the right yoga for you
This week I decided to look at something that has been a part of my life for about 25 years now.
And although I may not have practiced faithfully for 25 years, I have always been able to go back to it and draw on my experiences with it.
I have had times when I was forced to step away from practice ... I suffered from lingering hyper-mobility and joint instability after giving birth to my daughter, and although yoga felt good after she was born, it was actually making my back issues worse.
Over time I learned to listen more closely to what my body needs and the value of an amazing teacher (not just a video online). The power of having someone help me make accommodations for my back, knee, and ankle so that I am still able to embrace yoga and have it a part of my life despite all of my bodies challenges.
A note on the topic of Live Instruction vs Pre-recorded ... pre-recorded videos provide an amazing opportunity to access a wide range of classes not available in your area or timezone; however if you are a beginner or have challenges due to injuries or physical limitations, I highly recommend finding an instructor who does either in person classes or live online classes so that they can assist you and help to ensure that you do not hurt yourself getting into a posture that your body shouldn't go into. There are tons of accommodations that can be made, you just have to know what they are.
Before we explore the different types of yoga out there, I think we need to start by looking at what exactly Yoga is.
WHAT EXACTLY IS YOGA?
Yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which includes breathing control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures; it is widely practiced for health and relaxation. The yoga widely known in the West is based on hatha yoga, which forms one aspect of the ancient Hindu system of religious and ascetic observance and meditation, the highest form of which is raja yoga and the ultimate aim of which is spiritual purification and self-understanding leading to samadhi or union with the divine. www.oxforddictionaries.com
Your options ...
Hatha Yoga - has been around since the 15th century in India, and became popular here in the west in the mid 20th century. Hatha is a holistic yoga path, it attempts to balance the mind and body via physical postures (asanas), purification practices, controlled breathing, and calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. It is great for beginners or to wind down in the evening.
Restorative Yoga - Is focused on relaxing your mind and body. It involves a handful of poses that are help for extended periods of time, poses to open your chest for breath work, and more lying down than is typical yoga practice. Restorative yoga will leave you feeling nourished and well rested.
Vinyasa Yoga - Is commonly called Vinyasa flow because you move or flow from one pose to the next. These classes typically start with a sun salutation then move to more postures or poses.
Bikram Yoga - More commonly known as Hot Yoga, is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercise performed during a 90 minute class. Bikram is practiced in 105 degree heat and 40% humidity to allow loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating (thought to be cleansing). It was founded in 1970’s in LA and the postures are based on the postures or poses in traditional Hatha yoga.
Prenatal Yoga - This type of yoga practice is great not only while you are pregnant, but after your baby is born while you recover and regain your body. It helps to keep the core strong, helps with posture, and helps aid with pregnancy aches and pains. Prenatal yoga also focuses on breathing and can help you to develop good breathing habits before going into labour.
Kundalini Yoga - Kundalini refers to the energy of the root chakra, which surrounds the area around the lower spine. Kundalini yoga uses breath in conjunction with physical movements to free the energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards.
Ashtanga Yoga - Also known as Power Yoga, is a physically demanding practice of yoga that requires constant movement. If you are wanting to sculpt and define your muscles while getting cardio, give Ashtanga Yoga a try.
Lyengar Yoga - Lyengar is a methodical yoga practice using lots of props like blocks, straps and cushions. It focuses on body alignment and can be great for those in need of physical therapy because of this.
Anusara Yoga - Anusara may be the most spiritual type of yoga as it focuses on looking inwards, and seeing the light within yourself and others. Because it is a “celebration of the heart”, the classes have an upbeat, uplifting community type vibe that can be welcoming.
Jivamukti Yoga - Jivamukti means liberation while living, and is a mix of Vinyasa flow sequencing infused with chanting and a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.
I hope that this information on the different types of yoga inspires you to give one a try, or better yet try a number of them.
So grab a mat and allow yourself the time to balance you mind, body and spirit through regular yoga practice . . . you will love it, I am certain!
Definition of Namaste - a respectful greeting or salutation said when giving a namaskar (palms together in front of your chest like in the picture).
Origin: Hindi from Sanskrit namas ‘bowing’ + te ‘to you’
A powerful ritual
I have spent a lot of time recently chatting with clients about their stress level & wellbeing.
Pretty consistently we talk about how out of control stress is right now, and how they just don’t know what to do about it.
Since the stressors aren’t going away anytime soon, it’s time to create a healing ritual of mindfulness, meditation and gratitude to allow you to feel calm and to interrupt the chronic stress cycle.
Often, I hear that people don’t find breathing exercises helpful in moments of stress crisis (whenever the fight or flight part of your nervous system is triggered for whatever reason).
But I think that all it takes is creating a ritual around your breathing exercise and consistent practice to condition your mind and body to relax and breathing to calm.
Eventually your ritual will be successful at breaking the stress cycle in those critical moments of stress & crisis.
Rituals allow you to quickly and more easily shift and engage in a specific mindset.
Basically you are giving your brain the cues that tell it what is coming so it can say “oh, we like the serenity we feel after this, let’s get right to that”.
Think about when you get on the massage table for your appointment, once you are settled you probably have a big sigh exhale and immediately start to let go and relax. Same exact thing.
So if your goal is to calm and sooth your nervous system, having a ritual around your breathing exercise can help you more quickly achieve that serenity and calm.
Creating Your Own Ritual
Your ritual should have a couple of key components when your goal is reducing your stress response. Basically the more cues you can give your brain the better, but keep it simple enough that you don’t get bogged down in the process and end up more stressed or frustrated than when you started.
Some other things that can add power to your ritual ... crystals like amethyst (has a calming vibration that is wonderful in times of anxiety and stress) or rose quartz (has a strong vibration of unconditional love, joy, warmth and connection to the heart); a mala to mark of your breaths; a mantra, my favourite one recently is Shima (pronounced she-ma) which means Love; a dedicated space to practice; aura spray (I love these from Alypsis); a mediation cushion (comfort is key).
What is the best time of day to practice?
Well this depends entirely on you.
If your quiet moment is when the kids are down for a nap, do it then.
When your stress is waking you up during the night, try preforming your ritual just prior to bed.
Alternately, you could try first thing in the morning for a positive and calm start to your day.
The key is to pick a time that you can consistently commit to practicing your ritual.
Rituals don’t have to take an incredible amount of time, but they do need to be practiced regularly in order for you to experience the quick and easy slip into your desired mindset.
Real Life Inspiration
One of my clients was struggling to calm her mind and get good restful sleep at night, so the ritual below is what we pulled together for her to try.
She practiced this ritual every night, just before turning off the lights, and by her next massage appointment 4 weeks later was already experiencing improved sleep which in turn made the days easier to handle. It was still a work in progress for her, but she was beginning to feel less overwhelmed and stressed; and the plan was to continue with regularly incorporating her ritual into her bedtime routine.
I hope this inspires you and helps guide you in creating your own ritual to calm your stressed nervous system.
If you are needing some further help pulling your ritual together please let me know and we can chat.
Remember that this is an extremely personal ritual and what works for me might actually stress you out.
So do what works for you!
My 10 Essential Essential Oils
Last post we looked at how I use essential oils and what my most used oils are … so now let’s take a look at why I use so much of the oils I do.
What are my most used essential oils & what are they great for?
So now that you know my most used oils, what is my favorite blend to use?
Well it happens to be a blend that my son and I created a number of years ago when I first started working with essential oils called Overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed is perfect in times of stress or when you are literally feeling overwhelmed and in need of a little grounding.
It is soothing and grounding; slows and deepens breath; great for stress, anxiety and nervous tension; wonderful for use in meditation as well.
How do I use this blend?
Roll blend on the palm of your hands, rub you hand together then cup them over your nose and mouth, take 5 deep breaths slowly inhaling and exhaling. This covers all the ways you can benefit from the oils and can quickly bring a sense of calm.
Or ... rolled this blend underneath jaw line and on pulse points behind ears and in the hollow at the base of the neck. The oil will warm on your skin and you will be able to enjoy the smell and experience the benefits for a longer time.
Do you have any essential Essential Oils in your collection?
*The essential oil information in this post is combined from my course notes from Alypsis's Intro to Essential Oils Course and from The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless
Essential Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used throughout history for their aromas as well as their effect on the body.
And they have been essential in my home for years now.
My passion started when I took the intro to essential oils course offered by Alypsis here in Peterborough. After 2 full days I left with a book full of notes, a brain exploding with ideas, and a rapidly expanding list of oils that I had to have!
So how do I use essential oils?
Diffused, rollerballs, skin care, massage oils, inhaler tubes, and baths are the main ways we use essential oils; but we do use them in disinfectant spray, deodorizing spray, and hand sanitizer from time to time.
When applied topically, essential oils are absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream where they migrate to the organ they need to go to (or the organ system the oil has an affinity for); they can also have an effect directly on the skin. Inhaled essential oils are absorbed through the respiratory tract and into the blood stream; however inhaled oils will not only work physically in or on the body, but also as an emotional connection through the limbic system … think the smell of warm cookies baking makes you remember baking with your mom as a kid and all the warm gooey emotions that come with that.
Often when you apply oils to your skin you get a combination of the inhaled and absorbed benefits ... as long as you can smell it you are inhaling it.
One of my favorite ways to use essential oils every day is through my rollerball blends.
Try this … roll a blend on the palm of your hands (absorbed), rub you hand together then cup them over your nose and mouth, take 5 deep breaths slowly inhaling and exhaling (inhaled). This covers all the ways you can benefit from the oils and can quickly bring a sense of calm when used with a relaxing or stress relief oil blend.
An alternate is to roll your blend under your jaw line, on your neck, behind your ears … as the oil warms with you body, you will be able to smell it (inhaled) in addition to the oil being absorbed through your skin.
Diffusing essential oils in your space is a wonderful way to enjoy the smell and the benefits all day. I usually run something in our diffusers every day (yes, we have multiple in the house). One thing to note when you diffuse essential oils … only diffuse straight essential oils, not ones that are blended with a carrier oil, or it will just gunk up your diffuser.
What are my most used Essential Oils?
This was a little tricky for me to narrow down as I currently have 46 individual essential oils and 14 blends (purchased blends not including the ones that I have made), but even out of all of that there are a main set of oils that I am always running out of.
So here you go, these are my most used individual oils …
Want to know why these are my most used oils?
Next post I will delve into all of the reasons why I use each of these oils along with my most use rollerball blend!
Karooch oils are from Alypsis in Peterborough Ontario. Check out their website for their full range of Essential Oils, Carrier oils, containers and more.
*note I’m not affiliated with Alypsis in any way ...
I simply love their products, staff, and workshops!
So much of our world now is fast, fast, fast … even the physical speed we move at can be fast. How much can you accomplish in a small amount of time? How much can you cram into a weekend or a day off? How productive can you be?
But is that really what is best for us?
What would happen if you tried to slow down and be a little less busy? A little less productive? Move a little slower? Accomplished a little less?
One of my favorite ways to slow down is to head to a forest for a wander. Not a speed walk, but a dawdle through the trees with my camera. Taking in all that I can and capturing all the amazing things that I see along the way.
This way of basking in nature is actually referred to as Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing.
Forest Therapy in the simplest of forms can be described as mindfulness in nature. It revolves around spending time in nature, particularly among the trees.
Taking your time to move slowly through the environment, or even just sit. Close your eyes and just breath … then open your eyes and open your senses.
What can you see … what do you smell … what can you hear … is it warm or cool … what does the light look like as it filters through the trees?
Taking the time to notice big & little things like tiny mushrooms on the forest floor or how the branches of the trees catch the falling snow.
Spending time in nature can actually be an antidote for stress!
It can actually lower you blood pressure and cortisol levels, decrease nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, decrease anxiety, and improve mood.
“As we strengthen our connection with the natural world, our sense of beauty, wonder, awe and curiosity is restored and our brains and nervous system are calmed. Stress levels are lowered and the immune system boosted.”
Where are my favorite places around Peterborough to get a dose of nature?
So, will you join me for a little Forest Therapy this week?
I think we could all use a dose right about now, don't you?
I am passionate not only about Massage Therapy, but also living a holistic lifestyle and empowering others to do the same!