Connect the dots between key Yoga philosophy topics and what recent research in the west has discovered.
Understand the science behind mind-body health and the integration of ancient wisdom and modern psychology.
Designed for you, Yoga Teachers & Mental Health Providers & Personal Practice Junkies, we’ll give you information and tools so you walk away with key tips to bring to your classes, clients, patients, and your own practice – things like how to read posture and behaviors to give your clients and students what they really need to create a shift.
Many of us LOVE the way Yoga helps us balance our lives, increase our sense of wellness and balance, and regulate our emotions, but why does it work? If you have ever asked that question or wondered what your teachers and trainers are talking about – this class is for you.
Are you looking at 2020 wondering how you will implement changes to your health goals? Feeling overwhelmed already? This year look to simplify changes by making small tweaks in your current routines and add little increments to your health behaviors for maximum success.
Guest Post By: Jennifer McGregor
Well-intentioned health goals are a dime a dozen. Everyone always has something that they want to achieve, whether it’s losing 20 pounds or running a 5K. For many, reducing stress is also a compelling objective, especially those in high-stress occupations like caregivers. Regardless of what your goals are, know that it takes more than just good intentions to meet them; you need action, too. Thankfully, with strategic tweaks here and there, you, too, can incorporate solid health practices into your daily routine. Here are a few to get you started.
Choose the good.
The fulfillment of any health goal invariably starts with one thing—making good choices. In fact, mindfulness is known to not just improve your physical health, but also your mental well-being, too.
No doubt, the thing that particularly benefits from this is your diet. The practice of mindful eating means listening to your body’s signals—that is to say, eating when you’re hungry as opposed to bored and knowing when to stop. Not only that, but it also means consciously choosing to consume food that’s healthy and nourishing, cutting back on processed food rich in sodium and sugar, which would be particularly beneficial to caregivers prone to stress and conditions like hypertension. Another way to eat healthier (and less) is to order healthy options from a meal delivery service because with pre-measured ingredients, you can control portion sizes.
Beyond just your diet, being mindful means making choices that truly serve you and your body, too. This can be as simple as going to bed an hour earlier to get more quality shut-eye, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Move with intention.
Of course, regular physical activity is a must for just about any health goal. And it’s hard not to see why with the many known benefits of movement. Its physical perks such as weight loss and improved immune and lymphatic systems—to name just a few—are common knowledge, but even more interestingly, movement also enhances brain health, elevates your mood, and reduces stress.
While the idea of movement inevitably brings to mind exercise, there are other ways to go about it, too. This could be anything from stretching to dancing to gardening. Indeed, simply being on your feet will already do wonders to your well-being holistically, so it’s great practice, therefore, to always make it a point to move.
As rewarding a vocation as caregiving is, it also leaves you vulnerable to feelings of overwhelm and frustration, making caregiver stress a real problem. This is why it’s doubly important for caregivers to make relaxation and stress management a priority.
Doubtless, the easiest way to go about this is to introduce relaxation techniques to your routine, such as meditation and deep breathing. It’s also a good idea to make it a point to go on a break and take time to do something you love, like reading or pursuing a hobby. Going on vacation is another way to relax. Even a staycation in your own city will do wonders for your overall well-being.
In the same vein as taking downtime, you should also give yourself a license to indulge from time to time, as long as you make it worthwhile. For example, partaking in your daily red wine is one indulgence that’s really good for you as red wine is chock full of antioxidants that protect you from a plethora of diseases, as well as anxiety and depression. Hiring a health and lifestyle coach is another, as you could certainly benefit from a customized health plan, plus it helps to have someone hold you accountable.
Suffice it to say, health goals are just ideals when you don’t have concrete steps to follow through on them. Thankfully, being healthier need not be earth-shattering. So start making small changes and see the difference.
To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.
This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.
Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.
Workout Basics and Warm Up
Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.
When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.
If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.
The first portion of the workout consists of a metoblic fat burning time set. Do each movement for 1 minute as many/hard as you can, then rest for 30 seconds. Move the next exercise. Do this whole set 2x through.
Plank Spider Walks
High Skip Traveling Jumps
The next portion includes a dumbbell matrix. With each DB move use the abdominals to rotate while lifting. It is important to have good form here. Go slower and lighter on the weight until you feel strong enough to hold good form. You’ll do one DB exercise followed by a 30-second plank hold in between each DB movement. Do the whole group 2x through.
Rotate and overhead press
Rotating bicep curl with alternating leg backward lunge
Alternating uppercuts with isometric plié squat
Narrow squats with Y overhead press
Frontal to lateral should raise
The third portion of the workout is all about balancing out your core strength. Do these exercises 2x through then congratulate yourself and stretch!
Supermans with cactus arm pull-downs
Upper to lower body curls
Quadruped opposite elbow to knee curls and extensions
YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.
Words of Caution …
Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.
This is a great side dish and goes with all sorts of main dish dinners. It is hearty enough to stand as a main dish for lunches or a small dinner. It’s easy, quick, and tasty.
I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.
Red cabbage – green would work just fine too
Carrots – shredded or sliced
Thai fish sauce enough to coat the cabbage and carrots (or you can skip and just use the tahini)
Toasted Sesame seeds with Olive Oil for toasting – you can also use tahini, and skip roasting
1 lime for juice
Salt and pepper
The Cooking Part …
Heat olive oil (just enough for your sesame seeds)
Drop-in sesame seeds and stir to coat, allow to roast on stovetop
Chop or shred carrots and cabbage, toss in a large bowl
Pour in fish sauce and stir
Add the roasted sesame seeds and olive oil
Slice lime in half and squeeze juice over the mixture
Salt and pepper to taste – less is more here because it will sit and intensify as the flavors blend in the dish. You can always add more to serve.
What to serve with …
You can add rice vinegar to this recipe if you would like a tangy flavor. It is a great side dish for any Asian BBQ, soup, or dumpling. It’s also great with tacos, sandwiches, or hamburgers. Serve warm to add another dynamic alongside a fish dinner or pork chops. I served with Fish as a main course. AND it’s great as a solo dish, too. Make a batch and eat off it all week.
For many the season of autumn is difficult. Depending on where you live, it’s full of things dying, leaves falling, colder weather, darker days, and a general sense of ending. In addition, to the messiness of leaves and seeds flying around, it gets blustery which can be hard on our nervous systems.
According to Esienberg et al. (2010), the changing of seasons and sunlight decreases shifts the dopamine systems. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that helps us feel pleasure. When the seasonal changes shift our ability to feel pleasure we have to make sure to find ways to bring pleasure into our lives.
The change in seasons can be tough on our physical systems and impact our mental health. Here are some ways to make sure you are staying on track as we move through fall and into the chilly, crisp winter season.
Get Your Schedule Figured Out:
If you are like a lot of people you’ll probably feel a little off your routines as we transition from the lazy long days of summer in the northern hemisphere to the short, cooler, darker days of fall and winter. This is a time of returning to schedules and getting “recommitted” after the fun of summer. Make sure you spend some time each day planning. This skill gets missed by many but is very important if you want to reach your goals. You must spend time planning. Not planning is planning to fail at your goal.
Not only do you need dedicated time each day to plan your day/end your day and prepare for tomorrow, you also need time each week to review the week and set the next week up for success.
Prioritize this simple step and watch your world shift from frazzled and chaotic to structured and manageable. The trick here is to make sure you are setting aside some dedicated time. Get out your calendar of choice (I love my Commit30 planner and journal) and write in 10 minutes at the start and end of each day for daily review and 30 minutes to an hour for weekly review. This is must have time, so make sure you are picking times you can commit to.
During this time your job is to review your schedule, make shifts, and take things off that do not need to be done after all. It is also a time for you to rate your day. I like using a 1-10 scale. At the end of each day, I pick a number between 1 – it sucked and 10 – it was amazing. At the end of each week I average the daily numbers to get a weekly rating. This allows me to see if I am living my priorities and feeling effective. Just like my children’s report card, I’m looking for a B or better (8/10 or 80%). Anything lower than that means I need to make some adjustments. Maybe I just had an off day or maybe the review shows I am focused on things that do not bring me enough joy to sustain my day. This simple scale allows me to quickly adjust my life to make sure my focus is aligned with what I want to be doing.
Note: The daily rating is a gut check. Do not overthink it or you’ll justify what is not working. It is a quick check-in and the first number that pops up is it. Sometimes I make a note regarding the number – why is it high or low to help me in my weekly review.
2) Watch Your Consumption Habits and Mind Your Reactions:
I feel like I talk about this sort of thing all the time … what you put into your system is what you will get out. I work with so many people in my office who are feeling low energy or angry and do not see the connection to the things they are eating, how they are sleeping, or what they are watching on TV. So many are disconnected from the direct effects our consumption has on us.
It is a great skill of the body … the ability to adapt and conserve energy to be effective … or just survive. The body gets good at figuring out what you are consuming and then adapting. This fall pay attention to what you are eating, listening to, watching, and who you allow in your space. Notice how you feel after you engage with these things. Do they uplift you, inspire you, or deplete you? If it is depleted you feel, it is time for a detox. Take a break from the news, turn off the angry or discriminatory music, unhealthy/unsupportive food choices, and get away from the toxic person in the office as quickly as possible.
Make sure you are getting enough healthy food. Typically this time of year we begin to crave heavier, richer foods to help us “warm” from the inside out. Notice if you begin to overeat or are turning to sugary foods for additional fuel. These are signs that you are distracted from your body and need to pay attention to the shift in personal needs.
As we begin to crave the heavier, rich foods it is important to pay attention to amounts. We can eat a whole big plate of lettuce in the summer’s need for cooler foods, but try a whole big plate of pasta and cheese and watch yourself grow – in the wrong directions. Follow the seasonal foods. Opt for organic and local when you can and make sure you are using enough fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for your individuality. Need healthy choices for the upcoming holidays? Read more here.
Then make sure you are present and mindful while you eat. Eating mindfully helps us return to listening to our bodies and avoid overconsumption. These tips will help you feel reconnected to basic nurturing for yourself. Taking care of ourselves is important in feeling grounded and self-regulated (able to handle stressful situations).
Although we cannot always control what we are exposed to, we are always in control of how we respond to it. It is your responsibility to manage your reactions to your environment. As we begin to notice what is going on around us, we will begin to see that what is happening outside is also happening inside. What I am internally experiencing will be reflected in my outer world. This is a powerful realization. The more you work with how you respond to things the more you will be able to shift your mood back toward the positive quickly and the less you will even have to deal with negativity. It just will not be showing up in your world.
Does this mean you are living in Lala land? No, it means you are better at filtering out what you do not want to pay attention to. According to Rohan et al. (2011), in the winter and fall people who are sensitive to the changing seasons tended to ruminate, have more automatic thoughts, and more dysfunctional thoughts related to light and dark. Your attention goes where you put it, so be careful what you give it to.
3) Make sure you move:
As we move into colder months and darker days in the northern hemisphere, it is easy to stop moving and get sedentary. Instead of heading for the couch or pulling the covers back over your head, make a plan, dedicate time, and commit to yourself. Have your workout clothes ready to go and appropriate for the season so you can change quickly into gear that keeps you warm while your move (if needed). Just knowing it is ready to go can help you get out of bed or avoid the after-work couch that likes to call your name.
I know this video is about spring … but she discusses some good ideas we can use for fall, too.
For many, physical movement needs change with the seasons. You might find that running outside is really not an option for you or that the shifts to your schedule as school starts back up become overwhelming as you fit in carpooling duties again.
Shift your workouts to match your body during the winter months. You may find your workouts are more about strength and power than endurance and speed as the season change and energy around you gets heavier with the shift in light and temperatures. Follow what feels good and make sure you are working within both your training zones and your nervous system needs.
As in number 1 above, set your schedule, prioritize dedicated time, and commit to yourself. Make these “appointments” in your calendar non-negotiable. You might say I need to have 5 workouts a week, however, if you do not schedule them, you will find yourself trying to fit them all in on days 6 and 7. Schedule them and even if you have to maneuver your day, keep them on the same day to get them done, feel successful, and stay on track. Want some ideas for winter workouts? Read more here.
Make sure to treat yourself to grounding bodywork to round out your physical practices. Maybe you want a massage or restorative yoga class. A lovely practice you can do at home is called Abhyanga or self-massage of the body with warm sesame oil. I love this practice in the fall and spring. It is very grounding during the windy shifts in the seasonal changes. Not to mention, the luxury of rubbing the body with warm oil, soaking in the warm tub, and then enjoying the softness of my skin for days. This is such a delicious practice for so many reasons and very helpful to keep my energy calm and focused.
As we move through the cooler seasons work to ground yourself within your own experiences. Notice how you feel as you structure your schedule, notice how external items impact your internal experience, and how your body feels as you move and eat according to its changing needs this fall.
Eisenberg, D. P., Kohn, P. D, Baller, E. B., Bronstein, J. A., Masdeu, J. C., and Berman, K. F. (2010). Seasonal Effects on Human Striatal Presynaptic Dopamine Synthesis. Journal of Neuroscience, 30 (44). 14691-14694. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1953-10.2010
Rohan, K. J., Nillni, Y. I., Mohan, J. N., Roecklein, K. A., Sitnikov, L., Hagga, D. A. F. (2011). Cognitive vulnerability in moderate, mild, and low seasonality. [Abstract]. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, (199)12. p 961–970. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182392948. Retrieved from: https://tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/docview/917738676?accountid=34120