How to reduce stress

How and Why Yoga Reduces Stress

There is growing evidence that yoga is a science.

We all experience stress and anxiety. For some of us it is temporary and for others it is long term or chronic. Eddie Stern has studied yoga and the science behind it. In his new book, One Simple Thing- A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How it can Transform Your Life, he offers a comprehensive explanation of why yoga is a science based on movement and breath. Stern says, “By doing a regular practice, we begin to create an underlying mental trait of awareness, which is more dependable and more open than the changing states. Through our practice we develop a trait of awareness that is calm, has perspective, and can help us pause so that we do not get swept away by overwhelming emotions.”

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How Yoga Decreases Stress:

  • Creates connection ( the Sanskrit term yoga means union)

  • Increases awareness

  • Creates acceptance of our selves & others

  • Gives a feeling of lightness

  • Slows and deepens our breath

Knowing how to calm our nervous system when in the fight or flight respense is essention for living the life we love.

 I often share with my yoga students that the awareness starts on the mat and then carries into every aspect of life. It is truly magical. In yoga we often use what is called Ujai Breath, which is deep inhales through the nose and deep exhales through the nose and we then move the body with the breath. When we get anxious our breath becomes shallow. Practice the pause and allow your “yoga breath” (Ujai) redirect your thoughts. By slowing the breath and returning to deep inhales through the nose and deep exhales through the nose we literally slow our heartrate and calm ourselves down. The body breathes shallowly when anxious because our nervous system is literally preparing us to fight or run away.

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Understanding Yoga and Why it Reduces Stress

Yoga is more than a physical practice on the mat. The asanas, or physical postures, are great for increasing stability and balance, increasing flexability and increasing strength. The philosophy, as detailed in the 8 Limbs of Yoga, teaches us ethical guidelines. Yoga breathing connects the body and mind through movement. 


Our nervous and immune systems become resilient and balanced through our yoga practice. Each posture can be modified to fit your ability or skill levels. Some postures are as simple as standing in equal balance rooting into the earth while growing tall toward the sky. Other poses are more challenging. There is no competition in fact, as you progress with a regular practice you tune out the external world and focus on your movement and breath. Sometimes I even stop hearing the music that is playing! Yoga can even be practiced in a chair. But, if you experience a lot of stress or anxiety I cannot urge you enough to make time and inetegrate yoga into your life. If you can manage to practice first thing in the morning you start your day with positivity and that momentum can build throughout the day allowing you to manifest your goals and dreams. 

I described my first yoga class as feeling as if I had just received a relaxing massage but also muscles shaking in places I didn’t know existsted. I have since heard this feeling referred to as “the yoga high”. You will feel the effects after your first practice but the more disciplined and regularly you practice the more you will feel the benefits on body, mind, and spirit.

With Support,

Libby

P.S. Stress certainly takes its toll on us but chronic stress causes many serious illnesses. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to read my last blog titled Stress Effects and how to Mindfully Cope. I look forward to working one on one with anyone who feels overwhelmed and would like an ally to improve life.

5 Tips to Reduce Stress When Waves of Stress Knock You Down

Many times life throws us unexpected curve balls. And sometimes it can feel unbearable and overwhelming. I would love to say that yoga and meditation should be your go to fix for stress relief, but the reality is that when a crisis strikes there are times when the situation is so cumbersome that we barely have time to eat and sleep, let alone practice. So, what can you do?

Well, in my personal life I have experienced one of these waves of grief this week where I felt like I was going to go down at times. Fortunately I am still here so I would like to share with you not only how I am surviving, but also how I am thriving.

My dad has survived three kinds of cancers for years and was doing well until a little over a month ago when he was diagnosed with a rare debilitating lung disease, which is causing his one lung to scar gradually and his breathing to become more difficult. As hard as it is to watch a man who I love so dearly struggle, I can handle this knowing that he is 87 years old and has lived a full life. But then in the last month a waterfall of other problems have ensued. The father of my children was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that less than .06% of people suffer from and is still not getting relief. And now my mom, who has always been healthy as an Ox and the caregiver of the family, suddenly started having trouble recalling what she wanted to say and began losing some muscle control on the right side of her body. This led to multiple trips to doctors and hospitals for many tests. The days have slipped by as I helped my parents deal with this crisis where I have not had time to step onto my mat. My house was a disaster and I was exhausted, but I realized I was doing what really matters. I was spending time with my parents, delivering home cooked meals that I knew appealed to them, attending doctors visits and being present. Family will always come first to me. This is really my living yoga and sometimes we have to step away from the mat to realize this.

My brother, my sister and I are working lovingly together to help find answers to get to the bottom of my mom's health issues. Our coming together has brought us closer as a family and that is the gift that is coming out of this difficult time. My mom will see a neurologist next week. Meanwhile I am taking a day to PAUSE and catch up on life.

So, here are my Top Five Tips for Relieving Overwhelming Stress:

    1. Make lists! Separate your to do lists into priority categories so that you absolutely know what must get done each day, what is not so urgent, and what can be eliminated.

    2. Ask for help! Especially in a time of need never hesitate to let friends and family help. It makes them feel good and it lifts a weight from your shoulders, too!

    3. Seek counsel. Please do not hesitate to go to counseling or therapy, especially in heavy times. If time is short, often therapists will do a phone session.

    4. DO NOT ISOLATE. Surround yourself with those who love you when you go through difficult times. They will help carry your burdens, help you laugh and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    5. Take it one day at a time. Stay present, stay positive and always hope for the best. There is tremendous power in positivity!

I hope that these tips will bring you comfort in your times of high stress. Also, remember that we can slow our stress response by regulating our breathing. So, practice nice deep slow inhalations and nice deep slow exhalations. Breathe in love, breathe out love. 

Peace, Light and Love,

Libby

P.S. - Stress is a huge cause of health problems. Please try to manage your stress before it takes a toll on your health. We cannot avoid stress, but how we respond to it is really the key to living a Total Soulful Journey of Health & Wellness! <3

 

 

Are You Working for the Weekend, or Living the Life You Love Every Day?

The phrase TGIF is commonly used to celebrate the beginning of the weekend where we drown our sorrows of the week and party until Monday when we fall back into the dreaded routine of the daily work grind. Sound familiar? This is not living! Wake up friends! Step off the hamster wheel and start to truly enjoy every day, not just the magic of  Fridays!  

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It is important to find simple pleasures and live with a grateful heart. The majority of our life takes place Monday through Friday so let's enjoy that time. Consider a job doing something that you love! And if that is not possible, schedule activities with friends and family during the week that allow you to truly connect and enjoy sharing positive energy. Try not to have these activities be anything draining. For example, if you are constantly running kids to athletic practices, schedule a night where they carpool and you do something relaxing and fun! Take it easy on yourself.  

I go back to my principal roots - practice AWARENESS: know when your stress levels are rising and take a break! Practice ACCEPTANCE: allow yourself to have fun and quiet time during the week. Practice FORGIVENESS: forgive yourself for working so much, or for whatever you need to personally forgive... this is a constant journey.  

Life is meant to be lived. Sometimes it is only through devastating events like death or divorce that we realize the things we missed out on. Please, do not wait until it is too late. Treasure each moment each day! You are so worth it! Honor your inner child at every age!

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Time is precious!  You can always make money, but you can never get time back. And remember that happiness is an inside job, In other words, it's an emotion that we chose to express. So make time and space to do things that truly make you happy! 

Wishing you an inspiring life and hoping that this inspiration carries you into a week that you look forward to living! Be it through music, food or a bouquet of flowers, simple little things each day can make a big difference. Live, love, laugh EVERY DAY like it was Friday!  

 

Live the Life you Love, Love the Life you Live,  

Libby

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The Power of Breath

Have you ever noticed how powerful the force of water in nature is? Your breath is similar. Now visualize a large body of water. Sometimes that water is choppy with whitecaps. Sometimes that very same water is flat and still. The water moves with the wind. When we are stressed or angry, our breath tends to be rapid and shallow and the body, as a result, becomes taxed. When we are calm, our breath is naturally slow, steady and deep. But you have the power to instantly use your breath to turn your stress or anxiety into calm.  The key is awareness! Try the following meditation. 

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Now, close your eyes for a moment. With your eyes closed, breathe in deeply through your nose and out deeply through your nose. Put your awareness into your breath as you allow the other busy thoughts in the mind to fade away. Acknowledge any thoughts that pop up, but save them for later, they can wait. Simply listen to the sound of the waves in each breath going into shore, and back out to sea. Breathe in, breathe out.  Feel your breath slow and listen as it quiets. 

 Now, with your eyes still closed, visualize that body of water. As your breath calms and quiets, that body of water will begin to still. The body of water represents your soul conciousness. Once the chaos of the external world subsides, your natural state arises like the surface of beautifully calm and crystal clear water. Small ripples represent the effects of others upon us and us upon others. But underneath is where the depth occurs. Your true authentic self is deep below the surface. It is in this calm where the breath is slow and steady, and that the body and mind can truly become one and work to be their best. Your natural state is one of calm and joy. Your natural state is divine love. It is here in this silence that the answers you seek will come. There is in essence no need to worry. Just let go. Just be.  Just breathe. 

 Breathe in, breathe out, release and let go... 

Breathe in peace, breathe out chaos.

Breathe in acceptance, breathe out judgement.

Breathe in divine love, breathe out divine love.

 You are enough. You are all you need. In times of chaos, turn to your breath. Take just a moment, listen to those waves and let that calm you. It is proven to lower your heart rate. It works and it is in your power all the time! Have an incredible start to this week!  

 

Clarity

Clarity

Happy Monday, 

Libby

How to Reduce Stress and Live a Better Life

Summer fun for kids

We live in a world that is overly glorified by busy schedules and chaos. Even our children’s days are packed with scheduled activities and we need a daily planner just to know which child needs to be where and when. This leaves very little time for rest and pure relaxation, let alone creativity. 

In my humble opinion, and please feel free to share yours (this is an open conversation), WE are out of control as a society. It seems people schedule themselves months out for meetings and social events almost as if it's a status indicator.  What happened to the laid back dog days of summer? The sipping of tea or lemonade on the porch and watching the kids play in the yard? Yes, now we are spending more time on our phones while driving carpools here and there.  Very little time is spent spontaneously enjoying the little things. 

Stress is killing us. It is literally a contributing factor in so many diseases, including obesity and lupus, which costs our society billions of dollars in medical bills and countless hours of non productivity, which in turn feeds back into our never ending cycle of stress. So the lesson is that we need to S-L-O-W down as parents and allow our children to do the same. We are in control of a lot of the stress and we need to take responsibility. 

You will not find my kids in more than one sport per season. You will not find me scheduling social events months in advance. I am simple. I like it best that way. I have learned that I LOVE a social life, but to take things as they come and not to take on more than I can handle. I have learned that it is OK to say no occasionally and that people will still accept me and invite me another time. I have learned that my children LOVE time outdoors that is unstructured and that these are years to be treasured. I have also learned that meditation and yoga help ease stress when schedules cannot be modified.  Just a few minutes a day dedicated to yourself will help tremendously whether in a group class or on your own at home. 

So, give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy each day.  It is a journey, not a race! Ask yourself what is really important in order to find "the balance" that works for you and for your kids. Stay true to who you are. Wishing you all a stress free day!

Peace, Peace, Peace,

Libby McAvoy