What Are You Waiting For?

You have been trying on your own to meet your nutrition and wellness goals, and it just isn't happening. Finding and maintaining your optimal body weight isn't easy.  There is so much information out there it is hard to navigate the myths.  Are you ready?  If you are ready to make the commitment, I am here to help you, and we can start TODAY! I am not telling you it is going to be easy, but I am telling you it will be worth it. Start today!
Yoga Teacher Training with Barb Leese

I am thrilled and honoured to included in Barb Leese's 200 Hour YTT Program at The Yogashala.  I will be introducing students to my love and knowledge of Restorative Yoga & Yoga Nidra. This teacher training is LIVE ONLINE, Wednesday evenings and just one Saturday a month from September to March. For more information and details please visit the website.

Deep Breathing For The ADHD Mind and Body

Just BREATHE – Let the dinosaurs chase someone else for a moment!

We have all heard the old adage at some time in our lives. When overwhelmed by panic, stress, or fear someone has encouraged us to take three deep belly breaths to help us calm down.

What may have sounded like an old wives’ tale is in fact proven scientific fact.

Positioned centrally within our diaphragm is the Vagus Nerve – the primary stimulator of our parasympathetic nervous system, and this nerve is solely responsible for initiating a feeling of relaxation, calm and a general feeling of wellbeing throughout your entire body bringing you into a state of homeostasis – basically helping you find your happy place.

Why is this important to know? When we are stressed out, our bodies respond quickly by going back to basic instincts – fight or flight.

All energy and functionality becomes focused on survival, no matter what the cause of the stress is.

Breathing Impacts Digestion, Muscle Tension and Sleep

Our body systems don’t differentiate between stress caused by a pending deadline, a difficult spouse or being chased by a dinosaur – it is received as the same message by the central nervous system – all systems must focus on survival, which means the rest of your wellness takes a back seat.

In the short term, you can identify this with digestion issues, sleep is impacted, muscle tension, and difficulty often in the neck, shoulders, hips and low back.

The long term impact of an over stressed nervous system has long been associated with life threatening disease, including heart disease, auto-immune disorders and cancer.

Feeling Less Stressed

So let me personalize this for you. In 2013 I was sitting in a hospital gown waiting to go into surgery.

I had been diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma {breast cancer} just two weeks before, and was about to have a bi-lateral mastectomy.

In the year before this moment, I had begun a regular yoga practice, mostly because I was looking for a way to stay active, and increase my flexibility.

But as I began to practice more often, I became aware that it truly helped me feel more relaxed and calm, and that carried over into my everyday life.

Most notably, I started to breath more.

I noticed suddenly that most of the time my breath was very shallow. It was only in the upper chest, and my chest hardly moved when I breathed. To look at me you could hardly tell I was breathing!

I also noticed I had a tendency to hold my breath when I became anxious, or life became difficult for whatever reason.

The hour spent on my yoga mat allowed me to connect to my body, mind and breath in a way I had never done before.

Fast forward to that moment waiting for surgery – when the nurse came in to take my blood pressure, which I was sure would be off the charts, she remarked how perfect it was.

I was calm as a cucumber – scared to death – but calm. I had been practicing my yoga breath, my deep belly breathing, and the results were undeniable. I was the scientific proof that it worked!

That was 7 years ago, and long story short, I continued doing my Yoga and eventually found my way to becoming a Yoga Teacher so I could share my Yoga experience and help others find their breath.

Cultivate Focus and Self-Awareness

Yoga is a 5,000 year old tradition and it includes moving the body through a series of postures that absolutely help build strength, mobility and flexibility.  But without the focus on breath, and mindfulness, Yoga is just exercise.

Yoga combined with breathwork encourages you to build body awareness through sensation. It cultivates focus and self-awareness.

And most importantly, it brings relaxation and calm to your nervous system – guiding you to a place of wellness and ease. Who couldn’t use more of that?

6 Steps to Feeling Calm & Focused

Don’t believe me yet? Try it yourself! The next time you feel your stress response kick in, unable to focus, anxiety building up, anger getting the best of you – stop what you are doing and follow these six steps:

  1. Stand, or sit up tall with shoulders back and dropped down away from your ears
  2. Close your eyes
  3. Take a nice big breath, inhaling through your nose, and fill up your belly like a balloon
  4. Slowly exhale through your nose, take your time releasing
  5. Repeat this 3 times { or more if you like }
  6. Notice how it makes you feel! Do you feel a little bit calmer? Less reactive? More focused?

Because We All Love A Good Game

Take this experiment a little bit further and try taking a “Yoga Breathwork Break” once a day for 5 minutes, then increase to twice or even three times a day.

Take the time to notice how it makes you feel as you begin to practice it more often – my bet is that the benefits will increase exponentially.

Let me know in the comments when you give it a try!

If nothing else, I hope that I have sparked your curiosity about the practice of Yoga and the potential of this tradition to help you navigate the challenges of life and develop healthy ways to cope with those ever persistent dinosaurs!

As featured on the Totally ADD Blog & Website

How Your Stress Interferes with Losing Weight

You feel like you are doing all the right things, but you are still not losing weight - what's going on?  STRESS: Cortisol, Betatrophin and your brain are working against you.  

In this article "Why Does Chronic Stress Make Losing Weight More Difficult" By Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today, some fascinating facts are revealed, providing sound scientific evidence and support for the importance of meeting your well-weight goals with mindfulness, movement and healthy eating.

I love the whole article, and recommend reading it beginning to end, but the two main points I want you to consider:

#1  "What can be done to break the chronic stress and weight-gain cycle? I would recommend a dual-pronged approach of stress management through mindfulness meditation and regular
exercise to burn fat. Kick-starting an exercise routine will burn calories and also lower stress
hormones.  Obviously, to reduce body fat and lose weight, you have to balance your calories in-calories out by exercising more and not overeating. Luckily, by becoming proactive about mindfulness, exercise, and stress reduction simultaneously you can create an upward spiral that increases metabolism and facilitates weight loss."

#2  "In 2011, Elissa Epel, who was one of the original researchers to identify the link between cortisol secretion and abdominal fat, conducted a study on the benefits of mindfulness meditation, lowering cortisol, and reducing body fat. Her findings suggest improvements in mindfulness,  stress management, and lower cortisol were associated with reductions in abdominal fat.  Mindfulness, meditation, and exercise appear to be an effective triad for minimizing stress and improving your ability to successfully lose weight."

Wellness is a complete and total concept. Your body and its' systems want to operate in balance and you have to be the one to help yourself - yoga, fitness, nutrition.

Restorative yoga is a type of yoga known for its relaxing, calming and healing effect. It has its roots in the yoga of B.K.S. Iyengar, who developed a yoga that allows students to practice without any strain or pain. This was developed into a whole style of yoga which was considered ideal for those recovering from injuries or illnesses.

Restorative yoga became popular in the United States in the 1970s, mainly thanks to a yoga teacher, Judith Lasater, who was herself a student of Iyengar.  I had the pleasure of completing training with Judith Lasater this November for  5 days! As she says,  we work very hard in our lives, and while we may sleep, we rarely take time to rest. Restorative Yoga poses help us learn to relax and rest deeply and completely. During deep relaxation, all the organ systems of the body are benefited, and a few of the measurable results of relaxation are the reduction of blood pressure and the improvement of immune function, as well as improvement in digestion, fertility, elimination, and the reduction of muscle tension and generalized fatigue.

As well as being popular with students who are recovering from illness or injury, Restorative yoga is considered an ideal balance to hectic and stressful modern lifestyles.

For Restorative yoga, the intention is to relax as far as possible into the postures, using as little physical effort as possible. The mind focuses on the breath in order to cultivate mindfulness and release tension from the body.

Restorative yoga classes tend to be relaxing and slow paced, with a whole sequence using as few as 3 or 4 postures which are held for long periods of time. Props are also used often in order to allow the body to be in the most comfortable, supported position possible. This may include bolsters, blankets, blocks and belts. Gentle music may be played, and the practice may be combined with guided meditation.

Restorative yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate, regulates the blood pressure and relaxes the body. As such, Restorative yoga is considered particularly beneficial for those suffering from anxiety, insomnia or headaches, as well as other stress-related conditions.

Restorative yoga is believed to boost the immune system and accelerate the body's natural healing process.

*As defined by Yogapedia