Category Archives: Yoga, meditation, stress-free mind and lifestyle.

mind, body and soul integration

Re-training your body’s stress response through yoga practice

There are so many benefits of yoga that are scientifically proven. So why is it that many people don’t “get-it”; don’t stay with it long enough to get real benefits?

One main reason is that it takes time to “see” results. Allowing enough  time to get to know the subtleties within your own being.  Initially the changes are subtle and experienced within your mind and life, long before they are seen!

Another reason people often don’t stay with yoga is not finding the right class at the right level and where they have trust in the  teacher.   Be an empowered student, ask questions. Try several  classes, until you find the right one for you, and then practice at home also.

 I highly recommend reading this recent article from Psychology Today Magazine…

Yoga: Changing The Brain’s Stressful Habits,  by Alex Korb, Ph.D.

“Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.  These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research.

As a neuroscientist, despite my initial incredulity, I came to realize that yoga works not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful.  It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit.

Your brain tends to react to discomfort and disorientation in an automatic way, by triggering the physiological stress response and activating anxious neural chatter between the prefrontal cortex and the more emotional limbic system.  The stress response itself increases the likelihood of anxious thoughts, like “Oh god, I’m going to pull something,” or “I can’t hold this pushup any longer”.  And in fact, your anxious thoughts themselves further exacerbate the stress response. The physiological stress response means an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and elevation of cortisol and other stress hormones.

The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways.  For example, if you’re stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking.

Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts.

Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases.

Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking.

 

After going back to my Dad’s yoga class a few times, I eventually came to the realization that not only can you practice yoga in real life, but, conversely, you could go to a yoga class and not really be doing yoga…. focused on something else entirely.  Without the sustained intention of focusing on the present, and calming the mind, going to a yoga class is literally just going through the motions.” Alex Korb, Ph.D.

Enjoy your practice!

Namaste, Christina

 

Walking is the most underrated exercise!

Walking is the most under-rated exercise!!!

I was fortunate to grow up in a small town where we walked: to friends, to the park, to ice skate, for picnics on the grass.  I also walked several blocks to school.  Walking is great for many reasons, such as; focusing the eyes on sights at various distances, (vestibular functioning & eyesight) enjoying nature, trees, the sky,  fresh air, and using systems of muscular integration to propel the body forward and remain balanced.

Even if you are very active, if you are not walking regularly, you may not be resetting the body in an important natural way.

Humans were meant to walk. Walking is one way our body resets its natural alignment.  It is weight bearing exercise. Walking is natural movement that involves moving all of your muscles and tissue, increasing metabolism, lubricating the joints, increasing blood flow and oxygen to all the cells of the body, nourishing our physical being.

Walking energizes the body, as well as relaxes the mind: walking can even be a meditation. Walking can also be calming for the emotions, through appreciating beauty, nature, fresh air, sunshine, rain, seeing the people of your neighborhood; all this can lift your spirits.

Recently, I overheard a conversation between young people (mid 20’s) talking about numerous ailments, medications, and procedures, which hadn’t brought relief.  One young woman said “I wish I was in shape to exercise”, another responded “me too”.  I wondered if they considered a walking as a possibility.

I work with older people (up to 102 years old) some who don’t spend any time talking about ailments and medicine; because they are busy living life! They stayed active, they do daily walking.

In the past, (and for many people currently), our bodies are the primary tool of transportation, used with care and awareness for survival and longevity. Sedentary wasn’t an option! Now, the many conveniences of modern life: cars, furniture, chair-toilets, and media are enabling many people to be less mobile, less flexible, less connected and less aware.

Walking is enough to change the whole paradigm of the sedentary lifestyle.

A brisk daily walk, 30-45 minutes, is sound, healthy, preventative medicine.  It is that simple, yet not easy; breaking habits & starting new habits requires determination, commitment and an open, flexible mind).  Who knows, after this is a habit, you might find yourself enjoying yoga, dance, or a long hike!

It can be a real challenge to begin! Creating time may mean letting some things go…let them go!!! Invest the time to nurture personal health and peace of mind.  How does your self-talk, activity and lifestyle affect starting and continuing your walking routine??? Notice who are your allies for healthy Living??? Having walking buddies increases success! Who could be your walking buddy

 

100 reasons to get out in Nature.

  1. Fresh air
  2. Sunshine
  3. Exercise
  4. Enjoy the beauty of trees
  5. Enjoy the beauty of terrain
  6. Enjoy the beauty of the sky
  7. Enjoy the beauty of clouds
  8. Enjoy the beauty of stars
  9. Enjoy the moon
  10. Enjoy the moonlight world
  11. Focus your eyes at different distances
  12. Enjoy the beauty of plants
  13. Remember the cycle of life
  14. Enjoy the beauty of creatures
  15. Enjoy the beauty of birds
  16. Experience the environment
  17. Enjoy the beauty of breezes, wind
  18. Relax
  19. Get creative inspiration
  20. Enjoy the sense of smell
  21. Enjoy the sense of touch
  22. Eat, food tastes better outside.
  23. Get away from screens
  24. Get away from phones
  25. Get away from traffic
  26. Get away from day to day routines
  27. Possibility for adventure is high
  28. Remembering how change is a part of life
  29. See something new
  30. See something old
  31. Hear your own intuition
  32. Enjoy quiet
  33. Enjoy the sounds of birds
  34. Experience different temperatures
  35. Experience rain
  36. Experience snow
  37. Feast your eyes on colors
  38. Feast your eyes on textures
  39. Feast you eyes on patterns
  40. Explore
  41. Play
  42. Enjoy sunrises
  43. Enjoy sunsets
  44. Release emotions
  45. Enjoy the beauty of flowers
  46. Enjoy the smells of flowers and plants
  47. See life all around you
  48. Experience phenomena of the sky- rainbows, northern lights, shooting stars.
  49. Experience stillness or storms
  50. 50 to 100 enjoy all 50 things by sharing them in the company of different friends especially curious children!

Your Yoga

Yoga is an art.

As a kid I wanted to play guitar. I went to lessons. I didn’t practice between lessons.  My teacher kept saying “you can’t really learn without practicing at home”.

He told me this every week.  He could tell I wasn’t practicing. I think he got tired of going over the same bits over and over, which was all he could do because I didn’t practice. I didn’t progress much at playing guitar either; I lost interest and quit after less than a year of lessons.

Just as a musician must practice their musical instrument daily, or a dancer practice every day, yoga students who want to make progress will have to find the self-discipline to start a daily practice on their own.

The most important reasons to begin and continue a home practice

  • You get to know your own body , your own strengths and weaknesses.
  • You gain the mental and psychological benefits that are the whole original purpose of yoga, and will not come without daily home practice. You will learn more about yourself than  any books or workshops can ever show you, because you will be taking that inward journey every day.
  • You will have this touchstone, this place of anchoring every day, A true blessing in this ever-changing, fast paced and imperfect, sometimes crazy world we live in.

What is a daily “home” or “individual” practice?

Daily – Honestly, 5 to 7 times a week is GREAT!!!

Home – in your home, have a place for doing yoga, a place you like, it can be in any room, outside on nice days… Have a time for yoga; most people who don’t chose a specific time for yoga have trouble doing it 5 to 7 times a week.  I carved out time in the early morning, because too much can happen once my day is started.

Individual – Just you with yourself.  It can be done with or around others, but you are doing your yoga, no chatting, no interruptions, no TV, phone, no distractions!

Practice – is not a competition, not an exhibition, not a performance and not a race! Let it be stress-free. Cultivate a patient mind. Some days you’ll be slow and other days you will feel like being fierce. You will learn to honor where you are at.

How do you begin a home practice?  To start, you do what you can remember from class (so yes, do attend classes.) Take your time getting into and out of postures, and hold postures longer, to make discoveries and build strength.

  • Take some time, five minutes is good, to become aware of and deepen your breath.
  • Begin moving easily and repeat 3 to 10 sun salutations, to warm up the body.
  • Do standing poses – warriors, triangles, tree or others; switching it up is good.
  • Do child’s pose when you need a rest.
  • Do a few seated postures and one or two laying down.
  • Include one inversion.  Legs up a wall counts.
  • Always do savasana for a minimum of 8 minutes.

It is a great idea to get an individual session to design and refine your daily practice, after a few weeks, then at least once a year.

BUT...

“I don’t have time for it every day.” By making time for a daily practice the rest of your day will be more productive.  The rest of your day will be less stressful. These blogs discus how yoga does this in more detail;   yoga for beating stress      yoga as tool against fatigue

“I don’t care if I make progress I’m just doing yoga for maintenance.”  There is no such thing as maintaining, unless you are making progress.   Unless you are strengthening muscles in your body, and moving in your full range of motion 4-6 times a week.  Exercise is stimulus.  The changes to body tissue happens in the 24 to 48 hours afterwards.  You become weaker and more rigid after 48 hours.  This is even truer as you get older.  After the 48 hours… if there is no stimulus again your hard work begins to get undone.  Period, that’s it. (After months and years of daily yoga you maintain better flexibility if you do miss some days or weeks, your base-line has gotten higher).

“I do enough other exercise.” Great! But, by doing a home practice of yoga, you’re less likely to get injured doing other exercises and be able to do them longer as you age.

“I’m active  in my daily work (or life).”  Most often, in our daily routine, we do many repetitive movements, with the focus on what we are doing rather than the body and mind doing it.  We use limited amount of the many muscles, less range of motion and less systematic use of many muscles.  If your work is hard physical labor, less and/or “restorative” yoga might be what you need to practice at home.

Peace in the New Year, 2017

2016, this too, shall pass. Whew!

Maybe this crazy time is meant to awaken us to new ways of being.

The darkest is right before the dawn.

Let’s be the dawning.

~~~~ Some ideas for creating deeper inner peace ~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Awake with a prayer or sense of gratitude for another day. Look at the sunrise or anything beautiful for a few moments before starting your day.

~ Be receptive, allowing, and curious. Be willing to forgo your schedule. Try setting this as an intention before getting out of bed; see it in your mind’s eye! Be ready for surprises; keep open to the freedom of the unknown. Change is the only constant.

~ Walk in the great outdoors – with curiosity and wonder! Walk tall, without fear into whatever arises.

~ A daily spiritual practice ~ You do have time! Try setting your phone timer for 2-3 minutes and focus on your breath, slowing it and deepening it, receiving nourishing oxygen from the Universe on your inhales, and Letting go of tension on your exhales. When you’re done, notice how you feel. Do it daily. This is meditation, one of the 8 limbs of yoga! ~ Spiritual practices are nourishment, elevating your vibration to help you have power to react creatively and constructively to what comes up in life.

~ Stay in the moment- Now is where life happens. The present is our point of power. To live in the moment is so fulfilling. This is liberation. No matter what is going on outside of you, open up to the possibility of experiencing freedom in this moment.

~ Lift your energy in a private session with me! We will discuss what is up for you and find new tools that support your moving forward. I offer yoga including breath work & adjustments, reiki, or a healing session using all of these.

Whole-hearted thank you for the support and co-creation this past year. I look forward to evolving with you in 2017!

Love, Love, Love Christina

***New evening class thursday 6pm Versatile Vitality, 4100 Silver SE Platinum building, 1st floor – lovely space – easy parking $9 drop-in !!!! multi-class bundle discount.
    
***Two gong sound bath healings with Sat Guru Kaur – Jan 21st saturday 6-8pm in Albuquerque, and Thursday Jan 26th 6:30pm at the Garden Gate Day Spa in Las Lunas.

November, Yoga & Ayurveda

Dear Yoga Friends,

I recently was out in nature, enjoying  the stars and all the wonderful fall colors.  I was reminded of my nature. I was revitalized and refreshed.  Nature is truly great medicine for mind body and soul. I have written before about nature and walking, and you might wonder why  a yoga teacher is writing about these topics. It is because of Ayurveda!

Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences. Both systems have a common understanding of health of the body being dependent on the health of the mind.  They share virtually the same metaphysical anatomy and physiology, which consists of 72,000 nadis (subtle energy channels), seven main chakras (energy centers), five bodily sheaths and the shakti (energy).   Samkya is the philosophy shared by both.  Yoga and Ayurveda advocate for the regular, daily, practice of pranayama and meditation.(Dhyana 

The more I Understand the elements and subtle energies in every living thing, the  more inspired I am to be in the natural environment, eat healthier foods, and be aware of things that affect energy such as: time of day, season of the year, foods,  and  daily routines (Dinacharya).  Because we are made up of the same elements, being in touch with nature brings us in touch with ourselves, and can bring us into balance with our nature, and vital energy.

So, I know nature to be excellent medicine, counteracting all the unnatural light, perfumes, lotions, air fresheners, car exhaust, cleaning and laundry detergents, etc. and being indoors for most of the day,  it’s a recipe for dis-ease, illness.  We need sunlight to make vitamin D, (a very common deficiency now).

I have heard it said the best sure-cure for insomnia is camping, natural changes of light and temperature resets our body for restful sleep at night, and wakefulness in the daylight.

When we see nature’s beauty, we focus our eyes at different distances. Walking on uneven ground strengthens our balance.  Tracking birds and scanning vistas strengthens our eyes and our vestibular system, as well as calms our mind and inspires our mood…

So enjoy walks in nature my friends! Dawdle and be curious, find that sense of wonder.

active Namaste,  Christina 

Class Schedule

Mello-Monday & Fierce-Friday Yoga  at RGCSL 8:30-9:45am

Wonderful-Wednesday Yoga at Versatile Vitality 8:30-9:45am                       (4100 Silver SE)

Tuesdays & Thursdays in Las Lunas;  9-10am Water Aerobics, 10:30-11:45 Yoga – There will not be classes on Thanksgiving day.

~Individual Sessions~ available in November, Call to schedule

June quotes

sky

Hello Dear Yoga Friends,

 Sharing a few Quotes you might enjoy:    

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“The more you sit in the self the more you will feel an energy that you have never experienced before. It comes from behind rather than in front where you experience your mind and emotions.…When you are no longer absorbed in your melodrama, but instead sit comfortably deep inside the seat of awareness, you will feel this energy from deep within.    …. Feelings, loneliness, fear are just things in the universe like cars, grass, stars, Awareness does not fight.  Within the self you will experience strength of your inner Being, even when the heart is weak…”   From the book Untethered Soul – Michael Singer

 “The chemistry of mind is different from the chemistry of love. The mind is careful, suspicious, advances little by little…advices “Be careful, protect yourself” Whereas love says “Let yourself, go!” The mind is strong, never fells down, while love hurts itself, fells into ruins. But isn’t it in ruins that we mostly find the treasures? A broken heart hides so many treasures.”  ~ Shams Tabrizi 

Peace, Christina 

May and early June at Happy Mountain

Dear Yoga Friends , 
It’s the merry month of May!      

IM000661.JPG

“Flowers are love embodied. Look deeply at the color. Feel the vibrancy. Put your nose a little closer. Look deeply. Fall inside. Start your life over right here, right now, inside a flower. Make a new decision. Then feel again. Decide you are okay right here now. ” ~ Lao Tzu

May Reading    

“We all possess an acceptable level of proprioception that allows the body to move through life, but we’re now learning that high-quality proprioception can be an extremely important key to healthy aging. Researchers have recently uncovered a link between increased levels of proprioception and decreased levels of pain in the body. In other words, the more that your brain can sense your body accurately, the less pain you tend to experience. In addition, the more developed your proprioception is, the more skillful your daily movements will naturally become, reducing your chances of injury in the first place (and this becomes increasingly important as we grow older)”.          Link to article here  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yoga-anatomy-what-every-teacher-and-practitioner-should-know-about-fascia

An Interesting article  /anxiety-yoga-and-brain-chemistry.html

A motivating article  /the-secrets-of-yoga-asana/

 Namaste,    Christina

     

 

Happy New Year!

Dear Yoga Friends,  Happy New Year!

new year yoga     Yes I will be having classes New Years Eve – at the Garden Gate Day Spa!        Also class Year years day at RGCSL!                                                                          I am sharing a great NY Times article, (below)  Thank you Sarah. for bringing this relevant article to class!!!!

12 Minutes of Yoga for Bone Health    By JANE E. BRODY     DECEMBER 21, 2015

      Yoga enthusiasts link the practice to a long list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion, stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness and self-esteem.

But definitively proving these benefits is challenging, requiring years of costly research. A pharmaceutical company is unlikely to fund a study that doesn’t involve a drug, and in any event, the research requires a large group of volunteers tracked over a very long time. 

The subjects must provide health measurements at the outset, learn the proper poses, continue to do them regularly for years and be regularly evaluated.

No one knows these challenges better than Dr. Loren M. Fishman, a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine. For years, he has been gathering evidence on yoga and bone health, hoping to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy for osteoporosis.

The idea is not widely accepted in the medical community, but then, researchers know comparatively little about complementary medicine in general. So in 2005, Dr. Fishman began a small pilot study of yoga moves that turned up some encouraging results. Eleven practitioners had increased bone density in their spine and hips, he reported in 2009, compared with seven controls who did not practice yoga.

Knowing that more than 700,000 spinal fractures and more than 300,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States, Dr. Fishman hoped that similar findings from a much larger study might convince doctors that this low-cost and less dangerous alternative to bone-loss drugs is worth pursuing.

Those medications can produce adverse side effects like gastrointestinal distress and fractures of the femur. Indeed, a recent study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that among 126,188 women found to have osteoporosis, all of whom had Medicare Part D drug coverage, only 28 percent started bone drug therapy within a year of diagnosis.

Many of those who avoided drugs were trying to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

On the other hand, yoga’s “side effects,” Dr. Fishman and colleagues wrote recently, “include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety and better gait.”

Weight-bearing activity is often recommended to patients with bone loss, and Dr. Fishman argues that certain yoga positions fit the bill.

“Yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does,” he said in an interview. “By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.” (sound familiar?wish I stated it this well!)

Most experts argue that it’s difficult, perhaps impossible, for adults to gain significant bone mass. Undeterred, Dr. Fishman invested a chunk of his own money and with three collaborators — Yi-Hsueh Lu of The Rockefeller University, Bernard Rosner of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Gregory Chang of New York University — solicited volunteers worldwide via the Internet for a follow-up to his small pilot study.

Of the 741 people who joined his experiment from 2005 to 2015, 227 (202 of them women) followed through with doing the 12 assigned yoga poses daily or at least every other day. The average age of the 227 participants upon joining the study was 68, and 83 percent had osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia.

The 12 poses, by their English names, were tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose. Each pose was held for 30 seconds. The daily regimen, once learned, took 12 minutes to complete.

The researchers collected data at the start of the study on the participants’ bone density measurements, blood and urine chemistry and X-rays of their spines and hips. They were each given a DVD of the 12 yoga poses used in the pilot study and an online program in which to record what they did and how often.

A decade after the start of the study, bone density measurements were again taken and emailed to the researchers; many participants also had repeat X-rays done. The findings, as reported last month in Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation, showed improved bone density in the spine and femur of the 227 participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the assigned yoga exercises.

Improvements were seen in bone density in the hip as well, but they were not statistically significant.

Before the study, the participants had had 109 fractures, reported by them or found on X-rays.

At the time the study was submitted for publication, “with more than 90,000 hours of yoga practiced largely by people with osteoporosis or osteopenia, there have been no reported or X-ray detected fractures or serious injuries of any kind related to the practice of yoga in any of the 741 participants,” Dr. Fishman and his colleagues wrote.

“Yoga looks like it’s safe, even for people who have suffered significant bone loss,” Dr. Fishman said in an interview.

Furthermore, a special study of bone quality done on 18 of the participants showed that they had “better internal support of their bones, which is not measured by a bone density scan but is important to resisting fractures,” Dr. Fishman said.

The study has many limitations, including the use of self-selected volunteers and the lack of a control group. But all told, the team concluded, the results may lend support to Dr. Fishman’s long-held belief that yoga can help reverse bone loss.

Even if bone density did not increase, improvements in posture and balance that can accrue from the practice of yoga can be protective, Dr. Fishman said.

“Spinal fractures can result from poor posture, and there’s no medication for that, but yoga is helpful,” he said.

In addition, “Yoga is good for range of motion, strength, coordination and reduced anxiety,” he said, “all of which contribute to the ability to stay upright and not fall. If you don’t fall, you greatly reduce your risk of a serious fracture.”   By JANE E. BRODY     DECEMBER 21, 2015                      Permalink: http://nyti.ms/1O3caC8