On Love, Perspective and Rest

It’s hard to believe it’s almost the middle of February already. Valentines Day and Family Day are coming up this weekend so your mind is likely thinking about the other people people in your life and you’re not thinking about yourself. That’s okay. The people in our life are super important but keep reading because I have message for you…

I spent the last two weeks in Calgary for in-person yoga therapy training and I wanted to share a few gems with you. As soon as I got home I saw this image on Instagram and I felt like it epitomizes a few themes from my training. We often limit ourselves and get comfortable in the little box we build around ourselves that we identify with as “I” or “me”. As such we miss opportunities all around us or limit ourselves because we have one way of thinking or deeply ingrained beliefs that we aren’t even aware of. When we can start to consciously explore using different lenses or taking different perspectives for how we perceive; our world, our toolbox and our opportunities get bigger and more expansive. Yoga Nidra (a process of meditative self-inquiry) teaches us that feelings and emotions exist on a spectrum. We can explore them from this perspective so we can embody the experience of a range of possibilities. It’s amazing how one small shift can create huge change. (If you’re interested in experiencing Yoga Nidra, come to one of my group classes or book a private session).

My message for you…

Winter is a season for rest. When you are feeling tired, anxious or stressed, or constantly getting a cold, consider from the perspective of your body, that it’s asking you to rest. Take a nap, go for an easy walk, try some gentle movements that feel nourishing and supportive, and go to bed early. It’s okay to say no to that invitation from your colleagues or friends or family if your schedule is already crammed packed. It’s okay, and necessary, to slow down and take care of YOU! When we really take good care of ourselves, we have so much more to give to our families and our work. When considering when and how you rest think about which type of person you are: Person A: you need to move (exercise) a lot before you can start to wind down and actually rest. Or Person B: you need to rest and relax yourself to replenish your energy reserves before you even consider being active. Whether you are person A or B or somewhere in between, let your needs guide you on how you create rest.

If you need some more ideas on how to support yourself to feel rested and relaxed I’d be happy to chat!

Corporate Yoga the Best Investment You Can Make

If you were guaranteed a 300% return on your investment would you sign on the dotted line? Absolutely. What about when it comes to your health? Despite the research and statistics that are out there, we continue to play Russian Roulette with our health. We work hard to make money so we can live the life we desire. But what is all that money worth if we are not healthy enough to enjoy our lives the way we want to?

When our health declines, it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a slow and steady descent that is often difficult to recover from and usually results in one or more losses in our lives. We are proactive with our finances: we save; we invest for the future. Now is the time to also start being proactive in our health and the path to better health can begin at work.

Companies want employees with unique specialized skills: people who go above and beyond expectations. They anticipate challenges and respond to opportunities that create growth and value for the company. Whether it is sales, marketing, finance, law, or something in between, companies want their employees to be at the top of their game and to be productive all day, every day. Unfortunately, the reality is that our bodies are not physiologically designed to withstand the demands and stresses we impose upon ourselves during long busy days at the office.

You don’t wake up one day and decide to be sick or unwell. Unless you are in an accident, there is likely something happening over time that causes the body to break down and become ill. Stress has become normalized in the workplace; many people don’t even realize that they are stressed. General busy-ness, hurriedness and day-to-day chaos place our bodies in a constant state of fight or flight for extended periods of time. Our natural state should be one of rest and repose, which is now becoming the exception rather than the rule.

Burnout rates are higher than ever. Sick leave, stress leave, and mental health leave are becoming regular occurrences. These conditions aren’t only a cost to the health of the person afflicted but they also cost that person’s company time, money and manpower.

So what are smart modern proactive companies doing about this? Leading companies are working with health and wellness service providers who offer solutions to these problems, health and wellness providers like me. Companies expect a lot from their employees. Workers likewise give a lot of their time and effort to be successful and productive. So why not invest in yourself and your people? When companies invest in their employees’ wellness they can expect three dollars in cost savings and benefits for every dollar spent.

Corporate Yoga is a wonderful proactive approach that companies are bringing on board to help keep executives and their employees healthy, happy and productive. Often times when someone hears the word yoga, they immediately think of hyper-flexibility and fitness. Yoga is so much more than that and it doesn’t require any flexibility whatsoever. Yoga is an adaptable system that affects the body, the mind and the spirit in profound ways that literally change how we think, act, and feel.

Companies can help workers improve their mental clarity, boost creativity and sharpen their problem solving skills. The beauty of yoga is that it extends itself off the yoga mat and out of the yoga class into your day-to-day work and activities. You learn mental and physical skills that you first apply with some effort, but that will become second nature.

Looking for a long-term solution to improving the bottom line, cultivating healthy workers and maintaining happy bosses?

A good corporate yoga teacher is your trusted advisor who will work to understand your company’s needs and provide solutions that are customized and unique to your workplace and its people.

To learn how you can energize your workplace from individuals to teams to departments email me at lindsay@innergycorporateyoga.com for a complimentary onsite consultation. Customized. Informed. Educated. Wellness for life.

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.

Yoga Rehab

yoga rehab photoPain doesn’t have to be a normal part of everyday life. When we learn how to effectively improve the function of our shoulders and hips we perform better in our athletic endeavours, we can chase after our kids with more ease and life becomes more enjoyable.

After the success of my first two Pain Clinic Workshops for hip and shoulders I’ve decided to offer a combo class specifically for yoga teachers, fitness instructors and students to learn the skills to get out of pain, improve the function of their hips and shoulders so they can feel great and get back to the activities that they love or even to excel at the activities they already enjoy.

Often times as a teacher, we see our students or clients struggle or hit a road block in their progress due to pain, injury, or lack of range of motion. As a teacher do you notice your clients cringing in pain? Struggling to breathe or holding their breath in a posture or exercise? Finding excuses? Cancelling appointments? Afraid to re-injure themselves?

Learn the skills to move better without pain, nurture relaxation and move optimally with stability and ease.

When we move better, we feel better and we can enjoy life more.

My next workshop is called Yoga Rehab and it will be held Saturday, March 25th at Leslieville Sanctuary 1:30-3:30pm. Cost is $45 + hst. Participants will receive a handout and free practice video.

Contact me to register or ask a question.

New Years Resolutions

IMG_1533New Years Resolutions. Always with the best intentions. Often short lived and forgotten about. Instead of resolving not to do something, set an intention. “I intend to ________”. When  our desires and our actions are positively charged we are setting ourselves up for a greater chance at success.

Once you have identified your intention or resolution, we need to reframe it as an achievable goal and outline the steps you need to take to get there. Make it a priority.

Answer the question, How? How are you going to do it? How will you lose weight? How will you get out of pain? How will you start going to those yoga classes you keep talking about?

For example: My intention is to go to yoga. My goal is to attend one yoga class a week for the next 3 months. Setting a timeframe for your goal is important. It makes it more manageable, and it allows you to reassess as you go. The first step will be to find a yoga studio that has a class that will work with my schedule. To keep me accountable to my goals, I will sign up in advance and ask a friend to join me. I will schedule the weekly classes into timetable and it will be non-negotiable me time.  I deserve this.

What happens if you hit a speed bump? You don’t like the studio you started going to or you can’t  find classes that work with your schedule, you aren’t feeling as good as you thought after the class. Not all yoga classes, gyms, doctors, teachers, etc are created equally. It might take some exploration before you find the right match but don’t give up. Your intention is a priority.  Maybe private classes, where the teacher goes to your home or office is a solution.

Other things to consider while planning out your goals. Consider not only the time spent on the goal but time spent travelling to and from a location. Consider the costs associated (membership, clothing, food, transportation, child care). Consider how your life will be improved by following through with  your intention.  I would even go so far as to research what resources are available to help you achieve the goal. Maybe there is something new on market you haven’t considered, ask people for testimonials or reviews on this services you are considering.

Review:

  • Set your Intention/Resolution
  • Make it a goal
  • Define the steps you need to take to make it happen such as scheduling a time each week/day that you can check off on your calendar

Wishing you the all the best in 2017!

 

Lindsay

 

Myths about Injury, Pain, Ache and Strain & The Truths of Healing

TrikonasanaI’m going to let you in on a secret. Tell everyone. Seriously. You can live pain free and it’s super easy!

Often in conversation, whether it is in a yoga class or a passing conversation, I hear resignation to pain caused by injury, illness or stress. As a society we have taught ourselves to accept our physical imbalances, our fatigue, chronic stress, rigidity and tightness in the body, and our inability to move in the same way we did when we were younger. All these things I have just listed do not have to be your reality, despite what you think or may have been told.

After I was in a car accident in 2008. I thought I would have to live with at least a certain level of back pain for the rest of my life, despite my regular yoga practice and chiropractor visits. After studying therapeutic yoga with Susi Hately, I learned that I could have a pain free/discomfort free life. So let’s get clear on  some of they myths of injury/pain/ache/strain and the truths of healing.*

First myth: Pain is part of getting older.
First truth: Tissue can change and function can improve at any age. It all depends on the stimulus you give it.

Second myth: Nothing has worked.
Second truth: Nothing has worked, yet.

Third myth: Feeling pain means being overwhelmed by pain.
Third truth: By learning to move in a range that doesn’t increase pain, your pain will decrease.

Fourth myth: It took 40 plus years to create this problem, it will take a long time to resolve it.
Fourth truth: If your reason for resolving the issue is compelling enough, the speed of healing can be quite mind blowing.

Fifth myth: True change is impossible.
Fifth myth: True change is entirely possible. The first and second steps are awareness and self-care.

If these myths are resonating with you, consider getting in touch with me to chat about how I can customize a program specifically for you.

Pain Clinic workshops will be coming soon. Stay tuned for more details. Contact me to be added to my newsletter or to schedule a consultation or class.

(*Myths published by Susi Hately – Functional Synergy)

Redefine Your Life with Yoga Therapy

FullSizeRender-7We all experience pain to different degrees throughout the course of our life. Often when pain is ongoing we begin to view ourselves as damaged or fragile. Luckily, this is not true. We can get out of pain. After an injury or diagnosis of illness has someone told you to reduce your physical activity or stop all together? Sometimes there is a good reason to stop for a short time to allow healing to happen but often this advice is coming from a place of misinformation or lack of specific knowledge. Unfortunately the advice we receive from our doctors  is being offered because they don’t know about options like Yoga Therapy. This perspective only maintains fear if you are being told to remain rigid or broken, and may even increase the pain you are experiencing.

Maybe you have heard the phrase “it’s all in your head”? There are some people who claim that overcoming pain is about mind over matter and that pain isn’t real, it’s all in your head. The reality is, perceived pain is real and it needs to be dealt with in a very real way. Trying to ignore the pain, push through the pain or distract yourself isn’t dealing with its underlying issues. Accepting pain as “normal” is just as much of a dis-function. Perhaps you have already seen numerous doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists but nothing seems to be working. For many people yoga is a last ditch attempt to feel better and they find that it works. So whether this is final try to feel better or your first step, yoga is a very tangible solution. Yoga Therapy addresses the whole person, body, mind and spirit. When you are experiencing pain, it affects how you think, feel and respond to day-to-day stressors and activities. You are not your pain. So wouldn’t it be nice if it stopped dictating how you live your life?

So many people suffer from pain. This pain can come from a variety of sources including sports related pain or injury, illness, other injury, stress or simply from inactivity. I believe that everybody can get well and get out of pain and experience a whole new degree of functioning when they learn how to move appropriately.

In our Yoga for Pain session, I will develop a personalized program for you that will help you reduce and get out of pain. As we know with chronic pain it won’t disappear over night and it will require you to dedicate the time and effort necessary to heal your body and mind. Remember change is possible. Getting better takes practice and persistence. Let me help you create a safe place for ease of movement to re-train the nervous system, create new movement patterns and heal the body. Your body has the ability to heal itself with a little bit of nourishment. It’s time to choose acceptance of what is and do things that give your life meaning. Shift from the view that your body is broken or damaged, to the view that movement is good for the body. You can learn to trust to move in a stable way and rebuild your confidence. Pain if modifiable – you can take control!

Find out if yoga therapy is right for you.  Contact me. I can meet with you at your home in the GTA  or via Skype.