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yoga blogs

22 October 2020

yoga blogs
  • Does Cooking Fruit Deplete Its Nutritional Value? RDs Mull It Over
    22 October 2020
    Does cooking fruit get rid of all the good stuff?
  • Building Resilience with Yoga and Meditation
    22 October 2020
    By Swami Karma Karuna, Anahata Yoga Retreat What is Resilience?

    No matter who we are, the state of the bank balance, or which country we live in; the twists and turns of life, deaths, jobs,relationship stresses, natural disasters, and trauma can affect us all. Change influences each of us differently, altering our biochemistry, thoughts, and emotions. Resilience is our ability to come back to our centre, to rebound from adversity, and to respond to a challenge in a creative way.

    The adverse aspects of life are not always enjoyable, yet we have the capacity to increase our ability to manage them through Yogic techniques. Each of us comes to the table of life with a different ability to face the challenges, based on our inner resources, upbringing, education, culture, and so on. This is why two people facing the same situation may handle it in a very different way. While we cannot control everything that occurs, we can learn to better navigate life and empower ourselves with conscious action and thought. Like going to the gym and building your muscles, resilience is a type of muscle that we need to train ourselves in.

    Scientists speak about brain plasticity. The common phrase is ‘neurons that wire together, fire together’. It means that whatever we do, think, or feel regularly, positive or negative, sets up the brain and nervous system to do that more easily the next time. For example, if we learned at a young age to run from adversity, to get angry, or shut down in the face of difficulty, this is usually the pattern we will repeat as an adult. Using yogic tools, we can change our responses and set up positive patterns that will better support us.

    Stress and Stress-resistance

    The stress response in which the ‘flight, flight, freeze’ arm of the nervous system is stimulated is the body’s natural way of helping us survive and is meant for emergencies. When that threat is gone, the body is supposed to come into the relaxation response, for restoration and recovery. However, in modern times, there are a multitude of daily stressors and often not enough recovery time, which lowers our ability to handle true emergencies. 

    Our bodies’ response to stressors in and of themselves can be a healthy part of life. Some stress, especially if we have a positive relationship with it, can be motivational and an integral part of increasing resilience. However, we need to know how to manage stressful inputs and gradually grow our resilience so that we don’t sweat the small stuff. It is also important to enhance our ability to recover more quickly when we get off balance. It is not about avoiding stress altogether but rather training ourselves to manage it.  

    Relaxation Response and the Vagus Nerve

    Increasing our vagal tone, which is related to the relaxation response is an important part of this puzzle. The vagus nerve is like an information superhighway carrying an extensive amount of information between every single organ in our chest, abdomen, and detox organs to/from our brain. When stress hormones are initiated, the vagus nerve is the one to tell the body and organs to calm down. It is associated with relax, digest, and repair functions. It is also telling the brain what is going on in the gut and microbiome. 

    Strengthening the vagal tone is essential in raising resilience because it gives us the ability to relax more quickly after stress. When we are relaxed, we can make choices. When we are in ‘fight and flight’, all the energy is going to survival. This is where yoga and meditation practices become key.

    Hatha Yoga and Resilience

    Hatha Yoga supports purification, strengthening and flexibility of muscles and joints, toning of organs and glands, balancing of the nervous system, and has many other benefits. When the physical body is operating optimally, there is more resource to draw on in the face of challenges. By stretching and strengthening a little more in a pose but staying present and relaxed, we practice stimulating an area or system and then returning to homeostasis or balance. The more we do this, the faster our recovery time is, which will carry through into our daily lives.

    We are also training the mind as it is often resistance or dislike of a posture that stops our ability. There is a difference between extending ourselves to grow our capacities and pain to the point of injury. One should always work within their abilities and listen inwards, however, there is also value in meeting our edge. If we learn to read the signs of our body, it can give us important information. The process may also support the release of stored trauma or unconscious protective armour within the body.

    The Breath and Resilience

    The breath is another key in building resilience and one of the fastest ways to ignite the relaxation response. It is free, goes wherever you go and the more you do it, the more accessible it is! While an ancient practice, in modern times, diaphragmatic breathing has become a popular tool to tone the vagus nerve. The breath continues without conscious awareness, but it is also within conscious control. There is the capacity to lengthen, manipulate, and alter the breath, therefore providing a direct way to control the physiological responses, emotions, energy, and the mind.

    For example, heating practices initially activate the system which help to build our ability to handle heat and stimulation and as the abdomen is used, the practices also have a direct influence on the vagal nerve, which runs through the digestive system, ultimately supporting relaxation. Ujjayi breath influences the vagal tone through the slight constriction of the throat where the vagus nerve also passes through. Bhramari or bee humming or even AUM chanting are all-powerful vagus nerve toners, due to the use of the vocal chords and also the vibration.

    Yoga Nidra, Meditation and Resilience

    From a yogic perspective, an area of great importance is learning to manage our perceptions of the stressors and gradually train ourselves to be the master of our responses, which involves shifting out of the unconscious ‘fight and flight’ reactions driven by our emotional and primitive areas of the brain to a more considered and conscious approach, where we may experience fear for example, but we can rationalise that it is not a life or death situation.

    Mindfulness-based meditation practices such as Antar Mouna and Yoga Nidra train us to become the witness so that we can read the physical signs of our body and mind and know what to do to come back to balance. For example, when we go into a stress response, there are signs in the body like faster breath, higher heart rate, or a repetitive negative thought loop. As we learn to observe changes in the body and mind, we can put in a ‘stress hack’ such as conscious breath, mantra, humming, a calming posture, gratitude, laughing, or a walking meditation. 

    The practice of Yoga Nidra is also potent for building resilience. Each component within the practice scientifically and systematically balances the autonomic nervous system. Yoga Nidra works by changing the neuronal response to stress, creating somatic conditions that are opposite to those induced by sympathetic ‘fight and flight’ over-activity. The body systems and organs achieve deep, physiological rest, and regenerative mechanisms are activated. (Saraswati, S, 1990, p.91). 

    The stage of Yoga Nidra that involves awareness of ‘parts of the body’ induces physical relaxation and clears nerve pathways to the brain, relaxing the sensory-motor surface of the brain, the pairing of opposites works on the hypothalamus, limbic system, and amygdala regions all related to unconscious emotional and autonomic experiences. Opposites help to create homeostatic balance and evolve the brain to a point where involuntary functions come under our conscious control. It also decreases blood pressure and circulating stress hormones and changes brain wave patterns.

    If we do yogic practices regularly, then when we need them to support us in facing difficulty, they are more accessible. The more we use them, the easier it gets. In this way, we build new neural-circuits and strengthen many important qualities that lead to higher resilience. Over time, we gain more skills, so that when difficulties arise, we have a greater capacity to face them consciously and even actively use the challenges of life to expand, grow, and transform.

    References

    • Transactional Stress image given by Maarten A. Immink PhD
    • Bushan, S., (2001). Yoga Nidra: Its Applications and Advantages. Bihar Yoga Magazine: http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2001/bmar01/yoganid.shtml
    • Saraswati, S. (2006). Yoga Nidra. (6th edition). Munger, India: Bihar School of Yoga.
    • Saraswati, S. (1990). Yogic Management of Stress. Munger, India: Bihar School of Yoga.
    • Saraswati, S. (2008). Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (4th ed.). Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust.
    • Serber, E. (2000). Stress Management through Yoga, International Journal of Yoga Therapy, No. 10.
    • Sharma, N. (2014). Yoga as an alternative and complementary approach for stress management: a systematic review.  Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, Jan; 19(1):59-67.

    Swami Karma Karuna Saraswati is an engaging, intuitive yoga and meditation teacher, inspirational speaker, writer and yoga therapist with 30 years of experience. She is a Yoga Alliance Education Provider, a senior teacher of Yoga New Zealand and co-founder and director of Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand. Swami Karma Karuna travels throughout the world, leading workshops and retreats, training yoga teachers and offering therapeutic sessions. She is passionate about sharing an authentic and down to earth approach, weaving together the ancient practices with a touch of psychology and brain science aimed at motivating people to live their yoga here and now. 

    Guides practices, Online Yoga and Resilience course, Yoga Nidra Teacher’s Training and online Therapeutic Session info available at  www.anahata-retreat.org.nz

    Facebook: Karma Karuna Saraswati

    Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSsQ-Xtz5tE

  • This One Product Can Take Your Face Wash Routine From Meh To Magical
    22 October 2020
    And it's sensitive skin-approved.
  • How Poor Sleep Might Be Affecting Your Gut + What To Do About It
    21 October 2020
    Lack of shuteye might be at the root of your gut problems.
  • Surrender, Soften and Slow Down
    21 October 2020

    Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

    That is Self-Care for me, summed up in 5 words.

    I struggled to write this piece, probably because I, myself find it difficult to surrender, soften and slow down.

    I meditate. I do yoga. I journal. I walk daily. I go for massages. I get my nails and my eyelashes done. I dance.

    And yes I have all this unlimited self-care practices in my toolbox, and yet I still struggle.

    And that's okay.

    everything will be okay

    I acknowledge that it’s okay to feel how I feel.

    I acknowledge that I’ve lots of worries.

    My husband always ask me why I worry so much? And I reply with - I can’t help it. It's in my DNA. I know I’m in my worry zone when I can’t sleep at night; when I start to procrastinate or when it’s the time of the month.

    And I’m in the work of letting things go. I’m also in the work of being with whatever I’m feeling because the truth is that the struggle ie the suffering is temporary.

    That’s the good news!

    I just have to be willing to surrender, soften and slow down often. 

    And that’s one of the reasons why I started teaching Yin Yoga + Meditation online.

    Yin Yoga as a Self-care tool

    Yin Yoga is a contemplative practice, where the poses are held for 3-5 minutes, and it taps into the connective tissues of the hips, thighs, pelvis and lower spine. It’s perfect for beginners and yet it’s not an easy practice even for regular practitioners.

    It requires us to be still, in an uncomfortable position for a considerably amount of time. Stillness is something our urban bodies find hard to fathom, because we are so caught up in the DOING, we always have to be doing something, if not - “we are not productive, or not good enough etc.

    And that’s why this class is needed in our lives, because you’re doing something (yoga), kinda and you are on your way to finding stillness.

    “Stillness is what creates love. Movement is what creates life. To be still and still moving – this is everything. ”
    — Do Hyun Choe

    And in the busy-ness of life, I stopped practising Yin for a while now because I didn’t think I had time for it. (and there’s the inner struggle of course, to surrender, soften and slow down.)

    The main reason why I’m inspired to start teaching and practising it again is because I want to be able to teach Fertility Yoga and be of service to the IVF community. There’s a saying in the fertility yoga world, that all yoga is fertility yoga.

    But I was afraid - of not being able to hold the space for myself and for others ; And I’m still healing, and if I’m still healing, how can I be in the work of healing others?

    And my teacher, Baron Baptiste’s voice came into my head - â€œif not you, Sophie, then who?” 

    I acknowledge that I will never arrive, healed.  And the irony is that we all come to yoga hoping to be healed or fixed or feel better, where in fact there's nothing to fix. We are all whole and complete.


    “You are whole and complete!”
    — Baron Baptiste

    In the midst of all this thinking, I attended Paige Elenson’s “Yin Yoga Class” (though she calls it “Opening to Deep Rest”, which is essentially the last 4 sequences of the Journey Into Power sequence from Baptiste Yoga class)….

    And I remembered what was missing …… the stillness that gets created with the surrendering, the softening, and the slowing down.

    One of my biggest takeaways from my IVF journey and the COVID-19 pandemic  is that there’s always time. It’s never too late.

    “Stop Rushing! You got time! It’s not too late.”
    — Sophie SandersMy Invitation to you

    If you’re always feeling angry, or if you are constantly in a reactive state or you are always rushing to get things done - I invite you to make time to Surrender, Soften and Slow Down.  

    You may think, you don’t have the time. But you’ll make time if it’s important.

    Do Yin Yoga, meditate, journal etc - find a self-care practice that you can do consistently and do it with fiery determination.

    So that in the days, when the negative thoughts come, and they will come - you have access to what you need to get out of your old way of being and re-create a new energy and be 100% for what you want to make happen in your life.

    Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

    Create space for self-care

    This is an invitation for you to join me in cultivating a self-care practice through Yoga and Meditation, every Tuesday evenings, 8pm Singapore time.

    This 45-60 mins class is more than just holding poses; we meditate, we move mindfully, and we complete our evening in a beautiful deep rest.

    I’m keeping the class exclusively for women, so we can powerfully be ourselves and connect to our feminine energy and BE WITH a circle of supportive women who just get it. 

    It’s an opportunity to surrender to whatever is coming up for you and to let go of what you don’t need so you can get empty to allow loving nourishing energy to enter. And in the journey of surrendering, you will learn to soften and find joy in everyday moments. And in order to surrender and soften, we need to Slow Down.

    If self-care is important to you then you need to make it consistent and non-negotiable. Make these SELF-CARE Sessions part of your weekly self-care practice.

    xo

    I am ready now to Create space for Self-Care.
  • Water Element Yoga Class to Feel Fluid & Flexible
    21 October 2020
  • Exercising While Injured: 3 Strategies to Stay Active
    21 October 2020

    We all injure ourselves training – well most of us do. So what should you do? Do you keep exercising while injured? Do you take a complete break? How do I even work out when I’m injured? I’m sharing 3 of my personal strategies in a video below on how to keep yourself active and training even after an injury.... Read More

    The post Exercising While Injured: 3 Strategies to Stay Active appeared first on Man Flow Yoga.

  • Big Yikes: Dry & Cold Weather Can Deplete Collagen? Here’s What To Do
    21 October 2020
    Collagen is a precious thing that keeps our skin youthful, texture supple, and our barrier intact.
  • Can You Reach Orgasm Without Using Your Hands? 25 Ways To Try It
    21 October 2020
    Challenge accepted.
  • Meet Pip Elysium: Overcoming Obstacles with Movement
    21 October 2020

    Step onto the mat every Friday on Wanderlust TV as Pip takes over the LIVE studio to host Deep Release Flow – a practice that works on deeper levels than your usual Yoga class.

    Pip Elyisum is an internationally recognized AcroYoga teacher, trained ballet dancer and performer. She’s been featured in Yoga Magazine, Om Yoga Magazine, The Telegraph, The Metro, London Evening Standard and is one of London’s top teachers for Wanderlust.

    When not travelling abroad for Teacher Trainings & Retreats, Pip is a Yoga Teacher, Dancer & Facilitator for London’s Leading AcroYoga Studio & Events, School of AcroYoga. Pip brings the beauty of movement and exceptional quality of line (dance) to the demonstration of AcroYoga.

    How did Yoga enter your life? Was it love from the first sight?

    I started yoga, the physical practice at the age of 17 when I was professionally training for dance. I immediately felt the benefits and it was a lovely compliment to dance. However, when I REALLY started to find yoga, it found me. It first found me when I was going through a tough time emotionally and found it was a way to support that journey. Since then, yoga has taught me life lessons and a way to work with things in everyday life.

    What is the intention you carry as you share these sessions online? What essence are you hoping is transmitted through the practice that goes beyond just watching someone on a screen?

    The focus of the classes may come across from the outside eye, as a way to become more flexible and working with the fascia. On a deeper level, I aim to connect with the student to work with their limitations. To help them to open the body, to then allow them to be open enough to release the tension that has been built up. Releasing this tension may also help release them from deeper areas of their life where there has been constriction, stress, strain, and other limiting beliefs built from the mind.

    As you’re a teacher, you’re also a student. How does your personal learning journey continues as you step on the mat learning as opposed to teaching?

    I tend to self enquire a lot. This brings up a lot of philosophy which stems from movement to life events and the way we perceive things. More recently, I was on my own for three months during lockdown which forced me to look at some very uncomfortable things, with a series of unfortunate events that followed. We are all spiritual warriors having to deal with everyday life, it’s how we respond and work with them long term is what matters the most.

    Movement is the first thing that allows us to help change our physiology so we can be in a better state to manage all the different things going on. Stepping onto the mat for my personal practice allows me to visibly see the restrictions in my body that may also be constricting me in areas of my life. With this understanding, it allows me to bring a great sense of empathy and compassion to students and where they may be that day.

    What would be the one piece of advice you could give to the Wanderlust TV streamers to deepen the connection with a teacher during their online practice?

    Having three months on my own during the lockdown in London, live streams was a very exciting way to connect. Turning up on time for the class allowed me to treat this as a dedicated time for me, so I would encourage you to do the same. Interacting by messaging on the platform and connecting with others online brought a great sense of community and connection. 

    When I was attending a live stream as a student, I liked to treat it as a real-life class or meeting. I set up the room, stuck to the class the whole way and I turned off all distractions. This helped me connect with the teacher, the practice and myself. It was also exciting if I told the teacher beforehand (or after) that I was attending the class. I hope this piece of advice will help you to have an enjoyable online experience with a teacher.

    If you could have dinner with an influential persona in the history of Yoga, who would it be and why?

    Good question! Micheal A Singer. His book changed my life ‘The Untethered Soul’.

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    The post Meet Pip Elysium: Overcoming Obstacles with Movement appeared first on Wanderlust.

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