each day, month and year feels shorter.
Yoga teaches us to focus upon one thing at a time (Dharana). The more we do so, the less we are distracted by that which is unimportant. To be present is both to make the time to step back and observe; to watch everyone enjoying the holiday feels, as well as to sit down among those you love and enjoy simply being together.
Focus Upon Yourself
There is a story about a student who comes to the teacher wishing to learn, but having already developed ideas about what will be learned. The teacher explains that the student cannot learn because their cup is already full. Like a teacup that already has tea in it, the student already had ideas about learning. Therefore, they had no room for more.
When you fill yourself up with stress, worry, concern, anxiety, etc. there is no room left for fun, love, relaxation or even yourself. What helps you to relax? A cup of tea, a glass of wine, petting your cat, sitting by the pool, reading a book, or resting upon your sofa are just a few ways to serve yourself. Allow time for yourself so that you can empty your cup.
Spread the Love
Compassion is a very powerful emotion. When shared well, it brings us together. The practice of Karma Yoga is defined as “the Yoga of action.” The removal of Karma begins when we apply our skills in ways that serve others without expecting anything in return. It is our intention to spread love that removes Karma.
When we are in service to others it gives us purpose, fuels our passions and brings us together with those whom we would otherwise never meet. Choose a simple, accessible and fun way to volunteer your time, energy and talents this season. Spread the love and help to create more.
Additional Suggestions. . .
Local Organizations that can use your help:
Big Brothers Big Sisters http://www.bbbs-edc.org/
Keep Tahoe Blue https://www.keeptahoeblue.org/our-work/volunteer
And more can be found here: https://southtahoenow.com/topics/volunteer
“The Holidays;” the time period that begins after Halloween and ends at the onset of the following year. It seems as though the promotion of these days begins earlier every year. As a result, you may be feeling any number of emotions and energies as you prepare for and are inundated with the events of the season.
Yoga can help. Here are 5 ways to apply the practices of Yoga to your life so that you may be a bit more calm, reasonable, and in control this holiday season.
Transalated to mean non-harming this practice of one of consideration of yourself and others. We all react to stress differently. We all perceive the holidays differently. We all experience the world differently. Practice non-harming this season by remembering the following:
-Participate in that which brings you and those closest to you happiness.
-Give yourself and others space and time to complete that which they are focused upon.
-Prepare yourself by taking a few moments to breathe before engaging.
-Eat, Drink and Enjoy slowly.
Self Study is the practice of learning from others and listening for our own vibrations. While spending time with friends and family practice listening. Ask about their lives, their experiences and their opinions. Allow them to express themselves. Listen for the gems of knowledge that are revealed as they share their stories.
If you become overwhelmed with the chatter, distractions, and noise of the day step aside to a more peaceful and quiet space. Reflect upon the goodness of the day. Take the time to enjoy all that you have been given and created for yourself. Hum or Aum in honor of the wonder of your life.
Move, groove and get active. Encourage others to join you. Yoga prescribes poses for specific application, but you don’t need to be in class to experience the benefits of conscious movement. Twist gently to massage your digestive system. Move through a seated version of cat and cow to move food through. Encourage children to get moving during a game of tag. Massage your grandmother’s shoulders. Take a walk outside. Activity before and after eating will help you to digest your food and feel energized.
Moderation may be one of the most challenging practices of the season. You may feel like you “have to” buy, eat, go, give, etc. Practice moderation by pausing to consider each choice you are about to make. Reflect upon the value of the item or experience. What is your intention behind each? Choose that which improves your life and that of others rather than that which looks or sounds good in the moment.
Surrender, dedication and devotion are the words used to translate this term. Be willing to surrender to the traditions of the holidays. Have fun, be silly, try something new and celebrate with time-honored traditions. Disregard the aspects of the season that spark negativity. Instead, focus upon the joyful moments so that you may experience Yoga all season long.
If you are interested in learning more about the philosophies and practices of Yoga as well as how to transition into a Yogic Lifestyle contact us at LakeTahoeYoga@gmail.com or call the studio at (775)580-7224.
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.