When temperatures reach over 100 degrees, it's hard to stay cool! We keep the studio at a comfortable 74-75 degrees, but it feels hotter, even inside, on these hot August days. Though we are lucky animals in that we sweat, sometimes it just seems we can't cool down quick enough. Notice how most other mammals pant? Any breath exhaled through the mouth is a cooling breath.
A specific breath pattern to use to cool you down is sitali breath. To practice sitali breath, sit or stand in a comfortable position. You can close your eyes or keep your eyes soft. Curl your tongue lengthwise and, open your mouth and let your tongue extend between your lips. Inhale deeply across the tongue into the mouth, as if sipping through a straw. Withdraw the tongue, close the mouth and exhale completely through the nostrils. Practice this for several breaths, up to a few minutes. Focus on the cooling sensation of the inhale. If you can't curl your tongue (a genetically inherited trait), part your lips slightly and inhale across the top of the tongue.
The moisture cools us as we inhale, just as in the winter the moisture warms the breath.
Don't forget to stay hydrated and keep breathing!
Taking the time to focus on yourself — stuff that benefits your mind, body, and soul — is what self-care is all about. Although the health benefits of proper self-care are well-documented, many fail to prioritize a self-care regimen. Often, we find ourselves busy with work, family, and other priorities — so much so that we feel like taking the time to truly focus on our own care is a total waste. However, don’t think like this. Self-care protects you, your family, and your career. Here is how you’re likely failing and what you can do about it.
You’re Not Eating Right
Nutrition plays a huge role in your physical health, but it’s just as important for your brain. What you put into your body determines how you feel, and the wrong foods can make you feel worse. Fried and sugary foods increase the risk of depression, while caffeine can contribute to panic attacks associated with anxiety disorders. Skipping meals can cause fatigue and make you feel like you have “brain fog.”
Focus on foods that are good for your mind and body. Foods high in folate, such as leafy green vegetables and whole grains, can lower the risk of depression. Fatty fish contain high amounts of vitamin D, and omega-3s can be found in oily fish, both of which can also keep depression away. For a quick and easy option to help you get the right nutrients, buy an immersion blender to turn your fruits and vegetables into smoothies. This blender is also highly versatile, affordable, and stored easily.
You’re Surrounding Yourself with Clutter
Studies have shown time and time again that there is a strong link between clutter and stress. If you surround yourself with chaos — either at home or at the office — it’s going to negatively impact your mental health. One act of self-care to prioritize is taking time to organize and declutter your life. Start by optimizing your home to reduce stress. Take a day to downsize — donate and throw away items you simply don’t need. You can even hire professionals to come in and do a deep cleaning. In Morgan Hill, cleaning services will run you $110 - $237. Once your home is free of clutter, you might try introducing some nature (house plants) and stress-busting elements to the mix, such as aromatherapy, scented candles, oil diffusers (which can be purchased for less than $20).
You’re Not Actively Relaxing
True relaxation doesn’t come from the simple absence of activity. You can stop working, sit down on the couch, and still not feel completely relaxed. The weight of our responsibilities doesn’t just fall away without active encouragement. That’s why you need to prioritize active relaxation — doing things to specifically destress.
One way to do this is to do something you love — something that’s just for you. Take a bath or read a book. Zone out with your favorite album. Another way is to purposefully elicit the relaxation response (a quasi-medical term). This can be done through muscle relaxation, focused breathing, and meditation — try this five-minute technique.
You’re Always Putting the Needs of Others First
If you have a spouse and/or children, there’s a good chance that you sacrifice your own well-being to ensure that of your family. Even if you don’t you may be doing the same thing with your friends, family, or work responsibilities. It becomes ingrained in your worldview that taking time for self-care is selfish in many ways. The fact is that it’s not. What’s more, you will be a better friend, mother, father, lover, partner, and coworker if you take time for self-care.
First and foremost, learn how to say “no” when it’s appropriate. It’s difficult to let people down — even if it’s the right thing for your own well-being. But learning how to distance yourself from the ever-present helper role is a must for true self-care. When telling your friends and family “No, I can’t or won’t do that” (because you need to take time for yourself), you don’t have to offer an explanation. You should, however, offer alternatives.
Once again, learning to put yourself first is the ultimate act of self-care and will, in turn, positively affect your relationships. As Happy Free Lifestyle blog points out, it’s kind of like what they tell you on an airplane: “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first in an emergency situation before helping others.” You can’t be there for others if you’re not there for yourself first.
Don’t delay. If you want to boost your overall well-being (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health), the best thing to do today is to break down the barriers preventing you from prioritizing self-care.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Guest author Harry Cline
We named our studio Art of Yoga for a reason.
Sure, we do art classes and art exhibits. But it is much more than that. Art connects us, give us conversation. Art allows us respite from our struggles. Art makes us human. For me, art allows the same feeling I get from practicing yoga. I get in the "flow": my time being creative becomes timeless. I can be in community creating with others or creating on my own with others creating next to me. Art is personal, yet art is universal.
When the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) asked it's staff why art is important here is what some answered:
"Art matters because it illustrates the human experience—the wonder of it, the bewilderment of it, the whimsy of it, and so much more. We would not be connected so deeply without the existence of art.” – Kathleen Dinsmore
“The arts matter because we matter, and our stories matter. We are moving miracles, walking creators engaging in a cosmic dance. The art we express is timeless.” –Mohammed Sheriff
Often people will say, "oh, I am not creative", or "I don't have a creative bone in my body". We are all creative creatures. Some of us are called to one medium more than another. But we are all called to create. Learning an art medium is much like learning yoga. You learn a language, you learn movements in your body, like hold to hold a brush. You start with the basics, with drills. And you practice. Practice, always, always learning .
If you want to try a new medium we have Brush Lettering, Calligraphy and Watercolor classes. Our next classes Are June 1, 2019. Check out more information and the link to register on our workshop page.
Like a cup running over with water, our minds fill up, and by the end of the day we barely understand what sloshes inside our skulls. And the next day, our cups overflow with even more stuff so much we even forget what nearly drowned us the day before.
When was the last time you gave yourself permission to sit... just sit... and do nothing but sit.
Sleep doesn't do it. Too often the business of our days intrudes on our sleep, because, frankly, when we're asleep our minds take complete control -- and our minds have a mind of their own.
So, when did you last take control and allow yourself to sit... just sit... and let your mind clear itself of the flotsam you carry around everyday?
Meditation teaches you to take control, to empty your cup and let your mind relax. Neurological science has proved meditation helps us in more ways than can be listed in this small space, but the the major benefits include:
1. An increase in the volume and thickness of your brain
2. A reduction in blood pressure and heart rate
3. Boosts the immune system
4. reduces stress, depression, and anxiety
5. increases emotional stability and intelligence
6. increases the connection to yourself and others.
Join Mike every Tuesday night in the Octagon Room at Art of Yoga, 6:45 p.m. for meditation, meditation instruction, and discussion. It's a great way to take care of yourself!
Guest Blog by
Harry Cline newcaregiver.org
The New Caregiver’s Comprehensive Resource: Advice, Tips, and Solutions from Around the Web
Everyone accepts achy bones and stiff muscles as an inevitable part of the aging process. But what if you could stave off some of those “attributes” by increasing your flexibility, muscle and core strength, and balance? And what if you didn’t have to hit the gym to powerlift to achieve those results? Well, you can — with yoga!
Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga isn’t an activity reserved for 20- and 30-something women who can twist themselves into human pretzels. Yoga is a practice that can be embraced by people of all ages and abilities. When you choose a style that fits your ability level, you’ll see benefits almost immediately.
Yoga reduces stress and blood pressure, and its controlled breathing reduces unnecessary activity in the nervous system, which helps better manage blood pressure. Yoga’s low-impact, weight-bearing poses slow bones from thinning and reduce the development of osteoporosis. The measured movements also strengthen muscles, especially core muscles, and improve balance, which reduces the chance of falls.
Yoga helps dedicated practitioners who participate at least three days per week to lose weight and shrink inches. Yoga also protects aging joints by increasing the lubrication that surrounds them. Certain poses, when held for increasingly longer periods of time, maintain that joint fluidity and hold arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome at bay.
Adding insult to injury, older people often notice that their mental acuity declines as they age. But a 2016 International Review of Psychiatry study reported that people who regularly practiced yoga relaxation techniques for 30 minutes experienced immediate benefits to brain function and performance. Yoga also enhances well-being through its inherent ability to improve symptoms of depression, ADD/ADHD, and sleep disorders. And on the days when yoga seems like too much of an effort, the simple act of stretching can provide you with many benefits, including reduced stress and a sense of balance between your body and your mind.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is usually closely practiced with yoga. The combination of the two can make a considerable difference both physically and mentally. Some researchers theorize the mindfulness that’s an inherent part of yoga contributes to developing a deeper, stronger willpower that prioritizes wellness over instant gratification.
Meditation at least partially improves age-related memory loss and memory loss in dementia patients, and it helps their caregivers cope better, too. At its most basic level, meditation trains your mind to focus and redirect thoughts. It can increase the length and endurance of your attention span while reversing brain patterns that foster worrying, poor attention, and distraction.
Mindful meditation reduces inflammations caused by stress and its inflammation-promoting chemicals, cytokines. Lower stress levels lead to less anxiety, too. Plus, meditation improves self-image and encourages a more positive life outlook by helping people to better control and redirect or stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Those who use a self-inquiry meditation technique develop stronger understandings of themselves. You can even meditate right at home by designing a space that’s calm, quiet, and relaxing.
Why Caregivers Should Also Practice Yoga
Scientists know that caregivers who experience chronic stress run a higher risk of developing depression. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress; and older caregivers — such as an elderly woman caring for her husband — often suffer deeper physical and psychological effects of stress.
Caregivers who do yoga can greatly benefit from the practice. One study found that a 12-minute-a-day, eight-week yoga program reduced the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins in adults who cared for loved ones suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
It’s also worth noting that yoga and meditation provide considerable benefit to those in addiction recovery. Addiction survivors are always working toward a positive relationship with their physical and spiritual selves as they maintain sobriety. Yoga and meditation foster and strengthen that connection. A yoga and meditation teacher encourages students to focus on what triggers their addictive behaviors and guides them to find healthier ways — sitting quietly, calming the body and mind with breathing exercises — to better tolerate and address feelings and sensations that lead to relapse.
The Relaxation Response
Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing reduce stress and improve nervous system imbalances that result from that stress by activating the relaxation response. Triggered by deep breathing, this calm, relaxed state occurs at the neurobiological level. Deep breathing combined with meditation and yoga alters body processes to shift you biochemically from excitement and tension to deep, calm rest and relaxation.
This type of relaxation provides an array of benefits for the practitioner, and daily practice can refresh bodies, minds, and spirits. It doesn’t take much to get started. Look for a nearby studio or consider trying an online video. Begin with a few minutes a day and you’ll soon notice the considerable advantages of yoga and meditation.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
When loved ones pass away from us, it can seem unreal, even years later, that we can't pick up the phone, share good news, share troubles. It has been 3 years today that my big sister, Kathy East, passed away. She was only 2 1/2 years older, but always wise and always kind.
She is one of the reasons Art of Yoga came to be. Life is short. I jumped, and followed a passion. I can't share with her all the trials and tribulations, all the joy, all the wonderful, beautiful moments of the last 3 years. But I know she would be proud. I miss her always. Cheers to you, Kathy!
The second reason is my Dad, Mike Rusin. He always wanted to help his kids start a business. His birthday is March 26th. Though he passed 7 years ago, I still miss his wry humor. He never got to know that I opened a yoga studio, but I know, he too would be proud. In a roundabout way, he contributed financially and emotionally.
Here is to our ancestors, our love of family and gratitude for all who came before us!
The first limb of yoga is the yamas (Sanskrit: यम), the second limb is its complement, the niyamas. They represent a series of "right living" or ethical rules within yoga. Yamas means "reining in" or "control."
As a group of us discussed “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele, what really came to light is the harm, non-truths and stealing we do to ourselves. It seems so much easier to care and be kind to others. We have to work even harder to take care of ourselves, constantly finding a balance and recalibrating ourselves.
Here is a summary of the Yamas:
Ahimsa (Non-Harming), the first of the yamas. Seems so easy. But look deeper. Are you kind to yourself? Do you nurture your health, your sleep? Do you spend too much time on social media? (Irony, I know!)How do you incorporate ahimsa into your daily life?
The second yama, satya, "truth" or "not lying," can be obvious and subtle. It is honest words and actions to those around us. It is being honest with ourselves. It is first, doing no harm. It is being quiet when the truth might harm. It is knowing when to back off a pose, when to go in deeper.
The third yama is asteya, or "non-stealing." Asteya encourages us to act from a place of abundance. To give instead of take. This, too, can be subtle or not. It should be obvious that we would not walk into someones home or place of business and start taking items. But what about stealing someones time? What about stealing someones energy? How can you act from a place of abundance and not scarcity? How can you, too, not steal from yourself, your precious time and energy?
The fourth yama is aparigraha or "non-possessiveness." This is a powerful emotion for many. How do we detach, how do we not covet, stay away from jealously? One method is mudita. Mudita is sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others. It is finding pleasure in others well-being. It is cultivating a heart that rejoices in other's accomplishments. It is cheering the student who does beautiful handstand in the middle of the room.
The fifth and final yamas is brahmacharya. Brahmacharya translates as the concept of celibacy or, when a person controls his citta, abstaining through word, thought, and deed from physical or sensual pleasures. Applied to a more modern lifestyle, it is the art of sustaining energy, and not depleting your vitality. This can easily tie back to the first four yamas, not wasting time on jealously, or "stealing" others or your own time. What so you do to maintain energy?
Like many people you may have set resolutions or goals for the new year that involve health and fitness. And, like many people, by the the beginning of February your resolution begins to wane. How can you keep your healthy goals through the year?
First, write your goals down on paper and be very specific. Stating that you want to “eat healthier” is too vague and hard to measure. More concrete goals may be to “make home-prepared meals with only fresh ingredients” a certain number of times per week or “eliminate added sugar” from your diet. Second, allow yourself some wiggle room, or even a day off. Go ahead and eat a piece of birthday cake at a party. Just get back on track the next day. Third, keep track of how you are doing. A great idea is to take a picture of the food you eat each day and then review at the end of the day. Don't hide anything and don't cheat! Fourth, watch out for fad diets that are just too hard to stick to in the long run. Occasional fasting is fine, but be sure to check with your doctor before you try something drastic!
For physical fitness, try a variety of activities to see what suits you. If you didn't stick to running last year, you probably won't stick to it this year. Keep doing what you like andstep out of your routine once in awhile. Switch up your activities so that you don't get bored. You will also be more likely to avoid injuries if you do a variety of activities. Our bodies need weight bearing, stretching and cardiovascular (cardio) exercise. Weight bearing exercise is essentialfor building and maintaining healthy bones and building bone cells and helps prevent osteoporosis. Cardiovascular exercise raises your heart rate, improves stamina and the function of our heart, lungs and circulatory system. Stretching keeps our muscles strong and our joints healthy. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get all of these is to take a vigorous walk, preferably with some elevation gain. Be sure to stretch after!
One of the best ways to keep your healthy goals is to have an accountability partner. Pick someone that you can trust and that can be honest with you. They don't have to be a workout partner though, it is nice if your accountability partner and you occasionally get together for a walk, or to share a healthy meal. Your accountability partner could even be someone remote. Share your goals and your accomplishments and even your failures. Set a specific time and day to check in, preferably several times per week. Most important, just keep moving and don't give up. Your health is worth it!
Watch a child at play in movement. Observe your dog or cat as they stretch in the morning or engage in play. There doesn't always seem to be a sense or rhythm to their movement. They don't seem to have an agenda. They stretch, run, jump and come to abrupt stops. Adults tend to lose the ability to move in innovative ways. We are too worried about how we look and become constrained in our exercise and everyday movements.
Even if we are active, we often focus on certain activities, such as running, golfing or biking, repetitively moving the same way. We tend to lose the ability to listen to our bodies and so we get stuck in ruts of movement, which can lead to injury. When was the last time you skipped, did jumping jacks or hung from your arms? When was the last time you stood on your tippy-toes?
There are still plenty of warm days to move around outside. If you hike, try some easy jogging, if you run, try some fast walking. Try walking backwards. Climb some hills. Move your arms while you walk, stop and do twists or lunges. Do push-ups on a bench. The idea is to move in a novel way. Let your body dictate what feels right. Explore stretching. Take deep breaths. Heck, you might even want to climb a tree!
As we head into autumn and spend more time indoors, it is important to keep moving. If you sit often at a desk, stand every fifteen minutes to stretch: inhale your arms overhead, interlace your fingers, open your palms up to the ceiling. Then reach your hands behind your back, interlacing your fingers and opening up in the chest as your shoulder blades draw together. When you are seated, twist to the right, hanging on to the side of your chair with both hands and hold for four to five breaths, then twist to the left and hold. Do heel lifts at your desk while seated. Stand and lean forward with your hands on the back of your chair. You don't have to do lengthy workouts to keep your blood flowing, your fascia supple and muscles stretching.
There are plenty of places to do organized movement indoors, but the idea is to keep moving. Studies have shown that exercise can improve brain function and repair damaged brain cells. Exercise has positive effects on the nervous system, encouraging the brain's pleasure chemicals, and can reduce anxiety. You might see me stretching in the grocery store line and doing yoga in an airport terminal if I am waiting for a plane. Keep moving, keep breathing!
Private yoga sessions allow clients to work one-on-one with a yoga teacher to assess and reach their personal goals and set an emphasis on what they want to accomplish while addressing the whole individual, body, breath, mind and spirit. Working one-on-one allows the teacher to more closely work with your specific body alignment and to help you develop a regular practice. You can take these lessons into a group setting and into personal practice at home. Private sessions can be beneficial as an initial starting point for a yoga practice or ongoing. Private sessions are also easy to work around a busy schedule.
Beginning students will gain initial experience by starting in one-on-one sessions to gain confidence in poses. Starting out in a group yoga class can seem overwhelming. You may not know your downward facing dog from your upward facing dog or what the teacher means by scissoring your inner thigh muscles! In a private session you will learn asanas, how to move in and out of poses and begin incorporating the language of yoga in your body so that you feel comfortable in a group setting.
If you are recovering from an injury, working in a private session can address your individual needs. You learn how to modify poses, how to strengthen while you heal, and how to prevent further injury. Yoga instructors can work in tandem with a physical therapist or others in the health profession to support your healing process.
Are you struggling to learn arm balances or inversions? Do you want to improve your balance poses? If you wish to take your practice to a new level, private lessons can enable a client to work in depth on individual asanas and to find subtleties in the body to challenge individual practice.
Private lessons may focus on movement, stretch, strength, posture, breath, or meditation, or a combination. You set the pace and the focus in a private session, allowing you to achieve your goals.