Slow

This is my word for 2021. I need slow after the shit show of 2020. When lockdown started in March it was a rush to transition to teaching online. Then when we decided to move it felt like a constant rush during renovations. Now we are moved in and I can start thinking about work again. My pattern would be to rush to start a new programming in my community. With the limitations to movement, space and communication, I have to remind myself that it’s not a race, there is no rush, I have nothing to prove and I can pace myself in my endeavours to create.

For me, slow also manifests, not just as speed, but as an opportunity to take care. Taking time to thoughtfully respond, to plan, to set boundaries and re-assess expectations. Slow means not requiring to take immediate action but smaller, baby steps over a longer period of time. It means eating well, being gentle and kind, doing gentle yoga, going for walks, taking baths, reading books, connecting with friends – in short, taking care of myself in ways that charge my batteries, that fill my cup. So, while slow still requires a lot of doing, it is the quality of doing that is different. It feels more sustainable and more easeful. 

My slow might involve stepping back from yoga therapy a little bit and explore some supply teaching at the local school or getting a part-time job. I’m not sure yet. 

What I do know for sure is that I am still offering a couple evening group yoga classes, limited private session and monthly Restorative Yoga & Soundbath classes with Nicole. 
What I’ve learned from the lockdown so far
Having space limited and social gatherings restricted has taken a big toll both emotionally and physically on me. One effects the other. 

I have maintained a couple clients over the last 8 months and we have addressed chronic pain issues and burnout. I love this work. I love facilitating experiences where folx get to experience their life in a whole new way that guides them out of what ails them. 

I appreciate conversation. 

Shitty things and good things can happen simultaneously. 

Everything is temporary. 

Everything is temporary.

I want to work with individuals who are unsatisfied with how they feel emotionally, physically, spiritually. Who feel stuck. Who feel burnt out. Who are in pain. Who want to feel better. 

Healing is not linear. We experience some progress, we might stall or get stuck or have a set back, but it doesn’t mean all is lost. While I think this year is going to be similar to last year in terms of restrictions, there is a new optimism and better understanding of how to navigate. There will be progress and there will be setbacks.  Let’s come out of this pandemic better than we were before.

For more information on how you can work with me contact me here.

From Pain to Possibility

The client I write about today, was an athlete and she came to me because she believes in her bodies capacity to heal without surgical intervention and I agree with her. Yoga therapy provides the tools and skills to not only resolve pain but to help avoid surgery, prolong the need to have surgery and support the recovery process should surgery be required.

The Athletes Story

I have a lovely client, let’s call her B. She grew up an elite athlete – she trained hard and found creative ways to use her body to create more strength and power. While there is nothing wrong in how she trained or lived, she now experiences knee pain and hip pain, which limits her quality of life and may require surgery. She is getting some gains from physiotherapy such as strength and balance and she continues to employ compensatory patterns to create her movement. While this is not a bad thing, because she is getting results, I suspect that it will only get her so far. The challenge she reports experiencing with yoga therapy, is that movements are smaller than she’s used to – she just wants to power through and DO. And she’s not used to feeling the sensations of her body. In some ways she said feels like she has to learn how to move all over again. Yes and No. Yoga therapy is not asking her to move – as in, go about her day moving in some weird foreign way, but what it is asking her is to slow down, pay attention to what her body feels like when it is moving in her practice.This is going to help expand her awareness of what is and isn’t working for her in her day to day. When we have more awareness of our relationship to our bodies, we have more possibilities and opportunities available to us. B is curious about movement and she’s a problem solver which makes her a great client and she’s going to get great results. Before it was, “power through and get it done” now it could be “if I take a break, I’ll have more energy later,” or “if I do it this way, I’m going to be in more/less pain later,” and “I know I feel really great after doing this exercise so I’m going to do it more often.

There is more than one way to do something – and when you don’t know what the other options are, you are limited. When you have many ways of doing something, new possibilities arise at the same time. So we are going to keep working on shifting from cognitive centric movement to feeling focused movement to catapult her progress!

If you felt a little bit of excitement reading this, or your curiosity has been sparked, I’d love to have a conversation with you!

Yoga Rehab for Your Shoulders

Sore shoulders, elbow pain and wrist pain are common complaints that I hear all the time. This is problematic when it prevents you from doing the things you need to do and the activities you enjoy. 

When I work with clients one-on-one or teach group classes there are a number of common movement patterns that I see with the shoulder girdle. Some include,

  • Shoulder blades not moving with the arms (stuck on the back)
  • Arms overworking or overleveraging for work of the legs, pelvis and torso
  • Overusing the upper traps and neck
  • Overusing low back muscles instead of the arms/shoulders

If function is limited in one area of the body, another area will pick up the slack. This usually isn’t a problem, until we experience pain, injury or get stuck in our performance. 
 
When you establish good movement patterns you are improving both stability, mobility and strength at the same time. As stability and mobility increase, you can add more load which will in turn increase strength. If you are avoiding load (eg. lifting) or overloading (lifting something that’s too heavy) it can be problematic. Both could lead to pain or injury. This is one of the reasons why, when working with pain or an injury it is wise to work with a qualified, properly trained yoga therapist rather than going to a random yoga class.
 
Take a moment and think about all the activities you need to use your arms for. Reaching up to cupboards. Washing your hair. Pulling on your shoes. Getting dressed. Reaching across and behind you to put on your seat belt. Hugging. Pushing a stroller or lawnmower, swinging a golf club, digging a hole… Do your arms move in isolation of the rest of your body? No of course not. Your torso may bend forward, to the side or rotate. Your legs may be stationary side-by-side, you may crouch where one knee is bent, one is forward and one back, you might be seated or be in motion. There can be any number of combinations between your arms, torso and legs. So it makes sense then, in order to improve the functionality of your shoulders and arms, you also have look at what’s happening elsewhere in your body. When you can learn to move with increased control and coordination through any range of movement, you then have a greater capacity to move through life with more ease and effortlessness. 
 
As a yoga therapist, I start by teaching you how to isolate a movement, so you can develop the neuromuscular patterning to do a movement the way your body is intended to move. (See videos below). Then we have to link that movement of the arm to move in coordination with the torso and the pelvis and the legs. This requires developing body awareness and mindfulness as a part of the practice. The better connected the body parts are in moving with each other, the less likely you are to experience the tightness and pain that limit your ability. It really is less complicated than you think and it’s kinda fun to get to know your body in a whole new way.
 
Imagine being able to hit your ball further, garden without your back hurting after, run faster, absorb the intensity of your kids jumping on you or being able to lift heavier weights, or just have more energy to get through the daily tasks. These are all pretty big deals and it isn’t that hard to achieve. 
 

“Pain is not where the problem is.”
 

If you’re still with me, consider how patterns of tightness show up in your body. For example, I have a tendency to hold a lot tension and tightness in my neck and shoulders. I could go after the neck and shoulders with massage and stretching to loosen things up – – but why did the shoulders and neck become tight and tense to begin with? Inevitably, the tension just returns a short while after. 
 
One of the things I have discovered for myself is when I work on my legs and hips and bring awareness, sensation, feeling and strength into my legs, my neck and shoulders start to feel lighter and more relaxed. The crazy thing is, I was focusing on my lower and not my upper at all. So, then the question becomes, are my neck and shoulders tight because something is not functioning as it should at my legs/pelvis? This is where it gets really curious and the complexities of our bodies get revealed. So perhaps my neck and shoulder thing is not actually a neck and shoulder thing. Maybe it’s a hip pelvis thing. 
 
So next week, I will focus on the hips and pelvis. And in the meantime explore for yourself and see what you notice! 

Explore Your Core

Issues concerning the pelvic floor as it relates to movement are often “load” issues. Straining, bearing down and pushing too hard can have negative consequences for prolapse, urinary incontinence, and diastasis recti. When you start with movement that is appropriate for your body, it can adapt and become stronger and more resilient much faster. 
 
Strength is often the easy part. Building the neuromuscular patterns that support and integrate from within are hard. This requires some patience and some practice and some guidance. 
 
Today I want to explore CORE strength as it relates to pain.
 
A commonly held belief is that a strong core means back pain will go away.  Unfortunately this myth often contributes to problem. Unwittingly people go after strengthen their “core” with crunches and other movements that might not be supporting in a way that is optimal for their body. The good news is improving your overall movement patterns will help pain resolve AND will help you have a stronger core. Win win in my books!
 
Did you know that super strong people and Olympic athletes, who are at the peak of performance in terms of strength and ability, experience pain? If building strength was the solution to pain problems then it would be easy. The problem is that pain is much more complex than simply be weak vs strong. 
 
Our body parts, arms, legs, pelvis, ribs, shoulder blades and head need to be able to function well in relationship to one another. So core is not just about your abdominal muscles. It’s how the whole body moves with control and coordination through any range of movement that develops a strong, supple, responsive core. This means if your movement is jerky, uncoordinated, sticky, stuck, painful, clumsy, or imbalanced, then there is room for improvement and you can get stronger!
 
I know you’re thinking, that sounds great and all, but I really just want something for my core (aka abdomen). So here it is:  This is operating on the assumption that you have enough ROM though your shoulders and hips; that you have a good connection between your pelvic girdle, rib cage and shoulder girdle. It is also with the disclaimer that there is no magic pose, sequence or practice that is going to provide the answer. We are all unique and what works for one person, may not work for someone else. So try these out. Try them with varying degrees of effort, and notice what your experience is like. Notice if pain or discomfort increases, notice if you are breathing with ease or if you are holding your breath. As you move are you aware of how your body is moving or are you chasing after a shape?
 
I recommend practicing these in a way that elicits as much ease as possible (no pain, can breath easily through the whole range of movement), because you will get stronger faster. Your body will adapt to lower intensity faster.  The body remembers, so consider setting yourself up to progress with ease. If you push yourself too hard, you will only push up against tension, and maybe create some strength under the tension. This may prevent you from cultivating responsiveness which is necessary for greater strength. You choose. 
 
Here you go: 
As you practice: If your shoulders feel crappy – good! This is demonstrating to you how shoulder function is related to core strength. If the arms/shoulders are unable to bear the increase in load, you might experience tension, tightness, strain or pain. Addressing shoulder function and how that is related to the parts below will help improve your control and coordination and therefore your strength. Stay tuned next time for my shoulder practices. In the meantime, explore what you can do, and the range you can do it in without the pain. 
 
Vary your movements, your direction and your speed. The more ways that your body learns how to move and respond to changes in the environment, the stronger and more resilient you will become. 
 
Happy Exploring. 

Pelvic Floor: The Underdog

Summer is here and I’m all about getting outside and being active. And if you’re like me, you want that outdoor activity to make you feel alive and energized rather than leaving you feeling tired and achey.  I find consistently with my clients and students, that a 10-15 minute movement practice each day can change how you feel and how you move through life.

I believe the Pelvic Floor to be, the keystone to your quality of life.

I realize that sounds like a strong statement. It is. Let me explain.

The P.F. is getting a lot more attention these days, and for good reason… both men and women can experience pelvic pain and have the urge to urinate frequently. These are both serious health concerns that can impact your social life and enjoyment of pleasure.

Let’s think about it for a moment. Your pelvic floor is the foundation of your abdomen which is responsible for elimination, sex, and child bearing. It is also involved in core strength, agility, movement of your legs, breathing, and your bodies ability to absorb, transfer and dissipate load during movement.

A healthy pelvic floor is responsive so it can provide support, stability, strength and ease. A healthy pelvic floor provides freedom from pain, allows us to experience pleasure, confidence and playfulness without worry.

We often don’t think about our pelvic floor unless there is a specific problem. And even then it is often ignored.

Did you know that 53% of women between the ages of 20-80 experience urinary incontinence at some point in their lives? That’s a lot. 
Unfortunately less than half of these women do not report it to their doctors because they are too embarrassed, or they think it is normal to experience ‘a bit of leakage’ when they sneeze or laugh. Or, that it is normal after pregnancy or with age. Or, that it is normal because their mom, sister, and best friend all experience a ‘bit of leakage’ too.

But it is not normal.
Yes, it is common, but not normal.
Urinary incontinence can be prevented and treated in most cases. The cost associated with urinary incontinence is over $900 annually not to mention the lowered quality of life and inconveniences associated with it.

Other common pelvic floor problems includes organ prolapse, pelvic pain, sexual challenges, and back pain or hip pain. These dysfunctions of the Pelvic Floor can arise from a variety of reasons. One common dysfunction is overuse. This means the muscles are tense and tight and don’t relax. They are overworked or in a state of constant contraction. This may be a protective mechanism from injury or a compensation for a limitation happening somewhere else. Another reason could be under-use. These are tissues that lack tone and are weak. These muscles are not creating the necessary support. Other reasons could be from injury, or related to functional compensation patterns that often get labelled as being from poor posture or alignment.

An experienced pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you learn more about your specific issue.

If your curious about your pelvic floor let’s try this:

1. Sit on a surface that creates pressure on your pelvic floor. You can sit on a chair, or straddle a bolster or a pillow. Using a heating pad can bring more sensation to the area. If you contract your pelvic floor by squeezing it in and up and then release, does it relax? Or stay the same?  
Try this a couple times and see what you notice.
Then, try feeling your breath moving in and out of the pelvic floor…

 You may sense a gentle/subtle downward pressure as you inhale and a release or lift as you exhale (without consciously having to do anything). 
If you can’t feel it, visualize the breath moving in and out. You can try this in different positions, sitting, laying on your belly, or laying on your back.
 You may find that one position allows you to feel more than another position.  Typically after practicing this for 5 minutes over a few days, clients start to notice subtle changes and shifts in their experience.

So, why does a well functioning pelvic floor matter? Your P.F. is the foundation for all that you do. Your pelvis is the foundation from which our leg bones swing, that propel us through space as we walk or run. A supple p.f. is responsive and responds to our breathing – so it works with your diaphragm. (If you are tight through your ribcage or thoracic area your breathing might be limited which will also impact the pelvic floor and vice versa.) And the p.f. also must be able to absorb, transfer and dissipate load from walking, running, jumping, changing direction, lifting something heavy like a child, sneezing and the other things that we do.

Check out my practice videos on YouTube to explore some gentle movements to help improve your bodies relationship to the pelvic floor. If you feel limited or stuck in one or more of these exercises, keep practicing to help your body free up some space and develop better movement patterns.

Happy Exploring!

New Group Yoga Class at Living Waters Therapies

Starting Wednesday’s this November I will be offering a new group yoga class at Living Waters Therapies. This class is slow paced and gentle so you can start to develop a deep physiological awareness to be able to respond to the signals your body is sending you at every moment. You can also expect to experience breath work, mindfulness, meditation and functional movement based in Yoga Therapy aimed at helping you to move better. As you develop awareness of your movement habits and learn how to quiet compensations your body will begin to release from cycles of pain and tension, then flexibility, stability and strength arises.

LIVING WATERS THERAPIES – 1114 QUEEN ST EAST

WEDNESDAYS 7:15-8:15PM – STARTS NOV 7, 2018

YOGA FOUNDATIONS

This class is perfect for anyone who wants to learn the foundations of yoga in a safe and non-judgemental environment. People with chronic pain, healing from injury, or restricted range of movement will also benefit from this class. It is ideal for both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners who want to advance their practice. My aim to help you become your own best teacher.

Rates:

  • Introductory class $10
  • Introductory package of 5 $75
  • Package of 5 – $115 ($23/class)
  • Package of 10 – $220 ($22 a class)

Sign up at Living Waters Therapies

Pain and Healing – Part VI

Over the last month and half I have writing about pain science research to help us broaden our scope of understanding pain and how we can begin to heal ourselves. Today’s review comes from a talk by yoga therapist Matthew Taylor from the United States. He teaches from the perspective of the Biopsychosocial model. This brings all the parts together to make a whole. For example, if you roll your ankle, you experience pain physiologically in the sympathetic nervous system, but also psychologically, your active mind is upset that your weekend plans got ruined and you feel unsupported spiritually. This means we can’t look at the ankle in isolation. When we look through different lenses we help the mind shift perspectives.

Yoga is the science of transformation. Through yoga we seek to shift our state  into the parasympathetic nervous system and by doing so we unlock creativity, clarity and calm. Simply taking 3 sets of 10 deep breaths for a given movement (such as during a yoga pose) shifts the nervous system and turns the solution seeking inward rather than outward.

Yoga asana (the poses) is a process of the how, no the what. In yoga we use attention as a tool to notice how you feel and to gain insight.

Applications for persistent pain: Most people with persistent pain don’t trust their body because the pain is in the body. Try some of these suggestions from Matthew:

  1. Explore your identity around pain.
  2. Pain education and language. When we say “the damn knee” we are talking about it as something other but it’s actually you. 20 minute of pain education can help us to reduce our pain.
  3. Legs up the wall with weight on the belly can create a SIM situation.
  4. Build stamina around hope = possibility.
  5. Have compassion for yourself.
  6. Social media diet – content can raise sympathetic nervous system activation.

Your body is a barometer. Try the Breath test – our breath tells us if something was wise idea. Compare before and after. Fast/shallow breathing is a system in danger (DIM). Think back to the Protectometer. If your breath is long and deep and even you likely feel safe, calm and relaxed.

Salience and interest drives neuroplasticity. Want a stable enough nervous system to non-react to pokes/prodes without looping back into old patterns? A stabilized nervous system lasts 24 hours. So when you practice yoga therapy every day with awareness and attention the results might surprise and shock you. We are complex, we can’t predict anything and we are always changing.

Next week will be the final post on Pain and Healing. See you then.

In health,

Lindsay

Pain and Healing – Part IV

 

Today I am reviewing the session with Dr. Tracy Jackson to discusses opioid addiction and pain. She says that anyone who experiences addiction feels a sense of isolation, feelings of failure or a need to be put their dependency in a positive light. They feel stigmatized.

When we are in pain, we are under psychological and physical duress. Our sympathetic nervous system, also known as our fight or flight system is stressed.

A big piece of the puzzle about pain is unpacking assumptions. The first and foremost is that the experience of pain can be different for everyone. Second, often times, patients are not in the doctors office long enough communicate and to be heard. You have your 10 or 15 minutes and are given medication of your symptoms. Having to go back to the doctors multiple times is inefficient and unhelpful. Third, there is little in the way of pain education in medical school. Doctors are not well versed in understanding pain.

So a part of this conference that I attended and what I am hoping to impart to you, the reader, is to empower you to understand what is going on in your body. What we do is not complicated, we just do it often, over and over again. This means we can re-train our bodies and our minds! We are incredibly resilient and the results are durable. yay! Experiencing a reduction in pain mean it can be long term (hope!) (yay!) (double yay!)

Medicine ads tell us to take this drug or that drug to keep going and enjoy life but this doesn’t address the issue or the innate intelligence of our body. While medicine can be life saving short term – it should be temporary while you learn how to retrain your body. Research findings tell us that no pill or surgery that is going to “fix” a body part that is just responding to a brain that is on high alert. We have to calm the underlying stress to be a better ______(fill in the blank).

When we feel unsafe we are pricked with the highest capacity for pain. We experience symptoms like insomnia, adrenal fatigue, depression – we are on high alert. When we feel safe we have a lower capacity for pain. We feel more energized, happy, alert, and creative – we are calm and relaxed. For someone who is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, there is a certain stigma (DIM) but at the same time, the person can feel better just from the diagnosis (SIM). Anyone can endure an illness – we want to be able to channel the “enduring” to make changes.

The challenge is that it is hard to see while in the thick of it. It takes a long time to develop pain or addiction but recovery can be quick.

If you, or someone you know has concerns for addiction, Dr. Tracy Jackson offers these steps to take:

  1. There is hope. It won’t be as bad as you think. Have compassion for yourself because relapse is high.
  2. If you are given a prescription for opioids ask for a referral for treatment.
  3. Keep trying. People are desperate to help you if you want to be helped.
  4. Mindfulness and movement are the most effective ways to cope with pain and addiction.
  5. Self-care. Put your airplane mask on first. This is the same for family members who see another family member in pain.

Opioids can actually make the experience of pain worse. Once you come off dependency, the capacity for pain will be improved and the body will function better (better immune, more energy, etc). If you are taking opioids, come up with a coping plan for withdrawal – make sure your support system is in place.

A part of the coping plan is looking at your diet. Diet is critical because there are lots of inflammatory foods that impact all of our body systems. It is also important to unplug from technology and go out in nature. The Japanese have a term called “forest bathing” for the therapeutic effects of walking and appreciating nature. Dr. Jackson also recommends at least a 150 minutes of yoga a week that is calming.

Next week, I will explore the topic of diet and gut health from the perspective of Ayurvedic medicine and how it relates to pain.

In health,

Lindsay

 

Breathing for Stress and Anxiety

Yoga_Photoshoot_Hany_easy pose 2Wouldn’t you love to live in a world where you could flip a switch and all your stress and anxiety would just go away? There are many different strategies we can employ such as going to a yoga class, getting a massage, meditating, being in nature or exercising. These are all wonderful things that we can do that will help. These all require finding time and going somewhere to do it. However, there is one more tool that we can use at any time no matter where you are. That is your breath.

Many of us who practice yoga or any of the above activites have gotten a glimpse of the switch that leaves us feeling, calm, relaxed and at peace. Unfortunately these feelings are fleeting, stressors find their way back into the limelight and it leaves us wanting without knowing how to get it back.

The answer lies not just in our breath, but how we breathe and the mindfulness that arises from this awareness. After years and years, dare I say decades of stress, years of being on anxiety medication and then the death of my mom, I stumbled across a doctor who told me I wasn’t breathing. I was holding my breath. I was certainly taken aback by this observation and it was turning point for me. Albeit slow, the process brought me to where I am today and now I want to share the skills with you so you can reap the benefits now and not years down the road.

Breathing is important for two reasons. One, it brings oxygen to our blood and two, oxygenated blood helps to heal our tissues. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we have unconsciously learned a disordered way of breathing that is fast and shallow, that limits the flow of oxygen into our bloodstream. As a result, we are not taking in sufficient oxygen or able to expel sufficient carbon dioxide. Reduced lung function reduces our vitality, ages us prematurely, lowers are immune function, etc. So not only does breathing impact our cardiovascular system, but it also effects the respiratory, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychic systems. So you can see how important optimal breathing is for our overall functioning.

When we re-learn how to breath optimally we begin the healing process and improve our ability to cope with stressors.

We can also begin to experience these benefits for the long term:

  • Less respiratory problems, stronger heart by reducing it’s workload
  • Relaxes body and the mind
  • Improves the health of the nervous system, including brain, spinal cord, nerve centres and nerves.
  • It has an effect on your sleep, your memory, energy level and concentration.
  • Aids in digestion and elimination. Assists in weight control. Oxygen helps burn up excess fat more efficiently.
  • More oxygen in the blood means better complexion, fewer wrinkles, more energy, clarity for the mind, positive thinking, supports vision and hearing.
  • Rejuvenates muscle and organ functioning. Lack of oxygen to cells is a major contributing factor to cancer, heart disease and strokes

Why Do We Breath Fast + Shallow?

Let’s face it, our lifestyles often dictate that we are in a hurry most of the time. Our movements and breathing follow this pattern. Perhaps you have noticed in your yoga practice how your mind and body mirror each other. The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply. Other reasons could be related to negative emotional states, reduced physical activity,  environmental pollution and even our culture (the desire for an attractive flat stomach results in gripping and holding of the abdominals. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.)

Medical journals suggest that fast, shallow breathing can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, stomach upsets, heart burn, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain, and heart palpitations.

Disordered Breathing Patterns

In addition to fast, shallow breathing, you might resort to chest breathing which is a habitual pattern failing to fully exhale and inhale. Other disordered patterns include mouth breathing, breath holding and hyperventilating.  When the sympathetic nervous system is switched on all the time, it can lead to changes in anxiety, blood pH, muscle tone, pain threshold, to only name a few. Overuse of accessory breathing muscles can lead to neck and shoulder pain/dysfunction and could even mimic cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems.

Typical symptoms of disorder breathing can include:

  • Frequent sighing and yawning
  • Breathing discomfort
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Erratic heartbeats
  • Feeling anxious and uptight
  • Pins and needles
  • Upset gut/nausea
  • Clammy hands
  • Chest Pains
  • Shattered confidence
  • Tired all the time
  • Achy muscles and joints
  • Dizzy spells or feeling spaced out
  • Irritability or hypervigilance
  • Feeling of ‘air hunger’
  • Breathing discomfort
  • Back pain. Research suggests there is correlation between breathing pattern disorders and low back pain.

Our reactions to stress is also known as the “fight-or-flight” response because it evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people to react quickly to life-threatening situations. The carefully orchestrated yet near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone to fight the threat off or flee to safety. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, and family difficulties.

The stress response suppresses the immune system, increasing our susceptibility to colds and illnesses. The build up of stress can lead to anxiety and depression.

We can learn to use our breath as one tool to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system and up-regulate the parasympathetic nervous system that helps the body rest, digest and recover.  The body is designed to spend the majority of its time in the parasympathetic nervous system.  Ideally, it only uses the sympathetic nervous system for true life-threatening emergencies.

To learn how to optimize your breathing to reduce stress register for my Breathing for Stress and Anxiety workshop May 20, 2017 at Leslieville Sanctuary. These are skills that you take with you in the car, at work and play. This workshop is appropriate for kids, teens and adults. No yoga experience is required.

To find out how you can host a Breathing Workshop for Stress and Anxiety at your workplace contact me for details.