3 ways to de-stress.

  1. Hold your breath. Your body is ultra-smart when it comes to detecting changes in the pH levels of your blood. Hold your breath, count to ten and then take a HUGE exhale. This triggers your chemoreceptors to tell your brain and your lungs that your body could benefit from more oxygen. Taking a  huge exhale sends the message that it’s safe to de-stress and get back on track after a stressful trigger.
  2. Laugh (really loudly). The 10th cranial nerve is the Vagus nerve; it innervates essential organs and communicates directly with the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle in the body. It’s no secret that deep breathing promotes stress reduction—but add some sound to that breath and your positive vibes double. The Vagus nerve also innervates the larynx, so laugh loudly (joyfully, not obnoxiously) and feel your stress melt away.
  3. Meditate. Meditation reduces stress by teaching your mind to uni-task, instead of being distracted and stressed by multi-tasking a million things. Just ten minutes of daily meditation has positive effects on your immune system, your focus and your stress-level.

Ready to learn more? Join Lisa in her next 3 week course:

Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief.

Thursday mornings 9-11 am June 7, June 14 and June 21, 2018 at Westport Yoga KC.

Course Details and Registration Information found at: Westport Yoga KC.

Also check out these blog posts for more de-stressing ideas:

Stress Less

Quick Fix: Stress Free in 60 Seconds

Thoughts Like a Calm Ocean

See you in class– happy de-stressing.

are you sometimes stressed? (me. to.)

Ok, so I understand that stress can make us stronger (hello Stress Wood and Biosphere 2) but I don’t actually know anyone who wakes up and says: “Bring on the stress! I want to endure and persevere today!” with a great big smile on their face.

I sure don’t. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed just by the IDEA of being overwhelmed and stressed. The best way I have found to acknowledge, transmute and transform stress is meditation. Meditation has about a million psychological and physiological benefits: enhanced immune system, increased brain nueroplasticity and decreased sense of alienation and anxiety to name a few.

But my absolute favorite benefit is how it decreases our stress response. Something we all need. And it’s something we can all learn.

I love introducing Meditation as a technique to lower stress and increase hope, health and happiness. I shared a technique I call “60 second quick-fix” for stress on my blog last spring and have an extensive offering of free Guided Meditations here.

But my absolute favorite way is by teaching my 3 Week Course: Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief. I teach it twice a year and it always sells out. This updated curriculum includes new research based on the MBSR technique, clinical trials and every day application of mindfulness. Please join me:

Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief

Sundays December 3, 10 and 17, 2017  2 pm-4 pm

Investment:

This 3-part series is a perfect introduction to Meditation. We will explore the modern-day benefits of meditation and how you can integrate the practice into your life to relieve stress.

In each session, I’ll teach Breathing Techniques, Concentration Techniques and Meditation Techniques which cultivate attention, deepen focus and embrace stillness. You’ll have the opportunity to practice meditation in an encouraging group setting and engage in conversation with classmates. You will also learn ‘quick-fixes’ to trigger the relaxation response in your brain and body. The course includes a take-home manual for future reference and suggestions on how to successfully plan your at-home meditation practice.

(Limit 18 students; please note: there are no partial or full refunds for this event.)

 

quick fix: stress free in 60 seconds.

quick fix: stress free in 60 seconds.

You know those days that Nascar past you and leave you on the side of a dusty track feeling confused, jittery and not altogether sound of mind? The well-intentioned words “Yes, yes, yes, I’ll do that right after _____” are lost in the clamor of the day and ‘present moment’ or ‘mindfulness’ seem like ridiculous concepts that only used to matter to you. I definitely have those days. Usually involving surprises like, oh, a circuit breaker blew and the electricity is out, or oh, your colleague is in the hospital and needs all her classes covered or oh, Armageddon is on its way.

These are the days where finding time to meditate seems absolutely impossible because, well, frankly, you aren’t sure when you’ll find the time to even go to the bathroom.

On these days, I use a powerful ‘quick fix’ meditation technique that re-sets the brain as quickly as filling a blown fuse. It is based on a Kundalini yoga technique of combining a mantra (repetition of a word or phrase), a mudra (hand position) and specific breathing.

When I’m caught in the whirlwind of activity on a break-neck speed day, I use it as often as I can. I only need about 60 seconds to feel its benefits and ward off anxiety.

The words are: “I am peace and calm.” 

This simple mantra (repetition of a phrase) also has specific hand movements.

How to do it:

Touch the first finger to the thumb: “I”

Touch the second finger to the thumb: “am”

Touch the third finger to the thumb: “peace”

Touch the fourth finger to the thumb: “and calm.”

Repeat the mantra and do the hand motions, breathing deeply and evenly on the inhale and the exhale for 60 minutes.

File_003 “I am peace and calm.” 

Why to do it:

Physiologically, the fine motor movements of the fingers is a tactile reminder for the brain to re-set its cascade of stress hormones and stay in the moment.

Intellectually, the usage of present tense language of the mantra is a reminder for the mind to create its reality.

Energetically, the connection of the finger tips to the thumb creates a circuit of energy that acts as a conduit for the Spirit to be at ease.

You may not have 20 minutes for a full meditation practice, but you probably you have 60 seconds. Try this quick-fix and be stress free in 60 seconds.

Happy Stressing Less,

-lisa

why you should write down your blessings.

Image

So, glass Ball Jars are super trendy right now. Totally ‘hipstipod old 001 (46)er chic.’  I have a million of them in my home.  Not because I’m trendy… but because I’ve recently been nerding out about the possible dangers of plastic and also I inherited 5 boxes of glass jars from my Grandma, who was an avid ‘canner’. (I made that word up… but you know what I mean.  She loved to can green beans, apple butter, peaches, etc.)

I’m using them for everything: bulk dry goods storage, water glasses, spare change holders, holiday decorations, bobby pin containers, you name it.

I’ve found a new use for the beautiful, homey, endearing glassware: Blessing Jars.  Like you, I’m great at starting a new ‘life-changing’ habit in January– writing in a Gratitude Journal, or charting my daily water intake, or recording the minutes I spend walking during the day.  And then, of course, the paper get tucked away in my files and I remember it again in June when I’m cleaning out my desk.  Perfect.

Despite my inability to maintain a routine of writing things down for the sake of accountability, I think the act of writing words on paper is decisively powerful.  When you write things down, energy becomes action.  I recently read this article which taught me that the act of writing leads to physical and mental health benefits including:

  • improved mood and sense of well-being
  • decreased stress and anxiety levels
  • lower blood pressure
  • better memory and sleep.

All of these sound like winners.  Yes, please.  Writing is good for you and is one small habit that can lead to a life filled with happiness and health (similar to eating more veggies–try my celery and pear slaw– and getting more exercise- try my yoga classes!)

New Year’s Resolutions are difficult to keep. Remember this post?  Don’t make this a resolution.  Make this a 30 second challenge for your health and your happiness.

Find a small piece of paper.  Write done ONE thing that is a blessing to you and put it in a glass jar.  Do this every day.  Or just whenever you remember.  As the days go by, your glass jar will quietly fill.  One day, you’ll look at it, and realize that your life, like your jar, is FULL of BLESSINGS.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”  – ray bradbury

Cheers to being full.

Happy writing,

-lisa

practice loving-kindness

loving-kindness.

Your yoga practice is a great teacher because it presents this lesson: how to accept what our bodies are able to do (and how they look!) while simultaneously challenging our bodies to move beyond their perceived limits to find more freedom of movement and mobility.  In the process, we learn to be gentle with our self-judgments and with our lower backs.  We learn to love our bodies and love the simple fact of being able to move.  And we do the best we can.
The Yoga asanas are just one way we learn, through trial and error, through sweat and success, how to stop striving to find love outside of ourselves, and instead, find love inside.
This can only be done by practicing loving-kindness.  World-renowned author and Buddhist monk Pema Chödrön presents the talk “The Freedom to Love”, where she elucidates her modern-day interpretation of the ancient practice of loving-kindness.  This is also called metta meditation.
It’s worth the watch. 

In this short video, she explains how learning to practice loving-kindness changes your perspective on life.  Loving-kindness makes “a big difference in terms of your ability to be able to relax with yourself… It’s sort of like connecting with the best of ourselves,” Chödrön explains.
Yoga is the same way: it offers us a chance to connect with the best of ourselves.
I’ve found, personally, that when I connect with and appreciate ‘the best in myself’ I’m more appreciative and accepting of ‘the worst of myself.’  When I’m practicing loving-kindness toward myself I’m more accepting of my own flaws.  When my anxiety is high, or my self-esteem low, or when I’m feeling guilty and overwhelmed trying to meet the impossibly high expectations of others, I take a big yoga breath and remind myself: I’m doing the best I can.  This is the same thing I learned to say when I repeatedly fell on my face trying to learning pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) for three years.  I’m doing the best I can, I’d say.
When I learned to say this, to love myself despite my biggest anxieties, I also learned to accept (with more ease) people in my life who triggered my anxieties. This was not easy.  But, the more I practiced loving-kindness towards myself, the easier it was for me to realize:
 “That person is probably doing the very best he can… even if it’s not what I would want him to do.”  
Then I could relax (a little bit more).  And love (a little bit more).  Want to be able to relax into yourself?  (Even it it’s just for a few blessed minutes?)  Well.  Here’s your chance.
Finish February, the month of LOVE, by learning this metta meditation.

loving-kindness-e1355686322789

Say it every day.  With sincerity.  Start loving yourself a little more.  Let me know how it goes.

*Note: parts of this blog post and this image can be found on Westport Yoga’s blog accessed here. 

-lisa