Yoga Thinking – It’s Not Easy

There’s a sign that someone gave President Barack Obama to put on the Resolute desk which says “Hard Things are Hard”.  I think of this sometimes when any of my yoga instructors make the suggestion to put aside any stressful or negative thoughts that might be on the minds of anyone in the room.  It’s a great concept but one that’s harder to practice in real life.  The whole idea is to focus on the challenge of the yoga practice before you.  Also, within that practice, one is also instructed to “leave” any mistakes, stumbles, imbalances and failed attempts at poses where they are and move to the next moment of the practice.

It all seems to be about acceptance of yourself and even forgiveness.  It puts us in a place where we can be our real selves and strive to be our best with the idea that we do fall, we do make some mistakes and sometimes we excel and triumph!

But doing it, requires a certain confidence in acting completely natural – I suppose that’s what they mean when they talk about leaving your Ego at the door.  Experiencing the hard things is as important as experiencing the triumphs.  I think that what builds us.

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4 Ways to Leave a Yoga Class

working-cobra-yoga-pose-cute-hispanic-women-practicing-their-class-gym-35911698I wrote about the preparation for your Yoga Class last post.  It’s one of those things where there’s truly a “before, during and after”.  The “after” of a Yoga practice is important.  You’ve recovered from lying on the floor in savasana and here you go back out into the world. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you do this.

1. Be happy and thankful to yourself for making the effort to be there and challenge yourself.  This extends to everyone around you.  It’s always nice to bid others good bye or even a nod of acknowledgement since they were part of the experience.  I remember being taken completely by surprise after a class when young female friend of my gave me a huge embrace after the class.  She wanted to just share the moment.  Sure – not everyone wants a hug – especially strangers – but a little kind acknowledgement goes a long way.

2.  If you made an intent or goal at the beginning of the class, give some consideration to how you might take it away and continue to use or consider it.  If the goal is living your intentions and growing, well why not take it with you.  There is a philosophy about “leaving your yoga practice on your mat” but I think that the strength and insight that we sometimes achieve are worth taking with us.

3. Thank the teacher and be sure to let him or her know how much you appreciated and particular parts of the class.  It’s always a good opportunity to ask a question.

4. Nurture your body with water.  Many classes are dehydrating if you worked hard and sweated.

These are some of my suggestions and I’d be open to your comments.

 

Namaste

YOGA as part of LIFE

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Yoga has become an integral part of my life.  It is a practice that is a lifestyle for many, at the most, and a means of exercise and stress management, at the least, for some.  Regardless of how much or little that the practice of yoga occupies one’s life – it’ all good.  Yoga is about balance.  Yoga is about strength and calmness.  It’s about developing and nurturing yourself.  While you are on your mat, you focus on all of these aspects and for once it’s ok for it to be “all about me”.

If you are new to yoga, it would be great if you tried any intro or beginner class.  You will find – I can guarantee- an atmosphere of  TOTAL acceptance of simply who you are and where you are at.  This is what is to be asked of you.

If Yoga is an established part of your life than lucky and wise you.  I hope you find some of my future posts to be interesting.  Feel free to add any comments or suggestions.   Namaste 

How to End Mental Illness Stigma- Awareness and Education

Who would have thought that an actor from the Sopranos TV series, Joey Pantoliano “Joey Pants” would be a leader in the area of mental health education and awareness and one of the most significant figures that I’m aware of in the crusade to de-stigmatize all forms of mental illness. Well through his documentary, “No Kidding, Me Too” he has started the NKM2 movement that has also involved a remarkable group of individuals from all walks of life as well as other celebrities.

 

The NKM2 web site is very impressive as well as the actual documentary.  There are some segments that you can view for free on Youtube.  It’s an entertaining and fascinating look at a range of individuals, some mental health professionals, who have experienced mental health issues of some form.  It’s about hope, confidence and the knowledge that it’s all something that can be dealt with.  Also, the documentary, as well as the whole, NKM2 organization provides information and direction on new research and resources.  And by the way, Joey Pantoliano himself reveals his own struggle with a mood disorder and ADHD.

It’s a great movement and as Joey Pants says “Infotainment!”

Photo credit: No Kidding, Me Too .ORG

The Best Way to Deal with Stress and Anxiety: Some Important Parts of Your Approach

The important part of the title is “your approach”.  Just like your own finger print, your stress is unique and the approach to deal with stress and anxiety is as individual as you.

  1. Thinking is an important aspect of any approach to daily stress or anxiety.  The style of our thought patterns often plays a role in how we deal with challenges such as stressors or symptoms of anxiety.  One of the Best approaches is seen in the Centre for Positive Psychology that is directed by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Physical Activity remains an important part of any approach to the management of daily stress and symptoms of anxiety.  There is quite a lot of research to support the benefits of regular exercise for mental and physical health.  Especially exercise that you enjoy.  I previously reviewed an article posted by the American Psychological Association.

 

Your Approach to Taking Care of Yourself is as Unique as your Fingerprint

 

3. Getting Help   . Help can come in the form of a good book that you find to have the information that you need , such as Kabot-Zinn’s Full Catastrophie Living or a therapist who is trained in the area in which you need help.  Psychologists and other mental health professionals, especially in private practices, are able to list the areas of specialty in their public listings.  You can also see what organizations and licensing bodies they are affiliated with.   If you feel that you need the assistance of a professional – it’s important to get someone suitable for you.  Most will even answer questions before you make a commitment to refer yourself.

These are some key features that I recommend considering.. I’m interested in your views.

The Best That You Can Be. Sometimes Only You Know It

I recently read a story in the Globe and Mail about a remarkable achievement of four adventurers in the Canada who completed what was called a “dangerous and unprecedented” ski trek between Jasper and Lake Louise, Alberta.  They skied across mountains, ice fields and extreme terrain on wooden skis without GPS, Satellite Phone or any high tech equipment. They faced extreme conditions and lost up to 22 lbs.  The traverse took 21 days.  When they finished, they ended up on a highway where they had a coffee at a cafe and then simply went home in different directions (I’m sure there was at least a high five). This amazing and “epic” trip happened 50 years ago before selfies and social media  that would chronicle their moves every step of the way and announce their victorious completion the moment it happened.  But they are only being truly recognized in this newspaper story now.  I found it amazing to think that the four young men went about their lives simply knowing that each had accomplished something that was admirable and “award worthy” but kept it to themselves as their own personal victory, with media hype, CNN coverage or a Youtube post.

 

Sometimes it’s simply Enough for Only You to Know that You Have Accomplished Something

I think that there is some wisdom here for those who climb their own personal “mountains” in life.  Whether it’s an epic hike or dealing with a difficult situation, problem, relationship or challenge. Whatever our achievement is, sometimes it’s enough for on YOU to know that you have done it.

There are times in life where our challenges are ours to face on our own.  It’s sometimes a very lonely and isolated feeling.  And, sure, it’s always great to have support and share our accomplishments, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way – sometimes it’s just you.

I think that one of the greatest challenges is to have enough self respect and acceptance of ourselves to recognize our own courage, commitment and ability without the approval or recognition of anyone else.

3 Reasons Why “13 Reasons Why” Matters

The new Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why” based on the same titled book by Jay Asher, has met with what would truly be called “critical acclaim”.  It seems that for every review that is raving and complimentary, there is a review that is quite critical.  Some people feel that the series is a great work that highlights mental health issues.  I’ll leave the reviews to the experts and the viewers who formulate their own opinions (although I’d like to hear yours, certainly).  However, I do think that 13 Reasons matters for three important (maybe more) reasons:

  1. It Gets Us Thinking.  A work like this gets us thinking about our perspective on the issue of human relationships as well as our influence on those around us.  The series highlights the idea that we actually influence those people in our lives, and vice versa, perhaps more than we think.  Any work of art, literature or media that does this is valuable.
  2. It Gets Us Talking.  The Series and Book has allowed us to simply talk and discuss the subject matters and the story in coffee shops with friends and on social media.  This hopefully leads to a sharing and development – and even progression – of ideas about human relationships, caring and mental health
  3. It gets Us Acting When we think and talk about ideas in a constructive and open way, there is usually some form of, again hopefully positive, action that follows.  A series like “13 Reasons” will probably lead to some changes in peoples’ behaviour in the form of a more positive relationship style or communication style with others.

I’d be interested in your views.

Photo Credit Netflix.com

living life to the fullist

5 Key Strategies for Stress Management that are Essential

Even though the list can be endless, I think that the following 5 components of tacking your stress are essential for any plan!

1 . ENJOY the activities that you are using to deal with your stress.

The American Heart Association has outlined the importance of actually incorporating enjoyable and pleasurable activities into your stress management plan.  Doing things that you simply don’t enjoy does not work

2. Include Physical Exercise in you Stress and Anxiety Management.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends physical exercise as part of any approach to management and control of stress, Anxiety and mood problems.  This includes everything from walking, Yoga, running and the list goes on.  Cardiovascular exercise is simply a great thing!  However, know your limits and take your time if you are new to this or not in good condition initially.

3. Deal with Stress at Work.

Work stress, whether it’s issues with other people or just the type or amount of work you do is absolute crucial to get under some control.  Work stress is the source of pressure and angst for many and can be a bad and detrimental addition to an already stressed life. The American Psychological Association has a division called the Psychologically Healthy Workplace and has a lot of great resources and guidelines for both employees and companies.

4. Learn Assertiveness and Self Respect  

This link to the Mayo Clinic has a great article on the relationship of Assertive to improved stress management and communication.  It’s all about feeling better about you.

5. Avoid the overuse of substances or artificial way to Reduce Stress .

Using substances like alcohol, drugs or ingestion of food and drinks such as cola or coffee can become an ineffective way – as well as problematic- to deal with stress.  Simply put – It’s important to watch this aspect of your life and not make your “go to’s” a problem area for you.  A relaxing coffee, tea, meal or other things like this can be a great part of your day.  The National Library of Medicine has an interesting article on stress and vulnerability to addiction that is linked here.

Please add your comments and tips .  This is just part of a plan for stress and anxiety management that can be effective.

Perfection through Weight Loss, Hair Loss, Abs and the Things that Drive us to Perfection

      Are the things that “drive ” us really the things that matter.  Our 21st Century culture has been driven by such things as weight loss, hair loss -rather prevention of- and physical perfection.  Leigh Vanderloo, Ph.D. has written an interesting article on exercise and weight loss for the HuffPost.  Often the idea is to achieve these goals with minimal work and time.  The image created by multiple medias is seen by many as unrealistic and perhaps looking at the wrong aspects of what well being, health and happiness really are.  Weight Watchers and Magazines like Fitness Magazine (for women)  or Mens Health are actually good sources of information, inspiration and even results for a lot of people.  However, any endeavour with an aim to being “better”, more attractive, thinner, better physical condition, smarter – and the list goes on – has to be something that is based on some realistic expectations.  Expectations about who you are and what you truly want to become.  It actually IS about you and what is important to you – Not what the media , corporations or even other people define for you.

      I,d be interested in your views n what some might think is an old topic.  Do you you think it’s still important to talk about?

      Photo Credit  bodyforwife.com

      The Secret to a More Satisfying Life? : #Minimalism- Is it the answer to De stressing our Lives?

      The documentary (2016 Netflix) “MINIMALISM- A Documentary About the Important Things”, two former work colleagues, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus bring us through their work of reducing their physical possessive world to , well… a minimum.  This included a complete purge of all the extraneous possessions that they have accumulated throughout their still young lives.  They essentially “wanted out” of the race for status and happiness through possessions and “things”.  However they emphasize at one point that it is important to have the things in your life that really  – really – matter to you.  Some of the experts that are interviewed discuss the psychological and social science of all of this.  That is, how happiness can be linked to the idea of getting the iPhone 8 or a new car.

      I must admit that I want the iPhone 8 and I just bought a new car . But, I don’t necessarily see these things to the route to happiness and contentment. They look at everything from housing to our overall lifestyles as well as where we actually live.

      It’s a fascinating view of stress in our lives and the people who the two friends profile, as well as themselves, are actually happy and content.  Whether you actually practice or incorporate any of the ideas is not as important as the message that the documentary shares.