Yoga is the oldest known practice of self-development. Originating from the East, the practice has made its way to the West and become another popular way to get in shape. But with the numbers of people suffering from anxiety, depression and high blood pressure continually on the rise, we can’t forget about a huge benefit of a mind-body practices like yoga: stress release.
Yoga instructor and health coach Rosie Acosta, who teaches in Portland, OR, says that stress and anxiety affect a majority of her students, and that yoga often helps them better manage those feelings. “We think that yoga is for tuning things out when you’re stressed. But it’s not,” Acosta explains. “It’s about drawing that attention inward. Tuning in.”
Because our focus is almost always directed outward—to work, home, family—we neglect what happens internally, succumbing to stress. Yoga can reverse this trend.
Odds are you’re reading this article on your phone while standing in line somewhere. Or maybe you’re skimming it while waiting on an email from a colleague to come through. Perhaps you’re sitting on the couch, TV on in the background, checking your phone periodically and browsing this in your pre-scheduled free time. If any of those scenarios sounded accurate, then congratulations, you’re just like the majority of people who can’t help but try to multitask.
Unfortunately for multitaskers, and if I’m being honest I’m one of them, studies show multitasking is a myth. The human brain cannot do many things simultaneously. Instead, focus is shifted from one thing to another extremely quickly. So what does it mean if instead of focusing on many things at once you’re really changing focus rapidly? It means that you are not paying as much attention to everything as you think. Tasks may not be completed as well as if you had focused your attention on them entirely. Beyond the risk of producing shoddy work, the myth of multitasking, and cramming as much as possible in to every day, may be hazardous to your health.
Anyone who has been sick with the flu knows that the best thing to do is stay in bed and rest. When your muscles are aching and your fever is high, a lot of downtime is always the best medicine.
The following are a few extremely gentle yogic practices you can do from the comfort of your own bed when you are not feeling well. Each technique will help ease the pain and agony of having the flu this winter, and help you get some much needed, high-quality rest.
Nidra, in Sanskrit, means sleep. Especially when you are bedbound, practicing a little yoga nidra will help your body relax and get your mind off of how horrible you feel. (more…)
With the holidays here and nearly at their peak, we can only image how busy and stressed most of you must be scrambling to finish all of your shopping and gift wrapping before you either hit the road or relatives arrive at your home. Stressed is exactly where we’re at, but we have a solution.
We often get so caught up in all the hustle and bustle that we forget to take time off and just relax. And working out? Is there really enough space on your to do list for that, too? Here’s an idea: Kill two birds with one stone by adding some yoga to your routine this Saturday morning (before hitting your ever-growing to do list). We promise it will provide both relaxation and a refreshing workout in one session.
Studies have found yoga to provide benefits such as stress reduction, increased flexibility, weight management, total body toning, improved balance, increased strength and decreased chances of injury. And that’s not all – it can also aid in managing chronic health conditions such as depression, pain, anxiety, cancer, insomnia and fatigue. It can even help reduce heart rate and blood pressure! Good luck with coming up with any reasons why not to give this extremely beneficial practice a try. Now, let’s get started.
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Many of us are well into our New Year’s resolutions by now and are moving forward with a level of enthusiasm that only happens in January. While some of us have set our intentions to achieve more and workout harder, some of us are striving to take care of our health by doing less.
We all know that being stressed out can cause a myriad of diseases. From deadly heart attacks to frustrating low back pain, stress is a word many of us would like to think of as something in the past. A lot of Americans are perpetually anxious and it is a good choice to slow down and take it easy for a change. Thankfully there are more and more places available beyond the typical yoga studio or massage parlor where one can experience some blissful down time.
At Raffa Yoga in Cranston, Rhode Island for example, members now have access to a 15,000 square foot mansion of leisure, equipped with seven heated therapy rooms to rest and experience mind-body healing. “When we relax, we are more ourselves,” says Christine Raffa, owner of Raffa Yoga and founder of Urban Sweat, a new destination where people can gather and get away from the turmoil of life.
Urban Sweat, an integral part of Raffa Yoga, began with the intention to offer more opportunity to improve health and well-being, not by adding more yoga to the schedule or increasing the intensity of classes, but by providing a space for deep relaxation. Recognizing that many cultures maintain rituals and gathering places to rest, detoxify and cleanse, Raffa thought it would be of great importance to stressed out Americans to have a place of their own as a refuge for healing.
Corpse pose is the final pose of a yoga practice session. It symbolizes “a little bit of dying” according to the Ashtanga yoga sage Pattabhi Jois. The reason for corpse pose is to learn how to let go of that which no longer serves us by calming the mind and relaxing the body. When thoughts become neutral and stress absent, we are less apt to suffer from tension-induced ailments such as headaches and high blood pressure.
For some, corpse pose is a highly anticipated part of their yoga practice. For others, it is a time to fidget, think about pending agendas and worry about something useless like whether or not the porch light was turned off.
Need a little extra help in the relaxation department? The following tips will help you master corpse pose, which in turn will help your mind and body be at ease for a calm and peaceful life.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your impending holiday agenda, read on.
Whether it’s a calendar full of parties, hosting responsibilities, or kids’ activities that have you running around like a chicken without a head, do yourself a favor and take just five minutes of your time to practice this guided meditation and refresh, restore and replenish your peace of mind. It will not only help you, it will help those around you. People will gravitate toward you because you will radiate with pure, inner tranquility, and that will look better on you than any facial treatment I know of. Can you think of a more perfect way to be this holiday season?
Sit in a comfortable position away from external distractions such as the telephone, radio or television. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, breathing in and out through your nose. Draw your awareness inward by tuning in to physical sensations throughout your body. Resist the temptation to judge these sensations, just notice them from an unbiased point of view. If you feel tension, fatigue or tightness anywhere in your body, just be aware for now. Try not to force changes.
Next, focus your attention on the base of your spine. Visualize a tiny flame there, flickering with a gentle glowing light. Feel a warm and soothing sensation emitting from this flame. Notice your hips, legs and feet relax completely.
It is no wonder people get sick, feel depressed, gain weight or have little energy throughout the holiday season. A change in your diet and exercise program, plus frenzied trips to the shopping mall can zap your vitality and well being faster than you can say, “Happy holidays.”
It is important to take care of yourself in order to maintain your health (and sanity) through this busy time of year. Eating right, exercising and getting enough rest are the obvious ways to combat stress. In addition, adding a few moments in your day to have absolutely no agenda other than to relax and practice the following gentle yoga poses will be an added bonus to further help you reduce holiday stress.
By Dr. Mache Seibel for Care2.com
Ask a person if they want to stay well and in less than a nanosecond you will get a universal, resounding “Yes!”
Then ask if they eat healthy, exercise regularly, incorporate relaxation into their daily routine and get enough sleep. The response is much slower and the percentage saying, “Yes” is a lot lower.
Sure, people want to make changes to improve their health, but changing old habits for newer, healthier ones is hard work. For many, it seems almost impossible. Why else would the average person make the same New Year’s resolution 10 different years without success, or only one in seven people who have had a heart attack make long lasting changes to improve their diet or exercise habits? Don’t you think it is time to take responsibility for your own health?
The trick is to start simple. Small changes can make a big difference. Here are five simple steps you can start doing today to improve your health.
It’s 2am and all you’ve been doing is rolling from side to side like a rotisserie chicken, making a complete mess of the bed sheets and keeping the cat awake (who doesn’t care because she sleeps all day anyway). You try to read, count sheep and have a glass of warm milk, but nothing seems to make your eyelids heavy. If only that blazing red light from your digital alarm clock would just stop itself from sneaking so quickly to 6am, you could steal a few hours of quality snoozing before your big day ahead.
Whether the excitement of the proceeding day is keeping you awake, or you just can’t seem to get comfortable, these yoga poses will help mellow you out so you can fall gently into a happy, restful slumber.