Month: October, 2012

Have You Been Feeling More Anxious or Stressed Lately?

Seasons bring change and we need to change with them

Have you been feeling under the weather lately?

Are you more nervous, out of sorts or more anxious than usual?

Is your sleep lighter, more interrupted or more disturbed then usual?

Are you feeling more scattered and have difficulty concentrating or have poor memory?

 

These and other symptoms are typical for a vata imbalance, an ayurvedic term which describes certain types of imbalances. The Fall and Winter are vata seasons. This means, we tend to feel more anxious, have more difficulty sleeping and because of that can’t concentrate as well or have memory problems.

What I like about the ayurvedic approach to health and wellness is the fact that it is not so much a disease model as a balance model.  As with scales, if there is not enough weight on one side, the other side will go down.  By adding more weight to the lighter side of the scales, the tools and techniques ayurveda offers bring body and mind back into balance.

There is no need to be alarmed. Vata energy is something very positive. Its nature is  creative and artistic, however it brings along certain tendencies.  Only if there is an excess of creative energy, too much of a good thing, too many projects started and none finished, we tend to get anxious and feel out of control. The vata season increases this. Your skin may be dryer and you may dislike the wind more than usual. These are just additional signs of a vata imbalance.

The good news is that we can bring something that is out of balance back into balance.  Here are five simple techniques which can help you do this:

  1. Every morning try a whole body oil massage with organic sesame oil. It moistens the skin. It also helps to reduce or prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis, and nurtures the nervous system. Wash it off with warm water (no soap is needed).
  2. Meditate (5 to 20 minutes). You don’t have to sit in a cross-legged position. Sit comfortably in a chair, but try to keep your spine elongated. Observe your breath, or watch the birds through your window. If your thoughts are racing or thundering down like a water fall, just observe them, most importantly : don’t judge them!
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly. If you are a beginner, make your exhale at least one count longer than the inhale. If you are used to deep breathing, inhale on 4 counts, exhale on 8 counts.
  4. Ground yourself: feel the chair or floor under you.
  5. Lie on your back and put the legs up the wall for 5 minutes.

Yoga and Ayurveda are sister disciplines which complement each other. In yoga, we practice many calming, soothing poses which pacify vata and leave you nurtured and refreshed in as little as one class. In my two-hour workshop on Sunday, November 11, 4:00 – 6:00 pm, I am offering tools which reduce vata imbalance and anxiety. The location is Grapevine Yoga. I’ll also include some aroma therapy to reduce worry or anxiety even more. Aroma therapy also indulge the senses and leaves you feeling pampered.

In all my classes, whether for children or adults, in which I have applied these simple, easy to use principles, participants left with a big smile, no matter how exhausted, stressed or anxious they were when they arrived.

Questions? Contact me or register at eva@wellyestoday.org. See you there!

© WellYes TODAY LLC, Nov. 2012

Why is Yoga so Beneficial for Children?

Camel is one of the great strengthening poses!

 

In these hectic times, children often carry our stress. Frequently, they rush from one activity to the next, without much time to catch their breath. As yoga is best known for its stress-relieving benefits, its practice can help all age groups find some peace and calmness and regroup.

Experience has shown that children who are sensitive or artistic, who are prone to feeling anxious or have trouble sleeping, respond particularly well to the calming and soothing stretches and gentle games we play. Also children with ADHD, sensory integration difficulties and mild cerebral palsy love to learn to respect their bodies and enjoy movement by experiencing this non-violent, non-competitive approach to exercise in yoga.

However, yoga is much more than exercise. It has so many benefits that it is not possible to list them all here. Yoga gives children a place to feel comfortable in their bodies, reduce their anxiety, improve balance, coordination, and strength. Practicing yoga even helps them sleep better. With low impact, structured movement, breathing exercises, games and relaxation, the children learn to focus and relax. There is even a connection between movement and speech. Children who usually don’t express themselves suddenly can get quite talkative after a yoga class. Each child responds to yoga in his or her own way and gets what he needs most.

Yoga also is wonderful in building self-confidence and self-esteem. In a survey my students’ parents completed at the end of a school year, they unanimously indicated that as much as coordination and balance improved, the children’s self-confidence and self-esteem improved too. Furthermore, focus and self-control increased as well. Here is the story of a little boy who used to use his elbows rather than his words to make his wishes known. It was wonderful to see that, within a few weeks of yoga practice, he started to use his words first. This does not mean that he had completely forgotten to use his elbows, but at least he tried to settle things verbally first. Behaviors don’t change overnight. However, this was a great success by approximation!

Overall it can be said that, with increased focus and self-control, two fundamental prerequisites for successful learning, the children’s level of performance increases too – further enhancing self-confidence and self-esteem.

© WellYes TODAY, 2012

What to do when you feel blue!

What does Mountain have to do with dealing with the blues?

Think about the majesty of a mountain, its indestructibility, and power. Make yourself as big as a mountain, stretch your arms high up to the sky,  and take a few deep breaths!

As my students have confirmed, this little exercise is most helpful to them to stop the blues or not sink into feeling depressed. I understand that this may be the last thing you want to do when you feel low, but it is the secret to balancing out the mood you are in: do the opposite and move, move, move!

To create balance, do Warrior or Lion when your feel anxious and face your fears. If you are driven, do what seems most difficult for you and relax for 20 minutes. Those, however, who prefer to sit and let the world go by, need to get active. A good walk with moderate intensity, mowing the lawn or other forms of physical activity can do wonders to lift the mood.

One of the reasons I love yoga so much is that I can choose at any moment how much energy I want to put into my practice. True, the more  energy I put in, the more I usually get out, at least up to a certain point, but I don’t have to give 90 – 100% to receive its benefit. I can stop at any time I choose. Particularly when I feel blue, I may want to start gently, release the tension gradually in seated or reclining poses until my body is ready for the more strenuous and stimulating ones.

However, just five minutes of gentle stretches usually help me feel better whether I feel blue or just stressed. The big problem is making a commitment to myself and stretching on a regular basis. Five minutes are not a long time. It is like brushing teeth.  Stretching is part of personal hygiene. I promise it makes a big difference.

Although stretching  is simple, it is not easy. Nurturing ourselves often is the last item on the to-do-list in our busy schedule, if it makes the list at all. Next time you automatically get up to get yourself a cup of coffee or tea, try to stretch instead and see if it makes a difference for you too! It takes about as much time, but does not have any adverse side effects!

Enjoy!