Yoga blog

Just Breathe, A Simple Tool to Reduce Stress

At birth, the very first thing you do is gasp for your first breath. Your breath is your life force and energy flowing throughout your body. Being mindful of our “in breath” and our “out breath” connects the body and the mind. When we feel stressed, angry or anxious, our breath tends to be rapid and shallow depriving us of sufficient oxygen. This is when we need to practice THE PAUSE, and direct our attention to our breath.

In the 8 Limbs of Yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, Pranayama or breath life force is described as a tool to help us reach a higher level of concentration and connection with the self. There are many styles of breath work and in India, for example, people take classes specifically for breath work because it is highly regarded as part of their health and vitality. I use Ujaii Breathing in my yoga classes and many times I incorporate other techniques. 

“For breath is life and if you breathe well, you will live long on earth.” Sanskrit Proverb

This style of breathing will increase the heat in your body, which helps create flexibility in your yoga and other athletic practices, but you can use Ujaii breath anytime. Breathe in deeply through your nose and then breathe out deeply through your nose. Continue breathing in through the nose and out through the nose simply observing the effects. That is all there is to it. It is one of the simpler breathing techniques. You can add a slight pause after your inhale and after your exhale if you want to take it a little further into breath retention. 

By practicing Ujaii Breathing where we inhale through the nose deeply and exhale through the nose deeply, we are able to slow and deepen the breath. This calms the parasympathetic nervous system and thus relieves stress and improves our mood. As the holiday season approaches, use this breathing technique to relieve stress and tension. 

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Draw awareness into your breath and into your body language when you are stressed, anxious, nervous or angry, and then when you are happy, relaxed and at ease. Notice how you hold your hands, your posture, your shoulders and your breath. When we are relaxed our breath tends to be fuller and deeper, which oxygenates our blood and our brains, lowers blood pressure, and stabilizes our bodies. 

Your breath allows you to pause and respond rather than react. Your breath is your gift of life. It gives you the path to mindfulness. Your breath connects your body, mind and soul. You are in control of your breath even when you are in control of nothing else in this life. 

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Breathe in, breathe out, all is here, all is now, all is well….

Mindfully yours,

Libby

P.S. - Breathwork has long been known to reduce stress and improve the quality of life. Dr. Andrew Weil has proven many breathing techniques that you can learn at this link:  https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/meditation-inspiration/the-art-and-science-of-breathing/

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Open Your Heart to Tap into Endless Energy

We have an endless supply of energy that is constantly regenerating within us. This source energy is at our core center, the heart, and is always available.  It has been called many things in many cultures including Shakti in Yoga, and Chi in Chinese medicine. Some consider it closely linked to the Chakras if you have studied those, but we will save that for a different conversation. 

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We are busy people. We live in a world where busy is overly glorified. Every thought we create expells great energy. Each thought you remember takes a great amount of your energy. Controlling your thoughts, holding your thoughts... it is no wonder we are tired and drained. However, if we tap into our source energy, we have the power within to regenerate and restore ourselves. We have our own battery source, if you will, to recharge!  

The Key in fact is simple. Open your heart! You are only limited by your own choices. Open your heart and open your mind and your energy will flow free and limitless. The most important part of your life is your energy, your prana. Depression is a blockage of energy. When we clear that space by CHOOSING to be positive, the energy is free to flow. Obstacles are mearly an opportunity for growth. We have the power to spin any negative into a positive. If we CHOOSE to open that energy channel, open up that flow, amazing results will come. Constantly open up, grow, spiral upward and feel the energy grow from within! Suddenly you will attract an abundance of all your desires as a result of this energy. This is The Law of Attraction.  

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Happy Friday Everyone! Sending you all great energy as it is bubbling out from me and I cannot contain it so I am sharing the love with all of you!

Dreamily,

Libby 

Tips for Combatting the Growing Obesity Epidemic and How the PHIT Act Can Help

Obesity is a gowing epidemic in the United States. According to the CDC, "Obesity related illness including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers are the leading causes of preventable death." It is truly "sad" that this is happening in our country. Ironically S.A.D. is also the acronym for the Standard American Diet

Our government considers this to be such an enormous problem, with health care costs going through the roof, that Congress is working on a bill called the PHIT Act. The PHIT Act will provide tax incentives to encourage physical fitness by allowing you to take a tax credit of up to $1000 as an individual, or $2000 per household for fitness expenses such yoga classes and gym memberships.

Inactivity is now the 4th leading cause of death in the USA and it contributes to the number one leading cause, which is heart disease.  Exercise and meditation, combined with breathwork can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Type 2 diabetes can also be reversed with a combination of a diet rich in plant based foods and physical movement. 

Inactivity is a HUGE problem and electronic devices and video games are adding to it. Physically fit kids on the other hand have been proven to get better grades in school. Add yoga to their physical activity and you will also see an increase in focus, memory and concentration.  I would eventually love to see all schools incorporate yoga and meditation into the school day and I believe we are headed in that direction, but we are not there yet. So parents, bring your kids and teens to yoga in the evenings or on the weekends. Even consider practicing yoga together. It is a great activity for the whole family! 

Your health is one of your greatest assets! Your body is your temple. WE can be in control of our lives for the most part. It is not easy to lose large amounts of weight, but it is not as hard as you may think if you break the weight loss process down it into small attainable steps. In other words, set simple goals that you can realistically achieve, be kind and accepting to yourself along the journey and know that there is always help. I have worked with clients who struggle with their weight and they have told me how intimidating it is to join yoga classes because their bodies literally cannot fully do many of the postures. I know that is a major point of frustration and discouragement. If that sounds like you, I am here to help you lose weight and feel better about yourself. I will modify everything in your yoga practice to make it work for you. 

I would strongly suggest if you are looking to lose more than 30 pounds that we schedule a private consultation, take body measurements (the scale is not always the best indicator for weight loss) and make a plan that will work specifically for you. I can teach you modifications that you can then use in group classes. I will also help by holding you accountable (accountability is a big motivator). Commit to yourself to creating a happy, healthy and active lifestyle. You will be amazed when many of your aches and pains disappear and by the energy and the enthusiasm that will flow back into your life.  You were designed to feel good!

Health & happiness,

Libby

PS -  My monthly membership cost is $130. If the PHIT Act passes, you will be able to write off $1000 from your yoga class fees annually on your taxes as an individual, or up to $2000 for a household.  You can even use this tax credit for Teacher Training and turn it into a money making venture for yourself! Please, I urge you, reach out to your Member of Congress and say YES to the PHIT Act! If you or a loved one (children included) are overweight, see me or someone who can help you.