Ahhhh! Doesn’t that feel better? This is a time of year when our ‘to do list’ gets longer and longer and we run around practically holding our breath. Sometimes in Urban Zen we advise a patient/client to notice their exhale. This can often slow their breath rate and relieve feelings of anxiety. When we exhale we release CO2 and other toxins and, create space for fresh oxygenated air which feeds our cells. As we exhale consciously, we can release thoughts that are not serving us in that moment creating spaciousness for the present. I invite you to take time to exhale. Maybe you pause several times a day and take 3 conscious breaths allowing your mind to focus on each exhale and feel your feet on the ground. I wish you and yours a healthy, happy Holiday Season!
Bhramari (pronounced brah mah REE), which means the “buzzing of the bees” according to Dr. Timothy McCall. Bhramari is a breath practice that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the calming nervous system by lengthening the exhalation. Bhramari can help reduce anxiety and bring one’s focus into the present moment. I recently taught Bhramari in my prenatal yoga classes. I often teach them pranayama practices that lengthen their exhalation to bring about a sense of calm as well as relax the muscles of the body. These practices are helpful in labor as well when a woman needs to stay calm and relax the pelvic floor muscles. Even if you’re not pregnant, you can still benefit from Bhramari breath. I invite you to give it a try.
Practice: Sitting comfortably with the natural curves of the spine, close your eyes if it’s comfortable and feel the parts of the body in contact with the floor, feel the hips resting on their support, and notice your breath moving in and out of your nose. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose making a humming sound. Repeat maybe 3 more times then, on the last round, cover the ears and feel how the awareness of the vibrations increases. Sit in silence for a few more breaths noticing the silence.
This is a great practice at the beginning of your meditation session to quiet the mind. Children enjoy this practice too!
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, beautiful nature, bee breath, Bhramari, breath awareness, calming breath practices, contemplative time, gentle yoga, health, healthy-living, labor techniques, meditation, mindfulness, pranayama, prenatal yoga, presence, relaxation, self-care, stress
Last night on my way home from work I received a phone call from my husband that he and my children were at the emergency room. My daughter had fallen and hit her head. They wanted to be sure she did not suffer a major concussion. I felt my feet on the gas and floor of my car and said a prayer. Walking into the hospital, I kept my awareness in my feet feeling the firm ground beneath each step. When I met up with my family back in the room I told my daughter to feel her feet and I placed my hands on her feet. She closed her eyes and her breathing slowed as did mine. When the doctor examined her they thought everything was mild but wanted to do an x-ray of her neck because of her neck pain. This entire experience was all new to my daughter, luckily, she has never had to go to the hospital. Once in the lab room for x-rays, I saw her anxiety increase. I once again told her to press her feet into the chair and she calmed. I was amazed how calm we both were throughout the entire ordeal. To all of our relief, everything looked good and we were sent home. Today she is feeling better and we are all grateful for this new day! Life is so precious! These simple words have been the most powerful tool in my life that I learned from my Urban Zen Training. Whenever I’m feeling anxious or scattered, I feel my feet. Whether I’m standing or sitting, I bring my attention to my feet and I really notice the firm ground under my feet. From this planted place, my breath naturally slows and my mind quiets allowing me to think clearer and to be present. When I’m working with a patient or client that is experiencing anxiety, nausea and or exhaustion, “feel your feet” are often the first words out of my mouth. When we feel our feet, we drop into our body and can immediately feel a sense of connection to the earth and a feeling of calm presence. Allowing us the ability to proceed with conscious awareness.
Give this a try. I would love to hear in the comment section below how this affects your life.
“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises. You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without. Eckhart Tolle
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, calming techniques, concussion, exhaustion, little inspiration, mental-health, mindful parenting, mindfulness, nausea, parenting, stress, Urban Zen, yoga and parenting
Clutter can leave us feeling bogged down energetically as well as mentally. When I have clutter, I have trouble focusing and getting things done. I feel a sense of underlying low level anxiety and stress. I, like many of you, do not have entire days off when I can clean and de-clutter so I’m left with where to start?! Recently I completed Laura Thompson Brady’s e-course “Hectic to Harmonious”. http://www.thenourishedhome.com/ This course was amazing and really helped me to set small achievable goals. One part of the e-course was simplifying your home. She suggested to pick one small corner or one small area and envision what you want it to look like and feel like and de-clutter or reorganize that one small area. WOW! This had a huge impact on me and my family’s energy level and mental health. I started with bookshelves as I love books. I reorganized and gave away books that were no longer age appropriate or ones that were no longer of interest to me. The energy I obtained from this small task encouraged me to continue this process when I had even just 15 spare minutes. My son’s art table was my most recent project. This table is in our kitchen and is one of the first things I see when I walk into my home from the laundry room. It is a “catch-all” for my son. If he doesn’t want to take the time to put it away, he puts it on the art table. I found some great ideas on Pinterest for organizing pencils and crayons and placed a large piece of white paper on the table. It looks wonderful and it feels so great to walk into my kitchen now. I invite you to pick one small corner of your home and de-clutter. I would love to hear how this affects your life!
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, change, healthy-living, Hectic to Harmonious, ideas for art supply storage, little inspiration, mental-health, parenting, self-care, spring cleaning, stress
This week I would like to invite you to try a meditation/visualization practice. After the birth of my daughter, 14 years ago, ( wow, really), I went through a period of my life with high anxiety. This anxiety was keeping me from doing fun things around others and hurting my marriage. I started seeing a psychiatrist that was more open to talk therapy, yoga and meditation. In a session, she invited me to close my eyes and visualize a place where I felt most peaceful and joyful. The first place that came to mind was a beautiful rose park in our town, (I wrote a previous post about this beautiful park https://yogaandinspiration.com/2012/06/). She took me through this park with my senses. I found this practice so helpful and accessible to do on my own when I started feeling overwhelmed. I often used this meditation/visualization while going to sleep which helped me drop into a deeper more restful state of sleep. I invite you to read through this and then sit or lay down and try for yourself. What is your most peaceful place?
See all the colors around you.
Notice any sounds you hear.
Notice the textures around you and, feel the warm sun on your skin or a soft gentle breeze blowing through your hair.
Notice any pleasant aromas in the air.
Observe how calm and peaceful you feel in this favorite place.
Find a place to sit or lay down and rest in this favorite place feeling so relaxed and safe.
May you find comfort with this practice.
The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
– James Allen
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, beautiful nature, contemplative time, health, little inspiration, meditation, meditation practice, mental-health, mindfulness, park, relaxation, rose park, self-care, stress, visualization, yoga
Mindfulness: Bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, (according to Wikipedia).
My word for 2014 is presence, which to me is being mindful and fully present to each moment of my day as it unfolds. I still find myself worrying about things in the future. However, as I keep bringing my attention back to my intention of being present, I realize that I’m worrying about something that has not happened and may not even happen. Instead of getting carried away by the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed which, has an ill effect on my overall health, I, am retraining my brain to come back to the moment. This retraining creates new neural pathways, (this a whole other blog post). Even if this moment is not a “pleasant” moment I can deal with it much more effectively when I’m present. With presence, I can enjoy my meals, my afternoon tea and cuddling with my children with full attention. With presence I can really see and hear people. Think about it, when was the last time you really felt heard and seen by someone or, really listened and saw someone?
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, beautiful nature, contemplative time, health, healthy-living, meditation, mental-health, mindfulness, parenting, restorative yoga, transformation, yoga and parenting
“When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our lives could be lived with greater compassion and greater wakefulness.” Jack Kornfield
Meditation and mindfulness is spoken of everywhere now. There are multiple studies being conducted on its effects in the corporate world, education, the health care system and the military. Technology is and can be a wonderful tool to communicate world wide and get things done faster. However, it can also lead to higher stress, heavier workloads and disconnection. Meditation and mindfulness offers a tool for living in the present moment. In turn, lowering stress levels and increasing awareness and compassion for self and others.
I invite you to join me and my yoga students on this 28 day journey. I will post a meditation/mindfulness practice each week. We will start with 10 minutes of meditation. I invite you to journal the effects and experiences of your meditation practice. You are welcome to post comments in order to create a community of support.
How? It is ideal to pick a particular time of day but if that does not work for you, choose a time that will. Turn off phones and set a timer for 10 minutes. You can sit or lay down if necessary. Sit on a comfortable seat, either in a chair or on the floor. I encourage you to sit with support under your buttocks to elevate the hips higher than the knees. This posture invites the spine to rest in its natural curves and allows the body to be open for optimal breath space. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes or let the gaze release down, keeping your head in a neutral position with your ears balanced above your shoulders. Notice sounds, then bring your awareness to sensations of your body and the parts of the body that are in contact with your chair or the floor. Then bring your awareness to your breath, not changing the breath.
First Week Theme: “Simply” watch the breath. I say simply as it is not really simple. You will find that your mind wanders and many thoughts often arise. That is okay and normal. Let your thoughts become like clouds passing by in the bright blue vastness of the mind, not becoming attached or getting carried away by them. Keep coming back to the breath and the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose and inside the body. You could notice the temperature, the texture or maybe the length of the breath. That’s it!
I invite you to notice how this practice begins to affect the rest of your day and your interactions with others. I noticed how my meditation practice allowed me to respond instead of react to my son’s behavior which helped him to calm down more quickly. I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety levels as well.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, breath awareness, community, contemplative time, depression, gentle yoga, health, healthy-living, immune system, listening to your body, little inspiration, meditation, mental-health, mindfulness, Multiple Sclerosis, Real Yoga for MS, self-care, stress, transformation, yoga