Category: Stress

Using Yoga and Technology to Improve Your Body and Mind

BY: Sheila Johnson

The world today can seem hectic and overwhelming, so it is important to find ways to calm your mind. Many people find that yoga is a great way to focus on mindfulness while also getting exercise. Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogi, there are always new tools and technology that can help improve your yoga sessions.

Read on for some tips on taking your yoga practice to new heights.

Set a goal

As HeyMama points out, one of the best ways to ensure you make progress in anything is to choose and stick to a goal – and your yoga practice is no exception. This could be a daily, monthly, or weekly goal. You could set a goal for the number of minutes a day or days a week you want to commit to practicing yoga. Perhaps you want to make progress on a particular pose.

No matter what goal you choose, make sure you meet it by using an app like Track Yoga to monitor your progress. It tailors to your specifics and provides easy to follow illustrations to help you toward success.

Focus on yourself

If you practice yoga in a classroom setting, don’t let get distracted by other class members. Yoga is a very personal pursuit, and comparing yourself  tends to steal the joy and peace that are part of your purpose.

The beauty of yoga is that the poses and their variations allow an individual to choose the level of difficulty that is right for them. As you become more advanced, you will be able to push yourself harder and try new poses. Attempting new poses before you are ready only exposes you to injury, which will certainly hinder your progress.

To keep focused even when you are out of class, consider downloading an app like Daily Yoga. MacSources points out this app is an easy-to-use, course-driven option that will help keep you motivated and relaxed.

Fit it in your day

Fitting regular exercise into a busy schedule can seem daunting. But you can give yourself permission to practice for even a few minutes while still calling it a success. Practicing yoga for as little as seven minutes a day minutes a day is proven to have significant benefits.

A seven-minute daily yoga practice can bring a number of benefits, including increased muscle strength, improved posture, decreased cortisol, better sleep, and stabilized emotions. An app like 5 Minute Yoga will ensure that you always have a quick yoga workout available, and the brief sessions leave you a minute before and after to wind down at the beginning and get back into work mode at the end.

Master mindfulness

When you get a quiet moment in your practice, you may be tempted to zone out or let the worries of the day run through your mind. Instead, use these moments to practice mindfulness. Research indicates there are big benefits from mindfulness, and it takes constant focusing and refocusing. Incorporating mindfulness into your yoga practice even has the potential to improve issues such as insomnia and mood and anxiety disorders. There are many mindfulness apps, like Headspace, that provide you tools for incorporating mindfulness into your day.

If your yoga practice feels like it’s stalled, find ways to perk things up. Add some apps, focus on set goals, your own progress, and snag sessions here and there. Soon, you’ll be reaching new levels and feeling better than ever!

Why Meditate?

I’ve started meditating. Have you tried it? It is so hard. It is always something I’ve thought about, feeling it’s something I “should” do. But inevitably, I never seem to find the time to do it. Or I try, and 3 minutes later I hear a buzz on my phone and I’m back checking e-mail or getting distracted.

So really, what is the point of meditating anyway? Is it just something that people say to do?

I found this great image from the Art of Living

As you can see, there are A LOT of benefits. It pretty much affects every area of your life. As it shares in the article from Art of Living, Harvard medical studies have proven that long term mediation actually increases the amounts of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions of the brain as well as the auditory and sensory cortex. So what does this mean? It reduces stress, increases clear thinking, and creates space and openness to experience more compassion, love, empathy, and connection.

This sounds great, right? So why aren’t all of us doing this every day?

Well it is much easier said than done and really requires a dedication, commitment and intention.

Our culture and society as a whole does not promote stillness or slowing down. What is actually rewarded and praised is doing more, more, and more. There is an expectation to produce more work, always be available via e-mail, facebook, phone, texting etc., and overall maintain a sense of busyness. Next time you ask someone “what’s new?” or “how have things been?”- More than likely somewhere in their answer will be- “Things have been really busy” or “can’t believe how fast time goes”. We are over-stimulated. I recently heard that TV programs have now started to change scenes every 7-10 seconds, which trains our brains to get bored quickly- jumping from one thing to the next.

So if you find stillness difficult, you are not alone.

Again, I come back to- why meditate?

Meditation is such an important representation of our life- it is not about finding your purpose, it’s about living on purpose.

We can get so caught up in the motions of eating, working, and texting that we aren’t present in our lives- much less living them.

On your 80th birthday, what will you find important? What will you reflect upon as “almosts” or “should haves”? When we get too caught up in the ups and downs of life and the stress of busyness, we are a shadow of who we could be.

We feel drained and disconnected from ourselves, family, friends and moments.

We need to redefine success.

What happens in our lives shows us who we are. Don’t wait until your problems turn around. Put your whole self in first, and from your change of consciousness, your problems can diminish. Even if external circumstances stay the same, they will not be perceived and impact you the way they are now. This is the only way to be resilient and live fully.

“I don’t fix problems, I fix my thinking then the problems fix themselves”– Louis Hay

 

This is my why.

This is why I believe meditation is so important. And while I’m very far from mastering the art- I’m longing to be totally impassioned and energized, responsible and empowered for my own life.

How to live a more PASSIONATE life

Do you ever feel like life gets mundane and you are just going through the motions? You wake up each day, go through your same routine, checking things off a never ending to do list, go to bed and start it all over the next day?

 

I watched this amazing documentary last night called “Life” showing animals all over the world “overcoming challenges”. In the animal world this means being able to eat, reproduce and protect their young. I was absolutely amazed at how simple their life appeared to be, yet so fulfilling and adventurous, because animals live in the moment.

That’s all they can conceptualize- so whatever each moment brings, they are fully engaged. If danger presents, they go into survival mode, if they need to eat, they go into hunting mode, if they are relaxing- they are there fully.

If you have pets, you can understand this. Notice their reactions when it’s time to eat, go on a walk, cuddle, when you walk in the door and when you leave. Each day may be the same, but being so involved in each moment allows every experience to be new and rich. Have you ever walked outside for a brief moment and when you come back in, your dog reacts like you’ve been gone for days?

 

Why is it so hard for us to do this? What makes humans different? It’s because we spend countless hours, days, years… our life … thinking. As I went on a run this morning, I realized afterward that I hadn’t even looked at the scenery, I was so caught up in planning my day. Don’t you know the feeling when you are driving, but so caught up in thinking, you miss a turn or don’t even remember the journey when you arrive at your destination?

When we are so caught up in worrying about the past, thinking about the future, work, our family, friends, etc. (the list of things to worry about is never-ending) we have no time to enjoy what each moment brings. Therefore, all our moments run together. How can we feel truly connected with the people around us when our mind is ruling the conversation with thoughts, judgments, and worries?

“We can learn not to keep situations or events alive in our minds, but to return our attention continuously to the pristine, timeless, present moment, rather than our thoughts and emotions”- Eckhart Tolle

How to create more passion, fulfillment and GET OUT OF YOUR MIND:

  • NOTICE: Start to notice and recognize your “worry thoughts.” You can know they are worry thoughts if they are constant, consuming, start with “what if”, and you are not doing anything to solve the problem or move forward- but instead feeling more powerless and taking your energy from the now and focusing it on the problem.
  • BREATHE: When you feel disconnected from people or your current experience, stuck in worry thoughts, take a few deep breaths. It will help you connect to your body and in turn the present moment. Maybe even repeat the mantra “let it go” as you inhale and exhale.
  • BE MINDFUL: Practice mindfulness in each task you perform. This could be as simple as folding the laundry, doing the dishes, brushing your teeth- practice being fully engaged and focusing all of your attention on that task. This is not easy, but with practice, you can find enjoyment from these simple, mundane tasks and will re-connect to the beauty and richness each moment holds and in turn live a more vital and fulfilling life.

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85608594@N00/15027560813″>Symphony of Love We can’t change the past or control the future. What matters most is now</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

How to beat Procrastination in 2016

So it’s been a while since my last post.

And every week when I have “write a blog” on my to-do list, it somehow always seems to be pushed to the bottom and off to the next week.

So what’s been holding me back from writing?

I think I have felt a sense of guilt. I haven’t written in so long, what should my first post be? And should I just ignore the fact that I haven’t written a blog in months? There is a part of me that holds shame and judgement about the fact that I haven’t written a blog post in so long, and so it makes writing one seem that much harder.

Which is why I feel that this post is so important.

The Procrastination Trap

With hectic schedules and high demands, of course the to-do list can feel never ending.

And we know that only so much can be done in one day, one week, one month, one year.

Yet, the more we have to do that doesn’t get done, the worse we feel.

Which is a trap because the worse we feel about our productivity- our ability to get things done successfully– the less likely we are to manage our time efficiently and get things done.

Time management is very similar to other self disciplines. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, but the thought of getting a gym membership and going to the gym after work can feel daunting. And yet, you feel worse every day that you don’t do it. So instead, you find yourself in the fast food drive through after work, telling yourself that tomorrow is going to be better.

The more tasks or goals are put off, the more overwhelming and daunting they can become, which creates a vicious cycle where you can feel stuck, and alas, resort to whats comfortable- telling yourself that tomorrow or next week or next year will be different.

Why do we Procrastinate?

There are many reasons people put stuff off or procrastinate.

When the task seems vague or highly demanding of your skill, and you aren’t confident in your ability to get it done, it makes sense to keep putting it off.

Or if the task is not something you enjoy, like folding laundry, it makes sense to put other, more enjoyable, things first.

 

How to beat procrastination

  • Set your priorities: each week or each day make a list of the top things that need to be done. Now, reorganize that list based on priority. Number each item based on what is most important or timely to get done today down to what could wait for tomorrow or next week.
  • Set the time: Based on the list of things that need to be done, schedule your time accordingly. Whether its household chores, making phone calls, getting work done, setting a goal for your job, going to the gym- it will never get done if there is no time set aside for that task. Look ahead at your schedule for the week, and mark in time where these most important tasks can get done (and then do them during that time, limiting distractions!)
  • Be intentional: Especially as the new year kicks off, it can be easy to overwhelm yourself with a list of goals and resolutions. This can feel so overwhelming, no wonder resolutions hardly last. Focus more on the intention of why you want to do the goal you set. For example, my intention when writing blogs is to be more transparent and authentic as a therapist and reach more people. This is a helpful reminder for the days when the task itself seems daunting.
  • Be gentle: Have some compassion and understanding for yourself that we ALL have a tendency to procrastinate at times, no one is perfect!

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