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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We all know get-rich-quick scams work about as well as weight loss from a pill. While these enticements are tempting for most people in this country, there is another camp of people who always seem to want to make things harder for themselves. Be it working, dieting, or exercising, the old adage “less is more” often takes a back seat to the preferred “no pain, no gain.”
For those of you who are tired of experiencing pain for your gain, an ancient yogic practice called Yoga Nidra may help loosen your fierce grip on your need to achieve your goals.
Yoga Nidra is essentially the yoga of sleep, but it is not the type of sleep we engage in while napping, or at night. It is a relaxation induced, conscious sleep.
The benefits of attaining a super-restful yet fully awake state of mind reach far beyond just putting your feet up and enjoying a cup of tea. Yoga Nidra settles the nervous system and slows brain waves for an overall feeling of euphoria and inner peace.
A typical Yoga Nidra class may involve some guided imagery, body scanning techniques, or gentle pranayama practice. To aid in relaxation, participants are instructed to lie comfortably with their eyes closed and listen to the teacher’s vocal directions.
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The holidays are undoubtedly a stressful time of year and many folks become highly vulnerable to anxiety and depression when the sleigh bells start to ring.
Instead of reaching for food, try rolling out your yoga mat. Studies have shown that a regular yoga and meditation practice can reduce stress and help fight depression.
The following is a short list of three must-do yoga poses that beat the holiday blues. Practice them at least once a day or as needed. This short series will help tame your tension and get you back in to a cheerful holiday spirit.
When you are ready to take a mental vacation from the mayhem, begin your yoga practice with child’s pose.
Come down on to your hands and knees, reach your hips back over your heels, and rest your forehead on the mat, your stacked forearms, or on a pillow. Close your eyes and stay in the pose for up to ten long, slow, deep breaths.
Child’s pose will instantly induce a state of calm and help get you feeling centered and ready to face any challenges that may lie ahead. When you are ready to exit the pose, do so slowly. Coming up too fast will negate the benefits of the pose and could be agitating to your state of mind.
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When it comes to stress and frustration, sometimes it’s just good to let it out. We yell, run, punch – whatever it takes to blow off some steam. However, letting out aggression forcefully isn’t the best habit to fall into especially if you find yourself needing to do so often.
When I think of the best workouts for stress, my mind naturally goes to punching, kicking or tearing things in half. However, fitness expert and health coach Stephanie Mansour would suggest otherwise.
In college, Stephanie had a professor in an aggression and media class who told her the worst thing you can do when you’re upset is to start punching things. As a result, she’s concluded that when we’re angry or upset and need to take it out on something, we’re not teaching ourselves how to actually deal with our issues or become a mature, centered person.
As a fitness coach, Stephanie sees her fair share of clients who come to her for a stress-relieving workouts. But instead of letting them rip into a punching bag, she guides them toward these more relaxing exercise instead.
Breathing techniques - To practice intentional breathing, place your hands on your stomach and draw in air like you’re trying to inflate a balloon, and then slowly let your breath out through your nose like you’re deflating the balloon. In the process, feel your stomach getting bigger and smaller as you breathe, and think about breathing in perspective and breathing out stress.
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Waking to the news about the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, this morning reminded me a lot of September 11, 2001.
My responses were somewhat different, but prior to both tragedies, I had received sad news about death and loss impacting me and those close to me in quick succession. Just this week, two families I know lost babies and other friends experienced other losses. With social media, I was also exposed to the losses of friends of friends. In 2001, I had been to four funerals in just the few months prior to 9/11. Today, the sky is gray and it matches how I think many people are feeling.
When we are stressed, we tend to reach for sugary or fatty foods. It is kind of a natural craving, but it doesn’t mean that it will help you manage your stress. While we may be most tempted to cheat on our diet plans when we are stressed or grieving, it might be the worst time to do it.
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