Yoga

Remaining Calm During a Hectic Time

In perfect tandem to my previous post, I came across an article in Yoga Journal about how to stay grounded (aka sane) during the upcoming holiday season. Their ideas, not always including yoga, are effective and quick and make a whole bunch of sense. I want to share them with you:

1. Breathe. The most important for sure. When you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and just breathe. At least 10 breaths. The world is not going to end during the time it takes to do this. It’s the fastest reset you can do.

breathe

2. Establish an intention for each day when you wake. A common undertaking during a yoga practice, you don’t have to be in downward dog to do this. Take a minute to steady the breath and set your intention for the day. Visualize the kind of day you want to have. Not everything will cooperate but your mind will work towards your goal without you even realizing it.

3. Smile. I love this one.

4. Alert, yoga pose! Maybe not appropriate in Costco but certainly at home or in the office, it just takes a minute. Forward bends are calming poses and can help lower your systolic blood pressure reading. Stand with your feet together and hands in a prayer position at your chest. Raise your hands straight above your head and fold forward reaching towards the floor. The closer you are to the floor, the more grounded you will feel. Stay for a few breaths.

forward bend

5. Music. Putting on your favourite music doesn’t require any time but can help calm you and lighten your mood as you work.

6. Brew a tea. The English love to “have a cuppa” when life gets stressful. Make it caffeine free for best effect.

kettle

7. Take a few minutes to walk outside when things get tough. Use all your senses to ground yourself; the sounds outside, the feel of the earth beneath you, the feel of the air across your face, the sights you see. Allow your shoulders to relax as you walk and your face to soften.

trees

8. Use some essentials oils to help you wind down at the end of the day in order to get a good nights sleep. Lavender is a wonderful calming oil and great for inducing sleep. To go one step further, Yoga Journal suggests this routine:
Add 2 drops each of lavender, chamomile, and rose essential oil to 2 oz. organic almond oil. Blend together and sprinkle a drops into your palms. Massage your face and neck gently with upward strokes. Pinch lightly along the eyebrow, and then press down along the ridge under your eye. Finish with circular full-facial strokes before placing the palms over your closed eyes, and inhaling deeply for a few seconds.

essential oils

Feel better?

Article adapted from Yoga Journal’s “7 Ways to Keep Your Calm”
http://www.yogajournal.com

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A Silent Weekend

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This past weekend, I did something I haven’t done in the 6.5 years my eldest daughter has been around. I spent 3 days completely alone. No husband, no children – actually not even my cat, who passed away in September was around to keep my company. What bliss! I could be utterly selfish and answer only to myself for the entire weekend.

I turned down social events and didn’t pick up the phone once. I attended yoga classes, ate out and couldn’t resist a visit to Toronto’s One of a Kind Show but it was all on my own terms.

Except for a number of short exchanges, it was totally silent. Now a true silent weekend would involve turning off all communication and entertainment devices. Television, radio, computers, iPhones etc. In essence you meditate and direct your thoughts and your breath. I’ve never tried this but given the opportunity I absolutely would. My meditation consisted of yoga classes I took throughout the weekend and I focused on being in the present moment with everything I did. I painted the bathroom. Without rushing, I made few mistakes and the end result is much better than it would be had my family been around. I took my time walking around the Show without any pressure to visit any particular vendors or purchase anything I didn’t want 100%. In fact, the longest conversation I had all weekend was with an aromatherapy vendor who makes creams and salves to restore chapped hands. This vendor travels throughout Canada selling her wares but makes them right in my own neighbourhood. If I had a weekend of only one conversation, I couldn’t have chosen a more apt one.

In recent weeks, I have “not been in a good place” to use a term commonly used and understood. I have spent too much time focusing on the needs of my family and house and not enough on my needs. And when my needs get neglected for too long, everybody suffers.

Before the craziness of Christmas loomed, I needed to reset and incorporate some downtime. Downtime differs from person to person – some thrive on company, some restore better on their own. I’m in the latter group. I love to research and write about new foods or trends that appear. And I love my yoga, which hasn’t as much a part of my life recently and it’s apparent in my physical and mental self. I’ve since pledged to make it a priority to schedule time to get to the studio at least 3 times a week.

So I ask you? What do you need? How will you achieve this? Focus on it now, be mindful of yourself so you don’t burn yourself out over the course of the next month.

 

Just Breathe

A remarkable thing happened this morning. With serene calmness, I got both girls ready, packed up and down to school ….. early. How? You ask. How indeed. For those that know me personally, this is a very rare event. I’m never early. Much less with serene calmness.

It was thanks to a new type of yoga I have recently found and an early morning practice at Breathe Yoga. This practice is mostly self-guided but in a studio with other practitioners. The class runs for 2.5 hours meaning it’s essentially a drop in class and you stay as long as you like. There is still a teacher giving individual instruction so for the time the teacher guides you, it’s one on one. The usual type of class is a teacher giving instruction to everyone all the time.

Welcome to Mysore Yoga.

It might not suit everyone but for me, it’s perfect. Since I spend my days in a loud, chaotic environment, the peace is a distinct change. There is nobody putting demands on me (whether that comes from a 2-year old, 5 year old or a yoga instructor) and best of all, it doesn’t matter if I’m late. Oh joy. Too often, I’ve spent the first 10 minutes of a yoga class just trying to relax after a frantic panic to get there on time or I’ve skipped it entirely not wanting to embark on that frantic panic.

It’s not a relaxing practice, it’s hard work. If you’ve done any of the Ashtanga series, you’ll know it’s a challenging series. The idea of Mysore is a meditative self practice of the Series. But the meditative part comes through so much more than any other yoga I’ve done before. A sense of calm patience literally stayed with me all day.

After finding this wonderful place, it seemed unbelievable to find this on my newsfeed (it’s now a print out on my fridge) later this morning. Did the words suit my mood or is this really something I can live by? Today, all of these can come naturally but tomorrow I may have to work harder.

Affirmation

I will try by remembering these words. And on those days I can practice yoga as I did this morning, I know it will come to me easily.

Thank you Tori for sharing this list!