Members Summer Home Practice
The Many Benefits of Practicing Yoga At Home
Here’s how you can benefit from an at-home yoga practice during the festive season. No teacher needed.
Release yourself from the confines of a set schedule this xmas. Practice at your own pace and at your own time.
When you have the freedom of choice you learn to be guided by and trust your own voice. This is the essence of yoga, an inward process (pratyahara — withdrawal of the senses) we become acquainted with our own innate wisdom through taking the time to tune in and listen to our bodies.
Create a nice space for you where you won’t be interrupted for at least half an hour. Make sure the floor is comfortable and not where you will slide. This practice in your own home will help you gain discipline and will boost your confidence.
Supta Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle Reclined Pose (5-10mins) you can do this with strap or without.
Strap Sequence (right leg & left leg)
Lying strap hamstring stretch & lying side stretch
Lying Strap hip stretch
Cat/Cow Stretch (10 slow breaths as you flow in /out of the pose)
Downward dog (5-10 slow deep breaths)
Place both knees on the floor, go onto all fours in a neutral position and step Right Foot out into
Runners Lunge (5-10 slow breaths)
High Leg lunge (5-10 slow breaths)
Static lunges (5-10 repetitions)
Runner lunge then step right foot to meet back foot into downward dog. 5 long breaths.
Place both knees on the floor, go onto all fours in a neutral position and step Left Foot out into
Runners Lunge (5-10 slow breaths) And repeat sequence on the Left side finishing in downward dog (5 slow breaths).
Come up onto all fours, step right foot forward then left foot to meet the right into standing forward bend.
Slowly unfolding vertebrae by vertebrae as you come up to standing position.
Standing wall shoulder stretch
Standing wall forward bend
Slowly unfold vertebrae by vertebrae until you come to a standing position. Stand into mountain pose (10 breaths)
Then make your way down to the floor for Savasana. (keep warm/put a blanket on) (5-10mins) Take your time as you open your eyes and begin your day. 😊
It’s not only remembering TO relax, there’s the HOW to relax that is a factor – how does one relax when you’re stressed out and tense? Without strategies or tools to help you move out of feeling overwhelmed, you might find yourself reaching for sugar, alcohol or drugs in an attempt to calm down. This can work temporarily, but ultimately makes you feel less in control of your state of mind and wellbeing.
Even though at times it feels like you can’t relax, your body can actually remember how to, with the right prompts. This can happen when practicing some simple steps to spark the chemical shift in your body that conveys the message that all is well and it’s ok to calm down.
THE FIRST STEP is to attend to your breath. Slow it down by deepening it. Why? Because the increased flow of oxygen calms the panicked feeling. The slow deep breath mirrors the body’s natural state when calm and therefore tricks your mind into thinking you’re relaxed and you then become relaxed. It also gives you something to do – when you just don’t know what to do.
THE SECOND STEP is Presence. Draw your attention to how you are feeling without labelling it or judging it as good or bad. Simply become present to sensation. This act of drawing your attention away from the external to an internal focus creates a chemical shift, prompting the body’s relaxation response.
THIRD STEP – make stress work for you.
We get stressed as a way to heighten and sharpen focus, to deal with the situation we are in – it’s the body’s way of helping us solve problems. It becomes an issue when this stress response doesn’t naturally switch off and we get fixed in a state of distress and panic. The thought of calming down and stepping out of that feels impossible.
Yoga teaches us that no moment or experience is without potential. The feeling of stress is there and no there’s denying it, however without a label of good or bad, it is just energy. While seeing it as pure energy we can actually put that energy to good use. We can use the stress energy to fuel the deepening of focus in becoming present. We use the deep breath as a way to focus the mind and channel that energy towards internal listening or presence. This is a powerful reminder that you are awake and aware and strong through your presence.
This technique is a bit like a martial arts practitioner may approach a fight. An experienced Aikido Martial Arts practitioner, for example, uses the energy of the attacker to win the fight. As the attacker throws a punch, the defender takes the hand of her attacker and uses the momentum of the punch to bring him to the floor, pinning him to the ground. In our case we use the momentum of a heightened state to fuel focus towards the internal space, neutral in regard to the energy or its source, but present to the sensation. This very act activates the relaxation response. From there we may refine our position on things.
After practicing both breath and presence, stay with it until you feel a shift and better able to cope with the here and now. With practice we learn how to reach this space faster and faster when under pressure. It’s simple and effective and works.It can really help to make time to refine your skills in getting calm. I am offering three women’s yoga practices at Ommi Yoga in Thornbury mon, wed & fri 9.30am. You can book your class online or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Embodying the SUTRA
“Obstacles (kleshas) are the breeding ground for tendencies (samskaras) that give rise to actions and the consequences (karma) thereof. Such obstacles are experienced as visible or invisible obstacles.” Yoga Sutra 2.12
THIS SUTRA ASKS YOU to take a close look at the kleshas (personal obstacles) that shape your intentions – and eventually your karma. It asks you to look at the driving force of your actions. The five kleshas are avidya (ignorance), asmita (over-identifying with your ego), raga (desire, or attachment to pleasure), dvesha (avoidance), and abhinivesha (attachment and fear). Once you begin to identify your kleshas though a mindful yoga practice, you’ll be able to set better intentions and reset your karmic path.
“I eat this meal in various iterations a few times per week. Kale provides vitamins and antioxidants for my skin, which I love. Quinoa and eggs bring protein and sustenance. I make and store extra quinoa, veggies, and dressing in glass containers in the fridge and then warm up the ingredients in my cast-iron pan or wok. Add cooked eggs for a stir-fry that’s ready in five minutes.”
MIX IT UP
My go-to meal – a versatile mix of quinoa, seasonal veggies, avocado, egg, and miso dressing.
Sub in Veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or add chicken sausage, olives, or tempeh for variety.
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup quinoa (white, red, black or a combination)
1 tsp ghee
2 cups kale, slice (about 1 large leaf/serve)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp miso paste (sweet or mellow)
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 avocado, slice or cubed Heat
salt & pepper
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Poke top of sweet potato with a fork and bak on a sheet lined with parchment paper until soft, 45-6o minutes. Once cool enough to handle, cut sweet potato into slices.
Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, warm ghee. Add eggs and fry, 20-3 minutes per side (for scrambled eggs, whip eggs in a bowl until bubbles form, pour eggs into skillet and leave for 30 seconds, then sitr until fluffly, about 4 minutes).
Bring water to a boil in a pot with a steamer basket. Steam kale for 2 minutes, then place in a bowl of ice to halt cooking.
Using a hand blender or regular blender, combine miso, lemon juice, and olive oil until smooth, 30 seconds (or put all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake vigorously).
Split quinoa, kale, sweet potato, egg, avocado, and dressing among three plates. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on each bowl and drizzle with dressing.
Women and Burnout
Are you tired too much of the time?
Do you feel depleted and emotionally overwhelmed? Do you feel ill-equipped to manage the stresses in your life?
If so, you’re not alone!
The negative effects of stress are reaching epidemic proportions in our modern lives and women(like you and me) are falling like flies—our bodies and souls are suffering.
Even though it’s across the board, burnout, or Adrenal Fatigue, is more common in women, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affects women at four times the rate of men.
If we’re tired all the time and our nervous system and often hormonal system are compromised, we’re not able to live at our full potential and shine our lights as brightly as we’d like.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to find ways to manage stress in our lives in order to prevent, or if necessary, heal, from burnout.
Even though burnout is not a good thing, it can bring unexpected gifts. In my case, burnout led me to institute major changes in my working and home life, that has helped me immeasurably during my transition into motherhood.
If we listen to the ‘voice of burnout’, it’s very likely we’ll learn what it is we need to let go of, in order to live healthier, more balanced, and more vital lives. This is of course, where the tools of yoga can help so much in healing and rejuvenating us, and in bringing us back from the brink of burnout.
In our society of 24-7 communication via technology, demands and pressures, everyone seems to always be run-down or overwhelmed. But feelings that go even beyond that, making it hard to do even the simplest of tasks, may be a sign of burnout. In my line of work as a wellness practitioner, ‘IT MEANS WE’RE OVER-ALLOCATED’, which is how I define burnout.
“In your mind, and perception is reality, it feels like you can’t drop any balls,” and may I add that you can visualize burnout when you think of your life as a pie chart with everything from work to kids and family taking up all the slivers of the pie.
“It’s an epidemic happening especially to millennials because the world is getting faster and faster”
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BURNOUT IN WOMEN
The kind of burnout I’m seeing is a fixation on little things making high-achieving, high-performing women with passion projects and side hustles feel overwhelmed. We as women feel ashamed that we can’t keep up. To say that’s what embarrasses us, it puts us in a dark corner.
Other signs of burnout can include insomnia, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, apathy, irritability, anxiety and getting sick more often.
While burnout is not a medical diagnosis, it can have physical consequences that include everything from respiratory problems to gastrointestinal issues, according to Dr.Farzaneh Ghaffari from Melb Acupuncture Wellness Centre.
Are you suffering from burnout?
There are four questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are suffering from burnout.
Rate yourself on each question using a number one through four, with one being never, two sometimes, three often and four always. Then total your points from all four questions.
1. How often are you tired and lacking energy to go to work in the morning?
2. How often do you feel physically drained, like your batteries are dead?
3. How often is your thinking process sluggish or your concentration impaired?
4. How often do you feel emotionally detached from co-workers (or customers) and unable to be sensitive to their needs?
If you scored less than nine, you are not suffering from burnout.
If you scored between a 10 and 12, you are on the verge of burnout.
If you scored between a 13 and a 16, you are suffering full-on burnout.
How to help burnout.
It is up to you to make changes in your life in order to prioritize yourself, experts say.
“Be intentional and force yourself to stop if you’re living on one of these never-ending rides. “It’s not going to stop for a while or just fix itself, so you have to do it.”
I recommend starting by removing the urgency from things in your life that are truly not urgent.
Start practising meditation for at least 20 mins per day. Even if it is 10 mins in the morning and 10 mins in the evening.
Incorporate exercise and yoga in your weekly routine.
Eating a healthy diet, getting proper rest and setting boundaries on your apps and phone.
Draw boundaries between your life and your work that allow you to succeed in both.
I recommends being intentional about the type of self-care you give yourself.
“I don’t mean get a mani[cure] and facial,” “It’s about putting yourself first once in a while. Turn off your phone. Leave work at a reasonable hour. Draw boundaries between your life and your work that allow you to succeed in both.”
Accepting that your life can be big and messy is also good way to move forward. “You have to embrace the mess.” “Don’t get caught up in the idea that things have to be perfect or there has to be a balance. A big, ambitious hungry life is a messy life.”
I also stresses the importance of saying no.
“If its not a heck yes, its a heck no,” . “If you’re not totally jazzed about doing something, just say no.”
Heart love, how to live a more joyful & connected life.
Bleeding Heart, Georgia O’Keeffe
Close your eyes and tune in to your heart.
Take a deep breath… and get a sense. What do you feel there?
Does your heart feel light, clear and joyful? Do you sense the powerful, connected energy that radiates from this center of your being?
Perhaps this isn’t how your heart feels… maybe not today, or maybe not ever. But the great news is, it can. In fact, this kind of joy and connectivity is your natural state of being!
Your natural state is harmonious, a feeling in which your body, heart-mind and spirit are united in a sense of wholeness. In this state, which the HeartMath Institute calls “coherence, you feel connected not only to your deepest self, but to others and to the Earth.
Imagine what the world could be like if everyone was flowing through life in this state of joyful coherence. We would likely see far less conflict around us if we were all making choices from a place of love for ourselves, our communities and the planet, rather than insecurity or fear… in every moment.
So how do we bring ourselves back into this state of coherence?
First let’s take a moment to understand the significance of this miraculous organ we call the heart.
Contemporary research is finally catching up to what some ancient cultures have known for millennia: that your heart is a powerful energetic center in addition to being a miraculous organ that supports circulation. In fact, it has now been demonstrated that the heart is an endocrine gland, producing neurotransmitters in response to emotional stimuli. The heart also produces adrenaline and dopamine as well as oxytocin, the “love hormone. Perhaps this is why Tibetans do not differentiate between the heart and the mind, having only one word to describe what we perceive as two concepts!
In the Vedic scriptures this energetic center is the fourth chakra, known in Sanskrit as Anahata, which means “unstruck” or “unhurt.” The name implies that beneath the pain of past experiences lies a pure and divine place where no hurt exists. It is the source of deep and profound truths that cannot be expressed in words, and is the bridge between the lower and upper chakras, integrating our being from the physical to the spiritual.
When your heart chakra is open, you feel as if you are flowing with love and compassion, you are quick to forgive, and you accept others and yourself. There is a deep sense of connection with the world and cosmos around you. On the contrary, a closed or misaligned heart chakra can give way to grief, anger, jealousy, fear, worthiness issues and co-dependence, as well as poor circulation, high or low blood pressure, and other heart and lung conditions.
Indeed, the heart-mind connection is undeniable. This is demonstrated clearly by the countless stories of heart transplant recipients who have soon-after developed a taste for the same things their heart donor had loved. As another example, according to ancient Ayurvedic texts, the highly prevalent disease known as metabolic syndrome is a manifestation of severe kapha imbalance. The symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which nearly 35% of all Australian adults suffer from, include abdominal obesity, elevated serum cholesterol and triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance. One of its main causes, both according to contemporary studies and to Ayurveda, is negative emotion. This may take the form of excessive worry, fear, stress or hostility. I recently ready an article on physiological risk factors. The fascinating part was that it was highlighting “Hostility is a better predictor of coronary hearty disease (CHD) in the aging man than suffering physiological risk factors that included smoking, drinking, high fat diets or high levels of LDL cholesterol”.
With this new understanding of the dynamic nature of the heart, it is important that we protect and nourish this precious organ within us, not only on a physical level, but on an emotional and spiritual level as well. Below are a few simple and unique tips for caring for your heart. Many of these practices impact the heart on each of these three levels. Implement them in your own life, and as you do, believe that compassion, joy and love will unfold around you… you may be surprised at the results!
Tips For Ensuring Your Heart Is Healthy, Thriving & Connected
Sip cinnamon-ginger-cardamom tea in the morning
Sip cinnamon-ginger-cardamom tea in the morning to burn toxins (ama) and increase the digestive fire (agni). The Ayurvedic spice cinnamon has been shown to strengthen the heart, enhance the activity of insulin, improve blood lipids, and provide valuable anti-oxidants to help prevent metabolic syndrome. Ginger is used to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, to increase circulation, and to improve overall heart health (note that fresh ginger is best for vata and pitta and dry ginger for kapha type constitutions). Cardamom stimulates the heart-mind and gives clarity and joy.
Incorporate heart healthy essential oils into your routine
Rose is one of the best herbs to soothe negative emotion and to open the heart to love and compassion. Sandalwood is also helpful in the presence of strong pitta emotion such as anger, anxiety, frustration, greed or jealousy. Orange bergamot helps reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Try either diffusing these oils into the air or adding them to a roller applicator with a carrier oil and applying the blend to your pulse points throughout the day.
Enjoy flax and olive oils in your diet
Flax oil contains essential fatty acids, lignans, and omega-3 oils, which are each vital to heart health. Olive oil is thought to reduce inflammation, prevent blood clotting and lower blood pressure. Flax oil and olive oil also have the unique ability to dissolve and displace bad fats in the arteries, making them pliable and smooth so they maintain their youthfulness. Try incorporating flax and olive oil into your diet via this dreamy tahini miso recipe!
Craving the sweet taste? Reach for raisins
It is said in Ayurveda that the sweet taste is associated with feelings of love and fulfillment. This is probably why we tend to reach for sweets when the heart feels heavy with sadness or anger. It’s okay to sometimes soothe your pitta type emotions with the sweet taste, but do it in a heart-healthy way! Rather than diving into a bag of candy, reach for a handful of raisins. Raisins contain iron and polyphenols (reservatol), which are great for the heart.
Recite affirmations daily
Health originates in heart consciousness and finds expression in your body and mind as well as your relationships and community. This means that our mental state and the things we tell ourselves on a daily basis are profoundly impactful on our wellbeing. Affirmations are a simple but effective tool for altering the subtle mind, shifting the heart consciousness toward supporting your deep health. Start with reciting the following affirmations to yourself daily. To keep this exercise present, try handwriting these out and pasting them on your refrigerator or mirror.
- I have true peace in my heart.
- I am deeply loved, appreciated and supported by those around me.
- I hold within my heart all beings with love and compassion.
Use the grief-spot meditation
Many of us are carrying in our hearts deep-seated grief from experiences we’ve had in this lifetime or previous ones. To soothe grief, try this grief-spot meditation. Gently rest your middle finger on your sternum. Feel around until you find the spot on the sternum where it feels tender and soft. This is the marma point where grief is held. Slowly increase pressure on this point while breathing into the sensation that arises. Continue to breathe deeply into the sensation as the tenderness relaxes and dissipates. Take five deep breaths here.
Reduce stress in your life
Stress and anxiety are among the leading causes of heart disease according to the World Heart Federation. This is because acute stress triggers reduced blood flow to the heart, causes irregular heartbeat and increases the likelihood of your blood clotting. So find creative ways to reduce stress in your life, like taking 10 minutes to candle gaze, taking a walk outside, or spending some time tending to plants.
Let go of hurt
Many of us are attached to feelings of pain, anger or fear that we took on from a past experience, believing that holding on to these emotions serves us in some way. However, holding onto hurt harbors negative feelings and cuts us off from opportunities to connect, love and serve. So, when you encounter hurt feelings from your past or present, choose to first feel them fully and then let them go. By letting them go, you’re able to open your heart to new people and new experiences with compassion, love, and understanding. To do so, simply make the choice to let go. It really is that simple.
The practice of lovingkindness is revolutionary because, using the power of the heart, it has the potential to radically change our lives, helping us cultivate true happiness in ourselves, and thus genuine compassion for others and care for the planet. The book Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg shows how the Buddhist path of lovingkindness can help us discover the radiant, joyful heart within each of us.
Practice heart-opening yoga asana
Easing in to yoga poses that open the area of the chest will help to balance the heart chakra, release grief from the heart and strengthen the heart-mind. Some poses include camel, standing bow pose, and cow face pose. Come along to ommiyoga, yoga for the womanly journey for an open heart practice.
Get plenty of exercise!
Of course we all know this, but just a reminder: it is critical for our vibrant our physical, emotional and spiritual heart health that we get our blood pumping regularly. According to Ayurvedic theory, though, we should only exercise to half of our capacity… in other words, quality exercise doesn’t mean torturing yourself. In addition, your level of exercise depends on your Ayurvedic constitution: vata needs the lowest impact exercise (yoga or tai chi), pitta needs slightly more intensive (swimming and brisk walking) and kapha needs the highest intensity (trail running or bike riding). Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to keep your heart thriving!
With heart disease continuing to top the charts as the leading cause of death around the world, it is critical that we take the time to truly nourish this essential center of our wellness. When we wake up each morning feeling light, clear and joyful is when we can truly thrive. And when we’re thriving, we attract true love… we fulfill our life’s purpose… and we can take the best care of our selves, our families, each other and the planet.
Do you joints hurt? Are they inflamed? Or stiff?
Ommi yoga sessions are not only about spiritual strength but most importantly also about muscular skeletal strength, postures to protect both your muscles and your joints.
Yoga & movement is essential for strong muscles, bones and joints. Many age-related joint issues and associated stiffness is simply the result of being inactive. Joints are complex structures – they are designed to bear weight and move the body.
When we are inactive for long periods, our muscles tighten, our joints become brittle, cartliage starts to wear thin and chronic pain sets in. This is why it’s so important to keep moving.
t where you are moving from one posture to the next in a sequence, it is very beneficial for both joint and muscle health.
Research shows that stabilizing postures creates denser bones and builds stronger muscles that help strengthen and protect joints. Focusing on postures that use multiple joints will offer the most benefit.
If you are new to Yoga, it’s important to ease into it. Start with using props like blocks or straps and then move into using your own body weight as you get stronger.
An open warm-up to your practice will then help you focus on improving range of motion in the joints that will help to reduce your risk of injury as well as improve performance, and recoverty after the yoga session. This sequence will assist in increasing flexibility. It’s always best to consult your practitioner if you have any injuries or new to yoga.
A physical therapist and/or certified yoga teacher can show you the correct way to form the postures to help you get the most benefit and prevent injury.
TIPS FOR HEALTHY JOINTS
Whether you are reading or working or watching tv, take regular breaks to move. (change your watching t.v position to seated cross legged position, lying prone in cobra & on your back do some pelvic floor exercises)
WEIGH IT UP
Each kilogram you lose takes pressure off your joints. (time to incorporate more leafy greens into your smoothie)
Take time to recover and don’t push yourself too hard. (take a walk into nature barefoot or have a bath)
Try this yoga practice at home to help strengthen your joints
Practice slowly, repeating each movement eight times, and take slow, deep breaths as you go.
Full-body routine 2-3 times per week
Chair pose (Utkatasana)
3 sets (5-8- breaths)
High leg lunge (utthita ashwa sanchalanasana)
3 sets (5-8 breaths)
Push ups (Chaturanga Dandasana)
3 sets (5-8 repetitions)
Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
X3 (5-8 breaths)
Bridge pose (setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
X3 (5-8 breaths)
Corpse pose (Savasana)
Keep in mind…savasana might look like a nap, but it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet…It’s normal for the mind to try to resist this deep relaxation.
Release the Fear of Judgement
One of my favourite books that I read a few years ago was a book called “Feel the Fear and do It anyway” (by Susan Jeffers)
What I learnt was that fear is one of the most crippling hurdles many women face in their personal and career lives. It is when they are passionate and most vulnerable to growing and expanding their reach. Fear of judgement from other people often outweighs many other concerns, especially when greater levels of visibility are required on social media. These days profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are just a few of the superficially demanding sites of standing out online. Being faced with this exposure and speaking with other women, there is sometimes a sense of darkness that is not spoken about. Behind these scenes, there is experiences of unhappiness, depression, anxiety and low self esteem that come from being exposed online. It can be so detrimental to your own self worth in feeling the constant battle of being perfect or constantly feeling not good enough. Working with women for most of my life, I often hear these regular complaints.
My strong beliefs in women’s empowerment, positive body activation and speaking your truth, is made up of three values; a simple mind-set, a sincere heart-shift and releasing the fear of judgement so that you as a woman can thrive unapologetically.
The Three Values are:
1. A regular daily meditation practice
Whether you choose to sit upright in a lotus position or be on your back to take time out in your day to practice mindfulness, it is your re-set and pause button. This is you’re the precious time that you have to help you move us of judgement and into awareness. When you are fully present with your breath and out of your head, you no longer the judge, you are now witnessing the judge in your mind. By witnessing awareness and being fully present you are released from judgement, you are free to live and be. You will find yourself no longer judging others in unkind ways and most importantly, you stop judging yourself and being so obsessed with the rational mind. Your heart comes into play as the Queen here and the mind steps down to the role of servant. This place of sovereignty is uncommon and a precious state of being for a woman. It is where you allow yourself to reach a state of gracefulness and unlimited ease and abundance. It is magnetic and regal. It is vital to practice.
2. Mind your own business
Have you ever noticed that during times of busy-ness and focus, you simply do not have the time or space to be concerned with anyone else’s business? Gossip and judgement are often by-products of boredom and lack of direction. When you’re focussing on your own soul-realisation by serving the needs and desires of others, and staying true to the intentions and values of your own goals, you simply don’t have the bandwidth to be overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Practice being accountable to yourself and setting your own personal goals independently of external advice. A good coach or mentor will support you to be independent in your decision-making and trusting your inner guidance system so that you can flourish once the coaching program is complete. Mind your own business and you’ll find that it will appreciate.
3. Stop being a consumer/critic and become creative/ and contribute
I am often faced with two distinct states of being. How often I’m in the reacting space, critical and assessing, responding as a consumer or critic. And how often I give myself time to be in a creative and flow state of mind. How often I am being a creator who is energised, nourished and revitalised by the messy but good feel creative process? Or am I contributing to the world by choice or am I holding back by playing the critic instead? When I am in the creative mindset I lose self-consciousness and judgement. It is very important in the line of work that I do, to make the time to be creative and contribute instead of slipping into the default mode of consumerism. This is a practice that requires a commitment of being self-aware, being sublet and not being brain washed by our toxic media. For me yoga for everyBODY was created out of sincere passion for wanting to assist women of all ages and all stages of their life including my own. There is so much consuming images, mindless content and material goods that we are constantly being bombarded with. An antidote to consumerism is to gently create something that makes it worthwhile to contribute and it tells a story without judgement or pain.
So often in my classes I here women saying that they have started to feel moody, they feel a decrease in their libido, not connected, burnt out, stressed out, and sleep deprived and this is normal for them because they are told its normal it’s being a female. On the flip side, they are also encouraged to take pills to help them find the answer. As an exercise therapist who has worked with over 10,000 women, I refuse to accept that being a woman means feeling overwhelmed or that taking pills is just part of life. The classes I teach are carefully tailored and very unique. The women’s yoga class is a practice where I share the unique hormone-balancing postures that I have used for myself and thousands of other women to help them achieve optimal health.
I’m not saying that yoga is the only go to cure. What I am saying is…with a balanced diet, some herbal therapies, quality sleep, restorative yoga the balance you need as a woman is right there at your door step. These are techniques that will help optimize your body’s natural function.
Yoga the hormone cure, has become a vast interest of mine since I reached my 40s. It is exciting to be able to share that balancing your hormones can cure underlying health issues and provide you with quality sleep, greater energy, improved mood, a decrease in fat, increased energy, and many more benefits. Do you want better sleep? Attending any of our yoga classes at Ommi Yoga will help transform your life. Some feedback from my students is that after practicing yoga regularly for just eight weeks, they began to feel quality sleep that lasted longer than women who didn’t attend any yoga.
You may face a busy schedule and cannot fit a yoga class in that day, the great news is that you can improve your sleep with my favourite pose: LEGS-UP-THE WALL (Viparita Karani). This is a restorative, posture and a gentle inversion. It is known for its benefits of assisting your body to relax before you go to bed.
It is when you are in the relaxed state, that it becomes easier to re-set your mind to relax and be calm, creating space for a restful sleep. Set yourself some time 5-10mins (even longer if you can) to practice Leg-up-the wall at night before getting into bed, or if you are having a restless sleep then get into this pose to help re-set. Invite pranayama breathing techniques, where you are inhaling & exhaling gently and feel the effects take you on a journey of restoration. This asana is for everyone, everybody. You can do this with your kids or your partner.
Performing quiet, restorative poses can help calm your body and mind decreasing stress and anxiety. When the legs are stretched up the wall and are higher than the heart, gravity can help the circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid.
Although Legs-Up-The-Wall is safe for most individuals, those who are pregnant or that have been diagnosed with glaucoma, high blood pressure, or any serious problems with the neck or spine, should consult their doctor first.
A Few Easy Steps to Get into Viparita Karani
- Sit sideways with your right hip against the wall (knees bent)
- On exhalation gently come onto your back, shoulders broad, head lightly flat onto the floor & swing extended legs onto the wall
- Your sitting bones don’t need to be glued to the wall, you can be a few centimetres away from the wall (depends on your hamstrings, how tight they may be)
- Try a few times until you find the right placement suitable to you
- If you are feeling tired or tight in the hamstrings, then move away from the wall allowing more room for you to relax, keeping your lower back grounded at all times (you can put a bolster or rolled up towel underneath your lower back to give you extra support)
- Broaden your shoulder blades away from your spine and release your hands and arms out to your sided, palms facing the sky
- It is important to keep your legs active, enough to hold them in this posture. You may want to use a strap to support your legs by placing it around the legs, under the knees, tighten it enough to keep the legs upright. This will help you focus on relaxing rather than trying to keep the legs up.
- Gently close the eyes, you may want to use an eye pillow. Now, lets get out of the mind and into the breath. Breath into all parts of your body and soften your breath in any tight areas find in your body.
- You may even add some connection through touch by placing one hand on your lower belly and one hand over the heart, become aware of your touch and go along with your natural calm breath.
Yoga for any age and any stage in your life!
Yoga has been part of my life since the tender age of 16. I loved movement as a child, I used to attend dancing lessons as a little girl. Movement and physical activity were my favourite subjects studied at school and after learning the spiritual aspects of yoga in my early twenties, I committed myself to regular practice. I went through a very rough marriage breakdown in my twenties and at the time I had no idea that yoga would help me with my physical and emotional challenges that I was facing. At the time I worked as a nutritionist and exercise coach with very long hours and had a daily yoga practice in the privacy of my own home. Everytime I would practice movement and flow, I would feel calm as if I could take on anything.
It was in my thirties, when life became a lot busier in work and life balance that yoga assisted me in my inner self, my inner beauty and confidence. I started to feel connected to my true self. When I reached my forties, I experienced my childbearing years , I faced hormonal imbalances, recovery from any intense situation took longer, I needed to rest more and yoga practice has helped me to manage all those situations. Yoga has helped me get through childbirth after 40, postrecovery from a C-section, breastfeeding both my children, and the emotional upheaval that came when I lost my second baby at 17 weeks of the pregnancy.
My philosophy on all of this is the art of yoga and its presence in my life. It is that simple, I never stopped practicing yoga, even though at times it was on and off. I work with women of all ages and stages of their life. My advice to them is get onto the YOGA BUS and don’t get off. Be open to the asana practice and allow it to work around you and your life. I offer women a practice that keeps them safe and secure within their own skin. There is no ego about the practice I offer, it supports all my students, helping them to weave each and every pose around their life.
As you read further in this blog, you will learn a little about yoga for an adolescent, practicing yoga as a mother,practicing yoga as a woman facing pre-menopause. You will also read about one of my students who is facing menopause and her experience with yoga.
Yoga offers so many benefits in all phases of a woman’s life. When a woman is going through intense hormonal changes, this is where she can feel deflated and not wanting to practice yoga. This is the most powerful time in her life and she needs yoga the most, at this present time. Those changes in the body chemistry can wreak havoc on your mood. Recently I read an article from ‘The Female Brain’, and there is supported evidence that during a practice like yoga, your body releases chemicals into the bloodstream and brings you a sense of well-being and contentment.
Regular yoga practice supports women physically, emotionally, and spiritually-keeping in mind that your practice is meeting your needs at each juncture is so important. While a challenging yoga practice can suit any age, you get the most out of your practice when it is tailored to the present-what I am saying here is a practice to suit your needs at this stage of your life and how you are feeling on any given day. I encourage my students to become present with their life actions, be in their body and connect to their emotions. This is the key to getting the most from my womens yoga practice and what it can offer you, all through your life.
The benefits of Yoga in Adolescent Years
The massive hormonal changes takes place during the turbulent years of adolescence, when the brain is producing neurochemicals and connects both brain and body and hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone that are produced to create the fertile life for a young girl. These imbalances of hormones of puberty can result in impulsive behaviour, can bring on buzzing energy, mood swings, and troubled skin as well as a new focus on social connections, relationships and sexuality. Girls are very sensitive during this time and often unsure of how to deal with sexual attention from others. Yoga is an ancient practice that can assist a teenage girl, help her find peace within herself, find balance that allows her to hear the messages from her heart and make choices that resonate with her personal morals and values. A practice of movement and flow is beneficial for the teenage girl. I strongly believe that womens yoga, which caters for women of all ages and stages is vital for any teenager wanting to have calm and balance in her life.
The Benefits of Yoga for Young Adults
As a woman approaches her twenties and thirties and has not had children, she faces (PMS) pre-menstrual syndrome and the life issues of career, finding a life partner and creating a home. She may feel like her emotional wellbeing takes a few twists and turns. Her hormones come in to play a role with the balance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Life for a women on this path has its ups and downs. The ups are that she may be more accommodating and the downs are the increased emotional sensitivity, more stress and mood changes. This is where the stress hormone cortisol can peak with demands in her life. An increased level of testosterone can make you feel aggressive and upset and can lead to depression. A restorative practice that offers forward bending, heart openers , back extensions and a supported inversion during savasana (relaxation) does wonders for the mood swings and (PMS). Life is busy, we are time poor and women who are in the midst of their study / career points in this phase of their life need yoga to help them manage their stress. It is a great time in their life to learn meditation, to help improve their sleep and memory. A much needed balance in their mind to cope with the drive of developing in their career, purchasing a home or even taking care of others.
The Benefits of Yoga for the Childbearing Years
Yoga provides a slew of mind and body benefits for mothers-to-be and new mothers easing back into a workout regime. In fact, as a mother of two young children yoga taught me to condition my body to slow down and make a mind/body connection. I learnt that this was a vital part of my recovery from birthing children. The benefits of yoga in preparation for physical transition is unparalleled. Yoga helped me prepare my mind and body for the athletic event that is birth. Pre-natal yoga is amazing for strengthening the middle & lower back and abdominals. Yoga comes into play during labour when using your hands and your knees which then relieve stress from the lower back. Pelvic rock movements are great for manipulating the pelvic outlet and helps the baby move into a position for birth. I found during my postnatal phase that yoga was my go to exercise when my baby was asleep. It was quiet time for me and all I needed was a mat. During my postnatal phase, yoga was so beneficial for the strengthening of my abdominal region and also working on my kegel exercises which helped to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. And sometimes when my baby was awake they would join in my practice by me holding them and lying then down on the mat while I stretch. These moments I treasured in my childbearing years.
The Benefits of Yoga for Menopausal Women
My mother, has taught me the values of embracing the changes in my body. I clearly remember when menopause came into her life , where it took a whole 24 hours – it was a journey of 12 months after her final period (bleeding). But this phase of her life lasted for years. The perimenopause passage can take place between the ages of 42-55, when a woman can go from normal menses to none at all. Some of my closest friends in my life are facing erratic cycling of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that has lead to insomnia, hot flashes, fatigue, PMS, depression, irritability, anxiety, and low libido. As a woman you can get attached to your menstrual cycle and not want to face menopause or you can choose to be ready for some new hormonal changes that will be intense but get through it by restoring and unwinding the body. My advice to my closest friends has been this “it is vital to practice some(pranayama) breathing techniques , yoga or meditation” . I offer women in my life on a personal and professional basis a restorative practice that unwinds with yoga nidra (yogic sleep). The intention of this wonderful practice is to be present with with their body and practice with where it is at not where it should be. This practice offers some twists for release of fatigue and depression; forward bends for destressing and cooling their energy. This wonderful practice is mellow and offers restorative poses that are longer-held. The perimenopause phase can take a women into physical and emotional upheaval. For me this phase has commenced in my life after having my second child. I can sometimes have mood swings and night sweats. So my personal practice has become very feminine and restorative. It helps me balance my hormones and my emotional wellbeing. I take time to practice meditation daily so that I am being a blissful mother and not living in rage. I love to practice forward bends and inversions for calmness in my soul and the wonders of backbends and pranayama are my feel good, confident boosters. “now you can see why I am in LOVE with yoga”
The Benefits of Yoga Post-Menopause
Becoming a practitioner of womens yoga is a blessing in my life. It is my bliss! It is with gratitude that I have been able to witness the challenges & experiences of special women in my life who have gone through all these phases. My mother , my grandmother and aunts. I watched my mother experience a drop in her levels of estrogen and oxytocin (her love hormone). She started to feel aches and pains in her joints and was experiencing postmenopausal weakness of her bones . She once said to me “I have done the hard yards of working and raising my children”. She was now free of monthly changes, and can start to feel a renewed zest for life. She inspired me to want to understand women on a hormonal basis. Through my teachings of yoga for the womanly journey, I often talk about the poses and benefits to their bones and their joints. I bring anatomy into my classes and I offer plenty of weight-bearing poses to help my post-menopause women restore and rejuvenate. We focus on range of motion and flexibility, adding props when ever it is needed. Ommi Yoga offers a private, sacred space that givens women a taste of quietness, meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques). “we as women have given our lives to so many others for so long that now it is just about coming home to your soul”. Yoga for the womanly journey is about ageing gracefully not about deterioration. This is Ommi Yoga!
A message to my Yoginis. Even though some of you are able to maintain a strong practice and may be approaching your fifties or sixties, the pose that is practiced on the mat or against a wall or using a chair is really what matters. It is not about how advanced the pose is. I know from my experience that at any age or shape you can transform mind, body, and heart. At Ommi Yoga I love to teach my favourite calming poses like seated forward bend but I also encourage rest in between poses, so you are all being aware and appreciative. Yoga for me is bliss and happiness every day of my life.
Much love, nora
Yoga Nidra based solutions to tackling anxiety
Can I ask you, do you ever get anxiety?
I used to before I started meditating.
It might sound weird that I’m saying this, but my journey of anxiety turned out to be one of my blessings in my life. I had to go through it to be where I am now, talking to you about health & yoga nidra.
I have a very sensitive nervous system where it attacks my digestive system in so many ways when in action, either high or low depending on the day. It kind of runs in my family. I thought I was going to be stuck with this forever.
And then by spontaneous choice over ten years ago , I randomly booked a silent retreat at the Dhamma Aloka Vipassana Meditation Centre. “ http://www.aloka.dhamma.org/”
This experience changed the course of the rest of my life.
I had no idea that based upon how I chose to nourish my mind and body by filling in nutrition & mental deficiencies that I could mitigate my anxiety 10-fold so that it was relatively non-existent. Amazing.
It was so amazing that I continued my education and practice in the realm of yoga, meditation, nutrition, exercise ,hypnotherapy and instead of choosing to escape to Byron Bay (like some do) and work in hospitality. This was my bliss and my personal path, and a wonderful way to contribute to the community by helping others find calm and peace within themselves first. The feeling of calm and peace, creates a beautiful ripple effect that impacts others around you in a positive way. That was in 2006, and I have never looked back.
If you have struggled with anxiety, then my yoga nidra practice is for you. I could not be happier to share with you this wonderful ancient practice. A solution to anxiety naturally. In my private sessions I go into diet & lifestyle and I talk about the role of sugar and caffeine in anxiety.
Emotional barriers like fears, phobia and depression can lead to binge eating (stress). By practicing yoga nidra (meditation) you are feeding your brain with stilling the waves of the mind through conscious entry into the sleep state. You want to feel 100% all the time right? It is more than willpower!
How are Yoga Nidra (meditation) and your brain waves connected?
You start with sensing the body and breathing in specific ways in order to trigger the relaxation response. The relaxation response balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and balances the left and right brain.In this process your brain shifts from beta, an awakened state with lots of brain activity, to alpha, a more relaxed state. In alpha, the mood trigger hormone serotonin gets released, and this calms you down. People who spend little time in an alpha brain-wave state have more anxiety than those who spend more time in alpha.
Think of a car: if you want to stop and turn off the engine, you first need to downshift. Shifting your brain into an alpha state starts its process of “powering down,” or coming into a rest state with slower, restorative brain-wave activity.
When you are in alpha state, you then you go into a deep alpha and high theta brain-wave state, the dream state, REM sleep. In theta, your thoughts slow down to 4 to 8 thoughts per second. This is where super learning happens. Kids and artists experience a lot more theta activity in their brains. Emotional integration and release also happen here, and structures in the brain change. It’s here that some people sometimes have random thoughts or see images. A person in theta may see colors or visions or hear the voice of a person talking yet at the same time not hear this voice. It’s where you enter the gap of nothingness.
After theta, you are guided to delta, where your thoughts are only 1 to 3.9 thoughts per second. This is the where you experience the most restoration, in which your organs regenerate and the stress hormone cortisol is removed from your system.
The Power of reducing stress-The Fourth State of Consciousness
From delta, the guided yoga nidra experience takes you down into an even deeper brain-wave state—one that can’t be reached through conventional sleep. In this fourth state of consciousness, below delta, your brain is thoughtless. This state is sort of like a complete loss of consciousness, but you are awake. This state is one of such a deep surrender, where your consciousness is so far away from the physical body, that living here every day would be difficult. Not everyone who practices yoga nidra touches this state, but the more you practice, the more you’ll receive glimpses of it.
Once you have experienced the fourth state of consciousness, you are guided back to a waking state. Again, you couldn’t live in this fourth state, but as a result of touching into it, you bring a little of its peace back with you to your waking, everyday brain state. You also are able to rewire your thoughts and emotions because your subconscious mind in this fourth state is fertile, more open to intentions and affirmations, than it is when you are in your waking state. As a consequence, in your everyday life, you begin to rest more and more in the space between emotions and thoughts, and this resting in this space gives rise to a sense of freedom, where you are not triggered so much by the stuff in your life.
Plus, in yoga nidra meditation, you are often asked to bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows—a spot known as the third eye. Behind this spot lies the pineal gland, and this gland is stimulated when you bring your attention there. Studies confirm that the pineal-gland hormone, melatonin, is a powerful agent for reducing stress inducing more restful sleep, and boosting the immune system, which helps prevent illness, promote healing, and slow premature ageing.
The Benefits of Yoga Nidra & anxiety
- 45 mins of yoga nidra that is widely touted to 45 minutes of yogic sleep feels like 3 hours of regular sleep.
- Yoga nidra improves overall health, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being for women experiencing menstrual imbalances and emotional problems.
- it is also known to improve low blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose fluctuations and symptoms connected with diabetes.
- Yoga Nidra is a sleep based meditation practice that helps activate the relaxation system, which managers your hormones. In sync with eachother yoga nidra and meditation help cells restore and repair, and together help decrease anxiety and improve your mood.
- Women have given me feedback after sessions advising how relaxed they feel and how positive they are in life and with their families.
How do inflammatory foods affect anxiety?
Inflammatory foods in our diet activate anxiety by causing brain inflammation. When we are eating these foods like (processed sugar), it raises glutamate (a neurotransmitter in our brain), which can cause swelling in the brain, resulting in hyperactivity, ADHD, and anxiety. L-thenannine is a wonderful and safe amino acid to help with reducing swelling of the brain. See your healthcare practitioner.
How can caffeine affect your anxiety?
You can eat foods that heal or food that can be a slow form of poison. The same foods play a role in affecting our mental health. Have you thought about your daily coffee and how it may affect your anxiety? Or you may think that you are self-medicating with it! I know I was one of these people until I went onto organic coffee, where I drink it in my own cup (not plastic). What I learnt is that processed coffee like instant (moccona) is rubbish. I recommend never having coffee alone! Always have your coffee with protein and fat. For example eggs with spinach cooked in ghee or grass fed butter. I opt for a bullet proof coffee with grass fed butter or organic full fat cream. https://www.bulletproof.com/
Hope this helps you incorporate yoga nidra and food as medicine into your life for a more peaceful life.