Canggu, Bali, August 2016

Buddhist Monastery, Banjar, Bali, August 2016

Yogi at Hindu Monastery, Kauai, Hawaii, March 2014

How to relax for stress relief

 

Historically, relaxation has often been associated with “wasting time”, however, this is something we need to shake. Regular relaxation and stress management are important for physical and emotional health. Here are a few tips on how to relax your body and mind…

If your body’s stress response is triggered throughout the day and if it doesn’t know how to return to its regular state of relaxation afterwards, you may find yourself in a state of chronic stress.

Chronic stress is the type of stress that can do a lot of damage to your health, contributing a whole host of stress-related health problems, including heart disease, the common cold, and high blood pressure, just to name a few. Learning relaxation techniques can help you restore your body to its natural state when you’re feeling stressed and will help you deal with stress in a healthy way in future. If you can become less reactive to the stressors that you face and can recover more quickly from it if you do react, your body and mind will thank you for it.

Relaxation can occur when you’re taking some downtime, i.e. sitting in a comfy chair, reading a good book. But sometimes it’s helpful to have a more structured plan for relaxation as, in the face of stress, you’ll have a whole toolbox ready to help you recover. It will also mean you actively choose strategies that build resilience rather than merely distracting you from what’s creating stress for you on a given day. Learning to relax your body and your mind can be more effective than either one on its own, obviously.

How to relax

Here are some of the best relaxation strategies you can use to combat stress…

Breathe

Breathing exercises should be your first line of defence against stress. The beauty of these for relaxation is that they can be used anytime, anywhere, and they work quickly. They’re also very easy to master. Start with deep breathing. To do this, breathe in through your nose and feel your chest fill with air. Then, breathe out through your nose. As you do so, place one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Focus on feeling your belly and chest rise as you breathe in, and fall as you breathe out.  

Meditation

How to relax: Meditation

The wonderful thing about practising meditation is that it allows you to “let go” of everyday worries and literally “live in the moment.” People who meditate regularly report improvements physically, mentally, and spiritually, using it as a technique to not only combat stress but prevent it in the first place. To begin a meditation practice, you will need to find a quiet spot, away from the phone, television, friends, family, and other distractions. Meditation practices often involve learning breathing or mantra techniques. Initially, your mind may wander when you first start meditating, but by training your mind to focus on the moment, you will feel relaxed and more centred. Most experts recommend meditating for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Beginners may find it difficult to meditate for this length at first, but don’t despair. It will become easier once you are meditating regularly.

Music

Playing music is a great way to relieve stress and promote relaxation. When at work, keep a pair of headphones at your desk so you can enjoy your music for yourself. This technique often helps to provide a safe space to help you to recharge, even if you are in a room full of people. Because music brings real benefits in terms of wellness (music therapy is a growing field), it can be conveniently used effectively for relaxation as well. 

Exercise

How to relax: Exercise

It may seem that exercise is the opposite of relaxation, but a good workout can actually make you feel more relaxed afterwards for a few reasons. First, working out can be a good way to release stress and blow off steam. Second, the endorphins released during a good workout can aid relaxation quite nicely. Additionally, exercise can get you into a state of flow where it’s difficult to stay stressed—your body has to move toward relaxation as your stress response begins to reverse.

Have Fun

Yes, these relaxation methods don’t all have to be clinical and practised. Letting loose and having fun with your family and friends is an excellent way to relieve stress and experience relaxation. Most people don’t prioritise this as an important part of life—they don’t fit time for it in their busy schedules because they don’t realise the value of fun for balance as well as physical and emotional health. So schedule some downtime in your calendar, it’s just as (if not more) important than any other pressing matter.

If you focus on stress management regularly, in a relatively short time you can learn to more easily relax when you need to, and build resilience toward stress.

Read more: A relaxed body promotes healthy eating

Surviving modern motherhood

Authors Michele Powles and Renee Liang. 

 

Two courageous Kiwi women, one an author and the other a pediatrician, lay bare the raw joy, beauty, discomfort and humour of modern motherhood. The result is uplifting and fearless.

Parenting is messy, hilarious, heartrending, tiring and above all joyful. There is no one right way to do it – but now two brave mums have shared a bit of their journey, and invite you to “laugh and cry along with us.”

Mum is the word for critically acclaimed writers Michele Powles and Renee Liang, with the launch of their new book, When We Remember To Breathe. MiNDFOOD chats with Renee about the new book, motherhood and remembering to breathe.

Tell me about ‘When We Remember To Breathe’, how and why did this come about?

Michele and I had met at writers’ events, and talked about how in early motherhood we’d wanted to record all the special moments, but we were too tired! When we both got pregnant with our second children we decided to write to each other as a way of cheering each other on.

The conversation became more and more frank, with the joyful comedic moments mixed in with the moments of doubt and exhaustion. And as we wrote we developed our friendship. We weren’t intending to publish but after sharing with other mums, including our eventual publisher, we were persuaded otherwise!

How is this similar or different to your other books?

I’ve written three poetry chapbooks, which are small handmade books.  I’ve also published eight anthologies of Kiwi migrant women’s writing. But I’m best known for work which isn’t ‘published’ – I’ve written and toured seven plays, many about growing up Chinese in Aotearoa. I’ve also written words and story for a opera and a couple of musicals, including The Bone Feeder Opera commissioned for Auckland Arts Festival in 2017. Although I’ve always drawn on my own experiences to write, this is the first time I’ve shared something so personal without hiding behind the fiction.

Personally, what has your experience of motherhood been?

I came to motherhood late – I was 39 when I had my first. But I’m also a pediatrician so I had spent years being asked for advice by parents!  Having kids made it real for me, and also taught me that babies don’t read the textbooks on how they’re are supposed to behave.  I was lucky – I had good support and my husband is the best co-parent. I get annoyed when people ask if the kids miss me when I go to work. Of course they do – but they have their dad, and all their grandparents and aunties and uncles to love them and keep them busy!

Both mine and my husband’s parents are immigrants (Chinese and Croatian) so we’re exploring with our kids what it means to come from many cultures  – luckily both sides of the family love to hang out together and eat great food! 

Why should mothers remember to breathe?

It’s like that advice you get on planes – in an emergency, put your own oxygen on first. Mums (and all who parent) need time to be themselves, to find their anchors and to fill their lungs with whatever oxygen gives them life.

Do you have any advice for new mums on coping with the challenges of motherhood and balancing a career?

Now when I see parents and grandparents in my clinic, I just want to give them a hug and tell them how well they’re doing.  It’s the world’s hardest job but it’s also the most important. Accept help when you need it, offer it when you can. Balancing work and parenting is a different choice for everyone. Follow your instincts, ignore the unhelpful ‘advice’ and know your decisions are the best for your family.

When We Remember to Breathe

When We Remember To Breathe is co-written by Renee Liang and Michele Powles and will be published on 1st May. NZ$25.00 on Magpie Pulp.

Have you ever met someone who seems perfect – polished, attractive, kind, generous, maybe even successful – yet the more you get to know them, the more you realize that they’re actually self-centered, manipulative and deceitful? Their perfection is simply a façade put on so the world holds them in high esteem. 

If you or someone you know is an empath or highly sensitive person, you may easily be pulled in by people like this. I call them energy vampires. They appeal to your generosity, your compassion and your innate problem-solving nature. But, as psychologist Sandra L. Brown, M.A. says, these are “relationships of inevitable harm.”

In my second free video, I delve deeply into the mechanics of energy vampires – how they can zero in on you in a crowd based on your empathic traits and get their hooks in you if you aren’t careful. I will also give you some pointers on how you can protect yourself, and skillfully tiptoe out of their clutches before you fall prey.
Watch Wellness Video 2:
Protect Yourself from Energy Predators with These Techniques


Watch Wellness Video 1 Now
After you watch my video, I am confident you will have a clearer idea of who and what an energy vampire is, as well as what you can do to avoid them for good. If you missed my first video, which will help you know if you’re an empath, you can still catch it here for a little while longer: 
Watch Wellness Video 1:
How Empathy Can Protect You


Watch Wellness Video 1 Now
Once you watch these videos, head to the comment section and share your thoughts about these first two lessons so far on this journey. I’d love to hear about your experiences with energy vampires and as an empath.

I have two more free videos coming your way over the next few days. In the next one, I will show you exactly how you can begin to protect yourself and recover your life force after interacting with an energy vampire. 

And, if you know an empath who may be vulnerable to the energy vampires in their midst, make sure to share this video with them so that they, too, can get some benefit from this invaluable series.

Flourishingly Yours,
Dr. Northrup's Signature
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
If you’ve ever been told you’re “too sensitive” it’s likely you are part of a group of highly sensitive people called empaths.

Empaths interact with the world differently than even an extremely compassionate person. We can sense the true energy of a person, seeing their deep, frequently unseen pain often before they do. We sense it because it shifts our own energy, affecting us on multiple levels.

There’s also another group of people that I call energy vampires. Energy vampires can be exquisitely appealing to everyone. They’re charming, fun, successful, and yet their impact is insidious for those who get caught in their grip. More often than not, those getting caught are empaths who are not in touch with their own light and intuition.

If you are an empath in a relationship with an energy vampire, you may not feel it now, but eventually you will be worn down—both physically and emotionally. As someone who’s been on the frontlines of women’s healthcare for decades, I believe this is actually one of the most under-identified causes of ill health. And that’s why I’ve put together this free wellness workshop.

By signing up to receive my four free videos, you’ll learn simple ways to identify, cast out, and heal from energy vampires. In my first video, I share personal stories and stories of others to help explain what it’s like to be an empath—and then help you understand what an energy vampire is and what happens when you get entangled with them.
Watch Wellness Video 1:
How Empathy Can Protect You


Watch Wellness Video 1 Now
If you don’t know you’re an empath and you don’t know how energy vampires work, you are apt to be preyed upon.

Please be sure to leave me a comment on the video page to share your own experience as an empath or with energy vampires. Also, if you think anyone else would benefit from this video, please share it with them. And stay tuned for my next three videos in this wellness workshop.

Flourishingly Yours,
Dr. Northrup's Signature
Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Meditation as Medicine

Would you take a daily pill if it was scientifically proven to benefit your brain by increasing focus; reducing stress, anxiety, and depression; and improving memory, emotional awareness, and overall happiness? What if it wasn’t through taking a pill, but simply the act of sitting still, for even just one minute a day? 

This week’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy is here to share that it is, in fact, possible to reap huge benefits in a short amount of time. Journalist and ABC news anchor Dan Harris turned his life around using the power of mindfulness and meditation; he was able to stop self-medicating with drugs, end his struggle with panic attacks, and focus on building a successful, balanced life instead. 

Initially, Dan was a skeptic of the power of meditation. He didn't think science could back up the benefits… until he saw the research for himself. 

Studies show that meditation works, in part due to its role in growing the beneficial grey matter in the brain, and Dan witnessed the effects himself once he gave it an honest try. His experience led him to write two New York Times best-selling books on the topic in an effort to help other fidgety skeptics embrace the medicinal properties of meditation. 

Throughout our talk, Dan explains the proven impacts of meditation with a down-to-earth perspective and provides realistic steps for how to incorporate it into your own life, one minute at a time.

Dan shares his personal journey, from experiencing a panic attack on-air in front of millions to becoming a calmer, more mindful person, on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’ve ever wondered if meditation really works and just what the science says, this episode is for you. 

I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

Wishing you health and happiness, 
Mark Hyman, MD 
 

 

Why I’m Not Going to Put You on a Pedestal

By Kate Love on Saturday November 24th, 2018

Image: BingImages

Is it Inspiration or Idolisation?

You can’t knock me off my pedestal. And I can’t knock you off yours. Because there is no pedestal. Not the kind that makes me higher than you or you higher than me.

Not the kind where I look down on you or you look up at me. Where I look up at you or you look down on me. Only the kind where we look across at each other. Our eyes meet. We connect. I am not better than you, wiser than you or stronger than you. You are everything that I am and I am everything that you are. We breathe. We love. We live. We’re here together.

I’ve looked up to my parents. To friends. To people who inspire me. But I don’t need to idolise anybody anymore.

I’ve always put my dad on a pedestal. He is a farmer who loves trees. He built our family house. He is the kindest man I know. My mum was working so he was there every day after school. He cooked dinner and grew sunflowers and rode a tractor. To me, he could fix anything that was broken and build whatever he put his mind to. In my eyes, he could do no wrong.

He is still there for me in so many ways and I care about him more than ever. But it’s time he came off the pedestal. I don’t need to put anybody up there anymore.

There is no reason to put you on a pedestal. Why would I raise you up without raising myself up? If I look up at you then I lose my balance and if I look down at you I lose my balance. I’ve done it before and it has only made me fall down.

The problem with putting people on a pedestalThe problem with putting people on a pedestal is that they fall off.

A Mask of Perfection

You are someone I see every day or someone I’ve never met. My boss, my lover, a friend, my parents, someone I admire from afar. It’s ok for me to be inspired by you but not to idolise you. What happens when I pick you up and place you on a pedestal? Not face to face, not heart to heart. I can’t truly connect with you if we’re not on the same level.

I take away your chance to be authentic or vulnerable or imperfect. I only want to know about your accomplishments: the successful rise in your career, all of the followers that you have on Instagram, the perfect body that I’ll never have. All the things in you that I don’t see in myself.

I ask you to be more than you are. I place expectations on you. I don’t want you to fail.

My dad is the one I turn to. If I have a question I seek him for the answer. And I expect him to always be there. When he hasn’t been there for me I have felt let down. But he is allowed to be imperfect. I can’t keep taking him for granted. He has his own challenges and struggles and commitments. He has flaws of his own but those just make him who he is.

Nobody wants to be put on a pedestal just so they can fall off. Idolisation and not truly seeing you aren’t going to help either of us.

You never asked to be put there. You never asked to be seen as flawless. And when you fail in my eyes you fall. I see that you are not perfect, that you are just like me. I’m disappointed that you’ve let me down. I pull away from you or even blame you for not being everything I wanted you to be. I fell in love with a perfect picture of you that I created. Not the true you.

Connecting heart to heartWe can connect heart to heart when we stand together at the same level.

The Power of True Connection

If I put you on a pedestal you look down at me and why would I ever want that? I don’t love you more than me. I love you just as much as I love myself. I love you as you are. Flaws and all. Because I love myself as I am. Flaws and all.

There is only us. Looking across at each other. Connecting with each other. Saying with our eyes: I know. I know it’s not easy to be here. I know the pain, the struggle, the heartache; I know the love, the purpose, the joy. I know all of that because I live it too.

Not putting my dad on a pedestal doesn’t mean I care about him any less. It means I see all of him. I see his true self. I love his rough hands and his warm smile that crinkles his eyes. I love that he can talk for hours about trees and how they connect to each other. I love that he falls asleep listening to the radio with a cup of tea. I love him for him. And he loves me for me.

Loving my dad without putting him on a pedestal means that we can connect heart to heart. I can connect to everyone heart to heart.

When the pedestal is knocked down and we are standing face to face there is only us. There is no judgement or failed expectations or miscommunication. We see each other and inspire each other and touch each other’s hearts.

You are me and I am you. I lift you up and you lift me up. We lift each other. Not looking down. Not looking up. Looking across. Eyes knowing. Hearts open. I know you. You know me. There is no pedestal.

Thanks UPLIFT for the article.

 

Plant the seed of positivity into your mind,

nourish it daily with love

and happiness will flower,

as fear begins to die.

Leon Brown

"If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation." - Dali Lama 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 4: PRACTICES FOR BETTER SLEEP

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

In Part 1, we looked at how a consistent sleep routine enhances the quality of rest and rejuvenation. In Part 2, we focused on synchronising our sleep routine with nature’s doshic rhythm and in Part 3, we looked at practices that help you relax in the evening. Now we look at some more evening routines for better sleep.

 

Avoid backlit screens

 

Turn of all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Backlit screens interfere with your biological clock and fool your body into thinking its daytime, straining your eyes and stimulating your mind. Spend this time with yourself. Indulge in soothing meditation or self-reflection, listen to relaxing music, or read an uplifting book (although not in bed!).

 

Avoid reading in bed

 

Reading in the bed can confuse the body by signalling for sleep and alertness at the same time. Designate a place to sit down and read. Avoid reading excessively emotional or distressing content. If you struggle with sleeping, try giving up bedtime reading.

 

Keep a journal

 

Spend a few minutes writing about your day to clear your mind and remove any residual emotions associated with the day’s events.

 

A soothing glass of milk

 

If your system allows it, drink a glass of warm milk, with a pinch of cardamom and honey, to promote deep sleep.

 

Relax your body

 

Once in bed, consciously relax your entire body. Bring your awareness to each part of the body and will it to relax itself. Then focus on your breathing and gently drift into sleep.

 

Sleep according to your dosha

 

Vata types may suffer from irregular sleep routines and have to take extra effort to establish a daily sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time every day, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Sleep on your left side to encourage breathing through your right nostril, to promote heat.

 

Pitta types tend to easily get disturbed from their sleep. Keep your bedroom quiet and fragrant. Sleep on your right side to encourage breathing through your left nostril, for cooling.

 

Kapha types have a tendency to oversleep and this causes imbalance. Ensure you wake up before 6 am. Sleep on your left side to promote heating.

 

Incorporating all these practices into your daily life may sound daunting. Choose a few of these that appeal to you most and commit to doing them every day. As you become comfortable, you can gradually add more practices into your routine. Observe how your body feels and celebrate the small improvements—these are your body’s way of thanking you.  

 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 3: RELAXING ROUTINES

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

In Part 1, we looked at how Ayurveda considers sleep to be essential for good health and how establishing a consistent sleep routine goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Part 2 explained how the night is governed by different doshas at different times and how to synchronise your sleep routine with nature’s rhythm. Now, let’s look at establishing a soothing evening routine to help you wind down and prepare for a night of restful sleep.

 

Following a regular routine reassures your body that everything is well, providing a tremendous sense of comfort. Establishing a daily evening routine ensures that, with time, the body learns that these are signals that the day is ending and to prepare for a good night’s rest. It’s important to be consistent with the routine. Here are some things that you can incorporate into your evening routine:

 

Avoid that evening cup of coffee

 

Drinking coffee or any other stimulant prevents your brain from responding to fatigue, instead making you feel fresh and energetic. This causes problems in trying to sleep early. If you are suffering from sleep-related problems, cutting down on caffeine may go a long way in helping you sleep better.

 

Turn down the lights

 

Our biological clocks are highly sensitive to light. For most living beings, sunset is a signal that the day is winding down and it’s time to rest. In today’s modern life, there is so much artificial lighting that it severely interferes with the natural biological response to sleep. One of the best things you can do is to dim the lights at home as the sun goes down. This sends the signal to your body that the day is ending.

 

Reduce exertion

 

It’s best to reduce strenuous physical and mental activity at least two hours before bedtime.

 

Have an early dinner

 

Have an early dinner to ensure that the food is completely digested before you sleep. This prevents the accumulation of toxic waste (ama) in your body, which could make you feel dull and lethargic. It’s ideal to leave a gap of three hours between dinner and sleep time. To get used to eating early, you can begin by eating a lighter dinner than usual.

 

Wash your face

 

Wash your face with lukewarm water, preferably using an Ayurvedic cleanser. This cleanses the dirt accumulated through the day, removes oil from the pores and helps your skin breathe at night.

 

Massage your feet and scalp

 

Take a few drops of oil and do a slow, relaxing massage of your scalp. Wash and dry your feet and apply a few drops of oil slowly from heel to toe in slow, circular movements of your palm. This removes excess heat and relaxes the entire body.

 

In Part 4, we shall look at a few more things you can do before bedtime and how to incorporate these into our daily lives.

 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 2: THE DOSHIC NATURE OF SLEEP

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

In Part 1, we looked the vital role of sleep in maintaining overall health, improving immunity and enhancing cognitive function. Establishing a consistent sleep and wake time goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Now, let’s see how different parts of the night are governed by different doshas, and how to synchronise our sleep routine with nature’s rhythm.

 

Ayurveda divides each day into two cycles:

 

1) The solar cycle which begins at 6 am and ends at 6 pm.

 

2) The lunar cycle which begins at 6 pm and ends at 6 am.  

 

The lunar cycle plays an important role in establishing sleep rhythm. This twelve-hour period is divided into three intervals of four hours each. The first interval from 6 pm to 10 pm is dominated by Kapha, the second interval from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, and the third interval from 2 am to 6 am is dominated by Vata. This fundamental understanding, along with knowledge of the current season and your doshic constitution helps establish a proper evening routine that is in harmony with the doshic influences.

 

Ayurveda recommends going to sleep before 10 pm. During this time our bodies are dominated by Kapha’s earthy, stable and grounding properties—ideal for a deep, soothing sleep. The period from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, whose qualities are intense, hot, sharp and acidic. This might make you feel energetic, impatient to be active, and prevent you from falling asleep. Staying awake at this time causes a phenomenon called second wind, where you stop feeling drowsy even when you are exhausted. Moreover, Pitta increases the digestive fire and leaves you craving that midnight snack!

 

The time dominated by Pitta is used by the body to repair its tissues, clean out toxins, enhance your immune system and perform daily maintenance tasks. This is also when the mind processes the undigested thoughts and emotions caused during the day and comes to terms with them.

 

Pitta gives way to Vata dominance at around 2 am and the atmosphere is dominated by qualities of lightness, mobility and coolness. The body begins the process of waking up around this time. Ayurveda advises getting up an hour and a half before sunrise when Vata dominates, so you can begin the day feeling light and refreshed.

 

Sleeping fewer hours in harmony with these cycles can leave you feeling more relaxed and energetic than sleeping longer hours going to bed late. However, falling asleep early is not easy for many of us. In Part 3, we look at establishing a simple evening routine that helps us to wind down and get ready for a night of soothing sleep.

 

EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 1: THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings

 

Do you wake up in the middle of the night, fully awake and unable to go back to sleep? Do you start your mornings in a state of exhaustion? Do you find yourself unable to fall asleep at night even though you are tired? Most of these stem from our irregular work schedules which have made food and sleep patterns and our lifestyle in general increasingly erratic. These irregularities affect our metabolic rhythm and lead to tiredness, heartburn, loss of appetite and other health complications.

 

Ayurveda highly recommends establishing a daily rhythm, “Dinacharya", taking into account your constitution and the cycles of nature. Adhering to Dinacharya ensures tri-doshic balance and provides a deep sense of relaxation, enhancing overall wellness. In this series, we will be looking at establishing a daily evening rhythm that leads to restful sleep.

 

Sleep is of fundamental importance in Ayurveda. It allows the body and mind to relax deeply, detoxify and rejuvenate. This is the time the body needs for tissue repair, muscle growth, removal of metabolic wastes, and enhancing immune function.  Quality of sleep has a direct impact on our cognitive functions including level of attention and our ability to learn. Therefore it’s vital to get a good night of sleep.

 

Ayurveda gives no universal recommendation for the ideal duration of sleep. Based on your constitution, this may vary between 6-8 hours. Kapha predominant body types need little sleep and Vata types need the most. Too much sleep can imbalance doshas and causes dullness and lethargy. More than eight hours of sleep are recommended only for pregnant women, the aged and the sick.

 

Merely sleeping the right number of hours isn’t enough to ensure good sleep quality. It’s important to establish a consistent sleep routine with predictable sleep and wake times. This helps the body settle into a daily rhythm. Once you have understood the duration of sleep required for you, fix a wake up time, preferably early in the morning. Then work backwards to decide on your sleep time. Regularly adhering to these times creates a deep rhythm in the body and leads to a night of relaxing and refreshing sleep. 

 

In Part 2, we shall explore the doshic nature of each part of the night and how it affects our sleep rhythm. Adjusting our sleep routine according to these greatly enhances the quality of rest.

 

How Being In The Forest Actually Boosts Immunity, According To Science

Clemens Arvay, MSc

19 February 2018

New research, like the Journal of Adolescent Health study that found that teens who have more access to green space tend to be happier, continues to reinforce the idea that humans are intricately connected to the natural environment. Our entire body is constantly communicating and acting in tandem with our surroundings. But how can something as simple as spending time outside possibly make us healthier? Let's dive into the science.

The real reason being outside is so healing.

The Japanese tradition of Shinrin-yoku, "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing," is proof of concept. In this case, the term "bathing" does not mean swimming in some sort of wooded lake. Instead, it's about diving into a forest with all of our senses. In 1982, the National Forest Authorities of Japan suggested advertising Shinrin-yoku to the public and promoting its immune-boosting powers. And today, taking in the forest atmosphere is officially a recognized method of preventing disease and supplementing treatment in the country. The National Institute of Public Health of Japan promotes Shinrin-yoku, universities study it, and hospitals use it as an Rx.

 

When you breathe in the woods, you are inhaling a cocktail of bioactive substances released by plants. One of these groups of substances is called terpenes. They're usually emitted from leaves, pine needles, tree trunks, and the thick bark of some trees. We absorb these gaseous terpenes partially through our skin, but especially through the lungs. Terpenes also flow out of bushes, herbs, and shrubs among the understory, along with mushrooms, mosses, and ferns, too. Even thin layers of foliage on the forest floor emit them. So, safe to say, if you're outside and can see any sort of tree material, you're getting a dose of terpenes.

 

While forest medicine is under no circumstances a replacement for conventional medical check-ups, scientific studies have discovered the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities, making forest air like a healing elixir we inhale. Even though terpenes come from trees, mushrooms, and herbs that are communicating with one another, our immune system can also decode them. Like other plants, we respond to terpenes by strengthening our body's defenses. Doctors of forest medicine know that anti-cancer terpenes have a direct impact on the immune system as well as an indirect impact on the endocrine system. For example, they help us deal with stress by lowering our cortisol levels.

 

Forest bathing has also been found to enhance something called natural killer cells, another defense against diseases like cancer. Those who spend merely one day in the forest will have more natural killer cells in their blood for seven days thereafter. Those who are in the woods for two or three days have elevated levels for another 30 days. It's incredible to think that we get these long-lasting health benefits simply by existing in the woods. We don't have to go on a trail run or rigorous hike (though those things are great too); just breathing and being in communion with trees is enough.

 

This knowledge totally changed the way I look at nature. Now, when I walk through the woods, I feel like I’m diving into an enormous living organism. I'm becoming a part of it, and we're breathing and communicating together.

Practical ways to make your next trip into the forest even more fulfilling:

1. The content of the anti-cancer terpenes in the forest air changes over the seasons. The highest concentration is in summer, and the lowest is in winter. They increase rapidly in April and May and reach their peak in June and August. Try to go out during these months if you can!

 

2. You can find the highest concentration of terpenes in the middle of the forest since tree population is the densest there. This dense canopy prevents gaseous terpenes from escaping too. Try to go farther into the woods instead of lingering on the edges when you can.

 

3. When the air is moist—after rain or during fog, for example—a particularly large amount of healthy terpenes will be swirling around the atmosphere. So if you've ever felt especially great during a walk in the woods after a rain shower, you're not alone!

 

 

 

 

Breathing is an extraordinary event. Not only does it bring oxygen to your cells, but also gives your organs, endocrine system & inner connective tissue a massage from the inside out with every breath.

YogaAlign's breathing exercises are designed to help you fully awaken, supercharge & recode your breath & posture at the nervous system level.

When you breathe in, try moving the ribs out in all directions as though you are inflating a balloon. As you inhale your outer rib muscles pull the ribs apart as your diaphragm contracts downwards, creating more space in the chest area & allowing the lungs to expand & fill with air.

As you exhale, notice the internal intercostal muscles pulling the ribs back together, while the outer muscles of the abdomen & waist area contract & press the air out.

Take a few moments each day to ground yourself with a few deep breaths, toning, lengthening & strengthening. 

 

"The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow & gain wisdom, first you must have the mud - the obstacles of life & its suffering. The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying & death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness & more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus & open each petal one by one."

Goldie Hawn

 

The Transformative Outdoor Workout That Healed My Broken Heart

by Brock Cannon July 2017

I was raised in a religious culture where getting married young and starting a family was the most important value. As a result I was married at 21 and had my first child at 23. I was so far from ready for it. To say that I was thrown into adulthood too early is an understatement. Most people spend those years dating and getting to know themselves, but this wasn't the case for me. I never got to have that journey, and bottling up my emotions led to a lot of internal pain. The only time I ever felt truly OK and like I was really connecting with myself was when I was out in nature, riding my mountain bike

My marriage lasted 10 years, and my two beautiful daughters came out of it, which is something for which I'll be forever grateful. But it was an extremely difficult decade, and if I didn't have the option to hop on my mountain bike and escape into nature, I'm not sure how I would have gotten through it. I would ride my bike out in the desert for six hours, or however long it took to calm down and feel free. Over time, I would become centered again. Looking back, I was undoubtedly a little bit obsessive, but the most important thing that came out of it was that I learned to use nature as a healing strategy. 

Yes, nature has been extremely healing for me—and it can be for you, too. Whether you do yoga outside, meditate, ski, hike, bike, or run, all these activities can heal; here's why I believe that.

1. Nature defuses anger.

When we embrace the pain of a hard run, a tough hike, or any other form of exercise in nature, we begin to get back to our true place on this planet. We realize that we are not just a ball of pent-up anger in that moment, but that we are a vital piece of this beautiful blue sphere. We are loving beings at our core. With each rock and tree stump we hop over, each river we forge, and each summit we conquer, we chill out. It’s as if our bodies are telling us, Yes, this is where I belong.

2. Nature leads to perspective—but be careful. 

Without a doubt, nature and movement are a beautiful combination for gaining perspective on our lives and solving our problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve simply spent a moment watching the chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits play out in nature while I was out in the mountains and felt an instant softening inside as I remembered that life existed beyond me and my broken heart. The sound of the dirt crunching under my feet or the ripping of the treads of a mountain-bike tire all provide a meditative healing sound.

3. Nature restores hope.

Years ago, I dealt with quite a bit of career heartbreak. I lost a big consulting job that would drastically affect my income, and I was devastated. Human nature is to buckle down, get to your computer, and search for any possible way to solve the problem. But instead, I remember telling myself, “You need to force yourself to get out in nature right now—even if it's only for one hour. Nature holds the answers.”

I went out for a trail run, and the problem seemed to shrink. I felt strong again. Moving my body restored confidence in my talents, gifts, and abilities. There is something about nature that makes us feel so small, yet so loved, and we realize things are going to be OK. So the next time you're in the midst of a breakup, a lost job, problems with your kids, or any other kind of heartbreak, try getting out in nature for restoration and as a way to think through your problems. 

You have nothing to lose, and only healing and newfound perspective to gain. 

Inspired by Brock's story? Find out how this woman used nature to heal her anxiety.

 

 

 

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, 

chaos into order,

confusion into clarity ...

it makes sense of our past,

brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.

 

Melody Beattie

Dame Helen Mirren on Why She is a Feminist

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images 

The actress recently opened up as to why she identifies as a feminist

 

Considered to be acting royalty (and not just because she won an Oscar for playing the Queen), Dame Helen Mirren has always been a trailblazer for women in the arts.

This week she received the Crystal Nymph award, for her small-screen work at the Monte Carlo TV Festival, adding to the every-growing collection of accolades that Dame Merrin has received.

In promoting the event, Dame Mirren also opened up to The Hollywood Reporter as to her ‘feminist awakening’ and how the arts are changing to include more female voices. “There is a pressure mounting behind a dam, and I hope that that dam is finally bursting in terms of women directors and women-led dramas,” she said.

Reflecting on her career, Dame Mirren commented on how attitudes have changed dramatically since she first started her career on British television in the lead role on Prime Suspect, however there still remain some challenges for women to overcome. “I think it’s becoming embarrassing to turn someone down because they’re female. The mind-set has changed,” she said. “Unfortunately there are dinosaurs, and there are some dinosaurs that are 50 instead of 80.”

Dame Mirren has also been working to fight ageist prejudice when it comes to ideas of beauty and seeing older women in films. “Film and television should be for all ages,” she said.

At an earlier graduation speech at Tulane University, Dame Mirren called on students to identify themselves as feminists, saying that she herself initially wasn’t sure about the movement. “I always was a feminist, and I did identify as a feminist… but in the early days of feminism, the late ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a political ferocity about feminism I couldn’t identify with,” she explained. “Now in retrospect I understand how important that ferocity was.”

www.mindfood.com

 

 

"You are enough.

You are so enough

it is unbelievable how enough

you are."

Marisa Peer

WELLINGTON APOTHECARY Therapeutic Teas have arrived at the YogAlign Studio in Mount Maunganui

Choose from Calming, Revitalising or Detoxifying Therapeutic Herbal Teas

 

NERVINE TEA BLEND 

NZ$16.00 - 50 grams
A blend of herbs traditionally used to support the nervous system, calm the mind and improve sleep quality. Contains passionflower, skullcap, withania root, damiana & rose petals.
 
 

TONIC TEA BLEND ORGANIC

NZ$19.00 - 50 grams
A blend of herbs traditionally used to build strength & vitality. Tonic tea blend also helps to enhance memory & alertness. Contains ginko, gotu kola, kawakawa, rosemary, licorice & hibiscus.
 

DETOXIFY TEA BLEND ORGANIC

NZ$26.00 100 grams
A blend of herbs traditionally used to support the liver, clear the skin and maintain a healthy weight. Contains cleavers, green tea, dandelion root, schisandra berries & fennel seeds.
 
 
All dried herbs in our tea blends are wild crafted or sourced organically when available. Non organic herbs may be used when organic herbs are unavailable.
 
 
 

 

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.” Steve Jobs

 

By Joanna Loveys

IF WE TOOK A MOMENT TO STOP AND LOOK AROUND WE MIGHT FIND THAT LIFE IS GENEROUS – AND THERE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH TO GO AROUND. YOU’RE READING THAT AND THINKING SERIOUSLY? THE ABUNDANCE TRAIN MISSED MY STOP!

It is a simple fact that there is an unlimited Source of everything we need or could ever want. This great abundance is already ours, available to all of us all the time. 

The Manifestation of ABUNDANCE espoused by spiritual teachers like Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra is not a new concept . Often when we hear about The Law of Abundance or Attraction, it refers to money. While it certainly does include financial prosperity, it is much more than that. Abundance relates to the state of being consciously connected to our Source Energy.

When we entertain a lack mentality, such as a lack of time, money or other resources, we literally create an energetic wall around ourselves that keeps those very things from entering our lives.

What really is abundance? Is it a tangible thing – abundant wealth or intangible abundant health? What one considers abundance another thinks is going without – it’s a perception.  The dictionary describes abundance as a great or potential amount or being in rich supply. We do live in an abundant universe, and we attract what we put out there. Each day is a new day that is full of possibilities. What is it that you would like to do or be or have more than anything else in the world? 

I read somewhere that if you hold a thought for 17 seconds the Law of Attraction kicks in but hold it for 68 seconds and things begin to move, manifestation has begun. Whether that is so or not, if you can think about what you do want in your mind, and focus on that, you can bring that into your life. In reverse, focusing on what we DON'T want tends to bring us more of the same! Using positive affirmations, meditation, taking action and expressing gratitude for our many blessings is the key. Keynote speaker Brian Tracy says that thinking continually about what you want and not the things you fear pays dividends.

Peace, prosperity, healing and wellbeing is within the grasp of everyone. Release those things that don’t work for you any more, just let them go, and make room for something better to fill up that space.

Never underestimate the power of the imagination to create miracles. If you listen to your inner voice and truly believe that you are a magnet for the good stuff then you draw that energy towards you – and I know which sort of energy I would rather attract! Energy flows where intention goes! Pay close attention to the abundance you already have and give yourself permission to be prosperous. 

Why not try ending your day with a positive thought , no matter how hard the day was there must be one thing to be positive about and thankful for. You have nothing to lose, and perhaps everything to gain!

 

 

If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao Tzu

by Aerial Cetnar March 12 2017 

5 Positive Ways Yoga Affects Your Mind Hero Image
Photo: @aeriallynn on Instagram
Although many individuals relish in their yoga practice for physical health benefits, there is just as much of a reason to love yoga for its mental health benefits. In the past few years, yoga and other mind-body practices have been a topic of interest for researchers in the psychology field, exploring its benefits for individuals working to improve their psychological well being. There is an increasing number of communities, such as hospitals, rehab centres and transitional homes incorporating yoga into their programming for improving mental health in many individuals.

Through research, yoga has been proven to help decrease stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and many other mental health issues. Yoga works by decreasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the "fight or flight" response, which is typically responsible for constricting blood vessels and raising heart rate and blood pressure. The breathing practices in yoga calm the nervous system overall and give us the time to reset.

Here are a few psychological qualities that yoga can cultivate:

1. Mindfulness. 

A lot of yoga practice focuses on using the breath as the main guide through movement. This gives us the experience of tuning into the present moment and increasing overall awareness. Many yoga teachers also encourage their students to let go of judgment toward themselves and accept where they are in their practice. By being in tune with our body movement and breath at the same time, we are practicing ways to be mindful both on the mat and in our daily life.

 

Photo credit: @aeriallyn 

 

2. Self-compassion. 

Because yoga requires commitment, it teaches us the importance of self-care and self-love. Along with letting go of judgment, it encourages us to love where we are and who we are. Yoga teaches us to appreciate that we are each perfectly imperfect and to embrace the diversity that we each bring to our yoga classes. We learn to encourage ourselves to maintain a holistic self-care practice that includes making time to care for our mind, body, emotions and spirituality in a non-judgmental and accepting way.

3. Resilience.

Yoga teaches us to take a step back, let go of our ego, and stick to our goals. The best way to improve in your yoga practice is through patience, especially for those who are just beginning their practice. It’s a challenge to let go of comparison, but it takes time to build a solid yoga practice and we learn that along the way. It teaches us to breathe through difficult postures just as we would through life challenges. We learn to find stillness during times of discomfort and find our breath during times when we need it the most.

4. Insight. 

One of the most impactful qualities to gain from yoga is the appreciation that you’re always learning and growing. Yoga gives you the opportunity to pause, reflect and set intentions for your practice that are parallel to your life intentions. You’re persistently checking in with yourself and asking yourself what it is that you need in that very moment in time. Yoga encourages us to always work toward being the best possible version of ourselves, but remaining open-minded and open-hearted during the process.

5. Purpose.

Yoga classes help build community and make people feel that they are part of something bigger. This is also applicable to the spiritual practice that comes from yoga that reminds us of elements of gratitude and aliveness. Yoga is a community where we can find support and a sense of belonging if you take the time to get to know those you’re practicing with. So, don’t be afraid to say hello next time you place your mat next to someone in class. 

 

 

 

by Dr Leo Galland - 7 January 2017

When allergies or inflammation strikes, you may be quick to blame some common culprits like pollen and ragweed, pets, pollution, or food. But what you may not know is that one of the biggest causes of allergy and inflammation is actually your mind. 

How you feel and the amount of stress you experience—from work, to family, to your health—can have a direct impact on how your body feels. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that stress is a major factor in causing chronic inflammatory conditions but that stress reduction interventions can actually help reduce symptoms. 

The combination of stress and allergies creates a snowball effect. 

Ohio State University scientists found that the persistence of mental stress can increase the frequency of flare-ups in allergy sufferers. And more episodes of sneezing, running nose, and watery eyes can lead to more stress and worsening symptoms. Conversely, less stress is associated with fewer flare-ups. They also found that stress and mood could affect allergic sensitivity. Nasal allergy sufferers who were asked to perform mental arithmetic in front of an audience experience bigger hives in response to a skin test. Participants who weren't given the math questions didn't have the same allergic response. 

But the good news is that your mind can outshine your allergies. These seven simple tips can help you reduce stress, calm your body, and kick pesky allergies.

1. Give meditation a try. 

While meditation has been touted as the answer to everything from pain relief to improving your athletic performance, it really can help reduce your body's response to allergy and inflammation. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that mindfulness-based stress reduction—which combines mindfulness, yoga, and body awareness—not only helped participants cope with stress, but it also decreased inflammation in the body compared to other healthy practices like exercise and music therapy. 

 

In another study on people with migraine headaches and abdominal pain, scientists from Case Western Reserve University found that meditation and visualization reduced pain and signs of allergic inflammation. Meditation with visualization has also been shown to improve lung function and respiratory symptoms in groups of people with asthma. Try this simple meditation: 

  1. Sit in a comfortable place. 

  2. Imagine a hand resting on your forehead, giving your mind comfort and soothing your thoughts.

  3. Let any stressful thoughts float out of your mind and into the imaginary hand. 

  4. Notice the sense of spaciousness and calm without those extra thoughts.

2. Make sleep a top priority. 

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, those who experience chronic stress report shorter sleep duration and lower quality of sleep. A group of Italian researchers found that the lack of adequate shut-eye can also lead to increased oxidative stress and altered inflammatory response—among other health concerns. 

Sleep is one of the best ways to heal and rejuvenate your body. To get the best sleep, be sure to avoid caffeine late in the day and create a calming bedtime ritual. And don't forget to turn off your screens! Exposure to blue light can suppress the release of melatonin, your body's sleep-facilitating hormone, and shift your circadian clock.

3. Take an Epsom salt bath

A warm bath is super relaxing, but it can also help your body recharge. Stress can reduce levels of magnesium in the body, and Epsom salts—which are composed of magnesium sulfate—can help replenish these stores. Researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom found that soaking in an Epsom salt bath for 12 minutes a day for a week raised magnesium levels measurably.

4. Get outside and clear your head.

Sometimes just getting out in nature is all we need to banish stress. In fact, researchers from Stanford observed that those who took a stroll in a parklike setting had meaningful improvements in mental health including less brooding compared to those who walked in an urban setting. Scientists from Finland found that even a brief visit to a green space can reduce stress levels.

5. Journal to reduce the impact of stressors. 

Who hasn't scribbled in a journal after a stressful, emotional, or traumatic event? And there's good reason. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin observed that writing about stressful events can reduce the impact of those stressors; it helped lessen the intensity of the feelings and lowered symptoms of depression. Even more interesting, researcher from the United Kingdom shows that expressive writing improves lung function in asthma sufferers.

6. Hang out with friends. 

Instead of staring at your phone or computer screen, hang out with your friends. Social connection can be a strong buffer against the effects of stress. A study from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California found that participating in a meditation group not only decreased feelings of loneliness, but it decreased systematic inflammation in the body by decreasing the activity of a gene that promotes inflammation in the body.

7. Dance your allergies away.

Yes, dance! Researchers have discovered that dance therapy can benefit those with high blood pressure, depression, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. Music influences mood in a positive way, and, more importantly, relaxing music may reduce levels of cortisol—the main stress hormone in the body. 

The bottom line is that allergies and inflammation involve a lot more than just our environment and what we put in and on our bodies. They are also directly connected with what's going on in our mind. For more information about ways to reduce stress and combat allergies, check out my book The Allergy Solution: Unlock the Surprising, Hidden Truth About Why You Are Sick and How to Get Well.

 

full moon ocean meditation stillness love peace light enlightenment yogalign mount maunganui new zealand world
by Amy Williams November 14, 2016.  Photo from Pinterest.

Meditation was a gift I gave myself for my birthday four months ago. I started with a simple 10-minute, guided meditation in the mornings, and some days felt so rejuvenated that I finished the day with another, longer meditation.

I found beautiful places in my neighborhood where I could sit comfortably by the water and stare out at nature, completely unburdened by the confines of my home.

I meditated every single day, and my life was changing rapidly for the better. My relationship with myself was easier, my anxiety was more manageable, and my relationships with others were improving every day. My professional life was taking off so rapidly that I really believed I was manifesting abundance and creativity through my daily meditations.

And then I went on vacation and didn't meditate because I didn't need it because my day-to-day anxiety didn't follow me on vacation. So, I took a break.

And then I came home from vacation, and there was laundry to do and bills to pay and work to catch up on, and I convinced myself
I would meditate tomorrow. At the end of two weeks of ignoring my daily meditation practice, I felt terrible inside and out.

My body and mind were craving something as simple as the routine of sitting alone for a few minutes each day, clearing my mind, and meditating. I never would have anticipated how rapidly I would feel the absence of meditation in my life, but after two weeks, here's what happened:

1. I was exhausted.

I wasn't sleeping, and my bedtime routine fell to the wayside. Even if I managed to stay in my bed for eight hours, I was having restless sleep with anxiety dreams that would keep me up. Some nights I would be too tired to even make it to my bed and opt instead to fall asleep on the couch. I started the day tired and ended the day exhausted.

2. My creativity tanked.

I had hoped that a week in the Rocky Mountains would lead to creative breakthroughs in my writing, but returning home only returned
me to the minutiae of everyday life, leaving no room for the creative rebirth I had been anticipating.

3. I said yes too often.

Too often, I made plans on top of plans when I should have been carving out time to meditate and to reengage my self-care routine. Instead, I made plans when I was exhausted and came home only more exhausted and unable to carve out the 10 minutes
I desperately needed to meditate to reset.

4. I stopped eating well.

Takeout and delivery became the norm while I ran around in a constant state of busy. I started using "busy" as an excuse for why I wasn't meditating and watched it morph into an excuse for eating junk.

5. Everything hurt.

My head, my back, and my stomach were all in a knot after two weeks of forgoing meditation. A combination of anxiety, lack of sleep, and a poor diet contributed to the complete dismantling of my physical health in real time.

The next time I catch myself thinking meditation can wait until tomorrow, I'll try to recall how quickly I felt the effects of slipping out of the routine. The good news is, meditation is always waiting right where you left it, allowing you to hit the reset button on the damage done.