Monday, March 30, 2009

Yoga at Home

"Have you ever unrolled your yoga mat with the best of intentions to flow from one yoga pose to another, only to find that no ideas come to mind? You sit on your blanket and stare blankly into outer space waiting for inspiration to strike, or you search through the recesses of your mind trying to recall what the group yoga class did yesterday. Do you hear yourself saying things like, “Let’s see what posture came after that forward fold?” “Okay mind, now would be a fine time to remember what we did in class yesterday?” Do you plan to practice between classes, but when you sit down and get ready to begin, nothing happens? Does your body just sit there waiting for your mind to tell it what to do?" ~ except from Creating Your Own Yoga Practice

The spring air has giving me the oomph needed to complete some past projects and toss others out. With this in mind, I created an electronic (pdf format) book called, Creating Your Own Yoga Practice. The birth of this idea came almost three years ago after attending a teacher workshop and discovered how few people had any knowledge of the importance of ordering yoga postures. Additionally, it never fails when a new class starts up that the next week a handful of people wonder what to do when they get home. Even those of us with years of experience may find it difficult to come up with a flow of postures that move the body in a wise fashion.

There are numerous theories and opinions regarding the topic of sequencing, Creating Your Own Yoga Practice, contains elements of Anusara, Iyengar, and Para Yoga, which are all quite similar.

If you're interested in seeing sample pages, click here and here. The cost is $10, and you may order by emailing me at Kris@TotalHealthYoga.com.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Improving Mental Health - Maintaining Weight Loss - (or gain)

Last week's post was based on admiration of Dr. Dyer's quote of the day; today I'd like to share with you another new blog--new to me--that has a great post suggesting Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health.

The American Diabetes Association says, "Approximately 64% of American adults are overweight or obese...." We all know that if we eat right and exercise, our bodies will respond. In high school, my 5' 1" body reached over 145 pounds. I refused to step on the scale again until I knew I had lost some weight. By the end of college, I was down to 96 pounds and had the child-sized wedding dress to prove it!

My weight and food problems stemmed wide and far. They were rooted in deep childhood issues. It wasn't until I began to love and appreciate myself and Life that the weight reached a comfortable zone (~115-120) and I felt fit and healthy. The point is, my body responded with I changed on the inside. Sure exercise and consciously considering what when in my mouth were a big part of it, but the yo-yo shifts in weight stopped when the reason I took care of my body was because I appreciated it and myself and not because I wanted to look or even feel a certain way.

In summary, physical fitness and watching what we eat is great, but until we pay attention to our mental health, attitude, and mindset, our physical health will, at best, be temporary.

Love Much--take care of yourself because you're worth it!

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Power of Intention

As many of you know, I admire Dr. Wayne Dyer and the wisdom he shares. Not that I agree with all of it, but overall his words resonate as Truth, and as Gandhi said,

"There is no God higher than Truth."

As usual, something Dr. Dyer wrote struck of chord of inner peace with me and thus I'm compelled to share it with you:

Practice the Power of Intention
"The power of intention is the power of love and receptivity. It asks nothing of anyone, it judges no one, and it encourages others to be free to be themselves. Remember:
You were intended out of love,
so you must be love in order to intend
."

If this speaks to you, feel free to check out his 'quote of the day' page, as this is where it came from.

Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Acid Reflux Relief - Gerd - Heartburn Relief

We do our best to let our yoga teacher's know what ailments we have, but sometimes it's hard to keep up! Recently a gal mentioned, in passing, that she'd had acid reflux for some time now. She didn't tie it to yoga or think that her practice could help or hurt this condition. Depending on how the practice is, it could do either.

Here are some basic suggestions to watch out for if you (or someone you know) is dealing with acid reflux, gerd, or heartburn during a yoga session:

* Wear loose comfortable clothing.
* When on the back (especially savasana) use blankets to keep the upper back and head higher than the belly.
* No strenuous backbends; deep stretching in the abs can bring on too much stimulation.
* Any activity that calms and sooths the belly region is helpful--this could be passive breathing, meditation, and gentle movements.
* Avoid active exhales; do not pull the belly in tightly.
* Gentle forward bends (with a passive relaxed exhale) can help to relax the abs.
* Gentle slow stretches of the abs or side body are fine--you may want to start slowly and stay in each position a breath or two even if in a group class we're moving in and out with each breath.
* Think "is my belly calm in this pose". If the answer is "yes", precede; if not, lessen the degree--that is, don't go into the pose so far.
* Feel free to use chairs to support you in standing forward bends of any kind to gently massage the belly without deeply compressing it. Also, you could widen your legs in forward bends to lessen compression while still getting the benefits.
* Do your best to avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to class; if you need something try something small (preferably fruit) 30-60 minutes prior to class.


Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mind Body Connection

What we think about directly affects our bodies.

A bold and new idea such as this would have earned you the label of "quack" thirty or forty years ago; yet today we accept this notion as common knowledge, or at least I thought so.

A dear friend of mine is about to return (after a long medical leave) to a job that she abhors. Every cell in her body screams to not go back; yet logic, the economy, and her husband encourage her to ignore the body's pleas and to return to a situation that goes against everything that feels right in her heart. Not surprisingly she has dealt with countless major health issues, including cancer, and metal issues. In interest of her privacy, I won't include the long list, but let's suffice it to say that the issues are not minor and I am concerned for her well-being and at times for her very life.

This woman is talented, intelligent, funny, kind, educated, generous, and a hard worker. She has much to offer the world including her true passion of spiritual growth and awareness. However re-entering into this particular job is draining her of the few reserves she has left; how could a husband demand she go back? If he loves her, then why would he risk her well-being?

Simple: He doesn't believe that the stress and unhappiness have anything to do with all of the diseases she has experienced in the last couple of years.

Let's see what Mayo Clinic has to say:
"Mind-body techniques strengthen the communication between your mind and your body. Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners say these two systems must be in harmony for you to stay healthy. Examples of mind-body connection techniques include:
Meditation, Yoga , Biofeedback, Prayer, Hypnosis, and Relaxation and art therapies, such as poetry, music and dance."

Neurobiologist, David Felten, at the University of Rochester comments:
"[Science has] provided irrefutable data showing [that our minds and bodies are connected.]"

Rita Effros, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center, Molecular Biology Institute and UCLA AIDS Institute, describes the relationship between stress and the immune system:
"When the body is under stress, it boosts production of cortisol to support a 'fight or flight' response. If the hormone remains elevated in the bloodstream for long periods of time, though, it wears down the immune system."

So the question is can we feel good, or at least okay, with our lives? Do you enjoy your job, or at least not feel repulsed by it? Are you're relationships overall loving and nurturing? How do you view life--as welcoming and wonderful or frightening and tragic?

Is there a connection with how you view the world and live your life with your health? It takes raw honesty to admit that we might be our cause of illness, but evidence is strong enough to at least consider that maybe--just maybe--we all have the power to shift our attitude, thoughts, and/or surroundings to live a healthier and more meaningful life.

Additional sources of information may be found at:
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART02741
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2008/03.13/03-harrington.html
http://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/02/genetic-study-supports-mindbody-connection/2540.html

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Presense - Living in the Now

Have you ever had unwanted thoughts creep in throughout the day? If there's a conflict that needs resolving or a life-altering decision to be made, does your mind replay possible scenarios over and over again?

Last week, I found my thoughts running a muck leaving me unable to enjoy being fully present with my friends and family. One of my goals is to live a conscious life and be fully in the moment at all times--hey, it's a goal. The question arose: how does one stay present when strong emotions or thoughts fill the mind and draw attention to another time and place?

Eckhart Tolle suggests three techniques to live in the now: breathing consciously, noticing the inner body, and asking what is my relationship with the present moment?

This final method worked wonderfully for me last week. Throughout the day, I'd question:

"What is my relationship with the present moment?"

This question alone, brings your attention to the now and you become the observer instead of being sucked into the mind's drama. The follow up question below really cinched it for me.

"Can I make space for this moment?"

You may interpret this query differently at different times. Can I accept the situation? Can I step back and allow my feelings to flow? Can I allow someone to be different than I think they ought to be? Can I see the bigger picture? Can I be present without identifying with any given role?

When we can make space for our emotions to exist, a fascinating thing happens; we become the witness and watch emotions rise and fall while maintaining a sense of peace and objectivity. By making space for the current moment and our habitual reactions to it, we can see how silly and repetitive some thoughts are. We can give sadness or anger the room it needs to run its course. Then we are free to move on without the stagnation and distraction of continuous thoughts bringing us out of the current moment.

So I ask: What's your relationship with the current moment? Can you make space for it?

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Setting Personal Boundaries

Laura (name changed) has mastered the art of setting and living with personal boundaries. In doing so she no longer needs blood pressure medication or her inhaler. I've known Laura for about four years and am inspired by her ability to use the lessons of yoga to change her life for the better on a daily basis. Following are three short anecdotes demonstrating her personal power. Hopefully, these stories will inspire more of us to realize the value of honoring thyself.


Laura's children are grown and have kids of their own. Her grandkids are quite young--below the age of five, I think. One set of grandkids lives on the west coast and the other on the east; whereas Laura resides in the midwest. Every year Laura and her husband would fly out to both coasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may imagine the expense financially and time-wise of doing this. Finally this past year, Laura began to honor her own limits and spent Thanksgiving on one coast and Christmas on the other. Initially, the grandkids were upset at the change, but Laura stuck to her decision and used skype (or some such video abilities) to "be" with the kids on each coast. Already her life was simpler and, well, more sane.


Laura's high pressure job demands much of her time with last minute meetings and requests cropping up on a continuous basis. It also demands a lot of travel. Her blood pressure and breathing patterns reflected this stressful life. Over the past several months, she began to actually say, "No," to her boss. When told that "she had to fly out early for a meeting" the morning after returning from a trip, Laura simply told her boss that was not good for her body, but she would be happy to hold the meeting over the phone. Her boss was flustered, but ended up agreeing that the phone made more sense.


One final story about personal power and how one woman utilizes it in her daily life. Laura used to spend the majority of her weekends with her blind and single mother helping out with chores, reading to her, and just being together. When Laura stepped back and looked at her life and considered why it felt so off-balance and stressful, she realized that part of that was from spending so much of her out-of-work time caring for her mom. Now she spends about three hours most Sundays with her mom. Initially, her mom was upset by this shorter schedule and (from my view) tried to guilt-trip my friend into sticking with the old way. But Laura stuck to her guns, told her mother she loved her, and kept the new time limits. Within a few weeks, her mom had met other people and even began dating.


What I find so inspiring about this dear woman, is her ability to exhibit personal boundaries and power in all facets of her life. Just as importantly, she does it with a loving and compassionate heart. Never once did I sense her resisting a situation--not since she began working with her yoga breathing and mindset. Instead of fighting and struggling with potentially challenging situations, she thinks creatively and with love and calm in her heart. I believe that because her intentions are pure and honest, in the end everyone benefits.



May you release guilt,
honor yourself,
and
experience the personal freedom of setting boundaries,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!