Gypset

Canggu, Bali, August 2016

Buddhist Monastery, Banjar, Bali, August 2016

Yogi at Hindu Monastery, Kauai, Hawaii, March 2014

Having trouble sleeping? Can't stay asleep? These 10 MD-approved tips are actually proven to work

Article by Holistic Psychiatrist Ellen Vora MD

 

So you can't sleep? You're in good company (it impacts nearly everyone these days), but it's still a lousy problem. Chronic sleep deprivation can make you depressed, anxious, prone to getting sick, at higher risk for cancer, and it makes you more likely to gain weight and develop diabetes and dementia. And of course it doesn't feel good to be jolted awake by an alarm when your body is screaming: No! I haven't gotten enough sleep yet.

Let's try to solve this problem right here and now, in ten steps—because you're tired, and that's about all you can handle at the moment:

1. Get the phone out of the bedroom.

This is the single most effective change you can make. When we keep the phone on our bedside table, it's the last thing we look at before bed. The blue light from the screen jacks up your circadian rhythm, and the activities of the phone (dings, pings, stressful work email, addictive social media apps, the emotional roller coaster of online dating, riveting Netflix shows, and the existential angst of geopolitical news) does not cultivate a state of mind conducive to sleep. I know what you're gonna say: but it's my alarm clock! Cool, we've got a solution. Go and pick out a lovely little analog alarm clock, and once it arrives, that's the day you set up your charger outside of the bedroom and step into your new phone-free bedroom (and new life as a better sleeper).

2. Take magnesium.

I like magnesium glycinate for sleep.* Taking 400 to 600 milligrams at bedtime can be great for relaxing your mind and your muscles and helping you fall deep asleep.* Another good supplement to keep on hand is melatonin. I don't have my patients take this regularly, but it's a great tool for managing jet lag. Take it on an overnight flight (be sure to wear compression socks and walk around frequently), and take it at bedtime once you arrive at your destination.

3. Waking up in the middle of the night? Pay attention to your blood sugar.

Show of hands-—who here has difficulty staying asleep through the night? Do you wake up at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., jolted awake in a mild panic? This can have many underlying causes, from excessive stress to sleep apnea. But a common yet underappreciated cause is a dip in blood sugar. Because the modern American diet is built on a bedrock of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and—let's be honest—red wine, most of us ride around on a blood sugar roller coaster: Voracious hunger leads us to consume sweet, instantly gratifying food, which gives us a sugar high that leads to a sugar crash, which triggers voracious hunger…and so on and so forth.

The thing is, we're not immune to these sugar crashes in the middle of the night. And when they happen, it induces a stress response in your body. It's like being hangry, only you're asleep. Sleep hanger can jolt you awake and make you feel anxious, stressed, and wired.

Prevent sleep hanger by: a) transitioning your diet away from sugar and refined carbohydrates toward a Whole30 or paleo-template diet based on real food (meat, fish, eggs, poultry, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, fermented foods, healthy fats, and relying on starchy vegetables as your source of carbohydrate); b) take a spoonful of almond butter or coconut oil (not actually "pure poison") right before bed, and take another in the middle of the night if you wake up.

4. Think about your caffeine consumption—yes, actually.

I know you're inclined to skip this section because you're like: Duh, I know caffeine can keep you awake, but it's OK, I just have one or two innocent cups of coffee in the morning, and that coffee is part of my identity, so this is not gonna change.

The thing is, those innocent cups of coffee in the morning may still be contributing to your insomnia. Caffeine is slowly metabolized in the body, so even though you drink it in the morning, some of it is still buzzing around your brain at bedtime. It can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, and it can decrease the quality of your sleep.

You're an open-minded, flexible person, committed to wellness and up for a challenge, right? If you struggle with any aspect of sleep, it is worth your while to gradually reduce caffeine and see how you sleep and feel once you're down to zero caffeine. Zero caffeine?! Yes, zero caffeine. Some of us are sensitive. And anybody with sleep struggles has a pretty good chance of being one of those people. If anxiety is also your thing, the odds are even higher that you're sensitive to caffeine and it's affecting your sleep and your anxiety. Gradually decrease caffeine to zero over the course of a week or two, and behold how well you can sleep when caffeine isn't messing with your brain.

5. Try an earlier bedtime.

I know I didn't make any friends asking everyone to quit coffee, and now I'm just going to dig this hole deeper. You will sleep better if you go to bed earlier. The body likes to be in sync with the rhythms of the sun and moon. This used to be nearly unavoidable because the sun would set and things would get pretty dark, dangerous, and boring. Because of electricity, the modern evening is a high-voltage festival of light, from Instagram feeds to television shows.

Start to notice that your body experiences a wave of feeling tired approximately three hours after sunset. Shockingly, this is actually the appropriate bedtime, not midnight. Start to listen for your body's tired signs around 10/10:30 p.m., and take that as a cue to brush your teeth and crawl into your cozy bed. This will prevent your body from getting "overtired," when you release the stress hormone cortisol and hit a second wind of energy. When you try to push against cortisol to fall asleep, you toss and turn and your mind races. No fun. Prevent this by swooping yourself to bed at the sweet spot of tiredness, right around 10 p.m.

6. Be strategic about light.

Light is the primary cue for our circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). On the proverbial Savannah, this system was foolproof—after sunset, the only light you could see was fire and moonlight. Modern human life is an entirely different story—we spend our days sitting in windowless cubicle mazes, and then the evening is a Technicolor light show of phone, tablet, TV, and laptop screens, on a backdrop of overhead lighting and ambient light pollution outside our windows. Our body misses the cue that it's nighttime and we should feel sleepy. Get strategic to create Savannah light conditions in modern life.

Here's how: Get bright light during the day. Open your blinds as soon as you wake up, and be sure to spend at least some time every day outside in broad daylight.

And experience darkness at night. Dim the lights in your home after sunset, finish the night with a candlelit bath or by reading a paper book in bed by dim lighting. Set your phone on night shift mode and download f.lux on your computer to make the screens dimmer and less blue at night. If you're going to work on the computer, watch TV, or look at the phone at night, consider wearing glasses to block the circadian-disrupting blue light.

As thoroughly discussed above, don't bring the phone into the bedroom. In fact, try to get all electronics out of the bedroom. If your room isn't completely dark once you've turned out the lights, wear an eye mask to sleep or consider getting blackout shades (this ends up being less of an ordeal than it sounds). Finally, if you wake up in the middle of the night, try not to let your eyes "see" any light. You can install an orange night light in the bathroom and do the squinting shuffle, keeping your eyes mostly closed when you go to pee.

7. Consider alcohol.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that alcohol disrupts sleep architecture. Though it can make it easier to fall asleep, it decreases the quality of sleep and makes it harder to sleep through the night. We also wake up feeling less refreshed the morning after we've been drinking. Bring consciousness to your choices around alcohol. If sleep is a sore point for you, it's worth your while to limit alcohol to a drink or two a couple of nights of the week (or, hey, none at all?).

8. Try jujube.

Jujube is another supplement worth considering.* It’s a plant-based supplement with antioxidant properties that can also help with sleep, stress, anxiety and even digestive issues (i.e., all that ails us modern human people). It promotes sleep by modulating GABA and serotonin activity in the brain.* Just be sure to mention jujube to your doctor before starting it, since it can have interactions with other medications, and it can impact certain health conditions, such as diabetes.

9. Experiment with GABA.

Finally, GABA itself is a supplement worth considering.* While there’s no question that the neurotransmitter GABA has profound impacts on sleep, there is some debate about whether supplemental forms of GABA effectively cross the blood-brain-barrier—that is, do they really get to your brain and have an impact. High-quality GABA supplements attempt to address this by designing the GABA to cross into the brain.* There is some evidence that GABA supplements improve sleep, but it’s also possible that the supplements carry out their effect in other ways, such as impacting the gut microbiome to increase GABA.* Regardless, GABA is worth considering at doses around 100-200mg for insomnia after a conversation with your doctor about potential interactions.

10. Wind down.

We'll wind down this article with a final note about winding down in the evening. Too many of us are trying to eke out every last drop of productivity from our days, closing the laptop seconds before brushing our teeth, answering a final work email from bed, attempting to go 60 to zero from work mode to trying to fall asleep. It doesn't work. Think of it this way—your brain needs a little foreplay to fall asleep, and answering work emails or modeling something in Excel is not sexy.

Give yourself the gift of an hour, a half-hour, 10 minutes, even just five minutes—some amount of winding down before you hit the pillow. Good options include taking an Epsom salt bath by candlelight, reading a calming paper book in bed, journaling, doing a gratitude practice, or simply shutting down electronics, sitting in your living room, and listening to relaxing music you love. Bring intention to this. This will let your brain know it's time to transition into a different mindset.

I hope these ten steps have opened your eyes to some ideas you haven't heard before, and I hope these steps are approachable and attainable. If you put these changes into practice, you should begin to find it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.

 

Thanks mbghealth

November 2020

Peter Crone

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?! 

Much love, 
PC

By Julie Peters

It’s 4am. I’m spiraling deep into what I call the “nightmare fantasy”: imagining the absolute worst possible scenario, how I would react, what would happen next, and spiraling on and on into the hell of my imagination. 

I have an anxiety disorder that is mostly managed in large part thanks to yoga and meditation. Every now and then, however, something tips a few pebbles off my anxiety cliff and suddenly I’m in a 4am avalanche.

On this particular sleepless night, I could see myself overreacting. I thought, “You’re overreacting. Calm down.” I also know, though, that fighting like this can make the situation worse. So I stopped fighting. Then I went so deep down the catastrophizing rabbit hole that I bolted up and actually screamed out loud.

Has anyone ever told you to “just stop worrying?” In the yoga world, we can get the message that all we need to do for a happier life is to think positively, and if you ever have negative thoughts, you’re doing it wrong. From the Tantric yoga perspective, however, all experiences, including uncomfortable ones, have value, and there’s danger in only focusing on what’s pretty and sweet. Trying to convince yourself that everything is finewhen it’s not exacerbates, rather than abates, anxiety. You can’t “just” stop worrying.

Stress reactions come from your amygdala, the primal part of your brain that governs your nervous system. Your prefrontal cortex is the rational, conscious part of your brain. When you try to force yourself to calm down, your prefrontal cortex is trying to overpower your amygdala, which only ramps up the primal fear response. You can’t tell your amygdala what to do.

You can, however, acknowledge the disconnect. Yoga and meditation are useful in that they can teach us to wake up what’s called the buddhi mind, the mind that observes the mind. I had this part down: I could see the problem, but couldn’t stop it from happening. I needed some new tools, and I wasn’t getting them from yoga.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a technique that works from the premise that thoughts affect feelings which affect behaviours which affect thoughts and so on. It’s very challenging to change your feelings, but you can work with your thoughts and behaviours. When I see myself beginning to spiral, I can ask myself:

What thought is contributing to this feeling?

What evidence do I have that this thought is true?

What else could be going on?

What evidence do I have for those alternatives?

When I see myself internally reacting as if my worst fear is already happening, these questions can help me pause my nightmare fantasy and remember that other interpretations are also valid. I can hold the different possibilities and wait to react until I have more information. I can know that it’s okay to not know.

It’s not uncommon for yogis like me to get disillusioned when the initial euphoria of the practice wears off. The world doesn’t stop being confusing and cruel just because we decide to think positively. Stepping outside of my practice to learn these new techniques has actually returned me to my yoga: fundamentally, yoga teaches us to stay present with a rich and varied world and to honor the beauty and ugliness both inside and outside of ourselves. For me, this is much more interesting than insisting on living in a place that’s crowded with rainbows and flowers. This way, I can get back to sleep. Then I can do my yoga in the morning.

It's normal to be anxious, and it's normal to react poorly to anxiety in others! Here are some tips if you're around anxious children.

It's normal and healthy for children (and adults for that matter) to feel anxious from time to time. However, when your child gets caught in the worry cycle, ruminating on his thoughts, this can lead to some pretty intense emotional toxicity. Suddenly, what started out as a little stress turns into a rather strong narrative of helplessness, fear, and insecurity. What your child is worried about will likely dissipate, but as a parent, it can be very frustrating and anxiety-provoking to watch!

How you react can make a difference. The things you say and don’t say can either inflame or soothe your worried child. Here are three statements you might want to consider avoiding, along with three things to do instead:

1. Calm Down. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to calm down when I am upset it only makes me feel worse. Here's the thing: When you tell children to calm down, immediately they are going to translate that into "This person doesn’t understand, they think I am overreacting, or they assume it is my fault." 

As a result, children may get frustrated and angry because they feel you are taking sides or judging how they feel. They may become concerned that you will attempt to take over the situation, which in their minds will only make matters worse. Children who are anxious often report feeling out of control. When you attempt to take control of a situation by telling them to calm down, this can make them feel like they have lost control.

Instead: Rather than telling children to calm down, adults ought to focus more on calming themselves down. Once you feel the hairs sticking up on the back of your neck or tension in your face, this is a sign that you are going into reactivity. When you tell your child to calm down or chill out, this is a way you are attempting to manage your own anxiety. Instead, focus on your exhale while squeezing the muscles you use to hold your pee when you have to go to the bathroom. This will bring the tension down.

2. Don’t Worry About It. This statement can come off as condescending. While it might be a quick fix when your children are young, as they grow older they will catch on to you. For example, if they see that you struggle with worry, they are less likely to take your advice seriously. When you say "Don’t worry about it," it puts a strain on children to try to figure out how to let it go. I don’t know about you, but whenever I focus on attempting to let go of something it somehow intensifies the problem.

Instead: Focus on calm behavior. For example, rather than trying to figure out what to say, be an illustration for what you want your child to focus on. In this case, with a worried child you want them to focus on calming down. So rather than saying "Don’t worry about it," instead listen with full attention in a calm way. 

3. Take a Breath. While it may seem like teaching your child to take a deep breath would be the right thing to do, the challenge is that anxious children are likely to take a dramatic inhale or resist their breath altogether. Breathing as a tool for calming down is a skill you develop. Without some guidance, children are likely to make their anxiety worse. This is because when you take a quick inhale, you can inflate the upper chest, making symptoms worse! This will make it less likely your child will use that strategy in the future.

Instead: Ease your way into breathing. For example, if your child is worked up, consider going for a stroll, swinging on a swing set, or offering your child a nice glass of cold water. Mindful practices such as these teach your child that calming down is a process not a quick fix. When we are quick to react with statements such as "Take a breath," this sends a message to your child that calming down should be quick and easy.

Rest assured that most of what your children are worried about now will at some point in the future be another hurdle they have crossed. While that might seem hard to picture when you are in the throes of anxiety, on the other side of all those worries are opportunities for you and your child to develop a sense of faith, trust, and patience for the process. So rather than getting caught up in what you will say, instead choose to be present to the situation without having to come up with the perfect words to change or alter the situation. Once the two of you feel settled and connected, then you can move on to coming up with solutions and ideas that may help.


By Sherianna Boyle
 

 

 

Beautiful female feet at spa soaking for foot care

Getty/Pakorn_Khantiyaporn

“How can you help yourself feel a sense of calm, reassurance, and peace? The answer is at your feet. Literally.”

Have you been feeling a little uncertain lately? Perhaps you are nervous about where the world is heading and whether coronavirus will ever go away. 

You are not alone. As reported information changes daily, even the most knowledgeable authority figures are showing signs of uncertainty. So what do you do when things are moving in a direction you are unsure of? How can you help yourself feel a sense of calm, reassurance, and peace? 

The answer is at your feet. Literally.

For thousands of years, yogis and spiritual and religious leaders have looked at rituals such as washing your feet or walking barefoot to symbolize high consciousness, connection, honor, and purification. 

Think of your feet as the way you make contact with the ground, grounding you. Anytime you notice and pay attention to sensing and feeling the Earth, you become more present to the here and now. When practiced on a regular basis, paying attention to your feet can help you feel safe, calm, and centered. 

Here are four ways to get started:

1. Root. Since so many of us are now working from home, it can be easy to lie on your couch with your ankles crossed, reading and sending emails. Notice the workspace you have set up for yourself, and pay attention to whether you are spending long periods of time (hours) with your feet off the floor or crossed. Be sure to switch positions (whether you are watching television or working) so that your feet have more opportunities to touch the ground. 

2. Massage. Using nonsynthetic essential oils (such as lavender) or cream, take some time daily to massage your ankles and the soles of your feet. The soles of your feet contain many energy centers and points that, when activated, help you cleanse and receive healing Earth energy, which can help balance your nervous system by moving stuck energy and emotions naturally.

3. Stretch. Just like it’s important to stretch your shoulders and back, your feet also need to be lengthened and breathed into on a regular basis. Yoga poses such as Downward Dog & YogAlign Toe Weave will help.  Breathe into these poses for three to five breaths (inhale and exhale using the YogAlign SIP Breath). 

4. Soak. Invigorate and cleanse your feet by soaking them in warm epsom salt (or sea salt) water (you may also soak them in the ocean or a foot bath container). Salt has magnesium, which can be very calming and healing to the body. 

by Sherianna Boyle

 

 

 

 

Progesterone is one of our key sex hormones and its name gives some indication of what it does in the body (think ‘pro-gestation’). Yet it plays a key role in so much more than fertility. In fact, progesterone is a substance that every woman needs to know about, regardless of whether pregnancy is on her agenda or not, because of its many biological effects.

Progesterone production that is far from ideal is, unfortunately, very common and it’s likely that you have experienced this at some point in your life—if not right now. When we’re not making optimal amounts of progesterone, this can contribute to a range of challenging symptoms in the lead up to and/or during menstruation. The reason for this is because progesterone helps to counterbalance estrogen. So, when we have poor progesterone production, this can tip the delicate balance of our sex hormones—and our body lets us know about it.

Progesterone has a number of important functions in the body. It supports the body’s fluid balance to prevent you from feeling puffy and swollen, and it helps to hold the lining of the uterus in place so that you don’t experience excessively heavy or prolonged bleeding. Not to mention it has anti-anxiety and antidepressant actions, making it a pretty powerful substance that we don’t want to be lacking.

When progesterone is low, signs and symptoms can include:

  • Very heavy periods
  • Spotting for a number of days leading up to your period
  • Bloating and fluid retention
  • PMS—especially anxious feelings and irritability leading up to your period
  • You may feel like you can’t get your breath past your heart or like your heart is racing in the lead up to menstruation
  • Irregular periods
  • Missing periods (and pregnancy is ruled out)
  • A short luteal phase, which sometimes shows up as a shorter cycle—there’s not enough progesterone to hold the lining of the uterus in place
  • A longer cycle, which means an increased number of days between ovulations.

How your body makes progesterone

During the menstruation years, progesterone is predominantly made by the ovaries in a cyclical manner, and much smaller amounts are made by the adrenal glands across your life. The trigger for ovarian progesterone production is ovulation so if we don’t ovulate, we don’t make it. Once ovulation occurs, a temporary gland called the corpus luteum forms in the ovary where the egg was released from. The corpus luteum produces progesterone from that point (after ovulation) up to just before you get your next period and this phase of the cycle is called the luteal phase.

For ease of understanding, the luteal phase is often referred to as the second half of your cycle (think ‘l’ for last half). However, this isn’t technically correct for every woman as depending on her cycle length, the two phases (the follicular phase and the luteal phase) may not be equal halves—their durations can differ. The luteal phase is ideally about two weeks long and progesterone levels peak at the mid-point of this, so this is why if you are having a blood test for progesterone it is best done about seven days before you get your period (so day 21 if your cycle is 28 days long).

What interferes with great progesterone production?

As you now understand, regular ovulation is essential for a woman to produce enough progesterone during her menstruation years. If you aren’t ovulating or you ovulate infrequently, it’s incredibly important to get to the heart of why this is. Commonly, this can be linked to chronic stress or worry, a frantic pace of life, inadequate rest, not feeling ‘safe’ (whatever this means to an individual) physically or emotionally, not eating enough and/or excessive exercise. These are all forms of stress to the body and increase stress hormone production. Not only can chronic stress lead to anovulatory cycles which means no ovarian progesterone production, but it can also contribute to scenarios where ovulation occurs but progesterone production is suboptimal.

Stress is a major contributing factor to low progesterone because of its link to fertility (because your progesterone levels surge after an egg becomes available). If the body is getting the message that your life is in danger—which is what too many stress hormones communicate—the last thing it wants is for you to potentially conceive at a time it perceives as dangerous, as this could mean the baby might be at risk. So, your body thinks it is doing you a favour by downregulating fertility during times of high stress. Processes that aren’t essential to our survival (such as reproductive function) are not prioritised when the body is putting all of its resources into keeping us alive.

There are also life stages where we are more susceptible to irregular ovulation and low progesterone, such as puberty and perimenopause. These are transition phases and it is normal for ovulation to be less regular during these seasons of our life. While many women experience challenging symptoms during perimenopause, it’s important to know that there are things you can do to support your body and experience a gentler transition. During this time, it’s even more important to take great care of yourself in terms of your nourishment and stress management, as excess stress hormone production—which can be driven by worrying, rushing and feelings of overwhelm, daily alcohol consumption over an extended period of time, restrictive dieting or excessive exercise—can still contribute to anovulatory cycles, irregular periods and low progesterone during this life stage.

That said, irregular ovulation or a lack of ovulation can also sometimes occur with other conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid dysfunction. If you experience unexplained irregular periods or if your periods have gone missing (and you are not using a type of hormonal contraception that causes this), it’s important to check in with your doctor. For more on hormonal contraception and its influence on progesterone production, you might like to read this blog here on the OCP or this one here on the Mirena.

What about progesterone post-menopause?

Progesterone levels are naturally low post-menopause as ovulation is no longer occurring and women in this life stage don’t have the cyclical sex hormone fluctuations that characterise the menstruation years. The adrenal glands become the primary source of progesterone post-menopausally, and these important glands are also tasked with making our stress hormones. Incorporating strategies to help reduce and manage stress or worry, such as daily breath-focused practices and getting to the heart of what stress really is for an individual so you are able to make fewer stress hormones in the first place, is incredibly supportive for women post-menopause and can truly make a difference in how you feel day-to-day.    

 
 
What happens when we meditate? The answer will be different for each person.
However, here are four things many people report when they meditate:
1. Time takes on a new experience that is easier, more relaxing, and more fluid as you experience the present moment.
2. You are able to have more compassion for yourself and others. The critical voice in your head shifts into a more patient and kind voice.
3. You experience more inner and outer forgiveness.
4. Thoughts start to be noticed as separate from who you are. This means a lot less anxiety gets stirred up, because you don’t believe every fearful thought that shows up in your mind.
You can start to feel these benefits right away.
Thanks Magali Peysha
How do you experience the world through your senses & thoughts?
Choose to have awareness about where your focus is.
Daily practice of yoga & meditation assists with mindfulness.
The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.

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.

 

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 
Enhances concentration 
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!

 

By Kayse Budd, M.D., Holistic Psychiatrist, Astrologer, Poet, and Educator

 May 2020

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.

Psychological Perspectives

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.

  1. Choose to accept the self exactly as it is—with the parents, the body, and the circumstances present. Trust that things are as they are for a reason, even if you do not understand it. Few people live up to the exact ideal they have for themselves. To be happy, you have to choose to care for (and eventually love) yourself as you are, including your perceived flaws and difficulties.
  2. Make constant inquiry into your mind and heart. Be mindful of your emotions throughout the day. This could mean catching a stream of negative self-talk and substituting more supportive affirmations (classic cognitive therapy and pratipaksha-bhavana in ancient yogic philosophy). It could also mean changing what you are doing (behavioral therapy).
  3. Honor your yes and no. A factor in many cases of depression involves not honoring your truth. The question“What do I want (right now)?” is important. Take action to follow things that feel aligned with your authentic yes. Say no to things that feel uncomfortable in your body or heart.
  4. Take responsibility for your choices. If you feel your goals and wishes (your “yesses”) are being rejected—by life, yourself, partner, or family—you often end up unhappy. This is a complex issue, however. Dreams and wishes are not always straightforward. “Yes” is not always crystal clear. It is important to acknowledge this. Otherwise, you can mistakenly blame other people for your choices and your happiness. Remember: You need challenges to develop specific strengths, which are the fuel for spiritual growth. In turn, you can help others in similar situations.
  5. See the self holistically. All seemingly negative traits have positive aspects. The core qualities of people’s most “negative” traits are often tied to their greatest strengths. As a psychiatrist who is also an astrologer, I have found several patterns of susceptibility to depression in people’s astrological charts. Saturn (order, restriction, heaviness) is usually involved, as is Pluto (intensity, transformation, obsession). A prominent Saturn may make someone depression-prone, but it also makes them conscientious, reliable, and capable—very useful traits.  A prominent Pluto can make a person depressed but also determined, resilient, and charismatic.

Ayurvedic Perspectives

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.

Kapha Depression

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:

  • Thirty minutes of yoga daily (especially Sun Salutations)
  • Thirty minutes of outdoor exercise daily (start gentle and increase to moderate intensity). Spend time in nature at least once a week.
  • Increase fresh vegetables in your diet. Reduce processed foods and sugars (including alcohol, which is a depressant).
  • Eat warm, spicy meals. Reduce cold food and smoothies. Add pungent, warming herbs such as cayenne and cinnamon to meals.
  • Consider fresh-squeezed veggie juice to help the body detoxify. A program of physician-supervised cleansing (called panchakarma in Ayurveda) could be helpful.
  • Consume ginger tea morning and night. (Cut and boil a 2–3-inch piece of organic ginger. Steep 20 minutes.) Also helpful for Vata depression.
  • Take 350–400 mg of the herb ashwagandha morning and night. Ashwagandhaenhances thyroid function, and supplementing the thyroid is a standard adjunct treatment for depression within Western psychiatry. Caution for Pitta dosha or Pitta-type depression (see below), as increased thyroid activity could actually worsen agitation in that population. Ashwagandha is helpful for Vata, however.
  • Consume 1 teaspoon dulse, nori, wakame, or other seaweed three times per week. Seaweeds can cause a subtle increase in energy, metabolism, and body temperature with a possible slight reduction in depression.
  • Take 20–30 mg/day of the spice saffron.
    • Use caution and discuss with your physician if already on an SSRI or other pharmaceutical.
  • Perform a daily self-massage (abhyanga) with a warming oil, such as sesame. Massageis known to reduce cortisol levels and increase serotonin/dopamine, making it a useful practice for depression.
  • Consider 120–250 mg/morning of the herb Rhodiola.
    • Use caution/discuss with your physician if on SSRIs.
  • Consider taking 500–2,000 mg/day of cardamom. Cardamom reduces inflammation, congestion, and mucus throughout the body (possibly also helping irritable bowel or inflammatory bowel disorder). It has an indirect effect on depression.
  • Avoid binge-watching, excessive internet use, and similar sedentary activities, as these promote Kapha accumulation.
  • Clean the house, make the bed, bathe, and get dressed daily. Set a commitment for social interaction one to three times/week. Taking action to promote vitality is essential.

Pitta Depression

Like Pitta imbalancePitta 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:

  • Twenty to thirty minutes of slow, restorative yoga daily. Avoid hot yoga and excessively vigorous exercise.
  • Meditate for 20 minutes daily, possibly under a tree in nature.
  • Walk by the ocean, a lake, or a stream for at least 30–60 minutes a day. Water is cooling for Pitta.
  • Increase alkalinity in the body through green drinks, salads, and fresh vegetables.
  • Increase cooling foods, such as fresh fruit and smoothies.
  • Avoid spicy food, which imbalances Pitta.
  • Avoid alcohol during healing (and be mindful afterward). Alcohol is acidic, which aggravates Pitta.
  • Aloe vera juice can be helpful to Pitta. One cup or more per day is cooling and anti-inflammatory. Since inflammation is a factor in many cases of depression, there is a probable indirect effect on depression.
  • Consider taking 400–800 mg/day of the herb shatavari (asparagus racemosus). It is a cooling herb with a balancing effect for Pitta. In Ayurveda, balancing the doshas impacts the mood.
  • Bacopa is another Pitta-balancing herb with promise regarding depression. This herb is also being studied for schizophrenia, ADHD/focus, memory, epilepsy, and anxiety. Start with 350–400 mg/day to start; work up to 800 mg/day, if well tolerated.
  • Ginkgo is a cooling herb best known for its neuroprotective benefits; aim for 120–240 mg/day. It seems these do extend (at least partially) to mood.
    • Do not take if you are on a blood thinner, including aspirin, or if you have been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder.
  • Begin daily consumption of cilantro (a handful/day) and coriander seed (1 teaspoon/meal). Both are cooling, and cilantro is detoxifying, especially for heavy metals. Five to 10 chlorella (edible algae) tablets optimize the effect.
  • Consider an organized cleansing program, including liver support herbs.
  • Sweet tastes and fragrances such as rose and other flowers balance Pitta. (Lavender and rose aromatherapy improved depression and anxiety in a group of post-partum women vs. control.) Rose essential oil diffused daily or used on the skin with a carrier oil may help balance Pitta (and Vata).
  • The Ayurvedic herb arjuna can be helpful to balance sadhaka Pitta, the aspect of Pittathat governs emotions. Arjuna has a long history of use for various dysfunctions of the heart muscle (heart failure, palpitations, hypertension), but it also seems to have an emotionally soothing aspect. Take 500–1,000mg/day.

Vata Depression

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:

  • Aim for 15–30 minutes yoga daily, followed by 15–30 minutes of seated meditation. Routine and discipline are very helpful for Vata.
  • Loneliness is common in Vata depression, so commit to at least one social activity/week.
  • Connection to nature is crucial due to the inherently ungrounded qualities of Vata. Spending 30 minutes or more outside every day—sitting on the ground, touching a tree, or gardening—can be highly therapeutic.
  • Increase consumption of warm, nourishing whole foods such as soup, kitchari, and baked vegetables. Avoid dry, processed food (chips, crackers) and reduce cold foods (salads, smoothies).
  • Drink 2 tablespoons of loose tulsi (holy basil) tea three or four times a day. Alternatively, take 800–-1,000 mg/day in capsule form.
  • The Western herbal treatment St. John’s Wort can be helpful for this kind of depression, as well as the Kapha type. In terms of qualities, St. John’s Wort is bitter and pungent. Because bitterness can aggravate Vata, start with a small dose (300 mg/day). With Kapha symptoms, the dose may need to be higher: 300 mg two or three times per day. This herb stabilizes prana Vata, the aspect of Vata that governs the brain and neurotransmitters.
    • Do not take this supplement with birth control pills. It can render oral contraception ineffective because it speeds up hormone processing in the liver.
    • Do not take if on an SSRI, unless under the guidance of an experienced physician.
  • Passionflower is a wonderful supplement, especially in conjunction with St. John’s Wort. Passionflower is calming to the nervous system, which is why it is included in the Vata section. It has ever-increasing evidence supporting its use for anxiety. Paired with St. John’s Wort, the effect is synergistic: greater benefit for both anxiety and depression than either used alone. By pure Ayurvedic qualities, this herb could also help Pittadepression; aim for a dosage between 400–800 mg/day.
  • Chamomile is worth considering for Vata-type depression. High doses may be a bit drying, but at moderate doses, the soothing effect predominates. It is evidence-based for anxiety, and new studies suggest it may have anti-depressant effects as well, at doses of  250–500 mg/day.
  • The Ayurvedic herb jatamansi has a long history of use as a Vata-balancer with doses ranging from 450-1,000 mg/day. It is commonly used for anxiety and sleep. It may have some mild anti-depressant benefits as well.
  • Ashwagandha was discussed in the Kapha section, but it is also an effective balancer of Vata. Thus, it deserves to be part of the Ayurvedic approach to either Vata or Kaphadepression between 350–800 mg/day.
  • Gotu kola can be beneficial to all of the doshas, but since it perhaps has the strongest evidence for use with anxiety, it is included here. There are no studies (yet) looking at gotu kola for depression in humans, but there are several rodent studies suggesting benefit; consider a dose of 700–1,400 mg/day.
  • Daily probiotics are beneficial for all doshas, especially Vata and Kapha since they have naturally weaker digestion compared to Pitta. The data is resoundingly favorable and becomes even more so if specific strains of bacteria are ingested. B. longumL. rhamnosusL. reuteri, and L. helveticus are several that have been found especially helpful.
  • Turmeric has received much publicity due to its extensive scientifically documented success with depression at doses of 1,500–2,000 mg/day. Take with black pepper. Prolonged high doses may be aggravating for Vata and Pitta, but temporary use is helpful for all doshas.
  • Practice daily self-massage with a warming oil (sesame or almond).
  • Encourage restful sleep with bedtime around 10 p.m. Use herbs to support this, if needed. Ashwagandha, passionflower, tulsi, and jatamansi can help.

Spiritual Perspectives

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. 

 

 

By Breanna Pereira, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer and NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach - May 2020

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.

Overcoming the Stigmas Around Mental Health

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.

1. Read

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 haReading at homeve helped to provide that for me:

2. Journal

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.

3. Exercise

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.

4. MeditateAt home workout

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.

 

See the beauty everywhere

Witnessing this beauty generates love 

Be pure love

 

If you need some guidance in managing your stress levels during this time of transition, I am seeing clients in my studio for private consultations, now we are in level two.

Message, phone or email if you would like to know more.

In love & light Leonie

 

 

Why Loneliness Is A Public Health Issue


When we think about health, we usually think about diet and exercise. We think about the things we are doing for our physical body to promote wellness. But what about the things we can’t see? 

Relationships are a big one. And we now know that loneliness and social isolation are as dangerous for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! That’s an incredible comparison; one that hopefully puts into perspective how vital healthy relationships and human connection are to our wellbeing and longevity. 

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I talk with Dr. Vivek Murthy about nurturing greater connection and what it means for our health. 

Dr. Murthy served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States between 2014-2017. As the Vice Admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers globally. During his tenure, Dr. Murthy launched the TurnTheTide campaign, catalyzing a movement among health professionals to address the nation’s opioid crisis. He also issued the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, calling for expanded access to prevention and treatment and for recognizing addiction as a chronic illness, not a character flaw. 

In 2017, Dr. Murthy focused his attention on chronic stress and loneliness as prevalent problems that have profound implications for health, productivity, and happiness. His book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World was just published on April 28th.

Some of us might wonder how we break out of a rut of loneliness—as busy adults this can sometimes feel especially difficult. Dr. Murthy walks us through some really simple ways to get more connected. Service is one way, which actually stimulates the reward center of the brain and promotes feel-good chemicals. That means devoting some time to helping others in one way or another is actually beneficial to our own personal wellness goals. 

Another step we can take is committing just ten to fifteen minutes a day to talking to someone we love, which is a powerful way to keep ourselves happy and connected during this time of coronavirus quarantine. Pick up the phone, schedule a video call, or sit down with someone in your family and have a real conversation (without the distraction of screens) about what’s going on with you. Chances are if you open up, they will too, and you’ll both be healthier for it. 

Instead of thinking of just the right inputs for health, I invite you to think about what you can give back and how you can reach out to others.

I hope you’ll tune in to this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy to think more deeply about your relationships and how to prevent loneliness, even if you’re currently alone at home. 

Wishing you health and happiness, 
Mark Hyman, MD
 



Click here to listen on the web

What can I do to support & love my body?

 

Breathe work - breathe is key & free! A negative thought or belief will have an effect on your physical body.  With this awareness, focus on the following. 

 

Place your hands on your heart and take 3 deep breathes, this will help calm your sympathetic nervous system & bring you into the present moment. 

 

Count to 4 while you inhale through your nose

Hold your breath while counting to 7

Count to 8 as you slowly exhale through your mouth

This helps you to release any fear, anxiety, tension, or energy that’s not serving you.

 

Repeat at least 2 more rounds, tuning into your body.

Carry on, for a few more deep breathes, if you feel you need too, your body will thank you for it.

 

Be gentle on yourself.  If breathe work is new to you, start off slowly.

Try doing this once a day either first thing when you rise or before you to to bed.

It's the little daily gifts to yourself, that create big shifts in your wellness.

 

Mahalo 

 

 

Let’s unite with an open heart for a global peace meditation today
at 2.45pm NZST Sunday 5th April 2020
www.globalpeacemeditation.com 

 

 

It is our innate nature to want to survive, alleviate the stress & thrive.  We need to honor our bodies through our everyday, healthy choices, and find some deeper sense of peace.

 

We need to find acceptance of our current situation rather than resist it. 

 

Over the last several days I have been feeling rather distracted and scattered with my hyperactive mind. I have tried to collate information from my own experiences, and so many others, to share, and to help empower you to take an active role in your wellness. This way you are able to take some practical steps to give yourself a greater sense of ease.

 

This list of symptoms is taken from Gregg Braden’s You Tube video Truth and Fiction Coronavirus, which I would highly recommend, to give you some clarity around the global pandemic and what actions to take.

 

I would also like to express thanks to all those who have imparted science, ancient wisdom and generous support and love, of whom there are many.

 

“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Hippocrates

 

Some tips to help you support & maintain your optimal wellness

 

Set your intention to gain & maintain your optimal wellness.

 

Common Sense

.        wash and dry your hands after touching surfaces 

.           cover for a cough or sneeze 

.           if you are sick stay at home

.           social distancing NOT social isolation – call people especially the elderly 

 

Your Natural Defenses

Your body knows what to do! When we support our body for what it is designed to do. Honor your body.

.           strengthen your immune system

.           relieve stress

.           good sleep habits

.           movement and exercise

.           nutrition & supplements

.           communication, collaboration & community

 

 

Tools – What can I do to support & love my body?

 

Breathe work - breathe is key & free! A negative thought or belief will have an effect on your physical body.  With this awareness try the following: (there are many more examples of breathe work):

To help calm the sympathetic nervous system place your hands on your heart and take 3 deep breathes:

Count to 4 while you inhale

Hold your breathe while counting to 7

Count to 8 as you slowly exhale, helping to release any fear & anxiety, or energy that’s not serving you.

Repeat at least 2 more rounds, tuning into your body, and carry on for as long as you feel you need to.

 

Movement, exercise, dance, sing, play – do what ever brings you joy! Crank up the music.

 

Nature Heals – get into the outdoors as often as you are able.

 

Nutrition – stay hydrated & eat as many wholefoods as you can – local, seasonal, unprocessed, living, nutrient dense, high fibre, organic/spray free/GM free when possible.  Stimulate your sense of smell & taste, & support your well-being with herbs and spices.  Plant a garden, even if you only have room for a few pots.

Ask your health practitioner regarding health supplements to support your optimal wellness & boost your immunity ie vitamin C, Zinc, anti-viral preparations.

“If there is only one thing you can do to have a healthier body is to have a healthier gut.  There is nothing more powerful to protect you than to have a healthy micro biome, or there is nothing more powerful than to have a healthier micro biome, to have a healthier brain function.” Dr Mark Hyman

“We are the health of all our cells. “ Dr Libby Weaver

 

Surrender & self-love practices like yoga, meditation, try to be patient and present (being mindful), express gratitude for what you do have. Listen to your intuition, your innate self, where the true wisdom lies. Emotional Freedom Technique – tapping on meridian points on the body, derived from acupuncture, can release energy blockages that can cause negative emotions.  There are lots of great sites and videos offering you various yoga, breathing, tapping & meditation practices. 

 

Social connection – have clear boundaries, beware of the conversations you have, choose carefully who you spend your free time with, & avoid too much media.  Show compassion and kindness to yourself, family, friends and the wider community.  “Community builds Immunity” Dr LeRoy.  Connect with people and share.

 

Be gentle on yourself – it’s OK to feel anxious, angry, afraid or unsafe. Allow yourself to express your feelings, and then practice some self-love.  Try to minimize or remove triggers that stress you. Take control of your mind, adjust your thoughts & perspective of your experiences – what’s the benefits in this I’m not seeing? Ensure you have daily expressions of gratitude.

 

Create a bedtime ritual – try to clear your mind prior to going to bed ie turn off IT by 7pm – phone, computer, TV.  Try journaling, reading, a bath in Epsom salts & essential oils, a foot soak in a bucket if you don’t have a bath, self massage or offer to give a massage, listen to your circadian rhythm, eat at regular times, & rise with the sun, & sleep as soon after sunset as your routine allows.  These sorts of practices will help you slip into the parasympathetic nervous system with more ease, enabling your body to rest, digest, reproduce & rejuvenate.

 

Tweak you personal hygiene habits including cleaning – door handles, key boards, phones, steering wheels, kitchen benches, bathrooms, etc.  Wash hand towels, tea towels, towels, clothes, etc, regularly. Use antiseptic solutions – you can make your own with essential oils – recipes on the internet. 

 

More words from Gregg Braden

What can we expect? It depends on our response – individually & collectively.  We are now beyond the containment window. 

Mitigation phase – defined: The action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something.

 

When we are self-isolating ourselves we are giving a gift to ourselves and others, to reflect, find peace, heal and express gratitude.

 

A New Normal:

.           shifts in society

.           shifts in economies (sharing of vital resources)

.           shifts in lifestyle – more localized.

 

An awakening of Consciousness – supported by so many beautiful beings. 

 

This is an opportunity to love more, serve, and support.  

 

Keep shining your own unique and bright light.

 

In health & happiness Leonie Main

 

 

 

Three Ways To Avoid Age-Related Circadian Rhythm Disruption

Dr Christiane Northrup MD

Occasional problems with sleep are common at midlife, often secondary to hot flashes and night sweats, or anxiety and depression—which often occur together in midlife women. Between 20 and 40 percent of women have sleep disorders, and women in perimenopause often need more sleep and suffer from insomnia more often than do men of the same age.

When we don’t get sufficient sleep, we not only become tired and irritable, but we are more accident-prone and exhibit decreased concentration, efficiency, and work motivation. Inadequate sleep can cause errors in judgment. Plus, lack of sleep causes stress hormones to rise, which over time can disrupt hormonal balance and depress the immune system. Too little sleep over time can put you at greater risk for obesityheart disease, and diabetes.

Sleep is also critical for consolidation of learning and memory, and it serves as a way to help us sort out in our minds and bodies the things we have learned and experienced during the day. In fact, studies have linked a nightly battle with insomnia to memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s, not to mention other brain disorders, including Parkinson’s.

Why You Can’t Sleep at Midlife

Hot flashes and night sweats are by far the most common reasons for sleep deprivation at midlife. In many women at menopause, the brain chemicals that are important for sleep undergo changes, making our bodies become less efficient at falling into a deep sleep – the sleep that is associated with the release of human growth hormone and memory consolidation, and that is essential for feeling rested in the morning — and more easily aroused by internal or external stimuli.

Your ability to sleep is also profoundly affected by your feelings. At midlife, many women experience increased demands at work and at home. Insomnia and hot flashes are exacerbated by underlying unresolved and unprocessed emotions, such as stress, anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger, and the unfinished business that fuels these symptoms, creating a perfect storm for poor sleep.

9 Natural Sleep Aids for Insomnia

Natural sleep aids can help with occasional midlife sleep problems. But, it’s important to remember that some natural sleep aids bind to the same place in the brain as prescription sleep drugs. And, like prescription drugs, natural sleep aids can lose their effectiveness over time. Be sure to consult your physician before taking any supplements.

2% progesterone cream. Try bioidentical progesterone cream. Use one-quarter to one-half teaspoon at bedtime on skin. Progesterone binds to the GABA receptors in the brain and has a calming effect.

Pueraria mirifica. This herb has been used in Thailand for over 700 years to help women quell perimenopausal symptoms. It’s ability to interact with the body’s own estrogen to help diminish hot flashes makes it excellent for calming the mind and body at night.

Amantilla and Babuna. These natural medicines originate from the valerian plant (Valeriana officinalis) and the flower of the manzanilla plant (Matricaria recutita, commonly known as chamomile), respectively. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled multicentered study, Amantilla was 82.5 percent effective in helping patients sleep, while Babuna was 68.8 percent effective. On nights when you’re keyed up, try 15 drops of Babuna thirty minutes before going to bed, followed by 15 drops of Amantilla at bedtime.

Valerian. Look for valerian (Valeriana officinalis) in capsule form, as it has a bad taste. The dosage is 150–300 mg of a product standardized to 0.8% valerenic acid. Use one hour before bedtime.

Melatonin. Melatonin is secreted by the brain’s pineal gland in response to cycles of light and darkness. It helps your body regulate its sleep-wake cycles, so it can be good for travel-related insomnia. Natural melatonin secretion is also affected by depression, shift work, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The usual dose is 0.5–3.0 mg, taken one hour before bedtime.

5–HTP. 5-HTP (5–hydroxytryptophan) increases serotonin, which is converted to melatonin. This is why 5-HTP may be helpful for sleep pattern disruption, as well as PMS and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The starting dose is 100 mg, three times per day. Gradually increase over several months to 200 mg, three times per day.

Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is associated with insomnia. Most people, especially women, have less-than-optimal magnesium levels. If you experience restless sleep or wake up frequently during the night, adding magnesium may help you sleep more soundly.

Magnolia bark. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, magnolia bark is used to promote relaxation and sleep, as well as to ease anxiety and stress by lowering adrenaline. Research shows that magnolia bark can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep and can increase the amount of time you spend in both REM sleep and NREM sleep. For people with anxiety, magnolia bark can be as effective as the drug diazepam without the risks of dependency or side effects. The standard dosage is around 250 – 500 mg daily with a higher dosage recommended for improving sleep.

L-Theanine. This amino acid found in tea leaves increases the levels of GABA, serotonin, and dopamine – calming neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, sleep, and energy. Increased levels of these chemicals help with sleep, as well as menopause-related mood swings, difficulty concentrating and changes to appetite during menopause.

Be sure to avoid prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications. They are habit-forming and lose their effectiveness over time as the brain builds up a tolerance so that you need more and more to get the same effect. If you do use them, make sure you use it for no longer than 7 to 10 consecutive days. Over-the-counter sleep remedies are troublesome, too, because they interfere with the production of the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is very important for memory. The use of these drugs over time can cause serious memory problems and confusion

15 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

  1. Take a good multivitamin/mineral daily.Taking nutritional supplements can contribute greatly to your overall health. When you are in good health, you have a better likelihood of sleeping without disturbances, including those caused by medications and pain. In addition to a multivitamin and mineral supplement, you may want to take an antioxidant supplement daily.
  2. Avoid alcohol.While you may fall asleep quickly after drinking, alcohol can interrupt your circadian rhythm. Another reason you don’t sleep well when you drink alcohol is because alcohol blocks REM sleep, the most restorative type of sleep, so you wake up feeling groggy. Finally, alcohol reduces anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) so you may have to get up to urinate during the night.
  3. Limit caffeine. Women metabolize caffeine much more slowly than men. Even one cup of coffee in the morning can affect your sleep quality later if you are sensitive.
  4. Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can improve the quality and quantity of sleep. Being physically active can make you feel more tired at bedtime. In addition, exercise can reduce stress levels, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. Mind-body exercises such as gentle yoga can help quiet the parasympathetic nervous system, which can help you relax before bed. Just don’t exercise vigorously within three to six hours of bedtime.
  5. Get a good quality mattress. Be sure your mattress supports you and does not cause any stress on your joints. A good mattress is worth the investment—you spend a third of your life asleep!
  6. Sleep in a dark room. Excess light in your bedroom – such as the artificial light emitted from streetlights, televisions, or smartphones and other devices – can disrupt your circadian rhythm by suppressing the production of melatonin.
  7. Follow a low-glycemic diet. High blood sugar and insulin are often associated with poor sleep because they are associated with high cortisol levels at night. When cortisol is high at night, your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is disrupted. This can leave you feeling unrefreshed, no matter how many hours of sleep you get.
  8. Don’t eat before bed. There are a number of reasons why eating a large meal before bed isn’t the best idea, including the possibility of weight gain if you do this regularly. In addition, your body digests food better when you are upright. So, lying down to sleep after a heavy meal may cause you to experience heartburn or acid reflux. Since it takes about 3 hours for your stomach to empty after a meal, a good rule of thumb is to stop eating at least 3 hours before bed. However, a light snack (one high in protein and low in refined carbohydrates) is okay and may even help some people sleep better.
  9. Stop Drinking Water. While you want to be optimally hydrated at all times, drinking a lot of water before bed may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, which causes a big disruption to your sleep cycles. Try to drink (and eat) more water during the day and less late at night. If you do need some water, take small sips rather than big gulps.
  10. Tidy Up. I’m not suggesting that you clean your entire house top to bottom. But, straightening up, washing the dinner dishes, preparing your kitchen for your morning routine, or putting away your clothes can be great ways to bring your attention to the moment. Plus, having a tidy house can reduce cortisol levels, helping you to feel more relaxed.
  11. Make a to-do list. If you tend to worry about things you need to do tomorrow while lying in bed, it helps to write them down before going to sleep. You may also want to leave a pen and a piece of paper next to your bed so if you wake up and think of something you forgot, you can jot it down. (You can also write down your dreams.)
  12. Stay calm. Don’t watch the news (or disturbing movies) before bed—it activates the sympathetic nervous system. For the same reason, try not to have emotionally distressing conversations near bedtime, and try not to stew over things. (If you find you are turning things over and over in your mind, get out of bed and do something else relaxing, such as taking a bath or reading a good book for a while).
  13. Wind down: Establishing a ritual that helps you wind down before bed can help to signal your mind and body that it’s time for sleep. Change into your PJs and get completely ready for bed at least half an hour before you climb between the sheets.
  14. Shut off all electronics. The blue light that comes off screens mimics the light of full daylight, which can affect melatonin production and disrupt your sleep patterns. Plus, checking email and social media before bed can cause overthinking and increase stress and worry when you are trying to go to sleep.
  15. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps to decrease stress levels and increase relaxation, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. You can practice mindfulness by sitting quietly, stretching, or gently practicing yoga, or reciting affirmations before bed.

3 Ways to Avoid Circadian Rhythm Disruption at Midlife and Beyond

Your circadian rhythm is your 24-hour internal clock. It helps to determine your sleep-wake patterns, as well as physical, mental and behavioral differences throughout the day. You’re your circadian rhythm even affects your metabolism.

As you grow older, your circadian rhythm changes so many people experience a decrease in the length and quality of sleep. This may result in feeling tired and even experiencing cognitive decline later in the day. And studies show that disruption of the circadian rhythm is linked to obesitymood disorderscardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Fortunately, you can overcome age-related circadian rhythm changes with a few simple strategies. Here are 3 ways you can reset your circadian rhythm and keep it on track so you experience better sleep:

  1. Spend time in nature. The primary external influence on your circadian rhythm is light. Most people have limited light exposure during the day and an increased amount of artificial light during the evening, which can contribute to disruption of your circadian rhythm. Spending more time outdoors can help restore your natural sleep-wake cycle. One good option is to go camping for a few days where you have no (or very little) artificial light. This will help set your body to “solar” time. (Be sure to leave your smart phone turned off completely, unless it’s an urgent matter.) If camping is not an option, you can try going outside more frequently during the day, especially if you feel tired. The sunlight can help your body feel awake and help get you through the rest of the day and evening until it’s time to sleep.
  2. Change your schedule. Making gradual changes to your sleep schedule over time can help reset your circadian rhythm. For example, if your current pattern is to go to bed at 12 AM, try going to bed 15 or 30 minutes earlier each week. After a month or two you will have reset your sleep clock to go to bed by 10 PM. If you normally wake up at 6 AM, you will be getting fully 8 hours of sleep. You can also change your schedule to go to bed later and waking later by using the same strategy. Also, shifting when you eat by 15-30 minutes (earlier or later) will also help reset your circadian rhythm.
  3. Try a sleep deprivation challenge. If you’ve even been on an overnight flight and unable to sleep, then stayed up all day once you reached your destination, you have essentially done a sleep deprivation challenge. Sleep deprivation is used in clinical settings as part of chronotherapy and depression treatment. You simply stay up for 24 hours then go to sleep at your regular time the following day. The idea is that depriving yourself of sleep for a day, will help reset your internal clock and overcome sleep problems. However, this is not for everyone. It’s best to work with your healthcare provider. And you should not drive or plan any activities while sleep-deprived.

Remember, persistent sleep problems are often messages from your inner guidance system that something is off balance in your life. You need to address the imbalance directly before you can truly have quality sleep

Are you getting quality sleep? What are some of the things you do when you have trouble sleeping? 

For more information check out www.drnorthrup.com

 

 

Take action ... small micro moments every day to create your extraordinary life!

Tapping and Your Beliefs

One thing I didn’t know about then but am a huge fan of now is Tapping. I would rather use a technique that helps me to heal on all levels before agreeing to prescription drugs or medical or surgical treatments.  That’s why I like Tapping and encourage you to try it for just about everything

Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is a scientifically proven and very practical way to decrease stress hormones in your body. Studies show that people who use Tapping recover very quickly from whatever ails them, often in just a few sessions.

Whether you use it to reduce physical symptoms or for changing limiting beliefs, Tapping has the effect of releasing the emotional memories associated with your symptoms or beliefs. This happens when you acknowledge your symptom or a traumatic event while accepting yourself completely and tapping your fingertips on a series of acupuncture points on your face and body. Tapping these points sends a calming signal to your brain reducing the stress response. When stress hormone levels are decreased, you have much more access to the part of yourself known as the “Wise Mind,” the part that can guide you to the right answers and allow you to heal.

How Tapping Works

There are 12 major energy meridians in your body that have been used in traditional acupuncture for more than 5,000 years.  When the healthy flow of energy becomes blocked in your meridians, it also becomes blocked in your physical body. Tapping uses these acupressure points, but instead of using needles, you use your fingertips to tap the energy points on your body. 

When you tap on the energy points linked to a specific organ or system, you input energy directly into that meridian. Tapping, while using a positive statement — such as, “I have everything I need within me to create the financial abundance I desire” — works to clear your meridians and any emotional blocks from your body’s bioenergy system, bringing it back into balance.

Tap Away Beliefs That Keep You Tied To Energy Vampires

No matter what the dilemma is in your life – whether illness, grief, pain, financial distress, excess weight, bad relationships – or if you just want to be more effective in stating and implementing your goals – Tapping really can help.

The reason Tapping works is because you are shifting and then releasing energy patterns that no longer serve you.  So, if you have what I call an Energy Vampire (or narcissist) in your life, Tapping can work to help you rid yourself of the beliefs that keep you stuck in your relationship and that can haunt you even after you have released an Energy Vampire from your life.

The beliefs and feelings that keep you in relationships with Energy Vampires include: 

  1. Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings.  Most of us know that our feelings are our responsibility; others’ feelings are their responsibility.  However, empaths often find themselves taking on the feelings of others.  
  2. Thinking it’s your job to fix someone.  You feel you must rescue the other person and help them fit into an image of the way you believe things “should be.”  
  3. Having intense feelings of shame.  Typically, people who have narcissistic parents feel shame on a deep level and believe that they must serve their parents or suffer the consequences, including emotional and physical abuse.
  4. Needing to be perfect.  Having a narcissistic or mentally ill sibling or parent can leave you feeling like everything is your fault.  It’s common to beat yourself by working too hard, restricting food, or trying to be perfect in other ways and always feeling like you fall short.
  5. Blaming yourself for your good fortune.  Empaths who are involved with narcissists often think that blaming themselves and feeling guilty protects them somehow from the narcissist’s moods and bad behavior.
  6. Feeling you are not good enough.  Many empaths involved with narcissists feel that they are “not good enough” and that they have to earn love.  

If you have any of these feelings or emotional patterns, you are a target for Energy Vampires.  The good news is that Tapping on whatever you’re feeling helps to release those feelings and free yourself from the emotional patterns that keep you stuck in relationships with Energy Vampires.  For example, you can use the phrase “Even though I feel that I am not good enough, I love and respect myself.”  Or, “Even though I punish myself by trying to be perfect, I love and respect myself.”  

For more powerful & illuminating insights from Dr Christiane Northrup, check out her interview with Jessica Ortner on "Dodging energy vampires: An empath's guide to evading relationships that drain you & restoring your health & power". This interview is through facebook, tap on the link below to listen to the interview or google if this doesn't work for you :)

https://www.facebook.com/followingJessicaOrtner/videos/vb.266434333195/10155621955403196/?type=2&theater

 

 

To celebrate fashion icon Coco Chanel we take a look at some lesser known facts about the legendary designer.

Nuns taught her everything she knows

Chanel’s sewing trade was taught to her by none other than the nuns who ran the Aubazine Abbey, an orphanage where she grew up. Both she and her sister Julia were sent there after their mother died.

Chanel would sing before she sewed

at age 18, Chanel was too old to remain at the Abbey and faced the choice of becoming a nun or heading out in to the world. In these early years she would sing at a Moulin-rouge style cabaret frequented by officers.

Coco is not her real name

It was in these formative years that Chanel, born Gabrielle, would acquire her nickname Coco from her male admirers who possibly chose the name based on the two popular songs with which they remembered her performances by, “Ko Ko Ri Ko”, and “Qui qu’a vu Coco”,

She lied about her age

For years Chanel claimed to be born in 1893 instead of 1883 – making her 10 years younger. Before you laugh, it may not have been for the reason you are thinking. It was apparently done to diminish the stigma that her humbler beginnings of poverty, illegitimacy and orphanhood bestowed upon her in 19th century France.

Before clothes, hats were her forte 

After meeting a rich ex-military officer and textile heir Etienne Balsan, Chanel became his mistress and moved in to his chateau in 1908, aged 23. It was their she began her interest in fashion designing and creating hats for rich acquaintances   as a diversion, which eventually led to her commercial venture – a millinery shop in Paris (financed by her lover of nine years a wealthy English Industrialist called Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel – a friend of Balsan, who sadly died in 1919)

Chanel revolutionised fashion for women

If it wasn’t for her looser designs  and relaxed style – achieved through the use of jersey that up until then had been used for men’s underwear – women might still be wearing restricting and uncomfortable corseted clothing. thankfully the generation of women loved her for it and so Maison Chanel was established at 31, Rue Cambon in Paris (which remains its headquarters even today). Becoming a fashion force to be reckoned with in Paris, thanks to her striking bob haircut and tan, the mother of modern style launched her own fragrance in 1922 – which remains popular the world over.

She closed up shop and became a nurse

World War II was a turbulent time for the designer. In 1939 she closed the doors to her shop in Paris and became a war-time nurse but after the war fled controversy surrounding her affair with a German officer and headed to Switzerland. In 1954 she would end this self-imposed exile and return to Paris to take on the men dominating the fashion industry – introducing pea jackets and bell bottoms.

Katherine Hepburn played Chanel in a broadway show

A broadway musical of Chanel’s life opened in 1969 with Hepburn taking on the role of the designer – we’re sure that she had Coco’s renowned unabashed confidence down pat.

We have her to thank for the LBD

In October 1926 Chanel unveils the Little Black Dress. Done in the ‘flapper’ style that marked the design of this era, Vogue anoints the LBD design “the frock that all the world will wear” – how right they were!

She worked until her death

Having worked furiously to finish her latest couture collection, Chanel dies in 1971 aged 88. Two weeks after her death the ivory tweed suits and white evening dresses are sent to the runway and met with a standing ovation.

Thanks MiNDFOOD for article.

"My life didn't please me, so I created my life." Coco Chanel

 

How to relax for stress relief

 

Historically, relaxation has often been associated with “wasting time”, however, this is something we need to shake. Regular relaxation and stress management are important for physical and emotional health. Here are a few tips on how to relax your body and mind…

If your body’s stress response is triggered throughout the day and if it doesn’t know how to return to its regular state of relaxation afterwards, you may find yourself in a state of chronic stress.

Chronic stress is the type of stress that can do a lot of damage to your health, contributing a whole host of stress-related health problems, including heart disease, the common cold, and high blood pressure, just to name a few. Learning relaxation techniques can help you restore your body to its natural state when you’re feeling stressed and will help you deal with stress in a healthy way in future. If you can become less reactive to the stressors that you face and can recover more quickly from it if you do react, your body and mind will thank you for it.

Relaxation can occur when you’re taking some downtime, i.e. sitting in a comfy chair, reading a good book. But sometimes it’s helpful to have a more structured plan for relaxation as, in the face of stress, you’ll have a whole toolbox ready to help you recover. It will also mean you actively choose strategies that build resilience rather than merely distracting you from what’s creating stress for you on a given day. Learning to relax your body and your mind can be more effective than either one on its own, obviously.

How to relax

Here are some of the best relaxation strategies you can use to combat stress…

Breathe

Breathing exercises should be your first line of defence against stress. The beauty of these for relaxation is that they can be used anytime, anywhere, and they work quickly. They’re also very easy to master. Start with deep breathing. To do this, breathe in through your nose and feel your chest fill with air. Then, breathe out through your nose. As you do so, place one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Focus on feeling your belly and chest rise as you breathe in, and fall as you breathe out.  

Meditation

How to relax: Meditation

The wonderful thing about practising meditation is that it allows you to “let go” of everyday worries and literally “live in the moment.” People who meditate regularly report improvements physically, mentally, and spiritually, using it as a technique to not only combat stress but prevent it in the first place. To begin a meditation practice, you will need to find a quiet spot, away from the phone, television, friends, family, and other distractions. Meditation practices often involve learning breathing or mantra techniques. Initially, your mind may wander when you first start meditating, but by training your mind to focus on the moment, you will feel relaxed and more centred. Most experts recommend meditating for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Beginners may find it difficult to meditate for this length at first, but don’t despair. It will become easier once you are meditating regularly.

Music

Playing music is a great way to relieve stress and promote relaxation. When at work, keep a pair of headphones at your desk so you can enjoy your music for yourself. This technique often helps to provide a safe space to help you to recharge, even if you are in a room full of people. Because music brings real benefits in terms of wellness (music therapy is a growing field), it can be conveniently used effectively for relaxation as well. 

Exercise

How to relax: Exercise

It may seem that exercise is the opposite of relaxation, but a good workout can actually make you feel more relaxed afterwards for a few reasons. First, working out can be a good way to release stress and blow off steam. Second, the endorphins released during a good workout can aid relaxation quite nicely. Additionally, exercise can get you into a state of flow where it’s difficult to stay stressed—your body has to move toward relaxation as your stress response begins to reverse.

Have Fun

Yes, these relaxation methods don’t all have to be clinical and practised. Letting loose and having fun with your family and friends is an excellent way to relieve stress and experience relaxation. Most people don’t prioritise this as an important part of life—they don’t fit time for it in their busy schedules because they don’t realise the value of fun for balance as well as physical and emotional health. So schedule some downtime in your calendar, it’s just as (if not more) important than any other pressing matter.

If you focus on stress management regularly, in a relatively short time you can learn to more easily relax when you need to, and build resilience toward stress.

Read more: A relaxed body promotes healthy eating

Surviving modern motherhood

Authors Michele Powles and Renee Liang. 

 

Two courageous Kiwi women, one an author and the other a pediatrician, lay bare the raw joy, beauty, discomfort and humour of modern motherhood. The result is uplifting and fearless.

Parenting is messy, hilarious, heartrending, tiring and above all joyful. There is no one right way to do it – but now two brave mums have shared a bit of their journey, and invite you to “laugh and cry along with us.”

Mum is the word for critically acclaimed writers Michele Powles and Renee Liang, with the launch of their new book, When We Remember To Breathe. MiNDFOOD chats with Renee about the new book, motherhood and remembering to breathe.

Tell me about ‘When We Remember To Breathe’, how and why did this come about?

Michele and I had met at writers’ events, and talked about how in early motherhood we’d wanted to record all the special moments, but we were too tired! When we both got pregnant with our second children we decided to write to each other as a way of cheering each other on.

The conversation became more and more frank, with the joyful comedic moments mixed in with the moments of doubt and exhaustion. And as we wrote we developed our friendship. We weren’t intending to publish but after sharing with other mums, including our eventual publisher, we were persuaded otherwise!

How is this similar or different to your other books?

I’ve written three poetry chapbooks, which are small handmade books.  I’ve also published eight anthologies of Kiwi migrant women’s writing. But I’m best known for work which isn’t ‘published’ – I’ve written and toured seven plays, many about growing up Chinese in Aotearoa. I’ve also written words and story for a opera and a couple of musicals, including The Bone Feeder Opera commissioned for Auckland Arts Festival in 2017. Although I’ve always drawn on my own experiences to write, this is the first time I’ve shared something so personal without hiding behind the fiction.

Personally, what has your experience of motherhood been?

I came to motherhood late – I was 39 when I had my first. But I’m also a pediatrician so I had spent years being asked for advice by parents!  Having kids made it real for me, and also taught me that babies don’t read the textbooks on how they’re are supposed to behave.  I was lucky – I had good support and my husband is the best co-parent. I get annoyed when people ask if the kids miss me when I go to work. Of course they do – but they have their dad, and all their grandparents and aunties and uncles to love them and keep them busy!

Both mine and my husband’s parents are immigrants (Chinese and Croatian) so we’re exploring with our kids what it means to come from many cultures  – luckily both sides of the family love to hang out together and eat great food! 

Why should mothers remember to breathe?

It’s like that advice you get on planes – in an emergency, put your own oxygen on first. Mums (and all who parent) need time to be themselves, to find their anchors and to fill their lungs with whatever oxygen gives them life.

Do you have any advice for new mums on coping with the challenges of motherhood and balancing a career?

Now when I see parents and grandparents in my clinic, I just want to give them a hug and tell them how well they’re doing.  It’s the world’s hardest job but it’s also the most important. Accept help when you need it, offer it when you can. Balancing work and parenting is a different choice for everyone. Follow your instincts, ignore the unhelpful ‘advice’ and know your decisions are the best for your family.

When We Remember to Breathe

When We Remember To Breathe is co-written by Renee Liang and Michele Powles and will be published on 1st May. NZ$25.00 on Magpie Pulp.

Have you ever met someone who seems perfect – polished, attractive, kind, generous, maybe even successful – yet the more you get to know them, the more you realize that they’re actually self-centered, manipulative and deceitful? Their perfection is simply a façade put on so the world holds them in high esteem. 

If you or someone you know is an empath or highly sensitive person, you may easily be pulled in by people like this. I call them energy vampires. They appeal to your generosity, your compassion and your innate problem-solving nature. But, as psychologist Sandra L. Brown, M.A. says, these are “relationships of inevitable harm.”

In my second free video, I delve deeply into the mechanics of energy vampires – how they can zero in on you in a crowd based on your empathic traits and get their hooks in you if you aren’t careful. I will also give you some pointers on how you can protect yourself, and skillfully tiptoe out of their clutches before you fall prey.
Watch Wellness Video 2:
Protect Yourself from Energy Predators with These Techniques


Watch Wellness Video 1 Now
After you watch my video, I am confident you will have a clearer idea of who and what an energy vampire is, as well as what you can do to avoid them for good. If you missed my first video, which will help you know if you’re an empath, you can still catch it here for a little while longer: 
Watch Wellness Video 1:
How Empathy Can Protect You


Watch Wellness Video 1 Now
Once you watch these videos, head to the comment section and share your thoughts about these first two lessons so far on this journey. I’d love to hear about your experiences with energy vampires and as an empath.

I have two more free videos coming your way over the next few days. In the next one, I will show you exactly how you can begin to protect yourself and recover your life force after interacting with an energy vampire. 

And, if you know an empath who may be vulnerable to the energy vampires in their midst, make sure to share this video with them so that they, too, can get some benefit from this invaluable series.

Flourishingly Yours,
Dr. Northrup's Signature
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
If you’ve ever been told you’re “too sensitive” it’s likely you are part of a group of highly sensitive people called empaths.

Empaths interact with the world differently than even an extremely compassionate person. We can sense the true energy of a person, seeing their deep, frequently unseen pain often before they do. We sense it because it shifts our own energy, affecting us on multiple levels.

There’s also another group of people that I call energy vampires. Energy vampires can be exquisitely appealing to everyone. They’re charming, fun, successful, and yet their impact is insidious for those who get caught in their grip. More often than not, those getting caught are empaths who are not in touch with their own light and intuition.

If you are an empath in a relationship with an energy vampire, you may not feel it now, but eventually you will be worn down—both physically and emotionally. As someone who’s been on the frontlines of women’s healthcare for decades, I believe this is actually one of the most under-identified causes of ill health. And that’s why I’ve put together this free wellness workshop.

By signing up to receive my four free videos, you’ll learn simple ways to identify, cast out, and heal from energy vampires. In my first video, I share personal stories and stories of others to help explain what it’s like to be an empath—and then help you understand what an energy vampire is and what happens when you get entangled with them.
Watch Wellness Video 1:
How Empathy Can Protect You


Watch Wellness Video 1 Now
If you don’t know you’re an empath and you don’t know how energy vampires work, you are apt to be preyed upon.

Please be sure to leave me a comment on the video page to share your own experience as an empath or with energy vampires. Also, if you think anyone else would benefit from this video, please share it with them. And stay tuned for my next three videos in this wellness workshop.

Flourishingly Yours,
Dr. Northrup's Signature
Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Meditation as Medicine

Would you take a daily pill if it was scientifically proven to benefit your brain by increasing focus; reducing stress, anxiety, and depression; and improving memory, emotional awareness, and overall happiness? What if it wasn’t through taking a pill, but simply the act of sitting still, for even just one minute a day? 

This week’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy is here to share that it is, in fact, possible to reap huge benefits in a short amount of time. Journalist and ABC news anchor Dan Harris turned his life around using the power of mindfulness and meditation; he was able to stop self-medicating with drugs, end his struggle with panic attacks, and focus on building a successful, balanced life instead. 

Initially, Dan was a skeptic of the power of meditation. He didn't think science could back up the benefits… until he saw the research for himself. 

Studies show that meditation works, in part due to its role in growing the beneficial grey matter in the brain, and Dan witnessed the effects himself once he gave it an honest try. His experience led him to write two New York Times best-selling books on the topic in an effort to help other fidgety skeptics embrace the medicinal properties of meditation. 

Throughout our talk, Dan explains the proven impacts of meditation with a down-to-earth perspective and provides realistic steps for how to incorporate it into your own life, one minute at a time.

Dan shares his personal journey, from experiencing a panic attack on-air in front of millions to becoming a calmer, more mindful person, on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’ve ever wondered if meditation really works and just what the science says, this episode is for you. 

I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

Wishing you health and happiness, 
Mark Hyman, MD 
 

 

Why I’m Not Going to Put You on a Pedestal

By Kate Love on Saturday November 24th, 2018

Image: BingImages

Is it Inspiration or Idolisation?

You can’t knock me off my pedestal. And I can’t knock you off yours. Because there is no pedestal. Not the kind that makes me higher than you or you higher than me.

Not the kind where I look down on you or you look up at me. Where I look up at you or you look down on me. Only the kind where we look across at each other. Our eyes meet. We connect. I am not better than you, wiser than you or stronger than you. You are everything that I am and I am everything that you are. We breathe. We love. We live. We’re here together.

I’ve looked up to my parents. To friends. To people who inspire me. But I don’t need to idolise anybody anymore.

I’ve always put my dad on a pedestal. He is a farmer who loves trees. He built our family house. He is the kindest man I know. My mum was working so he was there every day after school. He cooked dinner and grew sunflowers and rode a tractor. To me, he could fix anything that was broken and build whatever he put his mind to. In my eyes, he could do no wrong.

He is still there for me in so many ways and I care about him more than ever. But it’s time he came off the pedestal. I don’t need to put anybody up there anymore.

There is no reason to put you on a pedestal. Why would I raise you up without raising myself up? If I look up at you then I lose my balance and if I look down at you I lose my balance. I’ve done it before and it has only made me fall down.

The problem with putting people on a pedestalThe problem with putting people on a pedestal is that they fall off.

A Mask of Perfection

You are someone I see every day or someone I’ve never met. My boss, my lover, a friend, my parents, someone I admire from afar. It’s ok for me to be inspired by you but not to idolise you. What happens when I pick you up and place you on a pedestal? Not face to face, not heart to heart. I can’t truly connect with you if we’re not on the same level.

I take away your chance to be authentic or vulnerable or imperfect. I only want to know about your accomplishments: the successful rise in your career, all of the followers that you have on Instagram, the perfect body that I’ll never have. All the things in you that I don’t see in myself.

I ask you to be more than you are. I place expectations on you. I don’t want you to fail.

My dad is the one I turn to. If I have a question I seek him for the answer. And I expect him to always be there. When he hasn’t been there for me I have felt let down. But he is allowed to be imperfect. I can’t keep taking him for granted. He has his own challenges and struggles and commitments. He has flaws of his own but those just make him who he is.

Nobody wants to be put on a pedestal just so they can fall off. Idolisation and not truly seeing you aren’t going to help either of us.

You never asked to be put there. You never asked to be seen as flawless. And when you fail in my eyes you fall. I see that you are not perfect, that you are just like me. I’m disappointed that you’ve let me down. I pull away from you or even blame you for not being everything I wanted you to be. I fell in love with a perfect picture of you that I created. Not the true you.

Connecting heart to heartWe can connect heart to heart when we stand together at the same level.

The Power of True Connection

If I put you on a pedestal you look down at me and why would I ever want that? I don’t love you more than me. I love you just as much as I love myself. I love you as you are. Flaws and all. Because I love myself as I am. Flaws and all.

There is only us. Looking across at each other. Connecting with each other. Saying with our eyes: I know. I know it’s not easy to be here. I know the pain, the struggle, the heartache; I know the love, the purpose, the joy. I know all of that because I live it too.

Not putting my dad on a pedestal doesn’t mean I care about him any less. It means I see all of him. I see his true self. I love his rough hands and his warm smile that crinkles his eyes. I love that he can talk for hours about trees and how they connect to each other. I love that he falls asleep listening to the radio with a cup of tea. I love him for him. And he loves me for me.

Loving my dad without putting him on a pedestal means that we can connect heart to heart. I can connect to everyone heart to heart.

When the pedestal is knocked down and we are standing face to face there is only us. There is no judgement or failed expectations or miscommunication. We see each other and inspire each other and touch each other’s hearts.

You are me and I am you. I lift you up and you lift me up. We lift each other. Not looking down. Not looking up. Looking across. Eyes knowing. Hearts open. I know you. You know me. There is no pedestal.

Thanks UPLIFT for the article.

 

Plant the seed of positivity into your mind,

nourish it daily with love

and happiness will flower,

as fear begins to die.

Leon Brown

"If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation." - Dali Lama 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 4: PRACTICES FOR BETTER SLEEP

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

In Part 1, we looked at how a consistent sleep routine enhances the quality of rest and rejuvenation. In Part 2, we focused on synchronising our sleep routine with nature’s doshic rhythm and in Part 3, we looked at practices that help you relax in the evening. Now we look at some more evening routines for better sleep.

 

Avoid backlit screens

 

Turn of all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Backlit screens interfere with your biological clock and fool your body into thinking its daytime, straining your eyes and stimulating your mind. Spend this time with yourself. Indulge in soothing meditation or self-reflection, listen to relaxing music, or read an uplifting book (although not in bed!).

 

Avoid reading in bed

 

Reading in the bed can confuse the body by signalling for sleep and alertness at the same time. Designate a place to sit down and read. Avoid reading excessively emotional or distressing content. If you struggle with sleeping, try giving up bedtime reading.

 

Keep a journal

 

Spend a few minutes writing about your day to clear your mind and remove any residual emotions associated with the day’s events.

 

A soothing glass of milk

 

If your system allows it, drink a glass of warm milk, with a pinch of cardamom and honey, to promote deep sleep.

 

Relax your body

 

Once in bed, consciously relax your entire body. Bring your awareness to each part of the body and will it to relax itself. Then focus on your breathing and gently drift into sleep.

 

Sleep according to your dosha

 

Vata types may suffer from irregular sleep routines and have to take extra effort to establish a daily sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time every day, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Sleep on your left side to encourage breathing through your right nostril, to promote heat.

 

Pitta types tend to easily get disturbed from their sleep. Keep your bedroom quiet and fragrant. Sleep on your right side to encourage breathing through your left nostril, for cooling.

 

Kapha types have a tendency to oversleep and this causes imbalance. Ensure you wake up before 6 am. Sleep on your left side to promote heating.

 

Incorporating all these practices into your daily life may sound daunting. Choose a few of these that appeal to you most and commit to doing them every day. As you become comfortable, you can gradually add more practices into your routine. Observe how your body feels and celebrate the small improvements—these are your body’s way of thanking you.  

 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 3: RELAXING ROUTINES

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

In Part 1, we looked at how Ayurveda considers sleep to be essential for good health and how establishing a consistent sleep routine goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Part 2 explained how the night is governed by different doshas at different times and how to synchronise your sleep routine with nature’s rhythm. Now, let’s look at establishing a soothing evening routine to help you wind down and prepare for a night of restful sleep.

 

Following a regular routine reassures your body that everything is well, providing a tremendous sense of comfort. Establishing a daily evening routine ensures that, with time, the body learns that these are signals that the day is ending and to prepare for a good night’s rest. It’s important to be consistent with the routine. Here are some things that you can incorporate into your evening routine:

 

Avoid that evening cup of coffee

 

Drinking coffee or any other stimulant prevents your brain from responding to fatigue, instead making you feel fresh and energetic. This causes problems in trying to sleep early. If you are suffering from sleep-related problems, cutting down on caffeine may go a long way in helping you sleep better.

 

Turn down the lights

 

Our biological clocks are highly sensitive to light. For most living beings, sunset is a signal that the day is winding down and it’s time to rest. In today’s modern life, there is so much artificial lighting that it severely interferes with the natural biological response to sleep. One of the best things you can do is to dim the lights at home as the sun goes down. This sends the signal to your body that the day is ending.

 

Reduce exertion

 

It’s best to reduce strenuous physical and mental activity at least two hours before bedtime.

 

Have an early dinner

 

Have an early dinner to ensure that the food is completely digested before you sleep. This prevents the accumulation of toxic waste (ama) in your body, which could make you feel dull and lethargic. It’s ideal to leave a gap of three hours between dinner and sleep time. To get used to eating early, you can begin by eating a lighter dinner than usual.

 

Wash your face

 

Wash your face with lukewarm water, preferably using an Ayurvedic cleanser. This cleanses the dirt accumulated through the day, removes oil from the pores and helps your skin breathe at night.

 

Massage your feet and scalp

 

Take a few drops of oil and do a slow, relaxing massage of your scalp. Wash and dry your feet and apply a few drops of oil slowly from heel to toe in slow, circular movements of your palm. This removes excess heat and relaxes the entire body.

 

In Part 4, we shall look at a few more things you can do before bedtime and how to incorporate these into our daily lives.

 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 2: THE DOSHIC NATURE OF SLEEP

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

In Part 1, we looked the vital role of sleep in maintaining overall health, improving immunity and enhancing cognitive function. Establishing a consistent sleep and wake time goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Now, let’s see how different parts of the night are governed by different doshas, and how to synchronise our sleep routine with nature’s rhythm.

 

Ayurveda divides each day into two cycles:

 

1) The solar cycle which begins at 6 am and ends at 6 pm.

 

2) The lunar cycle which begins at 6 pm and ends at 6 am.  

 

The lunar cycle plays an important role in establishing sleep rhythm. This twelve-hour period is divided into three intervals of four hours each. The first interval from 6 pm to 10 pm is dominated by Kapha, the second interval from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, and the third interval from 2 am to 6 am is dominated by Vata. This fundamental understanding, along with knowledge of the current season and your doshic constitution helps establish a proper evening routine that is in harmony with the doshic influences.

 

Ayurveda recommends going to sleep before 10 pm. During this time our bodies are dominated by Kapha’s earthy, stable and grounding properties—ideal for a deep, soothing sleep. The period from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, whose qualities are intense, hot, sharp and acidic. This might make you feel energetic, impatient to be active, and prevent you from falling asleep. Staying awake at this time causes a phenomenon called second wind, where you stop feeling drowsy even when you are exhausted. Moreover, Pitta increases the digestive fire and leaves you craving that midnight snack!

 

The time dominated by Pitta is used by the body to repair its tissues, clean out toxins, enhance your immune system and perform daily maintenance tasks. This is also when the mind processes the undigested thoughts and emotions caused during the day and comes to terms with them.

 

Pitta gives way to Vata dominance at around 2 am and the atmosphere is dominated by qualities of lightness, mobility and coolness. The body begins the process of waking up around this time. Ayurveda advises getting up an hour and a half before sunrise when Vata dominates, so you can begin the day feeling light and refreshed.

 

Sleeping fewer hours in harmony with these cycles can leave you feeling more relaxed and energetic than sleeping longer hours going to bed late. However, falling asleep early is not easy for many of us. In Part 3, we look at establishing a simple evening routine that helps us to wind down and get ready for a night of soothing sleep.

 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 1: THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

Do you wake up in the middle of the night, fully awake and unable to go back to sleep? Do you start your mornings in a state of exhaustion? Do you find yourself unable to fall asleep at night even though you are tired? Most of these stem from our irregular work schedules which have made food and sleep patterns and our lifestyle in general increasingly erratic. These irregularities affect our metabolic rhythm and lead to tiredness, heartburn, loss of appetite and other health complications.

 

Ayurveda highly recommends establishing a daily rhythm, “Dinacharya", taking into account your constitution and the cycles of nature. Adhering to Dinacharya ensures tri-doshic balance and provides a deep sense of relaxation, enhancing overall wellness. In this series, we will be looking at establishing a daily evening rhythm that leads to restful sleep.

 

Sleep is of fundamental importance in Ayurveda. It allows the body and mind to relax deeply, detoxify and rejuvenate. This is the time the body needs for tissue repair, muscle growth, removal of metabolic wastes, and enhancing immune function.  Quality of sleep has a direct impact on our cognitive functions including level of attention and our ability to learn. Therefore it’s vital to get a good night of sleep.

 

Ayurveda gives no universal recommendation for the ideal duration of sleep. Based on your constitution, this may vary between 6-8 hours. Kapha predominant body types need little sleep and Vata types need the most. Too much sleep can imbalance doshas and causes dullness and lethargy. More than eight hours of sleep are recommended only for pregnant women, the aged and the sick.

 

Merely sleeping the right number of hours isn’t enough to ensure good sleep quality. It’s important to establish a consistent sleep routine with predictable sleep and wake times. This helps the body settle into a daily rhythm. Once you have understood the duration of sleep required for you, fix a wake up time, preferably early in the morning. Then work backwards to decide on your sleep time. Regularly adhering to these times creates a deep rhythm in the body and leads to a night of relaxing and refreshing sleep. 

 

In Part 2, we shall explore the doshic nature of each part of the night and how it affects our sleep rhythm. Adjusting our sleep routine according to these greatly enhances the quality of rest.

 

How Being In The Forest Actually Boosts Immunity, According To Science

Clemens Arvay, MSc

19 February 2018

New research, like the Journal of Adolescent Health study that found that teens who have more access to green space tend to be happier, continues to reinforce the idea that humans are intricately connected to the natural environment. Our entire body is constantly communicating and acting in tandem with our surroundings. But how can something as simple as spending time outside possibly make us healthier? Let's dive into the science.

The real reason being outside is so healing.

The Japanese tradition of Shinrin-yoku, "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing," is proof of concept. In this case, the term "bathing" does not mean swimming in some sort of wooded lake. Instead, it's about diving into a forest with all of our senses. In 1982, the National Forest Authorities of Japan suggested advertising Shinrin-yoku to the public and promoting its immune-boosting powers. And today, taking in the forest atmosphere is officially a recognized method of preventing disease and supplementing treatment in the country. The National Institute of Public Health of Japan promotes Shinrin-yoku, universities study it, and hospitals use it as an Rx.

 

When you breathe in the woods, you are inhaling a cocktail of bioactive substances released by plants. One of these groups of substances is called terpenes. They're usually emitted from leaves, pine needles, tree trunks, and the thick bark of some trees. We absorb these gaseous terpenes partially through our skin, but especially through the lungs. Terpenes also flow out of bushes, herbs, and shrubs among the understory, along with mushrooms, mosses, and ferns, too. Even thin layers of foliage on the forest floor emit them. So, safe to say, if you're outside and can see any sort of tree material, you're getting a dose of terpenes.

 

While forest medicine is under no circumstances a replacement for conventional medical check-ups, scientific studies have discovered the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities, making forest air like a healing elixir we inhale. Even though terpenes come from trees, mushrooms, and herbs that are communicating with one another, our immune system can also decode them. Like other plants, we respond to terpenes by strengthening our body's defenses. Doctors of forest medicine know that anti-cancer terpenes have a direct impact on the immune system as well as an indirect impact on the endocrine system. For example, they help us deal with stress by lowering our cortisol levels.

 

Forest bathing has also been found to enhance something called natural killer cells, another defense against diseases like cancer. Those who spend merely one day in the forest will have more natural killer cells in their blood for seven days thereafter. Those who are in the woods for two or three days have elevated levels for another 30 days. It's incredible to think that we get these long-lasting health benefits simply by existing in the woods. We don't have to go on a trail run or rigorous hike (though those things are great too); just breathing and being in communion with trees is enough.

 

This knowledge totally changed the way I look at nature. Now, when I walk through the woods, I feel like I’m diving into an enormous living organism. I'm becoming a part of it, and we're breathing and communicating together.

Practical ways to make your next trip into the forest even more fulfilling:

1. The content of the anti-cancer terpenes in the forest air changes over the seasons. The highest concentration is in summer, and the lowest is in winter. They increase rapidly in April and May and reach their peak in June and August. Try to go out during these months if you can!

 

2. You can find the highest concentration of terpenes in the middle of the forest since tree population is the densest there. This dense canopy prevents gaseous terpenes from escaping too. Try to go farther into the woods instead of lingering on the edges when you can.

 

3. When the air is moist—after rain or during fog, for example—a particularly large amount of healthy terpenes will be swirling around the atmosphere. So if you've ever felt especially great during a walk in the woods after a rain shower, you're not alone!

 

 

 

 

Breathing is an extraordinary event. Not only does it bring oxygen to your cells, but also gives your organs, endocrine system & inner connective tissue a massage from the inside out with every breath.

YogaAlign's breathing exercises are designed to help you fully awaken, supercharge & recode your breath & posture at the nervous system level.

When you breathe in, try moving the ribs out in all directions as though you are inflating a balloon. As you inhale your outer rib muscles pull the ribs apart as your diaphragm contracts downwards, creating more space in the chest area & allowing the lungs to expand & fill with air.

As you exhale, notice the internal intercostal muscles pulling the ribs back together, while the outer muscles of the abdomen & waist area contract & press the air out.

Take a few moments each day to ground yourself with a few deep breaths, toning, lengthening & strengthening. 

 

"The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow & gain wisdom, first you must have the mud - the obstacles of life & its suffering. The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying & death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness & more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus & open each petal one by one."

Goldie Hawn

 

The Transformative Outdoor Workout That Healed My Broken Heart

by Brock Cannon July 2017

I was raised in a religious culture where getting married young and starting a family was the most important value. As a result I was married at 21 and had my first child at 23. I was so far from ready for it. To say that I was thrown into adulthood too early is an understatement. Most people spend those years dating and getting to know themselves, but this wasn't the case for me. I never got to have that journey, and bottling up my emotions led to a lot of internal pain. The only time I ever felt truly OK and like I was really connecting with myself was when I was out in nature, riding my mountain bike

My marriage lasted 10 years, and my two beautiful daughters came out of it, which is something for which I'll be forever grateful. But it was an extremely difficult decade, and if I didn't have the option to hop on my mountain bike and escape into nature, I'm not sure how I would have gotten through it. I would ride my bike out in the desert for six hours, or however long it took to calm down and feel free. Over time, I would become centered again. Looking back, I was undoubtedly a little bit obsessive, but the most important thing that came out of it was that I learned to use nature as a healing strategy. 

Yes, nature has been extremely healing for me—and it can be for you, too. Whether you do yoga outside, meditate, ski, hike, bike, or run, all these activities can heal; here's why I believe that.

1. Nature defuses anger.

When we embrace the pain of a hard run, a tough hike, or any other form of exercise in nature, we begin to get back to our true place on this planet. We realize that we are not just a ball of pent-up anger in that moment, but that we are a vital piece of this beautiful blue sphere. We are loving beings at our core. With each rock and tree stump we hop over, each river we forge, and each summit we conquer, we chill out. It’s as if our bodies are telling us, Yes, this is where I belong.

2. Nature leads to perspective—but be careful. 

Without a doubt, nature and movement are a beautiful combination for gaining perspective on our lives and solving our problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve simply spent a moment watching the chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits play out in nature while I was out in the mountains and felt an instant softening inside as I remembered that life existed beyond me and my broken heart. The sound of the dirt crunching under my feet or the ripping of the treads of a mountain-bike tire all provide a meditative healing sound.

3. Nature restores hope.

Years ago, I dealt with quite a bit of career heartbreak. I lost a big consulting job that would drastically affect my income, and I was devastated. Human nature is to buckle down, get to your computer, and search for any possible way to solve the problem. But instead, I remember telling myself, “You need to force yourself to get out in nature right now—even if it's only for one hour. Nature holds the answers.”

I went out for a trail run, and the problem seemed to shrink. I felt strong again. Moving my body restored confidence in my talents, gifts, and abilities. There is something about nature that makes us feel so small, yet so loved, and we realize things are going to be OK. So the next time you're in the midst of a breakup, a lost job, problems with your kids, or any other kind of heartbreak, try getting out in nature for restoration and as a way to think through your problems. 

You have nothing to lose, and only healing and newfound perspective to gain. 

Inspired by Brock's story? Find out how this woman used nature to heal her anxiety.

 

 

 

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, 

chaos into order,

confusion into clarity ...

it makes sense of our past,

brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.

 

Melody Beattie

Dame Helen Mirren on Why She is a Feminist

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images 

The actress recently opened up as to why she identifies as a feminist

 

Considered to be acting royalty (and not just because she won an Oscar for playing the Queen), Dame Helen Mirren has always been a trailblazer for women in the arts.

This week she received the Crystal Nymph award, for her small-screen work at the Monte Carlo TV Festival, adding to the every-growing collection of accolades that Dame Merrin has received.

In promoting the event, Dame Mirren also opened up to The Hollywood Reporter as to her ‘feminist awakening’ and how the arts are changing to include more female voices. “There is a pressure mounting behind a dam, and I hope that that dam is finally bursting in terms of women directors and women-led dramas,” she said.

Reflecting on her career, Dame Mirren commented on how attitudes have changed dramatically since she first started her career on British television in the lead role on Prime Suspect, however there still remain some challenges for women to overcome. “I think it’s becoming embarrassing to turn someone down because they’re female. The mind-set has changed,” she said. “Unfortunately there are dinosaurs, and there are some dinosaurs that are 50 instead of 80.”

Dame Mirren has also been working to fight ageist prejudice when it comes to ideas of beauty and seeing older women in films. “Film and television should be for all ages,” she said.

At an earlier graduation speech at Tulane University, Dame Mirren called on students to identify themselves as feminists, saying that she herself initially wasn’t sure about the movement. “I always was a feminist, and I did identify as a feminist… but in the early days of feminism, the late ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a political ferocity about feminism I couldn’t identify with,” she explained. “Now in retrospect I understand how important that ferocity was.”

www.mindfood.com

 

 

"You are enough.

You are so enough

it is unbelievable how enough

you are."

Marisa Peer

WELLINGTON APOTHECARY Therapeutic Teas have arrived at the YogAlign Studio in Mount Maunganui

Choose from Calming, Revitalising or Detoxifying Therapeutic Herbal Teas

 

NERVINE TEA BLEND 

NZ$16.00 - 50 grams
A blend of herbs traditionally used to support the nervous system, calm the mind and improve sleep quality. Contains passionflower, skullcap, withania root, damiana & rose petals.
 
 

TONIC TEA BLEND ORGANIC

NZ$19.00 - 50 grams
A blend of herbs traditionally used to build strength & vitality. Tonic tea blend also helps to enhance memory & alertness. Contains ginko, gotu kola, kawakawa, rosemary, licorice & hibiscus.
 

DETOXIFY TEA BLEND ORGANIC

NZ$26.00 100 grams
A blend of herbs traditionally used to support the liver, clear the skin and maintain a healthy weight. Contains cleavers, green tea, dandelion root, schisandra berries & fennel seeds.
 
 
All dried herbs in our tea blends are wild crafted or sourced organically when available. Non organic herbs may be used when organic herbs are unavailable.
 
 
 

 

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.” Steve Jobs

 

By Joanna Loveys

IF WE TOOK A MOMENT TO STOP AND LOOK AROUND WE MIGHT FIND THAT LIFE IS GENEROUS – AND THERE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH TO GO AROUND. YOU’RE READING THAT AND THINKING SERIOUSLY? THE ABUNDANCE TRAIN MISSED MY STOP!

It is a simple fact that there is an unlimited Source of everything we need or could ever want. This great abundance is already ours, available to all of us all the time. 

The Manifestation of ABUNDANCE espoused by spiritual teachers like Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra is not a new concept . Often when we hear about The Law of Abundance or Attraction, it refers to money. While it certainly does include financial prosperity, it is much more than that. Abundance relates to the state of being consciously connected to our Source Energy.

When we entertain a lack mentality, such as a lack of time, money or other resources, we literally create an energetic wall around ourselves that keeps those very things from entering our lives.

What really is abundance? Is it a tangible thing – abundant wealth or intangible abundant health? What one considers abundance another thinks is going without – it’s a perception.  The dictionary describes abundance as a great or potential amount or being in rich supply. We do live in an abundant universe, and we attract what we put out there. Each day is a new day that is full of possibilities. What is it that you would like to do or be or have more than anything else in the world? 

I read somewhere that if you hold a thought for 17 seconds the Law of Attraction kicks in but hold it for 68 seconds and things begin to move, manifestation has begun. Whether that is so or not, if you can think about what you do want in your mind, and focus on that, you can bring that into your life. In reverse, focusing on what we DON'T want tends to bring us more of the same! Using positive affirmations, meditation, taking action and expressing gratitude for our many blessings is the key. Keynote speaker Brian Tracy says that thinking continually about what you want and not the things you fear pays dividends.

Peace, prosperity, healing and wellbeing is within the grasp of everyone. Release those things that don’t work for you any more, just let them go, and make room for something better to fill up that space.

Never underestimate the power of the imagination to create miracles. If you listen to your inner voice and truly believe that you are a magnet for the good stuff then you draw that energy towards you – and I know which sort of energy I would rather attract! Energy flows where intention goes! Pay close attention to the abundance you already have and give yourself permission to be prosperous. 

Why not try ending your day with a positive thought , no matter how hard the day was there must be one thing to be positive about and thankful for. You have nothing to lose, and perhaps everything to gain!

 

 

If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao Tzu

by Aerial Cetnar March 12 2017 

5 Positive Ways Yoga Affects Your Mind Hero Image
Photo: @aeriallynn on Instagram
Although many individuals relish in their yoga practice for physical health benefits, there is just as much of a reason to love yoga for its mental health benefits. In the past few years, yoga and other mind-body practices have been a topic of interest for researchers in the psychology field, exploring its benefits for individuals working to improve their psychological well being. There is an increasing number of communities, such as hospitals, rehab centres and transitional homes incorporating yoga into their programming for improving mental health in many individuals.

Through research, yoga has been proven to help decrease stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and many other mental health issues. Yoga works by decreasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the "fight or flight" response, which is typically responsible for constricting blood vessels and raising heart rate and blood pressure. The breathing practices in yoga calm the nervous system overall and give us the time to reset.

Here are a few psychological qualities that yoga can cultivate:

1. Mindfulness. 

A lot of yoga practice focuses on using the breath as the main guide through movement. This gives us the experience of tuning into the present moment and increasing overall awareness. Many yoga teachers also encourage their students to let go of judgment toward themselves and accept where they are in their practice. By being in tune with our body movement and breath at the same time, we are practicing ways to be mindful both on the mat and in our daily life.

 

Photo credit: @aeriallyn 

 

2. Self-compassion. 

Because yoga requires commitment, it teaches us the importance of self-care and self-love. Along with letting go of judgment, it encourages us to love where we are and who we are. Yoga teaches us to appreciate that we are each perfectly imperfect and to embrace the diversity that we each bring to our yoga classes. We learn to encourage ourselves to maintain a holistic self-care practice that includes making time to care for our mind, body, emotions and spirituality in a non-judgmental and accepting way.

3. Resilience.

Yoga teaches us to take a step back, let go of our ego, and stick to our goals. The best way to improve in your yoga practice is through patience, especially for those who are just beginning their practice. It’s a challenge to let go of comparison, but it takes time to build a solid yoga practice and we learn that along the way. It teaches us to breathe through difficult postures just as we would through life challenges. We learn to find stillness during times of discomfort and find our breath during times when we need it the most.

4. Insight. 

One of the most impactful qualities to gain from yoga is the appreciation that you’re always learning and growing. Yoga gives you the opportunity to pause, reflect and set intentions for your practice that are parallel to your life intentions. You’re persistently checking in with yourself and asking yourself what it is that you need in that very moment in time. Yoga encourages us to always work toward being the best possible version of ourselves, but remaining open-minded and open-hearted during the process.

5. Purpose.

Yoga classes help build community and make people feel that they are part of something bigger. This is also applicable to the spiritual practice that comes from yoga that reminds us of elements of gratitude and aliveness. Yoga is a community where we can find support and a sense of belonging if you take the time to get to know those you’re practicing with. So, don’t be afraid to say hello next time you place your mat next to someone in class. 

 

 

 

by Dr Leo Galland - 7 January 2017

When allergies or inflammation strikes, you may be quick to blame some common culprits like pollen and ragweed, pets, pollution, or food. But what you may not know is that one of the biggest causes of allergy and inflammation is actually your mind. 

How you feel and the amount of stress you experience—from work, to family, to your health—can have a direct impact on how your body feels. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that stress is a major factor in causing chronic inflammatory conditions but that stress reduction interventions can actually help reduce symptoms. 

The combination of stress and allergies creates a snowball effect. 

Ohio State University scientists found that the persistence of mental stress can increase the frequency of flare-ups in allergy sufferers. And more episodes of sneezing, running nose, and watery eyes can lead to more stress and worsening symptoms. Conversely, less stress is associated with fewer flare-ups. They also found that stress and mood could affect allergic sensitivity. Nasal allergy sufferers who were asked to perform mental arithmetic in front of an audience experience bigger hives in response to a skin test. Participants who weren't given the math questions didn't have the same allergic response. 

But the good news is that your mind can outshine your allergies. These seven simple tips can help you reduce stress, calm your body, and kick pesky allergies.

1. Give meditation a try. 

While meditation has been touted as the answer to everything from pain relief to improving your athletic performance, it really can help reduce your body's response to allergy and inflammation. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that mindfulness-based stress reduction—which combines mindfulness, yoga, and body awareness—not only helped participants cope with stress, but it also decreased inflammation in the body compared to other healthy practices like exercise and music therapy. 

 

In another study on people with migraine headaches and abdominal pain, scientists from Case Western Reserve University found that meditation and visualization reduced pain and signs of allergic inflammation. Meditation with visualization has also been shown to improve lung function and respiratory symptoms in groups of people with asthma. Try this simple meditation: 

  1. Sit in a comfortable place. 

  2. Imagine a hand resting on your forehead, giving your mind comfort and soothing your thoughts.

  3. Let any stressful thoughts float out of your mind and into the imaginary hand. 

  4. Notice the sense of spaciousness and calm without those extra thoughts.

2. Make sleep a top priority. 

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, those who experience chronic stress report shorter sleep duration and lower quality of sleep. A group of Italian researchers found that the lack of adequate shut-eye can also lead to increased oxidative stress and altered inflammatory response—among other health concerns. 

Sleep is one of the best ways to heal and rejuvenate your body. To get the best sleep, be sure to avoid caffeine late in the day and create a calming bedtime ritual. And don't forget to turn off your screens! Exposure to blue light can suppress the release of melatonin, your body's sleep-facilitating hormone, and shift your circadian clock.

3. Take an Epsom salt bath

A warm bath is super relaxing, but it can also help your body recharge. Stress can reduce levels of magnesium in the body, and Epsom salts—which are composed of magnesium sulfate—can help replenish these stores. Researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom found that soaking in an Epsom salt bath for 12 minutes a day for a week raised magnesium levels measurably.

4. Get outside and clear your head.

Sometimes just getting out in nature is all we need to banish stress. In fact, researchers from Stanford observed that those who took a stroll in a parklike setting had meaningful improvements in mental health including less brooding compared to those who walked in an urban setting. Scientists from Finland found that even a brief visit to a green space can reduce stress levels.

5. Journal to reduce the impact of stressors. 

Who hasn't scribbled in a journal after a stressful, emotional, or traumatic event? And there's good reason. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin observed that writing about stressful events can reduce the impact of those stressors; it helped lessen the intensity of the feelings and lowered symptoms of depression. Even more interesting, researcher from the United Kingdom shows that expressive writing improves lung function in asthma sufferers.

6. Hang out with friends. 

Instead of staring at your phone or computer screen, hang out with your friends. Social connection can be a strong buffer against the effects of stress. A study from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California found that participating in a meditation group not only decreased feelings of loneliness, but it decreased systematic inflammation in the body by decreasing the activity of a gene that promotes inflammation in the body.

7. Dance your allergies away.

Yes, dance! Researchers have discovered that dance therapy can benefit those with high blood pressure, depression, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. Music influences mood in a positive way, and, more importantly, relaxing music may reduce levels of cortisol—the main stress hormone in the body. 

The bottom line is that allergies and inflammation involve a lot more than just our environment and what we put in and on our bodies. They are also directly connected with what's going on in our mind. For more information about ways to reduce stress and combat allergies, check out my book The Allergy Solution: Unlock the Surprising, Hidden Truth About Why You Are Sick and How to Get Well.

 

full moon ocean meditation stillness love peace light enlightenment yogalign mount maunganui new zealand world
by Amy Williams November 14, 2016.  Photo from Pinterest.

Meditation was a gift I gave myself for my birthday four months ago. I started with a simple 10-minute, guided meditation in the mornings, and some days felt so rejuvenated that I finished the day with another, longer meditation.

I found beautiful places in my neighborhood where I could sit comfortably by the water and stare out at nature, completely unburdened by the confines of my home.

I meditated every single day, and my life was changing rapidly for the better. My relationship with myself was easier, my anxiety was more manageable, and my relationships with others were improving every day. My professional life was taking off so rapidly that I really believed I was manifesting abundance and creativity through my daily meditations.

And then I went on vacation and didn't meditate because I didn't need it because my day-to-day anxiety didn't follow me on vacation. So, I took a break.

And then I came home from vacation, and there was laundry to do and bills to pay and work to catch up on, and I convinced myself
I would meditate tomorrow. At the end of two weeks of ignoring my daily meditation practice, I felt terrible inside and out.

My body and mind were craving something as simple as the routine of sitting alone for a few minutes each day, clearing my mind, and meditating. I never would have anticipated how rapidly I would feel the absence of meditation in my life, but after two weeks, here's what happened:

1. I was exhausted.

I wasn't sleeping, and my bedtime routine fell to the wayside. Even if I managed to stay in my bed for eight hours, I was having restless sleep with anxiety dreams that would keep me up. Some nights I would be too tired to even make it to my bed and opt instead to fall asleep on the couch. I started the day tired and ended the day exhausted.

2. My creativity tanked.

I had hoped that a week in the Rocky Mountains would lead to creative breakthroughs in my writing, but returning home only returned
me to the minutiae of everyday life, leaving no room for the creative rebirth I had been anticipating.

3. I said yes too often.

Too often, I made plans on top of plans when I should have been carving out time to meditate and to reengage my self-care routine. Instead, I made plans when I was exhausted and came home only more exhausted and unable to carve out the 10 minutes
I desperately needed to meditate to reset.

4. I stopped eating well.

Takeout and delivery became the norm while I ran around in a constant state of busy. I started using "busy" as an excuse for why I wasn't meditating and watched it morph into an excuse for eating junk.

5. Everything hurt.

My head, my back, and my stomach were all in a knot after two weeks of forgoing meditation. A combination of anxiety, lack of sleep, and a poor diet contributed to the complete dismantling of my physical health in real time.

The next time I catch myself thinking meditation can wait until tomorrow, I'll try to recall how quickly I felt the effects of slipping out of the routine. The good news is, meditation is always waiting right where you left it, allowing you to hit the reset button on the damage done.