I invite you to consider that the very fabric of life itself IS possibility. A blank canvas upon which, and against which, we get to express and create, and perhaps most importantly, reveal what holds us back in life. As you know my work is about inspiring freedom from the mental-prison we all live in … mostly obliviously.
I’ve often been called a spiritual teacher, which for sure is accurate, but my work is also based in the principles of physics. As some of you might know, there’s something called the observer effect in quantum physics. Whilst the basic assumption behind science is that there’s an “objective world out there” irrespective of us, the observer effect implies otherwise. The famous double-slit experiment reveals that each particle appears to pass simultaneously through both slits and interferes with itself. This combination of both paths at the same time is known as superposition. Here’s the powerful part about this … simply by observing a particle's path, even if that observation does not disturb the particle's motion, we change the outcome. Boom!!! So, if the way the world appears, and even behaves, is dependent on how, (and even IF), we look at it, what does that mean about "reality"? In my world … it means perception is reality!! Meaning the world is the way WE see it.
Physicist Pascual Jordan, who worked with quantum guru Niels Bohr, put it like this: "observations not only disturb what is measured, they produce it." In other words, Jordan said, "we ourselves produce the results of measurements." When you REALLY get this it’s so profound. Whether consciously or not, WE are all creating our reality.
Life IS pure possibility, so the question is what patterns and beliefs do you have that currently create the world you see? And how empowering to realize that by shifting our mind and perception we shift our world?!
Many of us frequently feel tight & stiff, & believe that it would be nearly impossible for us to be flexible, or achieve good posture. Yet enclosed with our skin, we are mostly composed of water & space. Muscles themselves are estimated to be 65-75% water, while our blood is 95% water. If all of this space could be removed from the cells in our entire body, the average human body would be a three inch ball of matter. Denseness, stiffness & inflexibility are illusions when you realise that there is not much to us!
Flexibility is usually determined by the resting length of a muscle. If a muscle feels tight, that's because the nervous system is keeping it contracted when it does not need to be. A great athlete appears to move without any effort because he has so fine tuned his body that only what is needed is engaged, there's no unnecessary contraction, so his body moves fluidly. Contraction occurs when we have adopted habits or alignments that use muscles in ways in which they were not intended. To eliminate these habits, we must wake up parts of the body that are not doing their jobs & turn off muscles that contribute to poor posture habits. In YogAlign we focus on becoming aligned by teaching our bodies to do "less".
The process of yoga is about removing obstacles like excess muscle tension, or excessive worry. YogAlign is about creating a "sustainable body", the most energy efficient body possible. The same way that we are seeking to live on our planet using efficient, natural sources of energy that don't waste or pollute, we must seek out ways to conserve energy in our bodies. Those who are out of alignment & have chronically bad posture waste the lion's share of their energy because poor posture uses muscles inefficiently. When we are misaligned, we waste our precious energy stores, sap our strength, compress our joints, compromise our organ function, and in the long run, develop a life of chronic aches & pains.
YogAlign focuses on:
1. understanding how the body is supported & controlled, and
2. teaching techniques to eliminate unnecessary tension & recover natural flexibility, tone & ease. Our bodies are permeated by systems of connective tissue that align our body through a balanced, tensile force. By practicing safe & easy breathing exercises & positions, we can learn to work with this connective tissue to regain our fluidity, moving more like the water & space that we truly are.
Michaelle Edwards - Creator of YogAlign
Subconscious Reprogramming is about removing all perceived “limitations” in order to gain behavioural options, mental flexibility & internal power, to unleash your potential in any area of your life.
Your subconscious influences your attitude & actions, & gives you insights & solutions. To understand how yours influences you, become more conscious of your subconscious.
Fire in the body, fire on the brain
Inflammation could be described as fire in the body.
Sugar, gluten, physical, mental & emotional stress are just a handful of things that are inflammatory, setting off little fires in your body. Given the mind-body connection, the fire in your body can influence what's going on in your brain.
Fire - inflammation of the brain - can be experienced as mental & emotional discomfort.
That is why it's important that we not only aim to reduce our exposure to inflammatory foods, thoughts & behaviours, but to make an active effort to include a means of reducing inflammation, & extinguish the fire in our body.
In addition to lifestyle factors; sleep, breath work, yoga, meditation, being in nature, social connection - eating fresh, seasonal, organic foods whenever we can is another way to keep the flames at bay.
Perhaps an interesting perspective shift to experiment with is to ditch the notion of foods being 'good' or 'bad', but to ask yourself, will this food nourish me, or is it inflammatory?
Did You Know?
Around 70-90% of our serotonin (one of our feel good hormones) is made in our gut. Research has shown that the risk of developing anxiety goes up significantly in those who experience inflammatory gut issues such as IBS.
Thanks Ben Warren from Be Pure for the info.
Now that the kids are back at school, take a few moments for yourself to ground & breathe.
Benefits of Balancing Asanas are many:
Helps induce physical balance
Develops a balanced mind
Balances the nervous system
Relieves anxiety & stress
Brings your focus back to the breath & present moment
Opens up the front flexor line of fascia to help create alignment
Activates your psoas muscles with the rest of your abdominal core muscles for a strong, stable core
Helps with natural spinal alignment
Helps to release unnecessary tension you have invited in
Yoga is not how high you can hold up your leg or deep you can get your squat. It is about connection with the breath & staying true to you own practice, what ever that is today.
Set yourself achievable goals that don’t overwhelm you ie two minutes twice daily, because you deserve it!
Authentic Yoga is always a spiritual discipline ... even when the focus is on the body." Georg Feuerstein
Benefits Of A Functional, Therapeutic YogAlign Class:
Begin your self care practice by booking a class today - click on 'YogAlign' in menu then 'Booking' - join me for either a small class (maximum 4) or a private session. All yoga mats & props provided ... just play & walk away ;o)
Love Leonie x
An Ayurvedic approach to depression takes into account mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of health and well-being. Within Ayurveda, there are three subsets of depression corresponding to the three doshas.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide, affecting approximately 300 million people (4.4 percent of the world’s population) and 17.3 million US adults (approximately 1 in 12). Women are nearly twice as likely as men (8.7 percent vs. 5.3 percent) to suffer from depression, with adolescence, postpartum, and perimenopause being especially risky times. Depression has a significant economic impact. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is also one of the most common reasons people seek out integrative or complementary therapies and providers.
Healing depression is something that requires time, focus, and effort on multiple levels. Here are five key psychological steps that can provide a useful foundation for the endeavor.
Viewed through an Ayurvedic lens, depression is usually thought of as a Kapha imbalance—heaviness, sadness, and general stagnation. Apathy, low energy, poor mood, and reduced movement are part of the official criteria psychiatrists use to diagnose depression. These symptoms are all Kapha problems, which suggests that the Kapha element is indeed out of balance in most cases of clinical depression.
From a more comprehensive Ayurvedic standpoint, there are three subtly different types of depression corresponding to the three doshas. These unique types of depression may preferentially affect people of that same primary dosha. They can also affect people of a different primary dosha who have the affected dosha(s) out of balance.
Associated with lethargy, increased sleep, poor motivation, despondency, and ama(toxicity), lies Kapha depression. It is the most common and longest-lasting type--due to the inherently slow-moving nature of Kapha. The treatment approach varies but includes the general principles of increasing movement, reducing toxicity, and enhancing ojas(vitality). Some science-backed recommendations are:
Like Pitta imbalance, Pitta depression is a more agitated state. It is highlighted by frustration, anger, irritability, and impulsivity. There is a higher risk of suicide with this type of depression due to the impulsivity and agitation. In traditional psychiatry, this might be thought of as a “mixed depression” (depression blended with manic or bipolar symptoms) or an “agitated depression.” This condition may be more common in a person who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or has some tendencies along the bipolar spectrum.
Pitta depression can be improved by general principles of cooling and soothing. Research-based remedies include the following:
Characterized by worry, restlessness, insomnia, and “ungroundedness,” a person with Vatadepression often will have an overload of the stress hormone cortisol. They generally have pushed themselves (or felt pushed) beyond their capabilities and become overwhelmed. This is a bit like the classic “nervous breakdown,” which is not an official medical diagnosis. In psychiatry, Vata depression is usually thought of as a combined anxiety-depressive disorder. There is a strong ruminative component to this state—an inability to shut off the mind.
Key principles for healing Vata depression are grounding, warming, and calming. A few specific recommendations for Vata-type depression are:
Depression is an opportunity—a chance to face your darkest thoughts and feelings with understanding and openness. It is a chance to nurture and heal yourself. Spiritually, transforming depression involves facing one’s own depths and coming to terms with choices, disappointments, fears, traumas, and more. Each case of depression is unique, but the common answer to all of them is your own love. If you are willing to open your heart to your own pain and make compassionate space for it, you are on your way to healing.
If you suffer from depression, take the wildest self-affirming action possible and fully commit to being here—on the planet and in your body. Wishing to leave is distracting and essentially delays healing. Have compassion for your soul for choosing a challenging life. Honor your soul’s wisdom by vowing to walk your unique path, even if it’s hard—even with depression.
Depression is your teacher. Trying to understand it will teach you about yourself and the world. Cultivating happiness is a practice. Every day requires maintenance. Try not to doubt your journey. Integrate your prior choices and values into your current sense of self. This will help you feel cohesive and strong. Feeling empowered now makes it easier to create a future that includes a heart at peace. The road is inward and may be long, but a heart at peace in a balanced body will surely find its way.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
How fitting that the anniversary of the acceptance of my depression would fall around Mental Health Awareness Month. Last year, I had paid no attention to it; this year, I am excited to pay homage to it. However, like most celebrations over the past couple of months, this will be spent with the looming effects of the global pandemic COVID-19. It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a year since I’ve had one of the most pivotal conversations of my young adult life—and it started with one simple question from a coworker:
“How are you really doing?”
This led me to admit to something I had been resisting for almost 10 years: I have depression and I need professional help in order to overcome it. I had mastered the art of masking my mental distress, but I eventually learned that masking is not a cure. It was a painful combination of fear, shame, and resistance.
As a health fitness specialist in the San Francisco/Bay Area, I am supposed to be the hype (wo)man. The one who motivates others to want to make changes to increase their quality of life, but that goes far beyond a number on a scale. It also entails the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. I realized that if I wanted to be authentic in my career, it was going to require me to step outside of myself and seek help. In order to celebrate change, and to encourage it in others, I needed to embrace it wholeheartedly in my own life first.
I remember sitting in the waiting room of my therapist’s office and filling out the initial assessment forms.
Circle what applies to you.
Circling depression is what made it all real.
Depression is something that I’ve known has always lived inside of me, but I was too afraid to say it out loud. I was afraid of the stigma that comes with the words: depression, anxiety, and therapy.
After a handful of sessions, my therapist helped me realize that those stigmas would only become a reality if I chose to breathe life into them. I have to constantly remind myself that I am on a journey of self-discovery, understanding, and self-compassion.
As a “recovering perfectionist and an aspiring ‘good-enoughist’” (thank you, Brené Brown), this has been an incredibly difficult year for me. Taking the time to chip away these walls I have built and become comfortable with openness and transparency is one of the scariest things I have ever done, but knowing that I have been able to overcome each fall by embracing and learning from each situation were signs of growth.
That growth has been tested daily since the start of this pandemic. Not only have I had to call on existing tools to preserve the progress that I’ve made, but I have also been pushed to develop new tools to help overcome the challenges that have risen over the past seven weeks. The biggest question that needed to be addressed: What if I can’t handle this anymore? Will that mean that all the progress I’ve made over the past year will have been for nothing?
In an attempt to calm my anxious mind, I have been able to uncover one of the most important tools: reflection. Now is the time to reflect on just how far I’ve come and to start actively developing a routine that utilizes each of the tools I have learned over the past year. While everyone is different and deals with their journeys of self-discovery and mental health differently, these are some tools that have helped me when I’ve recognized it’s time for action.
By reading an hour before bed, I am able to give my mind an opportunity to escape our crazy pandemic reality and to start exploring new techniques to facilitate growth. These are some books that have helped to provide that for me:
I found a journal that has “BLOOM” written across the cover. For me, this serves as a reminder that the “blooming” process takes time, and that the environment I create will determine whether I will wilt or bloom. I don’t journal every day because a strict regimen in regard to self-expression creates a toxic perfectionist monster in my mind. Instead, I use this tool when I need a place to vent, to remind myself that I am strong, but that I don’t need to have everything figured out right now.
Today, not only is fitness my career, but it has also become a physical representation of growth and success. I have a personal trainer. He and the rest of the Red Dot Fitness community have helped me uncover strength that I didn’t realize I had. By having a place where I can be surrounded by inspiring and passionate individuals, I always walked out of there feeling renewed.
During these weeks of quarantine, they have still been able to provide this sense of revival for me through live workouts and personal training sessions. They have been able to provide a sense of community even during this time of social distancing.
In the past, I had tried to implement meditation into my routine, but it never worked because my approach to meditation was all wrong. The idea of being and remaining present is difficult for a naturally anxious perfectionist like me, but the guided meditations from Headspace have taught me that it is natural for the mind to go off track. Actively navigating my thoughts and emotions, when times get hard, is something I never thought I had the strength to do.
Every tool in my toolbox may seem quite simple, but what makes them highly effective is that I’ve discovered how and why they give me strength. I’ve allowed myself to gain a better sense of self-compassion, a working understanding of the importance of communication, and the power that arises when you take the time to slow down and breathe—and it’s hard to believe that it all started with one simple question of how am I really doing?
Recognizing your mental state, and then healing, doesn’t happen overnight; it is an ever-growing process. I hope that by sharing in my story you might allow others some room to breathe and practice being kind to yourself--especially during these trying times. While I may be celebrating one year of healing this month, practicing and respecting your mental health is a lifelong commitment, and I will forever be walking that journey alongside you.
Has your home office chair been killing you after COVID lockdown, with all that extra screen time?
As children, our discs are more watery in substance, but the discs thicken with age & poor posture, leading to less mobility & stiffness of the spine. The thickening is a result of how our fascia system works: where there is tension or compression, the body will produce an excess of collagen fibres, thickening the discs. As the disc thickens, the gel-like nucleus losses water & compresses, leading to spinal nerve impingement, pain & stiffness.
We can assist our disc physiology by practicing good alignment & doing therapeutic exercises that increase spinal extension.
Avoiding caffeine, cigarettes, & alcohol can help disc hydration, since these substances act as diuretics.
Practicing YogAlign that optimises engagement of the natural spinal curves can be like getting a good nights sleep, helping your discs & vertebrae to remain youthful & supple.
Sitting well is an essential tool for surviving the modern lifestyle which often revolves around sitting in chairs. Learning to correct poor breathing habits & aligning the spine can fix much of what is hurting in the body.
Modern life with increased use of technology can lead to round shoulders, kyphosis & dowagers hump & premature ageing!
Contact me for an appointment if you would like to learn some simple tools to increase your awareness of how you are breathing & moving, so you can feel more at ease & comfortable in your own body, prevent dis-ease, & have more energy everyday.