Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Clenching and Softening

I learned something while teaching ‪#‎yoga‬ this morning. I clench. I do. I clench my abs, my butt, my shoulders. I do it unconsciously which is worse. It's probably why my neck hurts a lot. Duh. There is a time for bracing and a time to be soft and let go. For example, in crow pose we need to use the core, engaging the muscles to protect the lower back. But in savasana, the final resting pose, it's time to release and just let go. During the holidays and during busier times of stress, it's easy to clench, walking around with tight butts, necks and shoulders. But it's not necessary. It's not good for us either. Clenching can activate the sympathetic nervous system - the fight or flight response. The body braces for action, increasing heart rate, breathing comes faster, adrenaline is released into the system, digestion is inhibited. So today in class we practiced appropriate clenching or firming of the muscles. And appropriate softening. That's what I love about yoga. It's a practice for everyday life. May you find ‪#‎peace‬ this ‪#‎holiday‬ season and let go when it is appropriate. And may you find a good yoga class in the new year smile emoticon By the way, this Friday on the podcast, we're also practicing softening; softening our hearts to those who may be struggling during this season of joy. There is a time to be tough with family and friends facing ‪#‎addiction‬, but there is also real value in softening. You'll see.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Yin for the Holidays

This week on the Happy Healthy You podcast we are invited to slow down and take time for ourselves with an awesome yin yoga practice. Here's how the shapes will look. Namaste and Peace on Earth.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Five Tips for Staying Happy and Healthy this Holiday Season

1. The frenzy of the holidays falls during the time of year that we are naturally supposed to be going inward for introspection, rest, reflection and preparation. We allow ourselves to be pulled in different directions during this darkest time, perhaps as a way of distracting us from the impending darkness. If we embrace the darkness and let it inform us, this season can be a time of supreme creativity and birthing the new. Go within each day to meditate, pray, journal or simply find stillness. Allow this time to be sacred for you. Keep the inner lamp lit. With practice, outer distractions will fade. This is the key to peace. Here's some inspiration in the podcast about tapping into our gentle centers every day.

2. Eat mindfully. Consciously choosing our food, preparing it with love and expressing gratitude before we eat are all good ways to practice mindfulness around eating. With so many temptations and distractions during the holiday season, a mindful routine is more important than ever. Eating a meal in silence allows us to focus on flavors, the textures, the colors, and the nourishing qualities of the food in front of us. Asking ourselves what we are really hungry for cuts right to the core of our true longing. Is it really food or is it a deeper spiritual or emotional longing that brings us to the table? For more inspiration, listen to our podcast with Julie Reisler.

3. Keep up your regular exercise routine if you can or try something different. No rules, just move the body every day. Try a new yoga class. There are so many yoga classes from gentle restorative to hot and sweaty vinyasa. Find a new class and a new teacher. A little yoga will help us all stay in balance in mind, body and spirit during this crazy time of year. Listen to this podcast about the many benefits of yoga and some ideas for stress relief and healing with one of my favorite yogis, Ashley Litecky Elenbaas.

4. Remember to play, laugh and enjoy the holidays. Lighten up during this darkest time of the year. That's the point, right? Christ came to bring light to a broken world. Hanukkah is all about keeping those lamps lit! Here's a podcast to make you laugh and another to remind you to lighten up during this joyous and sacred time of the year.

5. Give. It's a time of giving to those we love. But don't forget those who may be hurting or less fortunate this holiday season. Donate to your favorite church or charity. Remember the ill or the grieving by giving the gift of a visit, a note or a book like Back to Happy. Giving to others has benefits for our own health and wellness, booting mood and immunity. Here's one idea for giving back in this holiday with one of my favorite charities, My Girlfriend's House.

However you and yours celebrate the holidays this year, may they bring you joy, peace and lots of love. And may your good vibes raise the vibes out in the world. God knows we can use it.