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3 Steps to Stay Focused and Feel Happier

A study conducted by two Harvard University researchers suggests that people’s wandering minds are to blame for their unhappiness. In addition, they found that happiness was not necessarily a consequence of what someone was doing, but how focused they were while doing it.

Using an Internet-based cell phone application to gather feedback, the researchers asked their subjects if they were focused while engaged in certain activities, or if their minds were drifting towards something totally different. The subjects were then asked to describe their level of contentment during each activity.

The results concluded that people’s minds wander at least 50% of the time and while the mind is wandering, most people feel unhappy. It is worth noting that in this experiment minds wandered less during sex, exercise or while engaged in conversation and more in those who were working, using a home computer or resting. However you want to interpret this, the important message is that we only spend half of our waking hours focused and experiencing happiness.

 

Do you want to be happy more than 50% of the time, whether you are working, exercising or spending time with others? The following tips will help you focus, and “be here now” as esteemed spiritual leader Ram Dass famously states.


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5 Principles of Safe and Effective Forward Bending Yoga Poses

During this hectic time of year your yoga practice is especially helpful in reducing anxiety, but if you cannot fit in a full yoga class, practicing on your own is second best. Restorative poses like forward bends top the list to release stress and refresh the mind and body, but it is important that they are done correctly.

The following principles are categorized by body part and action to help you practice safe and effective restorative forward bending yoga poses.

Hips

Imagine your pelvis as a bowl of water and your spine as the stream of water that spills from the bowl. By placing both hands on your hips and tipping your hips forward first as if to pour the water onto your feet, you set the forward bend up from your hips rather than from your lower back. This prevents the action of lumbar lordosis (rounding out) from your lumbar spine, which can stress the discs of the lower back.

Knees

If your hamstrings are tight, simply bend your knees. This will allow your pelvis to tip forward with ease without rounding your lower back. Also, you can bend your knees if you feel tension behind them and if you feel a tugging sensation on your sitting bones. It is best to feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle, rather than at the attachment points (sit bones and backs of knees). This helps to protect your tendons and ligaments from excess strain.


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Use Yoga to Help Ease a Holiday Party Hangover

With holiday parties scheduled nearly every weekend and the New Year right around the corner, many of us enjoy the occasional cocktail, or ten. If you are suffering from a hangover, keep reading. Even though there is no known cure that will positively eliminate or prevent the painful effects of a hard night of drinking, the following yoga inspired tips and poses can help relieve your suffering so you can get on with your day in a productive manner.

Yoga Tip #1

Take Five Deep Breaths, preferably outside

Your pounding head in the morning is often caused by a lack of oxygen to your brain because drinking alcohol slows down your respiratory rate. To get the oxygen flowing again, practice some yogic breathing.

Take a deep breath in and at the very top of your inhale, take in just a little bit more breath. Hold your breath for two to three seconds and exhale slowly. Repeat up to five times. This will help flood your brain with the oxygen you may be lacking and give your whole body a blast of fresh air, especially if you can practice this yogic breath in the great outdoors.


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Simple Yoga to Energize Your Morning

Do you loathe mornings? Are you slow to wake up? Does it take you until the afternoon to finally feel chipper? Well, if you are not a morning person yet you have to get up early because of work, kids or some other call to duty, try the following brief, simple and effective yoga routine. Even if you don’t do yoga, or have yet to try it, you will find this easy sequence helpful in making you feel sprightly at sunrise.

Morning Breath (It’s not what you think!)

Upon awakening, before you get out of bed or even move a muscle, take ten full deep breaths through your nose. At the height of your inhale, take in just a little bit more breath and hold it for a second before you exhale. Notice the awakening sensation of fresh oxygen flooding your brain and feel a revitalizing boost before your breakfast.
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Yoga for the Relief of Afternoon Sluggishness

Whether you are a high-powered executive or a stay-at-home mom, some afternoons inevitably make you feel like crawling back into bed. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee to remedy your post-lunch sleepiness, how about reaching for your yoga mat? Practicing yoga on a sluggish afternoon can revitalize you.

Mountain Pose to Energize

Remove your shoes and stand up as straight and as tall as you can. Reach both arms overhead and stretch vigorously from your feet to your fingertips. Hold for 20 seconds, and for the last five seconds lift your heels up to balance on your toes. Immediately feel light and vibrant.

Standing Twist to Invigorate

Cross your right foot over your left and place it to the outside of your left foot. Stand equally on both feet with your ankles crossed. Straighten both arms directly out to the side. Begin to reach your left arm forward and your right arm back, twisting from the hips. Turn your head and look out over your right arm. Hold for five deep breaths and then switch sides. Notice an energizing tingle through your spine.


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