1. Balance Your Life with Ayurveda And The Doshas

    March 24, 2014

    Ayurveda

    by Jacqueline De Burca

     

    A Guide To The Tridosha Concept

    For over 5000 years, the Ayurvedic system has offered a body of wisdom to help people to achieve balance and vitality, whilst realising their full potential. Practitioners of the ancient holistic system of Ayurvedic medicine view each human as an individual and diagnosis is carried out using all of the five senses. Ayurveda considers that the physical and mental aspects, as well as the personality combine to make a unit, of which all aspects can influence the others. Treatment can include the use of herbs, yoga, nutrition, panchakarma cleansing, Vedic astrology and acupressure massage.

     

    Native to the subcontinent of India, this traditional medicine system’s name Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit word ?yurveda, which means life-knowledge. There are texts on Ayurveda which date back to as early as the 3rd or 4th century B.C. However today in India the word is used to cover a range of traditional medicine, which means that there are numerous branches of Ayurveda now. Historically the system has enumerated the bodily substances into a framework of the five great elements (earth, water, fire, air and aether) which also interact with the seven tissues (blood, plasma, flesh, bone, marrow, adipose and reproductive).

     

    In Hinduism it is believed that humans and all of creation are made up of these five elements, which dissolve back into nature upon death, balancing nature’s cycle. However whilst living humans are affected by the five elements and Ayurveda aims to balance the three elemental substances, known as doshas. Known as the tridosha concept, tt is believed that each human being is a unique combination of the doshas, which defines their character and temperament. Every human has a natural systems state, which is a natural combination of the doshas. In Ayurveda is it believed that humans can achieve balance by seeking more of the element/s that they lack, which can be done through care of their habits, environment and behaviour.

     

    The three doshas are:

    Vata      – air and space = wind

    Pitta      – fire and water = bile

    Kapha    – water and earth = phlegm

     

    These fundamental energies affect both our inner and outer environment, plus they govern structure, movement and transformation. Upon diagnosis an Ayurvedic practitioner provides guidelines to be applied on a daily and seasonal basis. These include specific seasonal and daily routines, proper use of our senses, diet and behaviour. Ayurveda teaches that health is a result of a finely tuned integration between our spirit, body, mind and environment.

     

    Vata

    If Vata is the predominant dosha a person tends to be light, thin, energetic and enthusiastic. Vata types can be visionaries, with wonderful imaginations but they can also get spaced out. On the positive side Vata has an abundance of creative energy, but needs to watch out for feeling uptight and anxious. Although Vata may have artistic talent, the mind can sometimes be restless. This can lead to over analysis and theorising. They can also have a tendency for over-indulgence in some of life’s pleasures.

     

    Vata is required to mobilise the functioning of the nervous system, so this is why when there is too much Vata – an imbalance of Vata, that the person may tire easily due to over thinking, anxiety and worry. It also affects flatulence, windy humour, rheumatism and gout.

     

    To Balance Vata

    • Create a routine
    • Listen to relaxing music
    • Meditate if possible twice every day to calm your mind
    • Your environment should have more earth tones and mild pastel shades
    • Before going to bed, try to minimise watching TV, eating or heavy reading
    • Oil your skin

     

    To Avoid Excess Vata

    • Avoid exposure to the cold
    • Don’t eat too much dry, leftover or frozen food, or food that is bitter or astringent
    • Avoid too much exercise
    • Avoid suppressing your natural urges
    • Don’t travel too much

     

     

    Pitta

    Those who have more of the Pitta dosha are often confident leaders. Their physique tends to be moderately strong, and they seem to walk with a sense of purpose. When they speak the voice is often strong, or even loud, and their speech is convincing. They are enthusiastic for knowledge, have a leaning towards being very focused and can have a razor sharp mind. Even when relatively balanced they can seem argumentative, but it is mixed with a sense of humour. However an excess of Pitta can make them irritable, fiery and snappy. Those with Pitta as the prevalent dosha can be organised perfectionists.

     

    The energy principle of Pitta is to use the bile to direct digestion and metabolism. As heat is its main quality, those with Pitta can suffer from overheating, skin irritations, ulcers and heartburn.

     

    To Balance Pitta

    • Spend time in cooling environments
    • Do gentle exercise that doesn’t overheat you
    • Try to learn to go with the flow
    • Eat cooling foods, cucumbers are excellent as are many vegetables and fruit
    • Avoid oily foods
    • Take deep breaths frequently, or do breathing exercies
    • Do yoga asanas which are gentle

     

    To Avoid Excess Pitta

    • Don’t overexposure yourself to heat
    • Avoid too much intellectual thinking
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Be careful of too much anger, fear or hate
    • Do not exercise in the middle of the day
    • Avoid antibiotics and ideally all drugs

     

     

    Kapha

    Kapha tends to have a broader frame and long limbs. They are compassionate and caring, often speaking in a slow, rhythmic manner. They are stable, patient people who don’t tend towards anger too easily – however if they are driven far enough then they don’t calm down very easily. Essentially full of love, loyal and kind-hearted, the Kapha is the dosha which is prone to gain weight easily. They take longer to learn but when they do the memory is strong. Also it may take then a while to reach a conclusion, but they make excellent logical analysts.

     

    If there is an excess of Kapha then the person may feel lethargic and over-indulgent. As phlegm is the controlling body fluid, Kapha types are prone to excess weight, congestion and a sluggish digestion.

     

    To Balance Kapha

    • Walk for around 15 minutes after eating to aid digestion
    • Be attentive to your food while eating, in other words be mindful
    • Trigger your natural energy by going to a yoga class
    • Breath deeply or do breathing exercises
    • Do an invigorating daily self massage

     

    To Avoid Excess Kapha

    • Avoid eating too much meat, dairy, fried food, salt and sweets
    • Don’t use sedatives or tranquilizers
    • Avoid exposure to the cold
    • Avoid doing little or nothing
    • Don’t drink too much water
    • Be careful about focusing too much on possessiveness, greed and doubts

     

    To get the best out of Ayurveda, you should go to a qualified practitioner and then follow through on the recommendations based on your current balance of doshas. However, if you are curious, you can first try some quick online quizzes to find your balance:

    http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

    http://www.pukkaherbs.com/Ayurveda/dosha-quiz

     

    Author Bio: Jacqueline is trained in auricular acupuncture, hypnotherapy and Vortex Healing. She firmly believes in the healing power of nature, as well as its inspirational effects on us. She also loves ancient wisdom and is fascinated by how certain places can have a special effect on us.

     

    Image Credit: marketing-deluxe.at


  2. Yoga Helps you Discover Meaning in Life

    March 1, 2014

    Yoga Helps you Discover Meaning in Life

    by Melisa Marsett

    Have you ever thought why yoga gains popularity every day turning into one of the most popular spiritual practices? The person who is deeply in love with yoga will immediately answer this question. In addition to incredible health benefits, yoga gives at least general understanding of the meaning of human life. Yoga helps to find answers on the range of important questions that occur every day in the thoughts of people seeking for truth and the real purpose of our existence.

     

    Meaning in Feeling

     

    What’s the most important thing in life? Where and how we live our lives? According to yoga, we live in so-called “I”, we live our lives in our own feelings and everything else has no real relation to life. As strange as it may sound, but our life is our feelings, mood and emotions. When we have a good mood, we are inspired by everything – the world around us, people, atmosphere and even things. When we have a bad mood, nothing can force us to feel pleased and satisfied, even the most “valuable” and vital things which usually lead to happiness. When we are happy, the whole world is in harmony, everything brings joy to us, and vice versa.

    Therefore, generally speaking, the meaning of our life is to be happy. In other words, the meaning of life is to experience the feelings which give force, pleasure and joy. No matter how rich we are, money, power, houses, cars and sex mean nothing if all these do not please us. At the same time, if we live in harmony with the Spirit and experience the feeling of joy and life satisfaction, we will be happy even living, for example, in a cave and eating one spoon of rice per day. To improve the statement that the meaning of life is hidden in our feelings, we only should to look closely at our everyday life and feel the influence of our emotions.

    (more…)


  3. Being Natural: Naked Yoga and its Psychological Benefits

    February 26, 2014

    Naked Yoga and its Psychological Benefits

    by Daniela Aneis

    Yoga: Everyone knows about it and many practice it on a regular basis. But naked yoga? As in, in the nude, no clothes, au naturel, exactly like you came into this world? Yep, that’s right. If this is the first you’ve ever heard of then keep on reading and discover why it is gaining so many enthusiasts all over the world. And the most amazing of it is that people are actually going to group classes to practice naked yoga, not just at home or when in nature.

    It started as a part of Indian yoga philosophy were members would undress themselves both physical and spiritually from all material possessions, sexual desires and anything physical of this world. Could there be anything more freeing than not having anything on you?

    Naked yoga then travelled to Europe through naturist movements in Germany and Switzerland and to North America in the 60’s taking a ride from the hippie movement. It has been depicted in several 1960’s and 70’s movies.

    Its modern roots and recent success I might feel tempted to attribute it to the “Sex and the City” culture of one’s sexual liberation. In the 90’s and early 2000 several groups for distinctive audiences came along (all men classes, all women, homosexual, for children). It seems that despite modern’s society idea of selling nudity and sex being displayed in every movie or advertisement you see, there is no freedom in enjoying our own nudity, whether in public or in private. And these classes seem like the perfect opportunity for it.

     

    What drives someone to be naked in a group class?

     

    Or to practice yoga naked for all that matters, in public or in private? People’s motivations are quite different and we will explore some of them from a psychological point of view.

    Here are some motivations for practicing naked yoga:

    • Feeling free. When you dispose of everything (and isn’t yoga about releasing your mind from all the clutter to obtain enlightenment?) and present yourself fully to the world aren’t feeling free? And you might also feel free from liberating yourself from social restraints against nudity.

     

    • Feeling good about your body. Body and image acceptance are key important aspects in one’s self-esteem. Which might be hard to achieve when your mind is flooded with Photoshopped images of non-real bodies and society calls that beauty. What if you could find the beauty within you and feel pretty about it?

     

    • Leaving embarrassment and other negative feelings outside. Did you know that feelings like embarrassment and shame are socially constructed emotions? As in, we were all taught about the things we should be embarrassed about? What if you could not be embarrassed about your body and person? Wouldn’t that be a sensation worth having?

     

    • Getting in touch with Nature. With human nature for all that matters. Yoga is about paying attention to the here and now. How can you do that if you’re still attached to mundane things? How can you enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature’s work if you’re not paying full attention?

     

    • Re-connecting with others humans in a naked mind-body-and-soul way. We all know that most of the time we wear identity masks either to shield and protect us or to keep others away. And is there anything else that expresses our fragility better than nudity? What if the walls that prevent reconnection to others come be tumbled down and we could feel a deep sense of bounding to other humans?

     

    A few psychological benefits of naked yoga.

     

     

    • Working on your self-esteem. As mentioned above, a good-real body image and body acceptance are key parts of self-esteem. And accepting one’s body as it is, is half-way into accepting one in overall and valuing the amazing person that you are.

     

    • Feeling good about your sexuality. Meaning that you feel good about your sexual identity – being a man or a woman. You will not only accept your social part as a man or a woman but feel comfortable “being in your own shoes”.

     

    • Freeing yourself of too much sex. Seems like counter intuitive? Don’t confuse sexuality with sex! Sex is a very important part of our nature but it is taking too much space of our significant relationships. Naked yoga can help you regain intimacy with your partner, a far greater component in successful relationships than just good sex.

     

    • Having fun! Do you remember how you were as a child? Do you remember running in your backyard or at the beach barefoot and fully nude? Didn’t that just feel great? Practicing nude yoga can bring that wonderful feeling back. And no sexual restraints attached to it!

     

    Please remember that before practicing naked yoga you should be comfortable about it and it should be a pleasurable activity for you. So, if you’re up for it, give it a try!

    Image source: Cutcaster.com (purchase order #57281)

     

     


  4. Yoga – It’s Not For Everyone, But It Just Might Be For You

    February 24, 2014

    Yoga – It’s Not For Everyone

    by Michelle Blessing

     

    My journey into the world of yoga didn’t exactly start out in a typical fashion.  Sure, I’d been curious about it for a few months, went out and bought the necessary “equipment” and an instructional video, and then – nothing.  That’s not to say I didn’t try; it’s just when your children decide to use you for a human jungle gym as you’re in downward dog, it just doesn’t really work out.

     

    So I forgot about it for a few week, until I stumbled upon a yoga deal on a website I frequent.  It was in my area and offered half-price sessions.  I thought, “Why not?” and bought it.  So it became official – I was going to yoga class.  I’d never been to an “exercise” class before, so I enlisted in a friend who was already practicing yoga to come with me and check it out.

     

    I went to class that night with a sense of excitement and anxiety – could I handle the heat (it was a hot yoga class, by the way)?  Would I fall over and make a fool of myself?  Would I be able to move tomorrow?  Would it relax my worried mind enough to get a good night’s sleep?  The answer to those questions, ALL those questions, is a resounding yes (well, I didn’t exactly fall, but I lost my balance A LOT).   The class was everything I expected and more.  The instructor was friendly and happy to have new faces in front of him.  My aching back felt better after the hour-long class, and for once in my life (at least for an hour), I stopped being so anxious about life.

     

    Let me explain what it was like for me during that first class.  After my initial nervousness passed and I allowed myself to fully engage in the class, I felt a sense of peace and enlightenment wash over me.  It was as if every cliché about yoga I’d ever heard was true – I was able to relax, focus on myself and get in tune with what my body (and mind) needed.  I left class with a spring in my step and joy in my heart.  I couldn’t wait to go back and do it again.

     

    More importantly for me, however, was the sense of peace I felt (and continue to feel) during and after yoga class.  As I set my intention for class each time – which usually centers on reducing my anxiety and finding inner peace – I feel a sense of control over the worries in my life.  During class, I keep my focus on ME – on my form, on the poses, on what my instructor is saying, on the music, essentially, I keep the focus on anything but what I am currently worrying about.  And as I flow through the poses, I can actually sometimes feel the anxiety literally leaving my body.  I start to relax, and I find by the time we reach the final pose of the day – savasana – I am left with that sense of peace I so desperately crave on a daily basis.

     

    So, how will you know if yoga is for you?  Well, you certainly won’t know unless you try it, but I’m not telling you to go spend a fortune on yoga gear only to find you really aren’t that into it.  Because, truth be told, yoga isn’t for everyone, but it just might be for you.  Think about what you want to get out of your practice – this is likely going to be different depending on whom you talk to.  If you are looking for a more intense (not that yoga can’t be intense) workout, or if you want to focus more on the physical aspect of working out, then yoga might not be for you.  But if you are looking to gain strength and flexibility of body, mind and spirit, then I suggest you give it a try.  This is especially true if you are prone to worry, anxiety, depression, insomnia….yoga is likely going to give you relief from these ailments.

     

    Since I’ve started practicing yoga, I can’t say all my worry is gone, but I know when I roll up my mat and leave that class, I feel calm and ready to face my worries.  Yoga gives me the sense of power over my life I have been missing for so many years.  It puts me in touch with not only the strength I currently possess, but it shows me the potential strength I have to develop.  I’m not saying it saved my life, but it definitely gave my life the push to the path I needed to follow.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yogamama-co-uk/5445768199

     


  5. World Yoga Day 2014

    February 23, 2014

    World Yoga Day 2014

     

    Today is the World Yoga Day 2014!

    On Sunday 23rd of Febuary 2014, yoga teachers and schools in 90 countries around the world will donate their time and space to a two hour yoga session which is devoted to human rights.

    The class should be held from 11AM – 1PM sharp, local time in each time zone, which will lead to a 24 hour yoga marathon around the world. Devoting our thoughts and energy globally to the human rights issue will generate a powerful impact.

    Students attending the event will donate whatever tuition they can afford. All contributions are welcome and also students who can’t pay at all – the money is important to help victims of human right violation but so is the spirit.

    The money will go to support Oxfam’s humanitarian response for Syrian refugees. Millions of people have fled violence in Syria and are in desperate need of shelter, food and water. Oxfam is aiming to reach up to 650,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and inside Syria.


  6. Getting Fit Using Alternate Exercise

    October 17, 2013

    by Laura Green

    Well, age 34 is just a few months away (much fewer than I would like). The days when I would jog or swim a couple of miles a day are distant, dusty memories. Now, I get out of breath climbing the stairs out of the basement. But, I would like to get back into the healthy department, the question is, where should I start?

    Yoga

    Yeah, I always thought this was an “old lady’s” way of pretending to be in shape. Boy, was I wrong? I first became acquainted with yoga a few years ago when a middle-aged woman I knew – a breast cancer survivor – told me about the flexibility she had gained through yoga. I have never been flexible.

    Another exposure to this form of exercise was when I saw a 93 year old man reach down and touch his toes – with no trouble. He said that he was flexible enough for that because of yoga.

    Let me tell you, yoga is not “sitting funny” and chanting weird stuff. This non-impact exercise regimen has stretched parts of my body that I never thought could bend. It is ability based, so that old back injury from a car wreck is not in the least aggravated by my exercise. Regardless of your physical ability, size, age, and even inclination, you will find that yoga can build your core strength and improve muscle tone. All of this helps your circulation and lowers stress levels, too.

    Yoga doesn’t have to be overexertion, you work your muscles fairly hard and as a result you’re increasing the blood flow through your body. Pranayama, a breathing exercise can increase your heart rate and help supply nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. It all helps to boost your metabolism and everyone knows that a healthy metabolism contributes to the burning of excess weight and in turn will make you fitter.

    Tai Chi

    Tai Chi is a form of fitness more or less a moving type of yoga, You could refer to it as a sort of meditation in motion. The movements are adapted from martial arts and the movements of animals and birds in nature. The movements are arranged in “sets”. The movement is slow and graceful, and meditation is a key part in the exercise, or vital force in the body, to Taoism. But even if you don’t subscribe to the mysticism, Tai Chi is a great way to build your sense of balance and strengthen muscle groups.

    Tai Chi also features breathing exercises, “Qigong” can be practiced sitting, standing or lying down and can help mobilize and relax the body. Tai chi is a great way to reduce stress and increase circulation and muscle tone, a great way to get back into fitness.

    Fitness Retreats

    This is a bit of a different one, I would say the least popular most likely. But when you just don’t have the willpower to get youself doing the previous methods, or even just standard exercise, this is a great way to get fit again. The negative moniker greatly underestimates the good done by spas and camps. A day, a week, or a month at a weight loss clinic or spa can be the jump start for your weight loss and fitness regimen. There are reality shows based on this premise, with coaches that “urge” people to perform physical feats they never before would have attempted.

    However, not all weight loss camps and spas are like that. You’ll find that extreme exercise and dieting is not necessary when you have a little encouragement from a skilled coach and trainer. While the extreme features of televised fat camps may appeal to some, to others, weight loss and fitness just seem further away.

    Alternative exercise can be the perfect way to get back in shape if you haven’t already tried it. Just remember, it’s all about sticking with it, Perhaps getting older won’t be so bad, after all.

     

    Author Bio: Laura Green loves to write about the struggle of weight gain and how to get back into shape. She has recently booked herself an appointment at Yeotown in Devon, a health camp that provides yoga and other great fitness ideas.


  7. Painting From the Source

    September 14, 2013

    by Aviva Gold

    paintingfromthesource.com 

     

    The term “process painting” implies painting ( or drawing ) from intuition with no plan or goal. It is like playing freely with the paint, choosing colors, shapes, images, allowing the painting to unfold organically in ways you would not expect, …. directed from the unconscious, allowing the painting to change, get painted over, turned around and grow or shrink. “Organically” means, approaching the painting and the images as a living entity which has its own natural evolution and growth like a seed to a tree, and following its growth where it takes you. There is no right or wrong, no rules to follow or prescribed technique. You and the painting evolve as in nature as if following a genetic program.

     

    Different from copying from nature, still life or doing portrait from life or photo, different from a preplanned picture or illustration, process paintings goal is to be with out an intellectual goal. The goal is to be in the moment and follow where the painting leads you. … and stay with it until there is a clear completion , visually and emotionally. The emotions and body sensations you experience in this full body engagement with paint is part of the process.  And different from Abstract painting, process painting allows and welcomes images to appear in their own dream like determination. Often the painter in process experiences some transformation from the experience. PP is practiced more for the evolutionary experience then for the final product. Process painting is practiced by self taught and professionally trained alike. Often people journal as the painting changes and unfolds.

     

     

    There is a similar method called a Drawing (or painting) Marathon, often used in art schools to free up students.  In a drawing marathon, people will get together for a full day or longer and completely submerge them selves in drawing all day and night as long as they can, perhaps with rotating models or other subjects, till life as a reference point; drawing as much and as quickly as they can for as long as they can. The purpose being that people will loosen up and let go of limiting habits and allow inspiration and newly gained facile, freshness and comfort with the materials to enhance the creative process.

    PAINTING FROM THE SOURCE method which I facilitate and train others to teach is based on a combination of process painting and painting marathon as described above with the addition but with the addition of  much more.

    In the Source painting process we use tempera, water based paint which dries quickly (kindergarten paint) and paper. Some of the characteristics that distinguishes PFTS from generic “process painting” is that I encourage:

     

    1. People to stay in the same painting for the duration of time ( 1 day, a week end , often 5 days). There may be many layers and papers added on. Some people work on a painting with details for months.
    2. A sacred ritual and safe atmosphere, with an alter, opening prayer, …weave/invite the presence of The Sacred through candle lighting, opening and continuous prayer, sacred words, chants and sounds, presence of an alter, rituals, include awareness of current season, moon phase, and holidays etc.
    3. Safety/privacy, the personal sharing of heartfelt hopes/intentions from the process/painting experience. No comments about anyone’s process/painting.
    4. People  periodically allow the movements and sounds from their painting to come through them with the group witnessing or group participating. These embodiments, where the paintings over soul channels through your body and expresses its depths through your body, are profoundly transforming to the painter and the group.
    5. Viewing the unfolding process/painting as a great mystery with no analyzing or interpretation, always moving beyond a tempting story.
    6. Embracing and allowing uncomfortable images and colors to emerge and express their needs
    7. Opening up a dialog with the painting for and / or with images in the painting to receive guidance.
    8. Conduct Retreat in Nature and away from participants daily life if possible.
    9. The Tribal Experience; support, love and being witnessed by the group.
    10. Encourage painters to complete images, feet, fingers, roots, earth below, end of roads, source of river and all possible details.

     

    Source painting has a more focused conception and purpose.

     

    PURPOSE: The natural and ancient way to create authentic Art, is healing to the maker, viewer and community. Similar to meditation, yoga, trance dance, chanting, and dream tending, the Arts, (particularly spontaneous painting and drawing), are a potent and effective means to mystical revelatory states of consciousness with the bonus of a stirring visual record.  Source Painting taps into both the personal and collective flow of mysterious archetypical imagery which empowers, inspires and transforms the painter. The PFTS workshop is designed to aid contemporary people in reconnection with nature and the original Source of life, which in turn leads to practical benefits such as improved health, work, relationships and heart open practices for community and environmental sustainability. Creativity and sacred presence are the same.

    I will be facilitating a 5 day workshop, Paint & Dance From the Source, on Oct 20-25 at Pumpkin Hollow (www.PumpkinHollow.org) in the upper Hudson Valley of New York. For more information about this workshop please contact me at Aviva@PaintingFromTheSource.com or by phone (805) 640-1724.

     

    Aviva Gold Author Bio: Aviva Gold MFA, MPS, CSW, ATR-BC, REAT, calls herself a painting witch. And like most witches throughout history, Aviva is steeped in the womanly art of midwifery. Why a witch? Because she is intimately conversant with the mysteries and magic that underlie everyday reality, and with the alchemy that taps into them to bring healing and integration. Why a midwife? Because she is a skilled guide to those on the path to the deepest truth and the complex process of spiritual evolution. This dual personae is the medium Aviva uses to make her teaching unique and uniquely powerful: painting is her channel to the truth.

    Images: Aviva Gold – www.paintingfromthesource.com

     


  8. Using Yoga and Art to Recover From Trauma

    September 13, 2013

    Yoga and Art for recovery

    by Dr. Jesse Viner

     

    Traumatic events alter the way we function.  Physically, socially, emotionally, and mentally, we operate differently after trauma spikes.  Our bodies hold onto stress, with symptoms like fatigue, high blood pressure, or insomnia as augmented levels of stress hormones, including cortisol and norepinephrine, pulsate through our nervous systems.  We may withdraw from friends and family or displace feelings of anger, guilt, or shame onto those which we hold closest as we struggle in conversation and connection.  Our minds, entangled in distress, hardly focus on daily responsibilities like work, school, or family.  Worry, sadness, or fear consumes our thought patterns.  When trauma hits, we consciously need to focus on restoring balance physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. With reliance on yoga and art as tools for healing, physical, social, emotional, and mental recovery from trauma is possible.

     

    Physical recovery

     

    An abundance of information, detailing yoga’s positive effects for physical health, highlights improvements in flexibility, strength, and endurance.  In addition, to the obvious, outward facing benefits, like a toned body, yoga acts as a catalyst, internally.  Movements that involve twists, like Half Lord of the Fishes Pose or Revolved Side Angle Pose, massage internal organs, allowing for increased blood flow, hormone production, and waste detoxification.  By incorporating daily yoga to combat physical affects of trauma, systems like the nervous system and the endocrine system, resume healthy functioning and restore balance to physical wellness.

    Art improves physical health by allowing for stimulated brain activity.  The brain creates internal paths and forms connections by means of synapses.  Art can be different every time it is attempted, which in turn stimulates synapses to be formed, creating new paths within the central nervous system.  After trauma has occurred, stress can deplete the activity of synapses.  By adding art to recover from trauma, brain stimulation can be restored and the central nervous system will have an easier time coping with stress.

     

    Social and emotional recovery

     

    Our fullest potential to function emotionally and in social situations, stems from a healthy self esteem.  Self esteem suffers greatly as a result of trauma when bullying or victimization occurs. When self esteem lowers, so does our ability to set boundaries with others, accept differences, and handle social conflicts.

    Practicing yoga or art rebuilds self esteem.  Both yoga and art offer creative outlets to explore different mediums, letting us unveil personal strengths and interests or revitalize forgotten talents.

    Yoga practices vary greatly.  From the hot intensity of competitive Bikram yoga to the relaxed, gentle movements of restorative practice, people can find a pace that meets their comfort level. Experimenting with different classes is an excellent way to find a connection in the yoga community, learn new poses, and master mindful meditation. Self esteem may improve as one grows in their personal practice, mastering difficult poses like Dancer Pose or Warrior III.

    Mediums of art differ greatly as well, with options for self discovery. Painting, drawing, sculpting, taking photographs, and playing music helps healing from trauma.  Art allows expression of feelings, without the pressure of putting words to our perception.  Art supplies us with the safety of working through the impact of trauma by broadcasting our feelings through creative measures.  Completing complex tasks, like painting a picture or capturing a stunning visual on film, we feel a sense of accomplishment, thus raising our self esteem.

    By unlocking personal strengths and interests in yoga or art, our sense of self is nurtured.  With a healthy amount of self esteem, we set boundaries, accept differences, and handle social conflict with ease.

     

    Mental recovery

     

    The hardest part of recovering from trauma may be getting your mind back on a healthy track.  Pining over the details forces us to relieve the hurt while restricting us from moving forward.  Practicing yoga or art regularly essentially nourishes our minds with healthy concentrations.  We take control of our thoughts as we turn to our mats or canvasses, giving our minds the mental break we truly deserve.  Choices exist after trauma. Opt for supportive measures like yoga or art to promote the healing process.

     

     

    Dr. Jesse Viner Author Bio: Dr. Jesse Viner, founder of Yellowbrick, is a recognized expert in the treatment of eating disorders, difficulties resulting from trauma and abuse, and bipolar disorder, Dr. Viner has three decades of experience applying the knowledge of psychiatry and psychoanalysis to the challenge of creating meaningful and pragmatically effective treatment programs. Dr. Viner has served as Director of Adult Psychiatry Inpatient Services for Northwestern University Medical School; Medical Director of Four Winds Chicago and Director of University Behavioral Health. He is on the faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Dr. Viner is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

    Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiberartgirl/7174488544/

     

     


  9. How Yoga Can Improve Your Creativity

    August 25, 2013

    On Yoga and Creativity

    by Edward Lakatis

    Creativity is an important element in any job. However, there are really certain jobs that may require more of it than others. Inventors, artists, musicians and scientists are only a few examples of these kinds of jobs. Individuals who choose to pursue these career paths come to realize that to continuously do well in their fields, they constantly have to churn out new ideas, new concepts, and new works. Inventors have to come up with new inventions all the time, musicians are pressured to come up with a different kind of sound that would appeal to the masses, and artists who successfully think up unique ways to make art are the ones who are usually given more opportunities to show their work. Being creative, for these people, can spell the difference between failure and success.

    With that being said, it is important that these people take the time and effort to invest in their creativity. They have to constantly look for ways to harness their creativity, whether it be incorporating a new activity, or making a major lifestyle change such as altering the diet. This is where yoga comes in. Unknown to many, yoga is actually an excellent tool for creativity. Doing yoga can do wonders for one’s creative process. Allow us to explain how yoga can make a difference.

     

    Yoga encourages mindfulness

     

    People who do yoga can attest that there is always effort involved to be more mindful, and to notice more things. From observing how the body is positioned, to how it moves from one posture to another, up to paying attention to the breath, as well as the thoughts that go through ones head, yoga is all about mindfulness. After one achieves this state of mindfulness, yoga encourages a detachment from images and words that are normally associated with certain emotions. And in a way, isn’t this what being creative is about- letting go of old norms, and finding a fresh new approach to things? Once the minds gets used to this kind of thinking in the yoga studio, it can progress and take it out into the real world, resulting in more creative ideas.

     

    Yoga achieves a relaxed yet alert mind

     

    We all have those moments when our minds are so full of different bits of information that there doesn’t seem to be any room for new ideas to develop. This is a classic sign of a stressed out mind. When the mind is stressed out, ideas stop flowing, and the person ends up stuck in a creative block. This is where yoga becomes a great tool to relax the mind. Yoga exercises teach the mind to slow down and relax. By relaxing, it is given the opportunity to recharge and realign itself. The great thing about yoga is that even if the mind is in a relaxed state, it is still continually moving and thinking. It has to have a level of alertness to process the poses and the breathing. A level of alertness is equally important in the creative process, because if the mind is too relaxed, it may stop working altogether! Yoga gives the mind the balance to flow and make room for idea generation, but also makes sure that it is constantly functioning.

     

    Yoga Teaches Patience

     

    Not many people realize it, but the process of creativity relies so much on patience. For a creative idea to fully blossom, there must be nothing short of an alignment of all the perfect elements. Many creative ideas are born because the inventor’s state of mind is right, the timing is right, and something or somebody comes into his life that contributes to the overall idea. Waiting for all of the stars to align requires a lot of patience, and many may give up because they cannot be bothered to wait. However, if one is involved in an activity that encourages patience such as yoga, then he will not mind the wait so much, and the perfect idea can come about in its own perfect time.

    There may be different ways of upping person’s creativity, but yoga is one of the easiest ones to get into. It is available in many different places, and also has great variety. No matter what one’s lifestyle is, or their level of expertise, there should be a yoga class and style that will suit them. It would definitely not hurt for individuals that constantly struggle with being creative to give yoga a try. It just may be the perfect activity to get those creative juices flowing.

     

     

    Author’s Bio: Edward Lakatis run and writes for Idea Design Studio, an invention development and marketing company. He is passionate about all things related to creativity, invention, and helping other inventors realize their potentials. More of Edward’s writing can be found on http://ideadesignstudio.com/

    Image Credit: Lululemon Athletica – www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/5725279112

     


  10. 7 Most Notable Benefits of Yoga

    August 15, 2013

      benefits of yoga

    Do you frequent the gym and you are looking to expand your fitness horizons?  Are you an exercise newcomer struggling to find a place to start? Are you a yoga skeptic and have never taken the plunge to actually try a class? The truth is, yoga has many benefits and has the potential to bring a whole new level of health and wellness to your life.  Read on to discover seven significant benefits yoga can bring to you and has already brought to countless others. Let’s move past the stereotypes that say yoga is for hippies, people without any sense of athleticism and individuals with the ultimate skills in flexibility.  The fact of the matter is, and has been proven, that yoga is for everyone.

     

    • Optimism Yoga has a natural ability to increase levels of GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter present in the brain which lowers anxiety and gives people a sense of calm and general well being. If you are naturally a more stressed and anxious person, yoga has the potential to truly change the quality of your life by helping you to relax and go about your days more calmly. In a sense, yoga can be a natural form of antidepressant.  Just as depression medications increase GABA levels, so does yoga.

     

    • Pain Relief  When you are in pain, the last thing you are likely thinking about is exercising.  But wait! Incorporating yoga into your life as a part of your daily regimen can actually lower chronic pain.  How? There are “markers” in your body called Cytokines which indicate you are holding inflammation in that area.   After practicing yoga regularly, these cytokines decrease and you are left with less pain. Yoga has also been shown to lessen arthritis and fibromyalgia pain.

     

    • Quality of Sleep Regular yoga practice is known to cure several conditions, some of which include insomnia or abnormal sleeping habits. Yoga helps people to unwind and de-stress at the end of the day. When you feel more relaxed and have a clear mind, getting a quality night’s sleep is much easier.

     

    • Calmness Yoga is often times considered an alternative medicine practice offering a refreshing mind-body healing approach.  Yoga combines physical and mental disciplines to help yogis achieve peacefulness of both body and mind.  Post yoga, you are left feeling relaxed and better able to manage stress and anxiety.

     

    • Posture  Poor posture can be attributed to the presence of many undesirable health conditions such as varicose veins, pinched nerves, heart strain and belly fat.  Many problems related to posture are caused by long hours spent each day at one’s workplace, hunched over a computer.  The good news is, many yoga poses help to counteract your tendency to slouch, increase your body awareness and, in turn, improve your posture.  There was once a (false) belief that yoga actually makes people taller.  While this is not exactly true, yoga can noticeably improve your posture, making you appear taller and thinner. Talk about a nice, simple confidence boost!

     

    • Strength Can yoga build muscle? During a yoga class, you are required to hold your body in positions in which you must support yourself for considerable lengths of time. You build muscle tone by holding and supporting your own body weight, much like you do during conventional strength training exercise. Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, strength and range of motion. With this, you’re at a much lower risk for injuring yourself in other physical activities or in your daily life.

     

    Depending on what you are looking to get out of Yoga, there are many variations of yoga practices that can provide you with the specific benefits you are looking for.  All in all, yoga can be a great addition to any physical fitness routine no matter your fitness level or goals.

     

    This is a guest post by Strauman Chiropractic based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  As the premier Minneapolis chiropractor, Strauman provides auto accident treatment, treatment for herniated discs, holistic care, kinesiology, physiotherapy and whiplash care. 

    Image Credit/Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yogamama-co-uk/3794867064