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Posts tagged ‘yoga’

Rest and Renew: the Power of Restorative Yoga

By Guest Blogger, Wendy Cullitan, In the Write Zone

Much has been written about the power of the mind/body connection. As a yoga practitioner for 20 years and yoga teacher for eight, I know there’s truth to the benefit of moving the body and breathing in specific ways to help calm what yogis call Chitta Vritti or mind chatter. This chatter is constant, even though we are often unaware of it.

Practicing yoga is one way to clear the mind and create more space within for creativity and productivity. As the saying goes, what “we pay attention to grows.” By participating in mindfulness activities, you can train your mind to shift from negative thoughts to positive ones, from fear to calm, from non-stop chatter to clarity.

Starting a yoga practice is easier said than done. That’s why I am sharing with you a simple, restorative yoga sequence to gently release tension in postures that allow the body to rest and revitalize.

You don’t need any special props, but if you have a yoga mat, use it; otherwise, dress comfortably and have two firm pillows and a timer nearby. Set up near a wall with

 

1. Begin in Child’s Pose.

Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. If you can’t sit on your heels, place a pillow (or two) between your heels and your bottom.

Hold that position for 2 minutes. Take deep inhalations (listen for the sound of your breath, feel your belly expand like a Buddha belly) followed by slightly longer exhalations to release toxins in your body. Notice where you are holding on to tension (lower back is common) and visualize your exhalations traveling there. Notice what happens. Continue this type of breathing awareness for the next two poses as well.

 

2. Next up is Reclining Butterfly/Supta Baddha Konasana

This classic restorative posture stretches the inner groin, thighs and knees. It also helps reduce stress, mild depression and cramps. Click Supta Baddha Konasana to view details on how to set up and plan to rest for 5 minutes.

 

3. Now move into Legs Up the Wall Pose/Viparita Karani.

In order to more easily get into this pose, start off sitting sideways next to the wall with your feet on the floor. Place one hand at your low back, lean back and pivot your legs up the wall. Once your legs are against the wall, press your forearms into the ground to help move your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Lay on your back with your legs resting up the wall. The benefits to this pose include reduced backache and headache and is a wonderful antidote to insomnia.

Legs up the wall pose can be combined with the other poses if you have more time or done on it’s own if you are short on time. 2014JUN05 legsuptheWallPose

At first, aim to hold Viparita Karani for 2-5 minutes and build up to 10 minutes or longer. As soon as the weight of your legs becomes too much, roll to your side in the fetal position and rest for 8 deep inhalations and exhalations before doing the next pose.

 

4. Finally, sweet Savasana!

Every yoga class ends with this quintessential posture that allows the body and mind time to integrate what has shifted internally. Lie on your back. Close your eyes. Turn your palms face up. Take one deep inhalation through your nose and a long exhalation with your mouth open and sigh. Repeat three times. Then, let go of the pattern of your breath. Let your thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky. This is your time to completely relax in a state of deep relaxation. Stay for 5-10 minutes.

This sequence can be followed whenever you need to unwind! Let me know what you think.

 

About the Author: Wendy L. Cullitan, principal of Wordsmith Communications, is an award-winning writer, editor and marketing consultant. She graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University. Wendy finds balance in her life through an avid yoga practice that began in 1995. Her personal self-discovery prompted her to become a yoga teacher in order to share this meaningful, life-affirming practice with others. Wendy loves spending time upside down — which is why you will find her in a headstand or handstand every day. You can reach her via email at wordsmithcomm@gmail.com, via her blog In the Write Zone or visit her website at www.wordsmith-communications.net.

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it.

Often our emotional state is reflected in our eating behaviors. It feels like there is an umbilical cord between how we feel and how we eat. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to sever the umbilical cord between our emotions and what we put into our mouths.

Reaching for food when life is hard is something many of us are familiar with. We were trained to do that.

I see it all the time. A baby is cranky or just noisy (at the store, in a house of worship, at a family gathering, at the doctor’s office, …).  Next, the baby is offered something to put into its mouth: a pacifier or a bottle. An older child gets a piece of candy at the bank, the doctor’s office or for good behavior. The opposite is also true: the bribe or withholding trick: if you’re good you’ll get ice cream. Or “no dessert for you, you’ve been bad”. Is it any wonder that when we finally get control over our own food supply, we do what feels emotionally supportive, rather than what we know is healthy for us?

Here are some examples for how it can play out in our lives now.

1. A couple of years ago I reconnected with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I know her to be health conscious and fit. As her husband was battling cancer, she gained a lot of weight. She said she was comfort eating. She couldn’t help it.

2. Some years ago I was shocked at my response when my life coach asked me what my definition of SUCCESS was. When I looked deeply inside me, the surprising answer I found was “being able to buy and eat any food I want”.  That was the beginning of a profound shift in my relationship with food.

Surprisingly, we don’t just run away from “bad” feelings. We run away from “good” feelings as well. Following is an example.

Story: Anxious about being excited

Recently while at the roller-skating rink I had the chance to observe a family waiting in line. It appeared to me that the mother of three young girls was very uncomfortable with her daughters being excited about going skating. She tried to squash any sign of happiness and excitement with threats like “if you don’t stand still, we’ll just go home” and “you’ll just have to sit in the car while we skate” and “you’re spoiling it for everybody”. Later I saw them again in the snack bar. It hadn’t stopped. “Sit still” and “NO! You can’t have a pretzel”, sounded more like a drill sergeant rebuking a new recruit than a rational conversation.

So, what are these three young girls learning about being excited and having fun? Probably the same thing their mother learned when she was young: “it’s not safe to be excited” and “things calm down when everybody is eating”.  So, don’t be surprised if you are stress eating when you are happy or excited.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of a healthy body. I don’t need to tell you about just having more willpower. I don’t need to tell you about one more diet to try, or one more trick to keep you from food you desperately want to eat. If you and food have an adversarial relationship – you have probably tried them all.

Are you ready to change all that? Ready to start to de-link your connection between emotions and food? Like any habit, even those you have had for a long time, reaching for comforting food can be replaced with other behavior.

Start with awareness: how and when do you self soothe with food?

  • Do you lose your appetite?
  • Do you eat for comfort?
  • Do you tend to go for sweet or salty comfort food?
  • Do you eat until you go numb or the discomfort from overeating is greater than the uncomfortable feelings you had before?
  • When your life feels out of control, do you engage in “control over food behavior” such as anorexia or bulimia?

Take a moment and reflect on today or yesterday while it is fresh in your mind. Did you eat something you wish you hadn’t? How were you feeling afterwards? Did you feel stuffed, disgusted, muted, satisfied, numbed, nauseous, calm? OK. What emotions were you feeling before you started to eat, emotions you were covering up that might have been too uncomfortable to feel? What were you running away from, and running to food to help divert you?

Keep a small notebook of situations and emotions that bring you running to food. Then pick one of them that you think you can shift into a new habit that doesn’t involve food. Don’t try to change chocolate cake to carrot sticks. Remember you still need to be comforted. What are things that are comforting to you? A warm bath? A friendly chat with a trusted friend? Sitting on a sunny bench at a nearby park? Some physical activity, like yoga? Listening to some soothing music? Make a list. Find one or more activities that you will substitute for one specific emotional pattern. Plan ahead what you will do the next time that trigger situation occurs. Congratulate yourself every time you succeed and be gentle with yourself if you slip into old patterns. Just recommit to do better next time. I recommend that you go easy on yourself. Focus on changing one pattern every 3 months.

Taking it Farther:

Start to notice why you respond to certain situations as you do. I’ve heard that 10% is what happens to you and 90% is how you respond to what happens. If a situation is not stressful to you, you won’t need comforting. But that is a topic for another article.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

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