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Yoga for Stress and Anxiety

There are many benefits to practicing yoga, and relief from stress and anxiety is just one of them—but it’s a big one.

Many medical professionals believe that stress and anxiety are underlying issues that contribute to a huge variety of diseases, including digestive disease, some types of cancer, obesity, skin conditions, and many more.

By ridding yourself of the triggers that cause anxiety in your life (or learning how to manage it more effectively), you can give yourself a leg up when it comes to disease prevention. That’s huge! And at the time of year when kids are taking exams and sports are wrapping up, life can sometimes feel out of control.

But yoga helps.

Here are 5 ways in which yoga can help to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, while also teaching you to deal with them in ways that are productive and healing:

Yoga Teaches You to Use Your Breath

We all breathe, but learning to breathe consciously and mindfully at times of stress and anxiety can be a huge asset to your health and well-being. Breathing deeply and purposefully allows your body to take the heart rate down, circulate more oxygen to the bloodstream, and feed every single little cell with nutrients.

When this happens, our body is given a signal that we do not need to be in fight or flight, and we can relax.

And we do.

Yoga Invites Humility into Your Life

Practicing yoga helps you realize that everyone walks a different path, and consequently, your problems are not unique to you. You’re not the only one in class with a rebellious teenage son or daughter. You’re not the only one struggling at work.

And you’re not the only one with tight hamstrings.

Yoga teaches us that although we are each immensely important, we move as one and all need to respect one another in order to reap life’s rewards. This realization can be deeply powerful in combating chronic stress that leads to anxiety.

Poses and Postures Help Reduce Inflammation

Your organs feel your stress and anxiety, and although you may not feel the effects immediately, they do, and it’s only a matter of time until you recognize that.

Your body responds to stress by creating inflammation. In an effort to protect itself, your amazing body creates a buffer between its very important parts, but this buffer is not meant to be permanent.

Yoga helps to reduce and eliminate inflammation by increasing circulation (bringing more oxygen to the brain and body), calming the mind, and creating a collection of healthy thoughts and emotions within ourselves that we can draw from when we feel the need to.

Kind of like a mental health toolbox!

You Learn to Be Still

Think that 10 minutes in savasana is just a show? Think again. Some people have a harder time staying in savasana than they do in pigeon!

Why?

Because laying still in the day without expectation of sleep invites thought into your mind that you may not want there. But dealing with those thoughts in a safe place instead of avoiding them is the healthier alternative.

Learning to be still can help you eliminate a lot of stress—that’s why meditation is so amazing for your body, too!

Competition Stays at the Door

Many of us compete with each other and even ourselves without even realizing it. While competition can definitely be healthy, it’s also unnecessary to be steeped in all the time. Learning to put aside competitive feelings can have a very positive affect on your body—and your anxiety levels.

For more information on the health benefits of yoga, visit our blog. If you’d like to see our class schedule, visit HERE.

Namaste.

Ways to Stay Healthy During Autumn

Autumn can be stressful, and as grown-ups (sigh), it can be way too easy to forget about self-care. Between back-to-school, diminishing daylight hours, and kids’ sports activities, we can get run down pretty easily.

Here are some ways to gain energy, help focus, and relieve stress in autumn:

Learn to Say No

Saying no to requests that don’t serve our state of either mental or physical health is one of the toughest lessons to learn. We all so desperately want to be helpful and accommodating (which is great!), but always saying yes often results in frustration and burnout–which leads to irritability and resentment.

Instead of feeling like you have to say yes to everyone, think about the commitment you’re considering making, and whether or not it will serve your mental or physical health in the long-term. It’s okay to say no…saying no means that you know your own limits, and that can be empowering.

Get Outside

This is so important. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing outside, just it matters that you get there. Walk, run, hike, or stand in one spot and don’t move. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the fresh air, the ground under your feet, and the nature around you.

Hanging out in the wind and trees and bugs and dirt is cathartic. We’re animals–we were meant to spend copious amounts of time outdoors, surrounded by nature.

Supplement with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin, and our bodies need to absorb sunlight for it to be synthesized properly so that we can use it. Foods can be fortified with vitamin D, but it’s not the same as getting it from the sun.

During the fall months, try to get as much as possible by being outside. If the sun is scarce, then turn to supplements. This hormone is often dubbed the “feel good hormone”, and we need it to balance a variety of brain chemicals that help us regulate mood.

Without adequate levels of vitamin D, we can get cranky and depressed–make sure you get enough!

Keep Up Your Yoga Practice

This may seem like a plug (which it totally is), but it’s also valid advice. Yoga helps us stretch muscles, slow down, remember to maintain mindful attitudes, and so much more. It’s an hour of time that we deserve–one that is desperately needed by most to feel replenished and maintain our cool.

See our upcoming yoga schedule HERE.

Meditate Regularly

Similar to our yoga advice, meditation can greatly assist in keeping you focused and stress-free during the autumn months. Taking just 5 minutes out of your day (everyday), can help manage anxiety and depression.

New to meditation? Try this 5-minute meditation below:

Keep a Solid Bedtime Routine and Schedule

The fall is kind of tough on our internal clocks–days become shorter and the darkness lasts longer. The time change helps a little bit, but not much. For this reason, keeping a solid bedtime schedule can help your body stay on a routine that will in turn help with wakefulness and rest.

Eat Well

This last one is super important. Eating foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and essential omega fatty acids can help keep us healthy and alert during short autumn days. Don’t get caught in the trap of drinking too much coffee and snacking on processed sugar for a quick pick-me-up: these foods will actually make your body more tired in the long run.

Instead, treat your body as you would a child’s: lots of fruit, veggies, lean proteins, fibre, and water.

By practicing good self-care throughout autumn, we’ll feel better going into the winter, and more prepared for seasonal change in general. Remember to keep coming to yoga! It’s not just a physical practice, but one that helps strengthen your mind, body, and soul.

Namaste.

5 Meditation Tips for Beginners

If you have an active and long-term yoga practice, then you probably also meditate, or are at least have been curious about it. Although yoga and meditation go hand in hand, people seem to gravitate more easily towards yoga than towards mediation.

Why is this?

If the roadblock mainly consists of not knowing where to start, then we have your back! Here are 5 meditation tips for beginners:

Be Aware of the Benefits

It’s more difficult to begin a meditation practice if you aren’t sure why you’re doing it. Like yoga, meditation focuses largely on breath and inwardness. It encourages those who practice to turn their thoughts inward and focus on the present.

Unlike yoga, meditation encourages stillness and cultivates the ability to be both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. It can help increase your resilience in dealing with stress and anxiety, and helps people prone to unwanted overthinking, otherwise known as rumination.

Understand the Principles

Although many beginners think that the main goal of mediation is purposeful focus without becoming distracted, it’s learning to notice when your mind drifts that results in successful cognitive therapy:

“You can’t restructure your thoughts if you haven’t first developed the ability to identify your thoughts.”[1]

Start with 3-5 Minutes

Beginners don’t have to begin their mediation practice by doing so for hours. Start small. Try sitting in a comfortable and quiet place in your home, eyes closed, for 3 minutes. A great way to try and control your thoughts is to breathe in and out a mantra.

On your inhale, imagine the word “slow” and on the exhale, imagine the word “down.” For every breath, repeat the mantra. You’ll be surprised how after a few times, that 3 minutes becomes 8! (And so on.)

Anything is Better than Nothing

Remember that 5 minutes is better than 2, and 2 minutes is better than zero. By keeping your meditation practice consistent, even if it means only getting in 2 minutes a day, you’re creating a healthy habit that will evolve into something powerful.

Be realistic, and do what works for you and your lifestyle. Which brings us to…

If All Else Fails, Throw the Rules Out the Window

Rules don’t mean much if they aren’t going to be followed. So don’t follow the same ones as others, if they don’t make sense! For example, if one person’s suggested mantra doesn’t work for you, create one that does! If meditating in the evening isn’t realistic, try doing it in your car on your lunch break.

Meditation is about learning to control your thoughts and having the tools to recognize when your mind is negatively affecting your body and vice versa. It’s about aligning your mind, body, and soul for harmony and inner peace.

So it’s worth a try! If you’re a beginner, ask us for more tips on how to incorporate meditation into your life, today.

Namaste.

References:

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201303/5-meditation-tips-beginners