FIVE STEPS TO RECLAIMING YOUR BODY, MIND AND EMOTIONS THIS SUMMER.
Summertime and the living is easy, right? Not so for everyone, apparently. I was astounded to read that, according to the American Psychological Association, “75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.”/1/
What about you? Are you singing a happy tune this summer? If not, why not explore the reasons with support from a compassionate and sensitive professional at your side. Consider scheduling a Yoga Therapy appointment today, and continue reading for tips to help bring the joy back into the everyday.
According to the book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Stress Physiologist Robert Sapolsky, our advanced brains are at the root of increased stress in the body/mind. According to Sapolsky, if all we had to do was to find our next meal and avoid being someone else’s next meal, we would experience less stress. Really. But… because we’re always thinking - about the grocery list, or bills we have to pay, or vacations we’d like to take, our mind is constantly active. Even at night, when we’re supposed to be recharging our body through sleep, many people are tossing and turning, their minds full of anxious thoughts. It’s that constant mental activity that he suggests leads to stress. So what are we humans supposed to do?
Here are some suggestions to help reduce the influence of stress in your life:
1) Get out for a walk by the water: It is said that the action of water hitting land (think water falls or waves) creates negative ions, which boost health and wellbeing by increasing oxygen to the brain, resulting in increased alertness and the potential relief of depression. /2/
2) Take a deep breath: Getting more oxygen to your cells will definitely help you feel better. How many times do you go through your day only to find you’ve been holding your breath, or breathing shallowly? So often, we never take time out to simply breathe with awareness, yet this alone can relieve depression, lessen blood pressure issues, soothe a frantic mind, and more.
Consider attending our Blessed Breath and Other Movements Class on Mondays at 12:15 PM for an assessment of how well you are breathing, or schedule some one-on-one time to have this evaluated.
Check out a link below (3) to an article on WebMD that offers simple instructions for basic breathing practices. While I certainly don’t agree with everything they say in the article (for instance, if you have any concerns with bone health, including osteopenia or osteoporosis, please consult with me before trying the rolling up portion of the morning breath presented there or you could crack your spine. And if you have blood pressure issues, please do not hold your breath, as suggested in 4-7-8 breathing. It amazes me the misinformation one can find on medical sites).
For those of you who’ve been coming to classes regularly, I encourage you to start practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing at home. It’s a great way to start your day. It’s also a nice way to let the stress of the day go before you crawl into bed. Follow this link to instructions hidden deep within the Mountain Wisdom Yoga website: http://www.mountainwisdomyoga.com/ancient-yoga-wisdom.html
And remember, stressed spelled backwards is DESSERT! Please ask me if you have questions as you explore breathing more consciously.
3) Smell the roses: I’m sure you’re aware of how fragrances have a potent effect on our bodies, minds and emotions. Consider the scent of seaside breezes, or crisp mountain air. How about the delightful smell of flowers in the garden, a delicious meal being prepared, or cookies in the over? Did you know that simply smelling the scent from different Essential Oils can influence your wellbeing? Essential Oils (EO) are simple products that come from the goodness of nature and they are simply amazing! In many cases one drop of specific oil is all it takes to clear up a longstanding issue.
For instance, the top of my foot was hurting after jumping on and off our raft for several days on a river trip. When I came home, I applied the Oil of Wintergreen to it a few times, and the pain went away.
Recently I used Lemon Essential Oil to remove a sticky residue from some left- over tape on the side of the frig. This hardened, sticky mess had been there for a year or more because nothing else I tried would remove it. I read about Lemon Oil, tried it, and it worked instantly! A couple drops on a cotton ball and some elbow grease and the mess was gone in no time!
My daughter had a cold last month. When a cold sore began to develop on her lip, she applied a drop of tea tree oil 2–3 times a day for the first couple of days and the sore disappeared! Amazing, right? I love these wonderful, natural remedies for just about everything. Rose Oil is soothing, Peppermint Oil is cooling, Rosemary uplifts, and Eucalyptus opens the lungs…. I could go on and on about essential oils. And I will, over time… Look for details about specific oils in future posts. I am able to order them wholesale, so if you’d like to try one out, just ask.
4) Sit still and do nothing: If you attend classes with me, then you know that pausing between poses is just as important as the poses themselves. While there’s value in keeping movement in our lives, and not stagnating, I believe that we get better with adequate rest. Coachers tell you that in weight training and in sports that muscles grow stronger in between the workouts. And neuroscience as well as business psychology have pointed out that our brains work better, too, after a rest. Need to solve a challenging problem and it’s late in the day? Take a break. Come back to it later. You’ll be glad you did!
5) Take a Yogic Nap: Yoga Nidra, known as the Sleep of the Yogis, is an amazing antidote to stress. I find it to be better, in many ways, than all the stuff I just wrote about. It is an ancient yogic practice designed to calm the nervous system and rewire the brain. It allows hormones to find homeostasis in the body, and can support you in achieving your life’s ambition.
Contact me to learn more about this transformative practice. Check out my website for information and plan to participate in a series of practices soon! They are scheduled throughout the year. Yoga Nidra is really great! I sell CD’s with practices of varying length or you can purchase a downloadable practice, as well. Let me know what you’d like, and I’ll tailor one for you, that’s how great I think this practice is!
Can you tell that I love my work as a Yoga Therapist, Yoga Nidra Facilitator, and a Health, Wellness and Lifestyle Consultant? I do! And it’s because I get to support people like you in reconnecting with parts of themselves that may have been lost in the shuffle of life. Whether you want to work with movement, breathing practices and scents, or visualizations and affirmations, I believe you can maintain or reclaim your health and wellbeing, especially if you start today.
Email me to explore how we might work together: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to support you on this path!
~ Sharon Harvey Alexander, E-RYT
References and Links:
Tropical Wonder Fruit Brings Relief
Even if we don’t live in the tropics, we can experience the benefits of coconut. Whether you’re prone to debating whether the coconut is a fruit, a nut or a seed, you might like to know that botanists call the coconut a one-seeded drupe (aka: dry drupe.) A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering surrounding the seed (Peaches and olives are other examples of drupe, a term which actually means over-ripe olive).
The coconut, like all drupes, has three layers - the exocarp (outer layer); the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer) and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed deep inside.) Thus, it’s possible to consider a coconut to be fruit, nut, and/or seed. While this may seem interesting to some, what’s important to know is that there are numerous benefits to consuming coconut, in any of its forms.
What are the benefits, you ask? Well, for starters, coconut oil is considered to be a cooling oil by practitioners of Ayurveda (Ayurveda is the medical arm of yoga). This can be a great antidote to the hot, dry weather inherent in Colorado summers. Slathering the oil all over your body before a shower can do wonders for the skin, cooling the effects of summer heat, and cooling the mind, as well. For additional benefit, try dry brushing your skin first, and then let the oil soak in for 10-20 minutes before you shower. No need to use soap, which can dry out your skin. Simply begin with comfortably warm water in your shower, to open the pores of the skin, supporting the body’s absorption of this wonderful oil, and then end with a cool rinse to close the pores up again before you get out. According to John Douillard, Ayurvedic Practitioner, the oil will combine with the water and cleanse without soap.
Adding a drop of peppermint essential oil to some coconut oil can offer some cool relief. Rub this on the bottoms of your feet before bed and relax into a refreshing sleep.
Ever heard of oil pulling? This is another wonderful way to use Coconut oil. Simply take a spoonful into your mouth, alone or mixed with a tiny bit of sesame oil, and swish it around. Hold it in there for 20 minutes or so first thing in the morning to pull toxins from the body. Additionally, this remedy helps keep the teeth clean and nourishes the gums. At a recent dental checkup, the hygienist commented on my pink, healthy gums so I asked her if she’d heard of oil pulling. Yes, she had and it’s something she recommends to her clients for all those reasons listed above. Great to know that what I’ve been doing for many months is a familiar practice to many.
According to the website coconutoil.com “Studies done on native diets high in coconut oil consumption show that these populations are generally in good health, and don’t suffer as much from many of the modern diseases of western nations where coconut oil is seldom consumed anymore.” The site goes on to list many more benefits than the ones I’ve included here. Check it out. And if you decide to add more of this oil to your diet, or to try the practices mentioned above, please let me know what results you experience. If you’re like me, your skin will be smoother, your head will be cooler, and your teeth will feel cleaner. If all that’s happening on the outside, imagine what good things are happening on the inside of your body, too! Hope you enjoy it!
Namaste, Sharon Harvey Alexander
p.s. - check out the website coconutoil.com to learn more about benefits including effects on Alzheimers, Heart Disease, Diabetis, and more... I think that, like me, you will be amazed!
Check out this website for an evidence based article about the benefits of coconut oil: http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/