3 ways to de-stress.

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.

Try it: Extended Exhale Breathing 

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.

Try it! Counting 1 to 10: Beginning Meditation


Pranayama Guided Teachings

$4.00

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 my brain as quickly as fixing 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 breathing in rhythm.

When I’m caught in the whirlwind of activity on a break-neck speed day, I only need about 60 seconds to feel its benefits.


 

“I am peace and calm” 

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.”

Close your eyes, repeat rhythmically and breathe deeply for 60 minutes.

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“I am peace and calm.” 

Why to do it:

Physiologically, the fine motor movement is a tactile reminder your brain to re-set its cascade of stress hormones and pay attention to the present moment.

Intellectually, the usage of present tense language of the mantra is a reminder you have the capacity to selectively create your awareness.

Energetically, the connection of the finger tips to the thumb creates a circuit that acts as a conduit for the Spirit to feel connected.


Try it here: “I am Peace and Calm”

You may not have 20 minutes for a full meditation practice, but you probably you have 60 seconds.

Happy Stressing Less,

-lisa


Guided Meditation Teachings

Love these Resources? Consider partnering with Lisa to continue providing valuable teachings that promote hope, health and happiness here:

$4.00


 


 

why you should write down your blessings.

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“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

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So, glass Ball Jars are super trendy right now. Totally ‘hipster 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’ of green beans, apple butter, peaches, etc.

I’ve recently found a new use for the beautiful, homey, endearing glassware: Blessing Jars.

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.  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!)

The act of writing words on paper is decisively powerful; remembering to write down our blessings can lead to a powerful shift in perspective.

So here’s how you create a Blessing Jar:

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

Cheers to being full.

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.

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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